Mike and El hug, and Mike says that he never gave up on her. She says she heard him calling, and Jim explains that he wouldn't let her respond. Mike realizes that Jim has been hiding her, and Jim takes him into the next room and explains that he was protecting her. He tells Mike not to blame El and stunts punching Jim. Jim finally holds him and Mike breaks into tears.
Lucas and Dustin hug El and says that they missed her, and she realizes that Dustin has teeth. Max introduces herself and El brushes past her without responding and hugs Joyce. They go to see Will, and Joyce asks her if she can close the gate if they get her back there.
In the tunnels beneath Hawkins Labs, the demo-dogs gather in front of the gate.
At home, Karen is soaking in the tub reading a romance novel. The doorbell rings and Ted is sleeping, so Karen finally gets out of the tub and answers the door. It's Billy, who looks appreciatively at Karen in her bathrobe and says that he didn't realize Nancy had a sister. He takes her hand and says that he's looking for Max. Karen draws him directions to the Byers house and Billy says that he'll see her later.
At the Byers house, Jim warns that with the demo-dogs overrunning Hawkins Labs, it will be impossible to get to the gate. El says that she can do it, but Mike warns that if they close the gate then Will will die. Joyce and the others go into Will's room and she remembers saying that the Mind Flayer likes it cold. They figure that they need to make Will uninhabitable by burning it out of Will, somewhere far away. Jim gives Jonathan directions to the cabin and tells him to let him know via the radio when the thing is out of Will.
Steve tells Nancy that she should go with Jonathan. He says that he's a shitty boyfriend but a halfway decent girlfriend, and tells her that it's okay.
Mike tells El to be careful, and she promises that he won't lose her again. They start to kiss, but Jim interrupts to say that it's time. Jonathan, Joyce, and Nancy take Will to the cabin, while Jim drives El to Hawkins Labs. Mike and the others watch them go.
As Jim drives, he asks El what she's been doing. El tells him that she saw Mama and rode in a big truck with a nice man. She admits that she shouldn't have left, and Jim tells her that he should have been there and never lied to her about Terry. He figures that he's a black hole that destroys everything around him, and talks about his daughter Sarah. Jim says that Sarah is dead, and he's been scared that he would lose El as well. He apologizes for everything, and they both agree that he's been stupid. El takes his hand and after a moment, Jim takes hers. She says that she's been stupid as well and Jim tells her that he likes her new look.
At the Byers house, Dustin cleans out the refrigerator and has Steve put in inside, insisting that it's a major scientific discovery. Lucas and Max clean up the broken glass in the living room, and Mike paces nervously. He figures that El needs protection, and points out to the others that they're not even in the game. Steve agrees and says that there's nothing they can do, and Dustin figures that since the demo-dogs have a hive mind, they can pull them all away from the lab. Mike identifies the tunnel that Jim used and says that they can use it to get to the hub and draw the demo-dogs away. Steve objects, saying that he promised to keep them safe. Before they can agree, Billy pulls up and Max tells Lucas that he'll kill both of them.
Steve goes out and Billy says that he's looking for Max. When Steve claims that Max isn't there, Billy doesn't believe him and calls Steve on it. The kids are looking out the window, and duck down when Billy points them out. Billy knocks Steve down and goes inside, and grabs Lucas and slams him into a wall. He tells Lucas to stay away from Max, and Lucas knees him in the groin. Steve comes back in and punches Billy, and Billy laughs and says that he's been waiting for "King Steve". When Steve doesn't leave, Billy attacks him and Billy slams a plate over his head and beats him. Max grabs the sedative that they've been using on Will and injects it into her stepbrother's neck. He pulls it out and then collapses, laughing. Max grabs Steve's bat and tells Billy to leave her and her friends alone, and drives the bat into the floor between Billy's legs to make her point. Billy says that he understands and passes out, and Max takes his car keys and tells the others to come on.
Jonathan, Joyce, and Nancy drive to the cabin and take Will inside. They tie Will to a cot and surround him with heat lamps that they brought, and light up the wood stove.
Jim and El arrive at Hawkins Labs and hear the demo-dogs howling inside. El remembers what was done to her there, and Jim tells her to save her strength while he shoots their way in.
Max and the others load Steve in the car and drive for the hub. Steve wakes up and Dustin tells him that he put up a great fight. The teenager realizes that they're going to the tunnel, and Max hits the accelerator. She yells at the others to shut up, and Lucas gives her directions to the hole. They slam into mailboxes and continue on.
Will starts convulsing, yelling in pain. Joyce remembers Bob and turns up the heat.
The kids arrive at the hole and put on goggles and masks, and grab cans of gasoline. Steve yells at them to stop, and Dustin tells him to keep them safe by going with them. He reluctantly follows them down and insists on leading them so he doesn't get blamed if they die.
Jim and El enter the complex and head for the control room. They find a badly wounded Owens in the stairwell, and Jim puts on a tourniquet and introduces El to Owens. Jim asks Owens to help El lead a normal life when it's all over, and tightens the tourniquet. once Owens is stabilized, Jim and El continue on.
The kids pass through a chamber and a pustule sprays liquid at Dustin. he quickly runs on to join the others, gagging, and then says that he's okay. They continue on to the hub and drench it with gasoline.
Will continues screaming, and Joyce tells Jonathan to wait. Jonathan starts to untie Will, and Joyce and Nancy spread him. Black veins spread up Will's neck, and he rips free of the ropes and grabs Joyce by the neck.
Jim tells El to stay behind and goes to the control room. Demo-dogs are inside.
Once the hub is drenched, Steve prepares to light the gasoline.
Nancy grabs a poker from the stove and jams it into Will's side. He lets go of Joyce.
Jim charges in ready to shoot.
Joyce yells at the Mind Flayer to get out of Will.
Steve lights the gasoline. The demo-dogs scream in pain as the vines burn, and the kids run out. The Mind Flayer's darkness flows out of Will and out the door, streaking into the sky. Jonathan unplugs the heaters, and Will wakes up. He's back to his normal self, and Joyce and Jonathan hug him.
The demo-dogs go down the shaft to the hub, and Jonathan calls Jim and tells him to close the gate. Jim and El take the elevator down the shaft and El takes Jim's hand.
As the kids head back to the hole, a vine grabs Mike by the leg and drags him back.
Once the elevator is in front of the gate, El uses her telekinesis to try and close it. It glows brighter and something gigantic moves on the other side.
The others come back to pull Mike free, and Steve smashes the vine with his bat. A demo-dog arrives... and Dustin realizes that it's Dart. He tells the others to trust it and then steps forward and reveals his face so that Dart can see his "friend". He apologizes and offers it some nougat, and waves the others past as Dart eats the candy. Dustin then says goodbye to his friend and leaves with the others.
El remembers what Kali told her about finding something in her past that angers her. She uses it to summon her power and close the gate.
The kids hear the demo-dogs coming and run faster. They reach the hole and Steve helps the others up. Before Dustin can get up, the demo-dogs arrive and Steve and Dustin prepare to fight... and the creatures run past them to Hawkins Labs. Mike realizes that they're going for El.
El continues closing the gate, and the demo-dogs arrive. Jim shoots at them and realizes that there's dozens of them. El remembers Brenner telling her that she has a wound that is festering, and she levitates into the air as the Mind Flayer sends a tentacle at her.
All of the lights burn brighter than ever. Screaming, El redirects the darkness back through the gate and closes it, and then collapses. Cut off from the Mind Flayer, the demo-dogs and the vines die.
Jim holds El and tells her that she did good.
One Month Later
The military locks up Hawkins Lab and declares it a restricted area. Murray watches them go and waves, laughing.
After Nancy and the others released Owens' tape, several high-ranking members of the DOE have admitted involvement in the death and cover-up of Barbara. They claim that she died due to exposure to an experimental chemical asphyxiant.
Jim goes to the bar and meets with Owens. Owens gives him an envelope with a fake certificate of birth for El, identifying her as Jim's daughter. He advises Jim to give a year before he lets El out in public, and Jim asks how risky one night would be.
The middle school prepares for the winter Snow Ball. Joyce practices dancing with Will as Jonathan films them.
Karen takes photos of Mike, assuring him that he's handsome.
Lucas practices in the mirror, asking Max to dance. When Erica mocks him, Lucas orders him out.
Susan prepares Max's hair for the dance. When Billy walks by, Max glares at him and he keeps going.
Cynthia has a new cat, and Dustin finds the sack that he's looking for. It has hair spray inside, and Dustin puts it on the way Steve told him to. Steve picks him up and tells him to act like he doesn't care what the girls think of him. He tells Dustin that he looks great and wishes him luck. Mr. Clarke congratulates Dustin on how good he looks, and Steve sees Nancy at the door letting students in. After a moment, he drives away.
Dustin arrives in the gym and waves casually to Nancy, who is serving punch. She smiles at Jonathan, who is taking photos. Meanwhile, Dustin joins his friends and they wonder what happened to his hair. A slow number starts and Lucas asks Max to dance if she wants to. She leads him out to the dance floor, a girl invites Will to dance. Mike nudges him until he agrees, and they go out and dance. Meanwhile, Dustin watches Max sadly. He spots another girl, Stacey, tells Mike to wish him luck, and goes over to ask Stacey to dance. She refuses and walks away, laughing with her friends. Two other girls walk away when they spot Dustin heading for them, and Nancy sees him standing alone. She goes over and drags him out onto the dance floor. Nancy shows him how to dance as the other girls look on, and she tells him that Dustin has always been the favorite of her brother's friends. She assures Dustin that in a few years, he'll be driving the girls his age nuts.
Jim finds Joyce parked outside the gym and he shares a cigarette with her. He asks how she's holding up, and admits that feeling never goes away. Jim assures her that every day it gets a little easier and puts an arm around her.
Mike is sitting alone and sees El come in wearing a dress. They meet each other on the dance floor and Mike tells El that she looks beautiful. He invites her to dance, and says that they can figure out how together.
Max finally kisses Lucas and smile, and then hugs him.
Mike and El kiss.
In the Upside Down, the Mind Flayer waits.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 7, 2017