A perfect balance of action and comedy takes a very dark turn at the end of Stranger Things season 3 Chapter Five.
The episode is titled ‘The Flayed’ and takes a look at several different characters who are presumably operating as hosts of the Mind Flayer. Joyce and Hopper take a hostage while the Scoops Ahoy team finds themselves far from the mall.
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Down the shaft
The secret storage room elevator comes to a crashing halt. Steve sustains a groin injury, but he will survive. It is the matter of the group getting out of the room that is the real concern. Dustin, Steve and Erica are all yelling about the buttons not working. Robin points out that they will not work without a key card.
Dustin has an idea about climbing out through the top of the elevator room. He and Steve climb out and realize that they are way too far down to be able to climb to the surface. Dustin begins calling a code red on his walkie. Steve tells him not to drain the battery. Dustin points out that the mall will be opening shortly, so maybe someone will hear the message. Steve makes a crack doubting that the mall security guard would climb down to save them.
Erica is trying to open the test tube of green chemicals. She thinks she needs to hydrate and Robin warns her not to drink that. Steve takes a whiz on top of the elevator room. Suddenly, Robin here’s someone coming. They hide above the elevator as workers open the door and remove some of the boxes for transport.
As they workers leave, Steve jumps down and places one of the test tubes under the door so it will not close completely. The rest of the gang escapes through the small opening with him. Then the pressure of the door crushes the test tube and its contents begin to sizzle. It’s probably a good thing Erica did not get that open to drink.
The gang sees a very long path ahead of them.
Joyce and Hopper make it to Hess Farm. They begin searching the house and hear a humming noise coming from below. Joyce bends down to listen and sees a light coming from the under the bed. They lift the bed to find entrance to a full laboratory.
One of the Russian scientists from episode one is down there. Hopper holds them at gunpoint when Joyce hears footsteps above them. Grigori enters the lab and sees one of the workers bound and gagged. Hopper approaches him from behind. Grigori says Hopper will not pull the trigger. Hopper counts to three and Grigori ducks away and the pair begin fighting again. Joyce retrieves Hopper’s gun after it falls to the floor during the fight. She tosses it to Hopper but ends up throwing it beyond his reach.
They uncuff the scientist (who Hopper begins calling “Smirnoff”) and run out of the lab as Grigori fires at them. Hopper tells Joyce to drive. They peel away from the farm.
Back in the basement
Mike, Lucas, Will, El and Max return to the Wheeler basement after their encounter with Billy at the sauna. El uses her powers to “look” for Hopper. She “sees” him walking with Joyce and talking about Illinois. The gang tries to figure out what to do next about Billy. Lucas thinks they can capture him and get rid of him completely. Mike points out that if Billy is a host that does not really get rid of the Mind Flayer himself.
Mike’s mom calls down about breakfast and Mike retorts by yelling his classic line “Not now, Mom!” When she calls down for him later, he screams the line again. But this time it is Nancy and Jonathan at the basement door. They want to talk to Will.
Nancy has enlisted Jonathan’s help in finding Will and making sure he is safe after what she saw what happened the night before with Doris Driscoll at the hospital. She tells the group about Doris’ body temperature and other similarities to Will last year when the Mind Flayer had attached himself to Will. The group realizes that Mrs. Driscoll’s reaction at the hospital occurred at the same time that Billy was raging at the sauna. They surmise that the Mind Flayer may have possessed more than one host.
El suspects this could have also happened to Heather. When Nancy and Jonathan realize it is Heather Holloway she is referring to, they immediately think of their boss Tom aka Heather’s dad. The whole group decides to go to the Holloway house to investigate further.
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Hopper’s vehicle has stalled in the woods. As he tries his best to get it running, Joyce tries to communicate with Alexei (or as Hopper calls him “Smirnoff”). Joyce talks about the magnets falling from her refrigerator asking Alexei if the secret lab is causing it. She is not making much progress, though.
Hopper asks Joyce to try starting the car again. She has no luck, but keeps trying. Alexei shouts for them to stop. There is an explosion. Joyce jumps out of the car just before it sets fire. The trio is now on foot to Illinois to meet Hopper’s Russian acquaintance for translation.
Alexei runs ahead and sees a 7-Eleven store ahead of them. All three enter the store and begin guzzling Cokes when Hopper spies a convertible outside at the gas pump. Hopper begins charading as an undercover cop, calling Joyce “Detective Byers” and convincing the car owner that Alexei is a dangerous criminal they are carrying across state lines. It is pretty hysterical! They drive off as the owner watches in disbelief.
The police arrive to speak with the car owner and the store clerk. Grigori also arrives on scene as he has been tracking the trio.
Finally, they make it to Murray Bauman’s house to seek his translation services. We met him last season when he shared information with Nancy and Jonathan. Being the paranoid guy he is, Bauman insists on scanning Alexei for contraband, weapons, etc. It is taking a while and Hopper is losing patience. It is Joyce, however, who cracks. She goes into full mom mode and tells Bauman to hurry up because they have had a long and stressful day. She pulls no punches and it looks like Bauman is going to comply.
Nancy drives everyone to the Holloway house to look for Heather and Tom. They are nowhere to be found. The house smells and we see empty cleaning supplies and an overturned refrigerator. It appears that they have been ingesting cleaning chemicals and perhaps even refrigerant. But why?
Mike refers to a science lesson from trusty Mr. Clarke. When two chemicals combine, it creates a new substance. Is the Mind Flayer creating something new? Nancy can see how Tom was hit on the head and dragged away. The gang suspects the Mind Flayer is taking over bodies in some other location.
Nancy then remembers that Mrs. Driscoll was pleading to “go back”. Maybe they can go see her at the hospital and let her go back, thus revealing the ominous location.
Long walk interrupted
Robin, Erica, Dustin and Steve continue the long march away from the elevator room. They speculate about the green contents of the test tubes. Dustin wonders if it could be promethium, which Steve mistakes for Prometheus. Lots of nerdy talk ensues.
Steve and Dustin pull away privately and wonder if the Russians now about Hawkins’ history with the monster. Robin calls to them to rejoin the group when they suddenly hear the secret transmission on the walkie again.
They try to reach the source while hiding from workers, guards, and scientists. Erica reveals the she spotted the communications room. The man transmitting the message hears them and turns around. As he grabs for his weapon, Robin tries to distract him by speaking the secret message. Steve rushes the man and knocks him out. Dustin steals his key card. Erica complains of now having to walk all the way back to the elevator room. Just then Robin calls them to a window overlooking a massive machine lasering into the wall. Is this the same machine from episode one or a new one built in Hawkins?
The desk attendant at the hospital will only allow two visitors for Mrs. Driscoll. So, Jonathan and Nancy head back to her room.
Back in the lobby, the two young couples get back on good terms as they joke and visit waiting for Nancy and Jonathan. Jonathan apologizes to Nancy and says he was wrong about what he said the day before. This is good news for their relationship. The good news ends there, however, because Mrs. Driscoll is nowhere to be found.
Instead, Tom enters the room saying “they” thought the two of them would end up there. Bruce from the newspaper is also there acting just as strange as Tom. Tom attacks Jonathan and Nancy tries to help but must ultimately flee. We see that when either Tom or Bruce is wounded, the other one also feels it.
Ultimately, Nancy bashes Bruce with fire extinguisher while Jonathan stabs Tom with scissors. Both men (hosts) fall to the ground and begin seizing and sizzling. They basically explode. A sticky goo releases from both bodies and eventually combines to become one creature screeching in attack mode.
Well, that does not look good for Nancy and Jonathan. Let’s hope they can escape and that the rest of our characters are faring better. Come back for more observations when I recap Stranger Things season 3 Chapter Six!
Find reconnaissance for Chapter Four here.
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