'Stranger Things' - "Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer" Recap

After one of its worst and misguided episodes yet, Stranger Things returns in top form with “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer”. Filled with tension, team-ups, reunions, heartbreak, and action, it truly was a mixture of everything that makes the series great. "The Mind Flayer" is perhaps the best episode of the entire series, as a season’s worth of setups begin to payoff masterfully.

We first return to Hawkins Labs, where the horde of demogorgans have taken over. The building is in lockdown, meaning unless they reboot the system, Hopper, Joyce, Owens, Bob, Mike, and Will were trapped inside with the monsters. Bob volunteers to make the dangerous trek to the basement in order reboot the system and allow the others to escape. Owens, a captain going down with his ship, stays behind to use the security cameras to guide Bob through the facility. Joyce’s beau manages to get the place back up and running, unlocking the exit and allowing the group to escape. Unfortunately for good ol’ Bob, he gets attacked by a demogorgan just as he’s about to be reunited with his love. Hopper carries a screaming Joyce away from the lab as the monsters have their dinner. It’s a truly gruesome and heroic end to Bob Newby. Sean Astin brought a lot of charm to a role that could have been a generic goof. It’s a testament to the writers that they found room amongst all of their characters and plot to make Bob standout as a sympathetic figure to be mourned.

The Hawkins Labs crew retreat back to Casa Byers, along with Steve & the kids and Nancy & Jonathan. The entire cast is now together, ready to brace the incoming demodog (thanks Dustin) storm together. Their first course of action is to try and communicate in some way with Will. Joyce, Jonathan, and Mike recount touching stories about Will from the past in the hopes of breaking past the Shadow Monster’s hold. While the Shadow Monster speaks through Will, he uses his hand to tap out a morse code message. Proof that their plan is working, Jonathan begins blasting The Clash as he and the others continue to recount their fondest of Will memories. It’s an amazingly touching montage, edited to perfection as Will’s loved ones come together to give him the strength to communicate. In the end, his morse code message reads, “Close Gate.” If they want to rid Will’s body and the town of Hawkins of the Shadow Monster for good, they’re going to need to close the gate from our world to the Upside Down. It’s a moment of triumph and inspiration, undone when the Shadow Monster is able to pinpoint their location and send his horde of demodogs to attack. The giant party stand together, ready to fight off their attackers as one. Only, they won’t have to. Eleven finally returns, quickly dispatching any threat. Mike steps forward, tears in his eyes. Mike and Eleven, reunited at last.

What an incredible episode, and with only one episode to go, it’s going to be hard to top. Let us know your thoughts on "Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer" in the comments below!