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TV Review: Stranger Things 2.04 "Will the Wise"

EPISODE: 2.04 "Will the Wise"

SYNOPSIS: An ailing Will opens up to Joyce -- with disturbing results. While Hopper digs for the truth, Eleven unearths a surprising discovery.

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REVIEW: At the end of the previous episode, "The Pollywog", it finally looked like Stranger Things was returning to what it used to be. That shocking ending of Will seemingly being possessed by the Upside Down spider-monster was a shocking twist, even if you could tell it was coming. This hour opens with Joyce arriving at school to find Will out on the football field in a spastic trance. Unable to wake him until the creature finishes inhabiting him, Joyce finally gets Will back to consciousness and takes him home. From there, the episode relies primarily on having our characters split up which progresses the story, albeit in a very scattered and slow manner.

At home, Joyce tries to call Hopper repeatedly but to no avail. The Chief is having a showdown with Eleven about her visit to Mike's school. As Hopper and Eleven fight and he grounds her, you absolutely get the feeling of a parent-child dynamic between the two. The big difference here is that when Eleven has a tantrum, all of the windows shatter and objects levitate and launch at her father figure. Hopper disconnects the television and leaves, giving Eleven the task of cleaning the cabin up while he is gone. During that time, Eleven discovers hidden boxed beneath the floorboards, one of which contains the files Hopper compiled the previous year on Eleven's birth mother. I was wondering if and when that little nugget would come back to the surface as it seemed to be significant last season before being forgotten. I assume that Eleven will finally meet the parent she never knew she had. Using her vision abilities, Eleven sees her mother but loses the connection before long. I guess we know where she is going in the next episode.

Hopper finally gets Joyce's mesages and heads to her house. Will has been acting very strangely and admitted to his mother that the giant monster he drew was now inside of him and he felt it all over. He also begins displaying an aversion to warmth and cannot even take a luke warm bath. Hopper tries to discuss Will's visions but it is not until Joyce suggests that Will draw what he is seeing that the truth begins to reveal itself. As each sheet of scribbling and manic colors falls from Will's desk, Joyce and Hopper try to figure out what they mean. Eventually, they realize it is a puzzle that connects to make some sort of network. The colors and design makes Hopper think of vines and he heads out to the pumpkin farm to investigate. 

At the same time, Nancy and Jonathan put their plan into effect. Pretending to be sleeping over at a friend's house, Nancy and Jonathan plan to meet Barb's mother at a park where they are instead surrounded by agents sent by Dr. Owens. He brings them back to the facility where Nancy confronts him about killing Barb. Owens does not deny the implication that his agency was to blame, but he insists that they have good people running it now. He then shows them the breach into the Upside Down and they watch as soldiers burn it to ash. Owens proclaims that he must protect everyone by destroying the breaches as well as never letting the truth be revealed. Nancy and Jonathan are then let go and as they drive out of Hawkins, Nancy reveals she managed to tape record Owens admitting culpability. Now, I am willing to give a lot of dramatic license with these types of shows, but how did Nancy and Jonathan manage to get a bulky 80s recorder into the facility when the same agents managed to plan a sting to capture them? Either these agents are really dumb, these teenagers are really smart, or this is sloppy writing.

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The episode concludes with Hopper heading out to the pumpkin farm and begins digging. As he does, the hole gets deeper and deeper until he eventually hits something that squishes beneath his shovel. As he scoops it, it appears to be the same colors as Will's drawings. Hopper cuts through the goop and finds an opening. He lowers himself into it and immediately recognizes that he has traversed into the Upside Down which now has spread further into Hawkins. Dustin also returns home to see Dart, whom he has been keeping in a terrarium in his room. But, he finds the glass case shattered and blood trails leading behind his chair. There he finds Dart eating his cat. As the creature turns to face Dustin, we see it has evolved into a Demogorgon.

There are some more scenes between Max and Lucas as well as some more dickhead posturing by Max's stepbrother Billy, but I won't go into those as they feel like the weakest part of this season so far. I loved the ending of this episode even if both of Hopper and Dustin's discoveries seemed pretty easy to predict. The production values this season are so much better than ever before but it doesn't feel like enough to overcome somewhat predictable storytelling. The bad guy Billy is a major cliche and Max seems to make more sour faces than do anything to contribute to the story. Will being possessed is a nice twist on his story this season but it is surrounded by some boring narrative. Hopper acting as a father gives David Harbour some meaty scenes, but Eleven feels wasted so far in this story. Dustin's relationship with Dart also feels a bit stretched but I think that will change very soon. Mike also seems to be taking a backseat here which is a surprise seeing how vital he was to the story last season. And Joyce has traded in her Christmas lights for Will's sketches and it feels like a weak variation on what fans loved last season. Overall, I am still bought in but my patience is starting to wear thin. Something big needs to happen and it needs to happen soon.

Next on Stranger Things: 2.05 "Dig Dug" Nancy and Jonathan swap conspiracy theories with a new ally as Eleven searches for someone from her past. "Bob the Brain" tackles a difficult problem.

Source: JoBlo.com

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