'Stranger Things' - "Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak" Recap

It's Halloween night in the second installment of Stranger Things 2. Aptly titled "Trick or Treat, Freak", the episode really feels like an extension of the premiere. Other than the looming threat of the Shadow Monster, there's not yet a clear sense of where things are headed. What Chapter Two does instead of advancing the plot in any significant way is begin to break apart the new status quo established in the premiere.

There are three main Halloween stories to follow in Chapter 2. For Nancy and Steve, Halloween means heading off to a party to act like the teenagers they were before their worlds were turned upside down. Steve Harrington has made great strides since his antagonistic ways of season one. He's ditched his douchebag friends, who now bully him. He's applying for colleges, but thinking about staying in town to be with Nancy. And he genuinely wants to do the right thing when it comes to #JusticeForBarb. Oh, yeah. That thing the internet inexplicably went crazy over is working its way into Stranger Things 2 in the biggest piece of fan service since Gendry confessed to still be rowing. The thing about Barb is the lack of closure for everyone involved. Her parents are holding onto the hope that their daughter will return home the same way Will Byers did. The problem is that Nancy and Steve can't speak of the internet's favorite ginger or else they'll face the wrath of Hawkins Lab. It's something Steve understands, who insists on keeping quiet for the safety of everyone involved. Unfortunately, keeping quiet is tearing Nancy apart from the inside. Despite Steve's best efforts, Nancy spends the entire party trying to drink her feelings away. This leads to an argument between the couple, where Nancy calls everything bullshit. Secrets are bullshit. Gazebos are bullshit. Love is bullshit. It's the last one that stings the most for poor Steve Harrington, who professes his love for Nancy to find that it's not reciprocated. He leaves, upset, allowing Jonathan to make sure Nancy gets home safe.

For Mike and his Party of friends, Halloween is all about trick or treating and that sweet, sweet candy. The night starts out great for the boys, Dustin and Lucas even manage to get shared crush Max to tag along, but things eventually take a turn. Will is overcome by another vision of the Shadow Monster, and the threat appears to be growing. Mike takes the lead on caring for his friend. If these visions are connected to the Upside Down, maybe Eleven is involved. Mike has grown much more sullen in the year since her disappearance and this could be just the pick-me-up he needs.

The last and most tragic observance of Halloween comes from Eleven and Hopper. Eleven wants to leave the cabin to see her friends. Hopper needs her to stay inside for own protection. He offers the compromise of bringing back candy and a movie to watch together, promising to be back by 5:15. He then discovers that the spread of rotting pumpkin patches in the area are in fact connected to the Upside Down, leading him to lose track of time and break his promise to Eleven. She is devastated by this betrayal of trust. The warm father/daughter relationship they were forming is beginning to turn sour. Interspersed throughout these scenes are flashbacks that bring the viewer up to speed on how Eleven ended up in Hopper's care. It's not super necessary, but it's an excuse to keep Millie Bobby Brown busy, so I can't complain too much.

"Trick or Treat, Freak" is another solid outing, but I'm officially ready for the plot to start picking up.

I'd rank it 8 Steve Harrington head bobs out of 10.

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