Stranger Things 2 recap – Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer

Stranger Things- Photo Credit: Netflix
Stranger Things- Photo Credit: Netflix /

Following “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister,” Stranger Things 2 picks up where “Chapter Six: The Spy” in the eighth episode of the season, “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer.”

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The Stranger Things 2 penultimate episode wastes no time jumping right back into the action. We pick up with what may be the most intense moment yet in the ST canon.

The demodogs are fighting their way up through the gate and into Hawkins Lab. Although Dr. Owens insists that the glass divider will hold them off, a worried Mike seems to indicate that they shouldn’t get too comfy: “We’re too late!” he screams.

Naturally, the beasts bust through almost immediately after. The building is sent into a frenzy. Mike, however, is level-headed. He suggests putting Will back to sleep to avoid another Shadow Monster spying incident. Will—already overtaken by the beast—screams in resistance and Joyce concedes to Mike’s suggestion.

Enter Hopper and Owens, who have somehow managed to escape the terror in the hallway. They help Joyce and the others escape to a side room, where they watch monitors helplessly that show the bloodshed happening in the rest of the building. The power shuts off.

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Cutting away from the action, we get our first look at Max and Billy’s family. Their parents are home and lecture Billy for losing track of his stepsister. After watching his dad’s violent reaction, suddenly Billy’s sadistic behavior makes a little more sense.

In the next scene, we see Max herself, following the monsters’ tracks with Steve and the Party. They hear howls and track the noise to Hawkins Lab. “They were going back home,” Lucas observes quietly.

Inside the lab, Owens is helping the others form a plan for escape. Unfortunately, someone has to reset the lab’s breakers in order to turn off the built-in fail safe that is locking them inside the building. Bob—our resident grown-up geek and pure-as-the-driven-snow hero—volunteers to brave the monsters outside and use his tech knowledge to save everybody.

“Remember Bob Newby, Superhero.” We will, Bob. We will. Sniff.

So begins his terrifying journey through the dark lab. Hopper briefly shows him how to use a gun, just in case things go south. Bob never complains or backs out; instead, he tells Hop, “Don’t wait for me.”

Outside, Jonathan and Nancy arrive at the lab at the same time as Steve and the gang. Any awkwardness that could have unfolded between the two exes is brushed aside quickly, as all the kids turn to hear a terrifying howl coming from the building.

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Back inside, Bob is on his way down the stairs. After a tense wait for us viewers, he finally makes it into the control room and restores power. His “open sesame” comment to get the doors open is sweet, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security: the journey isn’t over yet. A monster lurks outside.

Bob, that clever son of a gun, distracts the beast with some sprinklers and tentatively heads back outside. The rest of the group – minus Owens, who stays behind – gets out safe.

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After clumsily giving away his presence and having to break into a sprint, it looks like Bob might be safe. As he reaches the front doors though, a beast attacks him, tackling him and eating him in front of a horrified Joyce. Hopper saves Joyce and gets the group to safety.

Although no help seems to be on the way, the group hides out at the Byers home. Joyce is struggling with her grief, and the overall mood here is pretty somber. Even the boys reflect on how they “can’t let [Bob] die in vain.”

As the kids mull over the problem, Mike seems to stumble upon a solution regarding the Shadow Monster: “Maybe if we stop him, we can stop his army, too.”

Cue his train of thought regarding hive mind, which here means “if we hurt Will, maybe it’ll kick out the virus.” This leads Dustin to another Dungeons and Dragons connection, renaming the Shadow Monster as “the Mind Flayer. The kid is on a roll this episode for naming terrifying beasts.

All of this conversation leads Mike to the most important conclusion of all. Will “can’t spy if he doesn’t know where he is.”

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The group immediately heads for the Byers’ shed, which they transform into an unidentifiable room for interrogation. Inside, they rouse Will. He’s clearly upset to be tied up and also clearly still controlled by the Mind Flayer.

In an attempt to recapture what part of Will is still hidden inside the boy’s body, his family and friends use memories to try to draw out an emotional response. At first, their attempts seem to fail, but the test helps Hopper to notice that Will’s body is tapping out a secret message in Morse Code.

“H-E-R-E” Hopper translates for the group. With new motivation, the group goes back to try once more. “Close Gate” is the new message they get from Will.

Unfortunately, their efforts are cut short. The phone rings, giving away their position to an ever-alert Mind Flayer. The Demodogs are coming! We can hear their howls getting closer.

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The group readies themselves with guns and sheer courage as the monsters come to descend on them. We hear several squeals of pain, and suddenly, a demodog is flung through the window. They look over to find a dead demodog on the floor.

No one has to wait long for answers though. The lock on the door unbolts itself and in steps the most boss 13-year-old who ever lived. Welcome back to Hawkins, Eleven.