Stranger Things Recap: Episode 5 “The Flea and the Acrobat”

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab)
Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab) /

Recapping the fifth episode of the Netflix Original series Stranger Things “The Flea and the Acrobat.”

Joyce admits to not being able to “feel” Will anymore after she saw and heard him through the wall at the end of the previous episode. Hopper breaks into Hawkins Lab to look for Will. The boys think he is trapped in an alternate dimension. They use their gameboard to depict Will being “on the other side” to which Dustin says it’s like “The Vale of Shadows” which is a dark reflection or echo of the world that’s full of decay and a death. A plane of our phase and where monsters exist. It’s right next to you but you don’t see it. Meanwhile, Hopper sees the opening to the alternate dimension before being apprehended.

Cue the credits. A lot happened in those opening minutes but it still couldn’t stop the family from holding Will’s funeral, despite the belief from his loved ones that he’s alive, somewhere, somehow. Hopper wakes up in a panic after he was caught in the lab and finds a bug in his trailer. He knows there is a full-blown conspiracy here and he’s catching on to them.

Mike and the boys ask Mr. Clarke how they could theoretically get to an alternate dimension to rescue Will. He uses the acrobat and a flea on a tightrope metaphor where an acrobat can only go forward or backwards but a flea can go forward, backward, sideways or underneath the rope. The only way to get to “the upside down” is finding the gate, which is in Brenner’s lab.

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Hopper learns State police keep finding their way into this case when they report they found Barbara’s car at a bus station to play into the narrative that she ran away.

Joyce wants her ex-husband Lonnie to run away though after he showed up to the funeral and stayed with her, but he was only there to get money for Will’s “death.” Hopper can’t run away from either, this time, from his past when he calls his ex, who is remarried and with a baby, after he’s been drinking. Hopper may feel like he’s losing his mind over this case, but he goes to Joyce and sweeps the home for bugs and tells her it wasn’t Will’s body in the morgue and she was right all along.

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix (screengrab)
Credit: Stranger Things – Netflix (screengrab) /

In a flashback scene, Eleven is made to get into this bath that resembled something from Minority Report to find a man for Brenner. Inside this time warp or time travel or whatever you want to call it, she is there where this man is, but she’s not alone and is scared off by the monster in this alternate plane.

Flash forward to the present where Eleven, Mike, Dustin and Lucas are following their compasses to the true north with the hopes of finding the gate to save Will. Eleven pleads with Mike to turn around and says it’s not safe but they keep pressing forward. Eleven can’t go back there, so she used her powers to mess with the compasses so they can’t find it. Lucas thinks Eleven is a traitor for this reason and doesn’t want to save Will. This makes Mike upset to the point they start fighting until Eleven uses her powers to fling Lucas through the air. Mike yells at her saying, “What is wrong with you?” that triggered her memory of seeing the monster in the alternate timeline and vanishes.

Nancy and Jonathan continue their unlikely (totally likely) alliance to find and kill the monster. They are in the woods late at night (because that’s the best time to look for monsters) and come across a dear who was hit by a car and near death. Jonathan was going to shoot so it wouldn’t have to suffer when it’s suddenly pulled away by the monster. They go investigating when Nancy hears sees a strange opening at the bottom of a tree trunk that leads to the alternate dimension where the monster is with Will and Barb. She is separated from Jonathan, but they can both hear each other, and now she’s in real trouble because the monster spotted her.