Stranger Things 2 recap – Chapter Three: The Pollywog

Credit: Stranger Things 2 - Netflix
Credit: Stranger Things 2 - Netflix /

Dustin makes a discovery and will protect it at all costs. Eleven is done playing by Hopper’s rules.

Dustin quickly enters his home hoping to avoid his mother. As his mother asks him about his time trick-or-treating (with an unhealthy dose of fussing over him), Dustin is evasive and stressed. The cat hisses at something Dustin has hidden in the prop he’s carrying as part of his Ghostbusters costume, which has peaked his mother’s interest. Dustin makes his excuses and escapes to his room.

Inside the haven of his bedroom, Dustin boots his turtle out of his tank and puts his new friend inside: it’s a slimy little creature that has a tiny roar that sounds like it’s trying to imitate a dinosaur from Jurassic Park. For some reason not based in logic, Dustin begins feeding his new friend some of his Halloween candy and names the creature D’art. Even though we see Dustin reading everything he can about reptiles to identify this strange-looking creature, this middle school science nerd doesn’t fear what this creature is; he’s quite attached to it from the moment he sees it (Hello? Do you not remember last season and what happened to Will? More on this later.)

After the opening credits, we experience a flashback that serves as a bridge to where Eleven and Hopper are in their relationship at present. Hopper is walking to the wooden box in the snow where he leaves food for Eleven, with Eleven watching nearby and out of sight. As Hopper leaves, Eleven approaches him.

Returning to the present, Hopper wakes Eleven up. Eleven is not happy with Hopper and he spends the morning trying to win her favor by making waffles – sugary, dessert waffles. Eleven wants to participate in trick-or-treating this year, but Hopper has told her she can’t because it’s dangerous. Hopper also tells Eleven it’s too dangerous to see Mike, but when it’s safe he’ll let her know. His empty promises are wearing thin to Eleven, and she responds that friends don’t lie.

At the Byers household, Joyce is frantically searching for her keys and asks Jonathan to take Will to school. Jonathan is more concerned with the development in Joyce and Bob’s relationship: Bob is now staying the night. Joyce is flustered and has no response. Bob offers to drive Will to school.

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Dustin saunters over to the library hoping to check out five books about reptiles to help identify his new friend. The librarian informs him he already has five books checked out, and he can’t check anything else out until he returns the books he has at home. When Dustin’s passionate defense of his “curiosity voyage” doesn’t sway the librarian, he creates a distraction, takes the books, and runs.

Bob and Will are sitting in companionable silence on the ride to school. For all of Jonathan’s concerns about Bob, Will seems to genuinely like Bob because he doesn’t treat Will different (unlike everyone else). Bob shares with Will a recurring childhood nightmare he used to suffer every night until one night he confronted the monster chasing him in his dreams. Bob tries to connect with Will by sharing his own experiences and his own nerdy demeanor at that age.

This exchange seems to give Will the confidence he’s looking for while suffering from terrifying episodes that everyone keeps telling him are flashbacks. Bob tells Joyce that it seems Will was bullied on Halloween based on footage recorded with the video camera. Joyce tries to watch the VHS tape when no one is home, and gets it working with help from Bob, a Radio Shack employee. Joyce sees the bullying and something else: an outline of an image. When she pauses the image and traces over it by using wax paper, we see the image she traces matches the image of the monster Will drew.

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Max approaches Lucas at school and asks why everyone calls Will “Zombie Boy.” Lucas gives the official lie everyone in Hawkins receives when they ask about Will: Will was lost in the woods for a week, and another boy was found at the quarry and misidentified as Will, hence the funeral that was held for him. Lucas tells Max not to repeat any of this, especially in front of Will.

The boys are in science class learning about the story of Phineas Gage (his story seems important, so hold onto this plot point for later) when Dustin comes bursting in late. Dustin tells the boys and Max to meet him at the AV Room after school. Max agrees to meet with them, and her interest in what the boys are meeting about leaves her without a ride home; the teen we thought was her brother ditches her when she fails to show up on time and leaves us wondering who he is to her if he’s not her brother.

Hopper is at the police station marking points on a map. He quickly tears the map off the wall and heads out. Eleven is alone in the cabin in the woods, and we flash back to when Hopper first brought her to the cabin.

Hopper leads Eleven into a dirty and dusty cabin, where the furniture is covered. Hopper tells Eleven the cabin used to be his grandfather’s and it’s mainly used for storage. Quickly moving his daughter, Sara’s box, Hopper welcomes Eleven to her new home. Hopper puts on Jim Croce’s Leroy Brown record, and we watch a montage of Eleven and Hopper working to clean up the cabin and make it habitable. Hopper sets down the ground rules for Eleven, and we see vignettes of her breaking these rules: curtains must be drawn, Eleven can’t open the door unless she hears Hopper’s secret code knock, and Eleven may not venture outside – especially during the day.

Steve is at basketball practice when Nancy comes by to talk to him. She’s annoyed that Steve didn’t take care of her this morning, and complains that she missed first period. Steve clues Nancy into some of the details of her drunken behavior from the night before: she fought with Steve, blamed them for Barbara’s disappearance, and wouldn’t tell Steve she loves him. Steve casually tosses out that Nancy’s “other boyfriend” took her home (Jonathan). Later at lunch, Jonathan reassured Nancy that she did nothing wrong and even reassured her that Steve asked him to take her home and take care of her (he most definitely didn’t). Nancy is determined to help Barb’s parents and asks Jonathan to skip fourth period with her. They stop by Radio Shack, and hole up in Nancy’s room under the guise of studying. Nancy calls Barb’s mother and tells her there’s something she needs to tell her about Barb’s disappearance. We see the listeners are recording the conversation.

Dustin shows the boys his friend, D’art and shares the creatures likes and dislikes: he likes candy, and heat hurts him. When he’s released from his confines this time, D’art is much larger than he was before. The boys debate whether to tell their science teacher about the creature. Dustin is worried his discovery will be stolen and credit is given to other people, while the boys are more concerned about what this creature is. Will is flashing back to the slimy goo he coughed up at the end of season one, and panics. The boys decide that Hopper needs to know what’s going on with this creature, but Dustin loudly objects. Max wants to know what is going on and manages to unlock the door. D’art escapes and the chase is on to catch the creature.

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Eleven is wandering during the day and spots a mother and child at a swing set. The mother and child trigger Eleven to recall the time she asked Hopper if she had a mother. Hopper tells her she did have a mother, but she’s gone now. If he’s doing this to protect Eleven or to keep her with him, it’s unclear. The mother notices Eleven and asks her probing questions. Eleven causes a distraction with her powers and disappears.

Hazmat suits are combing farmland looking for “the Russian girl.” Hopper realizes Eleven has left the cabin and panics. Eleven approaches the school and jealously observes Mike and Max have a moment where they address the issue of Mike’s harshness towards Max. The two come to a tentative truce, and Eleven trips Max as she skates. Mike recognizes the magnetic force that hurt Max and searches for Eleven. While the boys search different wings of the school for D’art, Joyce is on her way to school looking for Will. Will finds D’art in the bathroom, but then finds himself in the Upside Down and running away from a giant black monster. He decides to use Bob’s tactic of confronting his monster, but the creature gets Will.

Dustin arrives at the bathroom after Will alerted them to the creature’s location, and finds the creature but no Will. Dustin takes his rapidly growing friend in his hands and hides him underneath his baseball cap as Lucas and Mike come barreling in. Despite everything that happened last year, Dustin chooses to protect this strange creature.