Chapter Seven: The Bathtub
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
Just as fast as Stranger Things’ Chapter Seven began, it was over in a flash. Chapter Seven was packed full of plot movement, emotion, and set up the final episode in an almost perfect manner. While I had various complaints about some of the choices in both Chapter Five and Chapter Six, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation throughout this episode.
Stranger Things continues to make Eleven and Mike among the most interesting relationship within each and every episode. Once more, Eleven asks, “Still pretty?” and Mike goes weak at the knees. And then, they almost kiss. It was predictable that someone would interrupt, but sweet all the same. While Stranger Things sets up the characters to kiss and continue their first crush/romance, I do indeed fear either Mike or Eleven won’t see the end of this campaign. Both characters have come so far since their initial introductions, and have seen so much growth, and I fear that their run on Stranger Things may indeed be coming to an end. It would make more sense for Eleven to sacrifice herself for the greater good, but Mike has come a long way as well. As we saw in Chapter Six, he is willing to sacrifice himself for his friends. Will that happen again? Regardless, I am consistently compelled by the relationship between Mike and Eleven and hope that it doesn’t have to come to an end.
As quick as that moment was, the opening sequence was intense and had my heart racing. An obvious homage to E.T., this sequence still managed to stand on its own merit and approach. As Mike and company rode their bikes away from the baddies, it was arguably just as cool to see a van flip overhead, instead of them flying away on their bikes. The sequence brought feelings of nostalgia remembering the same iconic scene from E.T., but still managed to make it all their own. Following this sequence, the band finally got back together with Lucas’ apology and a handshake. Eleven apologized as well, and the band/party was finally back together. Even though this turn was easily predictable, Stranger Things managed to lead into it with a phenomenal sequence of homage.
Also as predicted, Joyce/Hopper and Jonathan/Nancy finally crossed paths and were able to bare all about their recent experiences. While this was expected, it did lead to a powerful interaction between Joyce and Jonathan that paralleled Dustin’s own conversation with Mike. Joyce told Jonathan that he was not alone, that they were in this together. Sure, it only took seven episodes for this to happen, but the payoff of finally getting the two groups together has certainly been worth it. Both pairs have had time to grow and change and it has been marvelous to watch. No, they’re still not perfect people, but now they will be able to come together and (hopefully) work towards some sort of resolution.
But before everyone could come together, we still have a Steve on our hands. And once again, Steve is back and forth. Steve called his friends assholes, and started to voice his true feelings about Nancy, and became likable once again. He pops up later in the episode to help clean the graffiti but remains unlinked from the rest of the group. Will he pop up in the final episode and finally find redemption? I certainly hope so.
Chapter Seven finally gave us the payoff of all groups finally joining up. Although Nancy and Hopper had to convince Mike and company that it wasn’t a Lando Calrissian situation, and Hopper had to save the group from some shady government officials, the two groups finally joined forces. This is among the most necessary payoffs, with finding Will and defeating The Monster left to check off of the list. Sure, there’s Hawkins Lab and Eleven and other questions to be answered, but this progress was a necessary development heading into the final episode. It was great to finally see the two groups sharing information and working together, finally.
This led to the group formulating a plan, as well as contacting the always-lovely Mr. Clarke for help. If I had to make a wish list for Season 2 of Stranger Things, more Mr. Clarke would certainly top that list. Don’t keep the curiosity door locked! But that’s beside the point. Both groups came together to build a faux sensory deprivation tank in an attempt to reach out to Will and Barbara, now that everyone’s goals finally align. This sequence gave Hopper more time with Jonathan as he promised that he would find Will, and also gave Mike and Nancy time to finally bond as siblings. Also seeing Lucas and Dustin try to unfold the kiddie pool was priceless.
But as soon as Chapter Seven began, the end came rushing up in one final sequence. Stranger Things has consistently excelled during the various horror sequences, and Chapter Seven provided another fantastic scene with Eleven in The Upside Down. Not only was this sequence important for working towards finding Will, but Eleven and Joyce had a truly fantastic interaction. Eleven found Barbara, but all too late. Poor Barbara, may she rest in peace as the one true horror trope casualty thus far. But this discovery lead to Eleven becoming unstable, and almost breaking down. Thankfully, Joyce was there and was able to calm Eleven down, voicing that it would be okay and that she was there for her. Again, this paralleled Joyce’s previous interactions with Will, and perhaps is the reason why Will was able to persevere for so long in The Upside Down. Eleven finally found Will, although not in the strongest state, but still giving our group reason to continue on.
Chapter Seven ended with Joyce and Hopper heading off alone to Hawkins Lab, with Nancy and Jonathan following behind against wishes of the aforementioned. With Joyce and Hopper being detained by Hawkins Lab at the end, there may be a rescue ahead. On the other end, Mike and company are left to wait in the middle school, but I’m sure they’ll all have to come back together in some form by the time that Chapter Eight ends. Especially now that we know that Will is no longer safe in Castle Byers, the clock is ticking.
Stranger Things’ Chapter Seven was among the strongest episodes yet, packed full of vital progression and payoffs that we’ve been waiting for. All involved parties finally teamed up, shared the right information, and worked together in contacting Will. While there were big moments, the small moments between Jonathan and Hopper, Nancy and Mike, and even Steve’s own actions all shone in their own regards. Chapter Seven stands all on its own and set up what should be a fantastic finale.