Stranger Things Recap: Episode 8 “The Upside Down”

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

Recapping the season finale, “The Upside Down” of the Netflix Original series Stranger Things.

After getting caught sneaking into Hawkins Lab, Hopper and Joyce are being interrogated by Brenner and his team. Brenner admits he doesn’t understand the monster’s behavior and he needs her help to stop it. Joyce tells him to go to hell. Hopper is being tasered over and over when he reveals everything he knows but Brenner’s people want to inject him with drugs so it’ll seem like he’s a junkie who lost his mind and doesn’t know what he’s speaking about. Hopper tells them how this is going to go down and he makes a deal for them to leave so they can find Will.

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Nancy and Jonathan are off to find the (Demogorgon) monster and set up a bear trap inside the Byers home to catch it. Meanwhile, Joyce and Hopper put on the special suits to enter the gate where there is a toxic atmosphere on the other side.

Inside the gate, Hopper recalls a memory of his late daughter having trouble controlling her breathing flashback after Joyce experiences some shortness of breath as they begin the search for Will. Hopper sees a stuffed animal of a tiger that cues another flashback from his daughter holding the same one when Hopper was reading to her in a hospital bed as she died from cancer.

Nancy and Jonathan got the monster to come to the house but he didn’t fall for their trap. Nancy’s boyfriend Steve shows up in a panic trying to talk to Jonathan and bursts into the house and sees what’s going on. He’s freaking out. Nancy pulls a gun on him and tells him to leave.

All of a sudden, the lights start flickering, signaling the monster is coming back. I was hoping the monster was going to eat Steve, but he actually showed some guts and came back in the house and started beating the monster with a baseball bat with nails sticking out of it. They set the trap and light it on fire, but when the fire goes out, the monster is nowhere to be found.

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

Mike is talking with Eleven at the school where they’re hiding out and tells her everything is going to be okay. His parents will take her in and how she’ll be like family. Although not like a sister, because he totally likes her and wants to go to the school dance with her. He kisses her!

But the happy mood didn’t last long after Brenner’s crew finds them hiding out and corners Eleven and the boys in the halls. Eleven used her powers to make them bleed from their eyes until they popped and they all fell to their death. It drained her so much though that she won’t wake up and the boys are helpless as Brenner approaches Eleven and the boys are captured.

And now the monster comes crashing through the brick walls!

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

The shotgun fire did nothing to slow down the monster who jumps on Brenner and kills the creep. Eleven and the boys were able to escape just in time to another room. Transition to Hopper and Joyce who find Will in the upside down with a gross three-foot long eel-like thing attached to his mouth and deep into his lungs.

Back to the school where the lights start flickering as Mike talks to Eleven who is so weak. He promised to go to the Snow Ball with her Then, the monster comes storming in the classroom where Lucas breaks out his slingshot to stop the monster. It’s not working. Eleven summoned enough power to slow the monster and pin it against the wall.

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

She looks back to Mike and says “bye” before using all of her power to turn the monster and herself into black flecks. Back to the upside down where Hopper and Joyce have to perform CPR on Will. This scene goes back to Hopper watching his daughter die in the hospital in an intense, emotional scene where he’s pounding on Will’s chest to start his heart again until he gasps for a breath. He’s alive.

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Will is recovering in the hospital where Joyce, Jonathan, Mike, Lucas and Dustin all see him and fill him in on what happened while he was gone. As Hopper leaves the hospital, he is stopped by a car, we have to believe is the surviving members of Brenner’s experiments to ensure he holds up his end of the deal that allowed them to retrieve Will.

We fast forward one month later and see the boys playing Dungeons & Dragons like they were in the opening scene of the pilot and they’re all very happy. Although, Mike still has Eleven’s basement fort still set up and clearly misses his friend. Jonathan picks up Will from the Wheeler home and Nancy is there to give him a Christmas present. It’s a camera to replace the one Steve broke earlier. Too bad, she’s still with Steve though and not with Jonathan.

Hopper ventures out into the woods with a special delivery. He has some ego waffles wrapped in plastic wrap and leaves them in a snow-covered box in the middle of nowhere. Is Eleven alive?! She has to be, right?! That’s how I’m choosing to interpret that scene.

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

That’s not the only scene that will be open to interpretation as the closing scene will linger in the minds of viewers for weeks and months. The Byers family is enjoying their family dinner when Will excuses himself to go to the bathroom where he looked a little disheveled after looking in the mirror. He coughed up a black slug that was inside him when he was in the upside down. The lights flicker as his surroundings go from his bathroom to the upside down.

It was insane! And leaves viewers with questions about whether he was actually back home, was he still in the upside down and having a dream or sort, is he really back home, but he’ll never escape the upside down, what about that slug that went down the drain? Is that thing going to grow bigger and bigger? Is the monster really dead?

Let us know your thoughts on the Stranger Things season finale and what you thought about the series as a whole in the comments below.