'Stranger Things' - "Chapter Three: The Pollywog" Recap

To this point, Stranger Things 2 has been a slow build, taking its time to reintroduce characters and setting up dominoes it plans on knocking down at a later date. That’s worked out fine for the first two episodes, but a third in a row has left the season’s shortcomings starting to show. 

A big part of this episode is the continuously evolving relationship of Hopper and Eleven. While she’s angry at him in the present for being late to their Halloween plans, we also get flashbacks to when they first started living together. Listen, I love this father/daughter relationship that’s been developing between the two, but these flashbacks are getting extraneous. I don’t need every single blank filled in for me. It feels less like needed backstory and more like giving Millie Bobby Brown more to do since Eleven has been isolated in a cabin all season. She does actually leave the cabin in order to find Mike later in the episode, but when she finds him at the school he appears to be bonding with new girl Max. Feeling replaced, Eleven leaves, more resentful than ever.

Meanwhile, it’s Dustin who has found the episode’s titular Pollywog. He names it D’Artagnan (Dart for short) and can’t wait to show the rest of the Party. Mike is immediately skeptical of the creature and he has every right to be. It’s frustrating as a viewer to be so clearly ahead of Dustin in his thinking. Dart is very obviously a creature from the Upside Down (perhaps a baby Demogorgon?) and therefore extremely dangerous. To see Dustin then hide an escaped Dart from the rest of the Party just seems like a massive disaster waiting to happen. 

The closing moments of the episode feature Will experiencing another one of his visions while he’s off alone looking for Dart. Earlier in the episode he’s coached by Joyce’s oblivious new boyfriend Bob (a great Sean Astin) to face his fears head on. So instead of running from the giant, ominous Shadow Monster, Will stands his ground and yells for it to go away. It does not. Instead, the monster completely engulfs Will and sends shadowy tentacles inside the young boy’s body. As far as plans go…

While “Chapter Three: The Pollywog” had some of the clearest shortcomings of the season to date, it also finally gave things some forward momentum. Nancy and Jonathan seem to be on an adventure to bring some sort of #JusticeForBarb. Dustin’s pollywog is sure to cause problems down the road. And that cliffhanger of Will being engulfed by the Shadow Monster? That is how you create excitement for a season.

Let us know your thoughts on "Chapter Three: The Pollywog" below!