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Chapter Two: The Mall Rats Recap

In the factory, Billy staggers out of the basement and looks back at the doorway. Growling noises come from below, and Billy runs out to his car and drives away. He stops down the road at a phone booth, gets in, and calls 911. The operator asks what his emergency is, and vague memories of what Billy went through in the basement flash through his head. The lights go out in the booth, and Billy goes out. Mists form and a horde of shadow-wrapped figures advance toward Billy. He asks what they want, and one figure steps forward... revealing that it's Billy.

The next morning, El paces nervously on the cabin porch, waiting for Mike. He doesn't show, and she goes in and calls the Wheeler house. Karen answers and calls Mike to the phone. Mike is pacing nervously in his room. He finally picks up his extension and El asks where he is. Mike says that he can't see her because his grandmother is sick. El points out that Jim said it was a false alarm, and Mike lies further saying that she took a turn for the worse. Karen is listening and is shocked, and Mike yells at her to get off the phone. Once she hangs up, Mike tells El that Karen is so upset that she isn't making any sense. He says that he needs to be alone together after they see his nana, and El asks if he lies. Mike insists that he doesn't lie, says that his mother is calling him, and hangs up.

El hangs the phone up, goes back in her room, and telekinetically slams the door shut. Jim watches and smiles in satisfaction. He then drives to the general store and tells Joyce that the conversation with Mike and El went well and they won't be seeing each other for the first time in months. Joyce asks if Jim yelled at them, and Jim says that he'll tell her everything over dinner at Enzo's. Before she can respond, Jim insists that it's not a date but just two friends getting together. Joyce finally agrees, and Deputy Powell calls on the radio to say that they have protestors outside of the town hall. He tells Jim that he needs to get there and as Jim leaves, some magnetics fall off of the counters. Joyce goes over and discovers that they've demagnetized, just like the ones at her house.

At the newspaper, Nancy pours coffee and looks at the note about the rats from Mrs. Wheeler. She overpours and Bruce teases her. Nancy takes the coffee to Holloway and then asks if one of the other girls could get lunch because she needs to go to the doctor about her "girl problems". Once he hastily okays her leave, Nancy collects Jonathan and takes him with her to see Mrs. Wheeler. Jonathan worries that Holloway wouldn't approve if he knew what they were doing, but Nancy figures it's the best idea she's had all summer.

At the mall, Dustin goes to Scoops Ahoy and asks Robin if he can see Steve. Steve comes out and they happily greet each out as Robin looks on. Dustin gets ice cream and tells Steve about Suzie, and says that the others ditched him the day before on his first day back. He tells Steve about how he intercepted a secret Russian communication on Cerebro. Dustin figures that they can be American heroes, and needs Steve's help to translate.

Max is skateboarding on the street outside her house, and El arrives. She asks if they can talk, and describes what happened with Mike. Max figures that Mike lied and is playing Atari with Lucas, and says that boyfriends lie all the time.

Mike tells Lucas and Will that El knows he's lying and that Jim threatened him. He says that Jim has lost his mind and he had no choice. Will sets up for D&D, and Lucas tells Mike that he's in deep shit.

Max tells El to stop calling Mike and ignore his calls, and treat him like garbage. If Mike doesn't fix it, Max tells El to dump his ass.

Lucas warns Mike that it's going to be bad, but Mike can fix it. He takes Mike to show him how.

Max tells El that she's going to take her with her to have some fun.

Will complains that Mike and Lucas have left him alone.

At the pool, Heather is working as lifeguard. The moms wait for Billy to show up, and Karen spots him go into the back. She follows him into the chemical storage closet and says she didn't meet him at the motel because she has a family and can't do anything that will hurt them. Billy imagines hitting her, and then turns and tells Karen to stay away from him. He goes out, squinting against the sunlight, and walks past Heather and the moms. Billy gets into the lifeguard chair and continues squinting.

Robin hands out ice cream samples to Erica, who keeps asking for more samples. Steve is in the back with Dustin listening to the recording of the radio. Robin comes in and tells Steve that he needs to help, and she asks Dustin how he knows the Russians are up to no good. She points out that she can hear them when they're talking because they're loud, and says that she wants to hear the tape because maybe she can help translate, she's fluent in four languages, and she's bored. Steve finally hands over Dustin's recorder.

Nancy and Jonathan drive to Mrs. Driscoll's home. The old woman invites them in and takes them to the cellar. There are bags of fertilizer that have been bitten open and the fertilizer is partially gone. Mrs. Driscoll admits that it sounds crazy but figures that there's something wrong with the rats and they're diseased. There's a banging noise, and Mrs. Driscoll takes Nancy and Jonathan to a cage that she has covered over. She explains that she caught one rat.

The people outside town hall continue protesting against Mayor Larry Kline. Kline finally meets with Jim, who immediately says that he's not going to shut the protestors down. The mayor says that the people blame him for losing their jobs to the mall, but insists that the mall is helping most townspeople. Jim points out that the people are exercising their right to protest, and Kline notes that they don't have a permit. Jim warns that if Kline forces them out without provocation, it's not a good luck for his reelection campaign. Klein says that he's going to show Hawkins a big party for the 4th of July, but he needs the protestors removed so he can plan.

El and Max take the bus to the mall and El says that there are too many people. Max convinces her to go in, and figures that she's never been shopping before. Meanwhile, Mike, Lucas, and Will go through the mall and Lucas tells Mike that they have to find him something pretty and shiny to give El.

Max tells El to try things on until she finds something that feels like her.

Joyce goes through books on electromagnetism but doesn't find what she's looking for. She gets an idea and drives to Mr. Clarke's house. He's busy painting D&D miniatures, hears her, and opens the garage door to greet her.

Jonathan takes photos of the rat running around the cage, banging into the bars. Meanwhile, Nancy calls Animal Control and asks if they've had any reports of rabid rats. They say that they haven't, and also haven't heard anything about rats in general. She then calls Blackburn's Farm Supply.

In the cellar, Jonathan goes to change the film in his camera. The rat stops squealing, and Jonathan turns around to discover that it's collapsed, twitching. As he watches, Nancy comes down and says that she has a lead. She leaves and Jonathan goes after him... and behind him, the lights flicker and then the rat explodes. The mass of guts then slides out the bars and crawls across the floor.

At the pool, Billy dreams of confronting his doppelganger the night before, and the doppelganger says that it wants Billy to build what he sees. Billy snaps back to reality and notices that his left elbow is bruised and bleeding. He staggers back to the main building and showers off, and sees red lines spreading from the bruise. Billy clutches at his ears and moans in pain, and Heather comes in and asks if he's okay. He hallucinates her saying "Take me to him", and then really asks if she should call an ambulance. Billy digs his fingers into his arm and then grabs her.

El and Max try on clothing.

Mike discovers that the jewelry he wants to buy for El is too expensive.

The girls go to a photo studio, buy shoes, and El uses her telekinesis to make a cup a "mean girl" is holding explode. They run off past the boys, who are sitting the court.

Dustin plays the recorder for Robin, who tries to translate. She comes up with a sentence and tells Steve that they're making progress. He serves ice cream for El and Max, and they run out. They see Mike, Lucas, and Will getting onto their bikes, and the girls go over. El says that she's shopping and Mike points out that El isn't supposed to be there. Mike insists that Nana is sick, and claims that they're there shopping for her. He tells El that he also came there to shop for her. El asks why he lies, tells him that she's dumping his ass, and gets on the bus with Max. The boys watch the bus leave and Will asks if they can play D&D now.

Jim handcuffs a protestor and puts him a squad car with the others. Florence brings him a shirt that he had her buy for him for his dinner, insisting that it's cutting edge.

That night, Jim arrives at Enzo's in his new shirt. He orders a Scotch and wine, and then waits for Joyce to arrive.

At Clarke's, the teacher sets up a solenoid and explains that he's created an electromagnetic field. He reduces the current and the magnets drop off of it, and suggests that one of his kids knocked the magnets off of her refrigerator. He says that the magnets falling off at the store is just a coincidence. Joyce doesn't believe it, and Clarke suggests that a machine could exist. However, it would take billions of volts to create a field large enough to reach the general store and the Byers' house. Clarke concedes that it's possible because anything is possible.

The mall closes, and Robin, Steve, and Dustin still work on the translator. It doesn't make any sense, and Dustin figures that it's a spy code. Steve doesn't believe it but Robin does, insisting that her translation is correct. Robin suggests that they translate and see if a pattern emerges. Steve hangs behind and puts a quarter into a horse-riding machine. It starts up, playing music, and Steve recognizes the music from the background of the recording. Dustin recognizes it as well and plays the recorder to confirm. Steve figures that the transmission came from the mall.

At Enzo's, Jim continues waiting, drinking, and watches the other couples eat. The waiter asks him if he wants to order, and a drunken Jim tells him that he lost his appetite and staggers out. Grigori is at the bar and watches.

Billy drives back to the factory, opens up the trunk, and looks at the unconscious tied-and-gagged Heather. He carries her into the factory basement and lays her on the floor. Heather wakes up and struggles until Billy pushes her down, then tells her not to be afraid because it'll be over soon. Billy removes the gag and steps back, and something emerges from the shadows and Heather screams.

Written by Gadfly on Jul 21, 2019

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