Warning: spoilers follow for the seventh episode of Stranger Things 2, “Lost Sister.” Avert your eyes and go back to the Upside Down if you’re not caught up.
The seventh episode of Stranger Things 2, “Lost Sister,” finally paid off the season’s opening police chase by sending Eleven to Chicago to find her fellow Hawkins National Laboratory test subject Eight. But while one little girl from the Rainbow Room turned out to be exactly the weapon the government built her to be, Eleven showed that despite how different she is, she is still defined by her humanity. That’s why her journey to the big city proved once again she is the heart of Stranger Things, even if this episode aired at the wrong time in the season.
There are only two reasons to build a weapon: determent or to use it. Children like Eight and Eleven were stolen by the government for the latter. And that’s just what they created with Eight, who now leads a band of killer vigilantes trying to get justice against the people who hurt them and made them outcasts in society.
But even though Eight’s real-life D&D pack (which unfortunately crossed that delicate Stranger Things line from feeling like an homage to being trite) lives in an ’80s metal video and are violent criminals, they appear relatively normal compared to Eleven. They know how to use the definitive pronoun and (sorta) exist in the normal world.
And yet when faced with the choice to kill an evil man or spare two young girls the pain of losing their father, Eleven proved to be the most human of them all. Yes, she has killed before, but only to protect herself and those she cares about. She’s no killer. She’s not the weapon they built her to be.
Eleven’s time in Chicago helped her realize her real home and family are back in Hawkins. That’s where the people who love her are, and they are in trouble. This was a slow building episode, much like the whole season, but the payoff was there at the end. Her decision to go back to Hopper and Mike was a great, powerful moment because Eleven’s journey has always been the heart of the show.
She has battled monsters, both human and Demogorgon. She has been treated like a monster, too. But she has kept her humanity through everything. Eleven’s powers make her dangerous and different, but she won’t use them to hurt people, she’ll use them to save them. She’s so much better than the people who want to weaponize her, and that includes Eight whose first instinct was to utilize her “sister’s” abilities for her own. Eight was no different than Papa.
But despite Eleven’s great moment of self discovery, getting to it felt like a slog, and that is partially because of this episode’s placement in the episode order. Episode six, which ended with the “demodogs” climbing out of the hole in the lab, was the biggest “holy shit” moment of the season. Stranger Things 2 has been a slow burn, but that finally seemed to pay off last episode. It felt like the start of a crazy final three episodes.
And then they killed all of that momentum by plopping in this standalone installment, which was slow itself. Leaving Hawkins and the show’s small town setting for an episode where Eleven finds herself in Chicago was a great, fun idea to change things up. But it wasn’t about her existing in a new world, it was mostly spent talking about her powers in a warehouse or robbing a very Hawkins-like gas station.
The powerful ending proves the show did something right here, but when the last episode finally gave us something big and exciting, it made everything here feel even slower. Like we had finally arrived at the fireworks factory, only to find out it didn’t open for another hour.
Simply swapping the placement of this episode with the last one would have gone a long way to fixing the pacing issues of “Lost Sister” and the season at large. It might have given away the surprise of what happened in that hole, but so what? It would have whetted our excitement for what exactly had gone wrong while we watched Will tell them about that spot in the tunnels.
You can do a slow burn and tell a great story–sometimes those are the best stories–but what you can’t do is let us think the slow burn is over and things are about to blow up, only to then slow everything down again.
Fortunately for Stranger Things 2, they made that mistake with the character who continues to prove to be the heart of the story, and her humanity not only saved that father, it saved the episode. Eventually.
What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments below.
CATCH UP ON EVERY EPISODE OF STRANGER THINGS 2!
- Episode 1 – Stranger Things 2 gets off to a surprisingly somber start
- Episode 2 – Stranger Things characters try to get back to normal
- Episode 3 – What do you do when your bully is a transdimensional being?
- Episode 4 – The real and figurative monsters plaguing Hawkins
- Episode 5 – Stranger Things explores the tropes of trust and truth
- Episode 6 – Stranger Things goes Aliens
- Episode 7 – Why Eleven is the heart of Stranger Things 2
- Episode 8 – All the Jurassic Park references this season
- Episode 9 – Where does the Stranger Things finale leave its characters?