TLDR; Everyone is off on their side quests getting lost and separated and infighting and I need them all to get together and have a PLAN. Alone, it’s not working for them. Together, they might have a chance. Also we lost Nancy and I’m surprisingly sad about this?
The Acrobat and The Flea
First thoughts; what does a flea, or an acrobat, have to do with anything? (For the record: there was no way I was guessing what that episode title was about. Not even theoretically.)
Hopper has the best worst idea EVER. For nearly ten minutes I sat there saying ‘oh god oh god, oh god’ under my breath. His whole adventure was an exercise in don’t. Don’t go in there! Please don’t get face hugged by the hellflower. DON’T TOUCH IT what is wrong with you? Then was sure it was the monster behind him H E L P. But oh, no, wait it’s the government guys. OH THAT’S WORSE.
The funeral just makes everything awfuller and awfuller. Poor Joyce, Poor Jonathan. But not poor Lonnie, fuck that dude. Pretty much everything he does is shady. Like, I’m happy he was there for his family, that was a decent thing to do but…it was also rock-bottom-bare-minimum decent. He belittles Joyce and goes a fair way to convincing her she’s crazy. He argues with Jonathan. Where is the support, dude? Ugh.
I was delighted to find that Hopper gets to live! Yay! Haha on the government guys, too, their little stage setting didn’t fool him for a moment. And it’s like . . . he’s engaged, his brain is firing, he’s kicking ass and taking names and finding the bugs they planted in his trailer. Hell yes, Hopper. I haven’t touched on his tragic backstory much because there really hasn’t been time, but it’s super clear he was depressed and directionless (and drinking a lot) after the death of his daughter. This is giving him purpose? A mystery to solve? A family to help? A cause to champion? Maybe all of those, at once. And I approve.
I just adore Mr. Clark and how enthusiastic he is, though. Oh god now that I’ve said that he’ll die, won’t he? Damn it, SE. I loved Dustin’s brain wave about the compasses and the changing of polar north by the gate. Brains, For the Win! But El looks . . . absolutely terrified. And she’s probably right. They don’t want to go storming that particular gate.
Hopper goes to see Joyce and affirms her Mama Bear sense. You were right, this whole time. It feels so good! I’m not Joyce and I still needed that good feeling. But everyone’s off on their separate side quests and they need to get together, compare stories, and work as a group. Monster/Gate hunting powers, combine! (Please, writers! Please. I’m begging.) I can’t help feeling their separate quests are doomed to fail and my beloved nerds do indeed end up with a fractured group, as Mike & Lucas fight and El uses her mind powers to throw Lucas. Major sad face.
The flashback to El’s powers being used in the sensory deprivation chamber is stunning, what a cool idea to have her basically treading softly on an endless dark ocean! But it makes me very angry on her behalf. They TORTURED her brain to spy on RUSSIA are you kidding me right now? She’s terrified, get her out of there!
Nancy & Jonathan find the wounded deer and the jump scare totally got me. Then yet another side quest ends on an epic fail when Nancy goes through to where this monster dragged a wounded deer, most likely to EAT IT, wtf are you thinking, Nancy? Of course she has a run-in with it, it realizes she’s there, she’s running scared, Jonathan can’t find her and . . .
. . . and it’s the end of the episode, isn’t it. DAMN YOU WRITERS the cliffhanger game is so strong in this show!