TV Review: Stranger Things 2.07 "The Lost Sister"

EPISODE: 2.07 "The Lost Sister"

SYNOPSIS: Psychic visions draw Eleven to a band of violent outcasts and an angry girl with a shadowy past.

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REVIEW: When the Duffer Brothers first developed Stranger Things, it was being envisioned as an anthology series. Obviously, the love for this cast of characters changed that plan to an ongoing narrative. But, that switch also afforded the Duffers the chance to experiment and pivot their story a bit for season two. So, while some fans may be disappointed that Stranger Things 2 is not more like last season, the Duffers are pleased to have mixed some things up, story-wise, including this standalone episode that stops the momentum built at the end of "The Spy" and instead takes us completely out of Hawkins for the entire episode. Focusing on Eleven finding her sister Kali (aka Eight). Last season in the opening episode's first scene, Kali and her band of criminal cohorts are holed up in Chicago, just a few hours drive away from Hawkins, Indiana.

This episode is meant to give us the turning point in the development of Eleven from mysterious and powerful child to learning how to harness her abilities. The fact that her number was preceded by ten others always meant we would meet others like her, but Kali is very different than Eleven/Jane. While Eleven is able to manipulate physical objects, Kali is able to enter the minds of people and change what they see. We saw her alter a cop into seeing a crashing bridge in the premiere and here she wants to train her sister in the same manner. Kali's quest is to get revenge for the experiments done on her and she enlists her crew to murder and plunder along the way. Between this episode and "Dig Dug", Eleven has found herself in two very different homes, neither of which she can stay in. Her mother is beyond saving and now Kali is a murderous rebel.

But, Eleven feels welcome and listens to the guidance her sister has to offer. Kali has Eleven harness a painful and horrible memory to enhance her powers which recalls the torture her mother endured, the torture Eleven suffered at the hands of Dr. Brenner, the fight she had with Hopper, and the events of last season. All of these are powerful enough that Eleven is able to move an entire train car which shows Kali that her sister may be very useful on her quest to kill everyone from Hawkins Laboratory. Eleven also feels the hatred course through her and we see her evolve from a moptop in a flannel shirt to a slicked hair emo chick fitting with the style of 1984. Clad in black, Eleven joins the crew to take down Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), one of the technicians who tortured Terry Ives.

Breaking into his home, the mask wearing vigilantes look like the spitting image of characters from THE PURGE or THE STRANGERS. Both Kali and Eleven unmask themselves and confront Ray, demanding to know if he remembers them. Kali even projects their child-like appearances for him and he begs for mercy. As the rest of the crew explore the apartment, they find Ray's two daughters hiding and calling 911. Eleven, choking Ray to death, relents when she sees the photo of the young girls. The parallel is obvious to her and she realizes she is not a killer in the same way Kali is. Kali then pulls out a gun to kill Ray herself but Eleven forces the weapon out of her hand and out the window. With the police on the way, the crew barely escape and head back to their safe house.

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Kali confronts Eleven about taking away her right for revenge and projects the image of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) who tells Eleven she will die if she continues to use her powers this way. Eleven fights back and has a vision of what is happening back in Hawkins. As things begin to settle down amongst the crew, the police close in and they have to make their escape. After a cool scene of Kali hiding them in plain sight from the cops, the make their way out to their van where Kali asks Eleven to join. But, Eleven says she needs to go and help her friends, establishing her true family. Kali and Eleven then go their separate ways. Whether or not they will see each other again is up in the air, but I would expect the fact we have met Eight and Eleven to signal that we may see nine more, at least, in coming seasons.

While I admire that the Duffers took a risk with this chapter in the Stranger Things saga, it is ultimately a major misfire for the show. Maybe it is the odd placement of the episode right after it gained some massive momentum in the sixth episode, but "The Lost Sister" feels very forced. The writers want us to buy that Eleven makes a quick stop in Chicago and learns everything she needs from her sister in an accelerated variation of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or THE KARATE KID. While Eleven already had a decent grasp of her powers prior to this episode, I find it ridiculous to think that one quick jaunt to the abandoned train yard and an attempted murder was enough to give Eleven what she needed to face off against an inter-dimensional hell beast. Maybe if Eleven's time arc was not so time sensitive compared to the rest of this season's narrative, this episode may have worked better. As it is, this is a very rushed and very superficial hour that was meant to hold a lot deeper and significant development. As it is, I am not bought in to Eleven coming back as the savior and convincing the viewer of that was the sole purpose of this episode.

Next on Stranger Things: 2.08 "The Mind Flayer" An unlikely hero steps forward when a deadly development puts the Hawkins Lab on lockdown, trapping Will and several others inside.

Source: JoBlo.com



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