'Stranger Things 2' Chapter Six recap: They're heeere

Price Peterson
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Photos: Netflix

Warning: This recap of the “Chapter Six: The Spy” episode of Stranger Things contains spoilers.

The thing about interdimensional monsters is once you’ve successfully battled one, you can’t back down from a rematch. Sure, the first confrontation may have entailed days of stress, terror, and certain death, and you may have only defeated the thing thanks to a psychic girl disintegrating herself on your behalf. But you’d better believe that when monster No. 2 shows up, you have a solemn duty to keep the winning streak going! Hesitate not: You’ve already won once before, so it’ll be easier this time, right? No problem.

Friends, in “Chapter Six: The Spy,” the characters of Stranger Things 2 ran into some problems facing down various monsters. In fact, if we can be honest with ourselves, the heroes did a lot of losing in this episode. It happens! Can’t win ’em all. Still, it was a fun and terrifying hour of television. Let’s talk about it!

We began with a hot shower.

Sheriff Hopper, Winona Ryder (as herself), and Sean Astin (as himself) had all ventured into the underground Upside Down tunnels and now presumably smelled AWFUL. Fortunately, the Department of Energy had people on standby for a hose-down. Everything was going to be all right. (And in Sheriff Hopper’s case, it was the best shower he’d had since moving into the Evil Dead cabin, and you can’t convince me otherwise.)

Unfortunately, things weren’t so great for Will. All of his insides were burning, as it turns out he’s psychically linked to all organisms in the Upside Down. So when the soldiers turned their flamethrowers onto those vines, Will felt like he was burning up all over. I’m the same way when I step into direct sunlight or look at a crucifix. Poor Will!

Elsewhere, Dustin had enlisted Steve, Steve’s nail-bat, and Steve’s hair to help him deal with his captured baby demogorgon in his storm cellar. But the duo found not only some slimy, sloughed skin, but a tunnel leading out of the cellar. Dart had escaped! And he was probably much gnarlier-looking now. Not a great situation.

Meanwhile, at Brett Gelman’s house, he toasted with Nancy and Jonathan on their new plan to send carefully edited cassette tapes to all the journalists in the nation. Second order of business? Calling them out for not being boyfriend and girlfriend despite their palpable romantic tension!

Of course, they were shocked and appalled at such a suggestion and insisted on sleeping in separate rooms. But after they both sat up in bed staring longingly into the middle distance for a while, they both, at the same time, found themselves face to face in the hallway. And then a swoony synth ballad came on and you know what happened next…

Awwww, Nancy and Jonathan kissed on the mouth! They did it, they really did it! Love these two. (But also, poor Steve!)

I loved the smash-cut from their kiss to Lucas’s sister forcing two dolls to kiss. Yep, kissing really is weird when you think about it. Let’s touch heads where they’re wettest! Anyway, Lucas was ticked at his sister for stealing his He-Man figure, and while he was taking it back she informed him that Dustin had been looking for him. It had been a Code Red, which meant Lucas was OUTTA there.

I love any scheme that involves both beef and gasoline, so Dustin and Steve’s plan to capture and incinerate the demogorgon seemed perfect to me. Just as with the baloney trap in the previous episode, I too have been lured across railroad tracks by raw beef and set on fire by local teens. It’s honestly not my favorite memory.

After Sheriff Hopper had been fully hosed down and was able to take a few hours to puke, Dr. Paul Reiser (as himself) invited him to come check out something very terrible. That rift in the basement? Was only the TOP of the rift, and they took an elevator into the ground for what felt like miles and the rift ran the entirety of it! Worse, at the bottom were the entrances to all the tunnels that were running underneath Hawkins. In short, the Upside Down was increasingly merging with our reality, and it seemed possible that an invasion from below was set to begin at any minute! Sheriff Hopper was gonna need at least one more cigarette to process this.

Yeah, Brett Gelman called it. The next morning these two were all glowy and seemed overly sensitive to Brett Gelman’s “pull-out” double entendre. Still, they’d gotten what they’d come for: a sympathetic ear, a plan of action, a lot of vodka, some surprise sex, and now they were heading back to Hawkins, where everything would be different from now on. Good for all of them! Proud of you guys.

We then got a glimpse into Perfect Billy and Max’s home, which was hilariously normal-looking considering they didn’t have parents living there. Billy must have great taste in drapes. Anyway, he had put the weight bench in the living room, so that was probably his idea. Lucas came by to snag Max and she had to sneak out the window, but other than that home life seemed pretty chill. Except for all the shouting. Despite being perfect in every way, Billy remains awful. Marry me.

Here was an experiment: Taking a blowtorch to a section of vine to see if it had an effect on Will. Conclusion: It did!

But if we’re being honest, the big reveal about Dr. Paul Reiser (as himself) in this episode was that he wasn’t evil, at least not as evil as Matthew Modine (as himself) had been. In fact, he seemed genuinely freaked out about the fact that Will was linked to the vines, and seemed reluctant to destroy them for fear of harming Will. The other dick scientists, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have the same qualms. It definitely felt strange to be on Dr. Paul Reiser’s side, but this show is full of twists!

I really loved this scene, where Steve attempted to give Dustin girl advice as they walked along the train tracks leaving a beef trail. Steve could tell that Dustin was catching feelings for a certain skater girl, but Dustin refused to admit it. Plus, he’d never do as well as Steve with the ladies, due in part to Steve’s almost supernaturally beautiful hair. So it was amazing when Steve admitted it’s kind of a to-do to get his hair to look that good, and it included ladies’ styling products. Which, duh, ladies have the best styling products, that wasn’t a mystery. That wasn’t a stranger thing. That is a REAL thing. Congrats to Steve for being out and proud about his Farrah Fawcett hair products.

There was also this touching scene when Sheriff Hopper sat in his truck for a minute weeping into his radio, apologizing to Eleven for their fight and also for the fact that he’d left her alone for so long. Obviously she was off visiting Mom so she didn’t hear it, but it was nice to see Sheriff Hopper’s tough love had its limits. He just really wanted what’s best for that girl!

I loved this brain scan that showed just how bad Will’s brain had gotten. Well, duh, there’s a yelling face in his brain! That face knows all Will’s secrets and was now VERY mad at the Department of Energy for incinerating its vines. Furthermore, it seemed to be erasing Will’s memories, as he could no longer remember who Sheriff Hopper was, or Sean Astin, or even Dr. Paul Reiser. Will’s brain was getting more damaged by the second, and it was all Dr. Paul Reiser could do to prevent the Department of Energy from accidentally murdering him via attacking the rift.

So they decided to put Will to work: If he could somehow identify a vulnerability in the shadow monster’s network, maybe they could fight it without killing Will? He pointed to an oddly shaped chamber among the tunnels: That would be an important place to visit, but Will couldn’t explain why. Worked for them!

Dustin and Steve met up with Lucas and Max, and after Dustin berated Lucas for spilling all the secrets to Max, they all put aside their differences and worked together to gather up all the rusted junk and use it to reinforce an old school bus. This was where they’d lure the demogorgon and set it on fire. What could go wrong?

I loved the scene between Max and Lucas in which Max finally filled us in on her backstory. It was more or less as expected as it gets: She and Perfect Billy are step-siblings, and their parents had decided to bail on family life and go have an adventure, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. So Max and Billy moved to Indiana and acted like dicks toward everybody. I was a little disappointed as I was hoping there was more going on here, but it turns out they’re simply damaged and dysfunctional people. Fair enough! Still, it was a touching bonding moment between these two kids, and it was nice to see Max finally seem like a normal human for once. I’ll take it.

The main problem with the teens’ plan to lure a demogorgon to a junkyard and beat it to death and set it on fire was, there wasn’t just ONE demogorgon out there. As we should’ve guessed from the MULTIPLE chirps we’d heard in past episodes, Dart was one of many pollywogs, and they were now all the size of Rottweilers! Run away, Steve!

One of them very nearly climbed into the gang’s reinforced bus, but before it could attack, something called all the demogorgons away. But what?

A bunch of soldiers entered that one cavern Will had pointed out on his map, and at first they seemed disappointed to only find a big pile of bones. But that’s when they realized that finding a cavern full of bones is generally a BAD thing. Because then a thick fog suddenly filled the room and they were all killed by demogorgons! (Loved the computer graphics and sound effects lifted directly out of Aliens as each soldier’s little dot disappeared from the “still alive” map onscreen.)

As Will then confessed, the shadow monster had forced him to lie to the Department of Energy and lure those men into a trap… It wanted revenge for all the blowtorching, and now it had gotten it. A real eye-for-a-vine situation.

And then things got worse. That pack of demogorgons were now ready to cross through the rift and reenter the real world.

I realize that is a blurry screengrab, but it was a split-second shot before cutting to black and it was the best I could do. But yeah: INVASION!! Hawkins was bound to be overrun by these ghouls if Dr. Paul Reiser and his team couldn’t keep them at bay. A dangerous and presumably foul-smelling situation all around. Ugh, just imagine all the shrieking and slime. Hide your cats, everybody.

“Chapter Six: The Spy” was a tense and slightly disturbing episode, but at least we now know the scope of the threat. Big! It’s a big threat! Hopefully Will can figure out a way to bring down this shadow monster from within, or maybe he’ll just be unthinkably tortured for a few more episodes. Who even knows? Anything could happen. Might as well watch the next one!

Stranger Things is streaming now on Netflix.

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