Barbara wakes up gasping and finds herself at the bottom of what appears to be Steve’s pool. The water is gone and black trails of liquid cover the surfaces. The monster growls at her from the shadows and Barbara runs to the side.
In Steve’s bed, Steve and Nancy kiss.
Barbara is unable to get a grip and slides back, screaming.
Nancy hesitates but then tells Steve that it’s nothing.
Barbara reaches the ladder and starts to crawl out, but the monster grabs her and drags her back.
Later, Nancy looks at the sleeping Steve and then says that she’ll see him tomorrow. He barely stirs and Nancy goes out to the pool. There’s no sign of Barbara, and Nancy makes her way home. Karen is waiting for her, and demands to know where she’s been. Nancy claims that she went out to eat with some other students after the assembly, and Karen wonders whose sweatshirt she’s wearing. When she says that it’s Steve’s, Karen wonders if Steve is her boyfriend now. Nancy says that she just borrowed his sweatshirt and it’s no big deal, and Karen says that she can talk to her whatever happened. Her daughter insists that nothing happened, and Karen lets her go up to her room.
The next day at the Byers home, Jonathan wakes up when he hears Joyce calling to Will. He finds her in Will’s bedroom, surrounded by the lamps. Joyce is talking to a lamp, and says that Will is trying to talk to her through the lights. She admits that it sounds insane and asks Will to show Jonathan what Will showed her. One of the bulbs flickers, but Jonathan figures that it’s a malfunction. Joyce tries to explain about the wall and insists that Will is there, but Jonathan tells her to stop it and the search parties will find him. His mother calms down and says that she’ll try to get some sleep, and Jonathan goes to make some breakfast.
At Mike’s basement, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin discuss what to do that night. They’re going to tell their parents that they’re at school with AV Club. Lucas has weapons, Dustin has snacks. Dustin figures that Jane can do cool things with her mind and asks her to make a model fly. Nothing happens, and Karen calls down that it’s time for school. Mike tells Jane not to leave until after school when she should meet her at the power lines behind his house.
At school, Nancy thinks that everyone is looking at her. She goes to her locker and Steve comes up behind her. He assures Nancy that he didn’t tell anyone, and Nancy wonders if Tommy and Carol might have said anything. Steve says that he had a good time and Nancy agrees, and they kiss. Nancy goes to class and discovers that Barbara isn’t there and no one has seen her.
Jim, Callahan, and Powell drive up to the energy lab and Jim tells the MP Patrick that they need to take a look around. He says that they have to talk to the Department of Energy, but Jim says that he figures Will isn’t inside but has to check anyway. The police chief asks Patrick to talk to his boss and Patrick agrees.
Jane levitates the ship model with her mind until she gets bored, and then goes upstairs. She sits in the Lazyboy, plays with the phone, and checks out the TV until she comes to a Coke commercial.
In the lab, Brenner has Jane hooked up. She concentrates on a Coke can and crushes it with her mind, and realizes that her nose is bleeding. Brenner smiles at her in satisfaction.
Joyce gets out a box of Christmas lights and strings them up inside her home. When she runs out, she goes to the store and buys more lights from M. Donald.
Jim checks the other end of the drainage tunnel, and Hawkins, the head of security, says that they have cameras and security everywhere. The police chief asks to see the security footage, and Hawkins takes them in. he says that Brenner is in charge, and takes them to the surveillance room. There’s no sign of Will on the tape. As they leave, Jim points out that it was raining the night that Will disappeared but there was no rain on the tape. He figures that Hawkins and his people are lying.
In the subbasement, Brenner and his team are securing the room with the growth and bolting a machine to the floor.
At the Wheeler house, Jane goes to Nancy’s room and looks at her things. There are photos of Nancy on the wall and Jane stares at them.
At school, Nancy sits down with Steve, Tommy, and Carol. She asks Tommy if he saw Barbara when he left, and Tommy confirms that she was gone when they left. He and Carol taunt Nancy about having sex with Steve, and Steve says that Barbara probably skipped school. Jonathan goes by outside and Nancy sees him.
As boys look for rocks for their slingshot, Lucas and Dustin figure that Mike is in love with Jane. Troy and Jamescome over and Troy says that Will is dead, he trips Mike and walks off with James, and they find the perfect rock.
Jonathan goes to the school darkroom and develops the photos he took at Steve’s house. A girl, Nicole, comes in and Jonathan quickly puts them away and leaves.
Joyce finishes stringing up the Christmas lights just as Karen comes by with Holly and a casserole.
Jim and Powell drive to the library and the librarian, Marissa, complains that Jim never called her. He asks to see the microfiche newspaper files and explains that he’s looking for information on the energy lab. When Marissa asks why he isn’t looking for Will, Jim says that he is. There are accusations from a woman, Terry Ives, that the lab was conducting illegal experiments involving MKUltra, and that Brenner took her daughter.
Joyce says that Will always loved Christmas so she put up the lights for him. She looks around nervously and says that they’ve been having electrical problems. Meanwhile, Holly sees a light flicker near Will’s bedroom. She goes over and the lights form a trail to the door. The girl goes in and finds the lamps flashing on and off. After a minute they stop and Holly stares at the wall.
Karen notices that H9olly is gone.
As something starts to come through the wall, Joyce comes in and pulls her out into the hallway. She asks if Holly saw something, and then tells Karen that she has to leave.
Nancy calls Barbara’s home and talks to her mother. Mrs. Holland says that Barbara didn’t come home after the vigil, and Nancy claims that Barbara is at the library.
When Jonathan goes to his car, he finds Steve, Tommy, and Carol there with Nicole. Steve says that Nicole told them what Jonathan has been taking pictures of. The boys grab his backpack and go through it, and find the photos of Steve’s house. Nancy comes over and asks what’s going on, and they tell her that Jonathan was spying on her. Steve says that Jonathan is a pervert and tears up the photos, and then smashes the camera. They head off to the game, but Nancy stays behind and sees that one of the photos is of Barbara. She picks them up and goes with the others.
Jane goes to the power lines after school and waits for the boys. A cat meows at her.
Brenner puts Jane in a room with a caged cat. She stares at it, crying, and then looks at Brenner watching her. She finally yanks off the electrodes and shakes her head. The orderlies drag Jane to her cell as she yells “Papa!” at Brenner. When they try to lock her in, she slams one back with her TK and breaks the other’s neck when he draws a gun. Brenner comes in and looks at Jane, who is bleeding from the nose and ears. He strokes her head and says, “Incredible,” and then carries her out in his arms.
The boys arrive and Mike has her get on his bike. They then ride off to the forest.
At school, Nancy finally walks off from the others. She tells Steve that she said that she’d do something with her mother.
Jane asks Mike why they hurt her, and he claims that he fell. She reminds him what he said about friends telling the truth, and Mike admits that Troy tripped him. Jane says that she understands and smiles.
Nancy goes to Barbara’s car where she parked,but there’s no one there. She then goes to Steve’s house and checks the pool, and hears something moving in the nearby wood. Nancy checks it out, calling for Barbara, and something moves in the brush. Scared, Nancy runs away.
At the Byers house, the Christmas lights light up. Joyce follows them to a crawlspace in the wall. She puts more lights inside and they light up. Joyce sets up a simple yes/no code and Will says that he’s alive but not safe. She then paints the letters of the alphabet on the wall, one letter per light.
Nancy returns home and tells Karen that something terrible happened to Barbara.
At the library, Powell figures that Terry is nuts. Jim is more interested in Brenner, and figures he was involved with secret CIA research. He points out that the cloth Stokes found is a hospital gown like the one that Brenner’s patients are wearing, and suggests that Will was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Callahan calls and says that they’ve got something.
As night falls, the boys arrive at the Byers house and Jane says that Will is hiding there. Lucas says that they should have called the cops, and Dustin points out the police driving by. The boys follow on their bicycles.
Joyce finishes painting the letters and tells Will to spell out where he is. He spells out R-I-G-H-T H-E-R-E, and then R-U-N. All of the lights flash and the monster tears through the wall.
Jim and his officers drive to where State Trooper O’Bannon is parked at the canyon with firefighters. As the boys ride up, the firefighters pull a body from the water-filled bottom of the canyon. Lucas says that it’s really Will, and Mike angrily asks Jane what’s wrong with her before riding off.
Joyce runs down the road and comes to Jonathan driving up the house. He gets out and hugs her.
Mike returns home and Karen asks him what’s wrong. He cries and she hugs him.
The police pull up to where Jonathan is parked.
Written by Gadfly on Aug 28, 2016