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Stranger Things 2 Ep. 8 – “The Mind Flayer”

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Welcome back to Dread Central’s daily recap/reviews of the second season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things”. You can find our recap/review of the previous episode right HERE. Now let’s get to it!

After the heartbreakingly bad episode that was yesterday’s “The Lost Sister” we can only hope that today’s episode “The Mind Flayer” (which I don’t have to tell you is a super metal title) puts this season back on course.

Fingers crossed.

This new episode begins right where “The Spy” left off. Hopper watches in horror as the Demon Dogs reach up from the hell below the energy plant of the hill and invade the building with the eating of human asses on their minds.

Very quickly the Demon Dogs eat their way through the building killing each and every guard and/or scientist they can find. Up in the ER, Mike deduces that Will sold all of them out and Joyce decides to put her child to sleep (literally sleep, not like death) so he can’t rat them out anymore.

The team then lock themselves in the plant’s control room just as the power to the entire structure goes down and the shit has officially hit the Upside Down fan.

Cue credits.

We come back to find badass Billy getting ready for a date 80’s-style and getting yelled at by his tough-as-nails father. This is supposed to make us feel something resembling empathy for the Red Power Ranger, but it got none from this guy. Someone needs to throw the kid up against the wall – and rip out that single dangling earring. His dad doesn’t do that but instead sends Billy out to find his little sister Max. Collison course set.

Meanwhile, at the energy plant, the gang is stuck in the control room with Dr. Owens who tells them that in order to restore power to the plant and open the massive doors to safety, they’ll have to reset the breakers. Hopper – being the slightly over-weight Indiana Jones he is – offers his services. But wait, the place is controlled by supercomputers and Hopper doesn’t know thing one about computers, so it’s up to trusty old Bob the Brain to save them.

While Samwise heads down to the breaker room, toting a gun like Bruce Willis the math teacher, the rest of our lovable leads (Nancy, Jonathan, Dustin, Steve, Max, and Lucas) all meet up serendipitously out front of the energy planet. The catch is they can’t get in because the power is out and the plant is now an impenetrable fortress.

Inside, Bob gets the computers up and running and the rest of our trapped heroes (Hopper, Dr. Owens, Joyce, Mike and unconscious Will) get to run out the front doors. But there’s a catch here as well. As Mikey from The Goonies tries to get out of the place, the Demons Dogs set upon him and Dr. Owens has to stay behind to help navigate Mikeywise to safety by way of the computer monitors.

This isn’t going to go well.

Mikeywise successful navigates the Demon Dogs just to get to the safety of the building’s lobby – and stop. Dead. In his tracks. To do what? Smile at Joyce’s ass. His girlfriend that he is half a lobby way from hugging and kissing and running away with. But no. He stops. And smiles. And guess what? He gets his face and flabby ass eaten right the f*ck off by the Demadogs. Great. But this is the way it goes. Every movie and/or TV series needs a good death in its final episodes. If we have to sacrifice Bob to make sure we don’t lose someone like Max or (gasp) Steve, then sorry Bobwise, we loved you but you gotta gory-go. We tip our hats to your bravery.

Moving on.

The gang all reunited (expect Eleven) hold up at Joyce’s house and await the coming storm. Hooper and Joyce share a tender moment and Mike and the boys deduce that if they can kill off the Shadow Monster they can kill off everything related to the Upside Down (including Will?).

Dustin then teaches everyone about “The Mind Flayer”. A character from D&D that is so powerful and old that not even it knows how old it is and/or where it first emerged from. The Mind Flayer takes over another world by taking over people’s mind like the Germans — I mean the Nazis. But after all that exposition, it turns out the only way to defeat The Mind Flayer is you need a team of Zombies – because zombies don’t have minds to flay. But this is the real world and there are no zombies (this season) so the gang is shit out of luck.

But what about Will? They use Will to spy back on The Mind Flayer by turning the Byer’s family shed out back into a room for interrogation. While all of this is getting set up Steve and Nancy make peace, as do Dustin and Lucas. Speaking of making peace Mike and Max do as well. Kinda.

So now all the pieces are set up and the game is ready to roll towards its inevitable climax. Bring it on.

From here on out the rest of the episode more or less plays out like a possession movie with Will tied up Exorcist-style to a post in the shed and being talked down by friends and family. Will eventual learns how to communicate with the others through the haze of possession (by morse code knocking on his chair) and Will tells everyone that to end the supernatural shenanigans once and for all they will need to “Close the Gate.”

The episode ends with a Demadog getting mind-thrown into the Byers house by… something. And we realize about 15 full seconds before the series that Eleven is back and surely bleeding slightly from one nostril. The locks on the Byers door then unlock themselves and punk-rock X-men Eleven steps in… slightly bleeding from one nostril.

Roll credits.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. Sure it was a bit of a step down from “The Spy” but at least it was a major step up from “The Lost Sister.” And this episode fully kicked the plot and pacing into high gear. That said, I realize now that I don’t watch this series for its plot and pacing, and instead prefer quiet scenes between its characters.

Fingers-crossed next season doesn’t have a supernatural threat (yeah, right) and we get to spend another 10 hours with the gang without silly things like Demadogs, Demogorgons, Mind Flayers and plot getting in the way.

But still, this was a tight, fast-paced episode. It featured great character moments and a (relatively) big death scene to boot. Bonus points awarded for featuring no reference to the horrific previous episode and featuring only a single shot of Eleven. Good times.

Now bring on the season finale!

Check back with us tomorrow for our recap/review of “Stranger Things 2” Ep. 9 – “The Gate”

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