Recap / Stranger Things S2E9 "Chapter Nine: The Gate"

Three hundred and fifty-three days after the fight against the Demogorgon, Mike and Eleven finally hug amidst Tears of Joy. Mike says he never stopped trying to contact her, and Eleven says that she knows; she heard every one of his attempts. Mike is confused as to why she didn't respond, but Hopper reveals he was the one who kept her from doing so. Mike begins to yell at Hopper, but Hopper pulls him into Will's bedroom so they can talk in private. Hopper tells Mike not to blame Eleven for her silence, and Mike angrily retorts that he doesn't blame Eleven; he blames Hopper, which Hopper says is fine. Mike shouts at Hopper and punches him for keeping Eleven away and saying nothing to him or his friends, before breaking down and being embraced by the older man.

Out the living room, Eleven is welcomed by the rest of the group - though she spurns Max - and then she sees Will's message, "CLOSE GATE". Knowing that it is their only chance to put an end to all the supernatural troubles in Hawkins, Eleven convinces Hopper to let her go to the lab so she can close the gate. However, the group theorizes that, when the gate is closed, all the Mind Flayer's servants in the real dimension would die, and Will, being possessed by the extradimensional being, could end up dying as well. Joyce remembers how Will said "he" doesn't like warmth, with Nancy and Jonathan suggesting they can force the Mind Flayer out of Will's body by warming him up.

The group divides in three: Hopper and Eleven (who has an Almost Kiss with Mike interrupted by Hopper) go to the Lab to close the gate, while Jonathan, Joyce and Nancy (at Steve's suggestion) take Will to Hopper's cabin (improving on the storage shed plan from last episode; Will really doesn't know where the cabin is, and so can't clue the Flayer in) while Steve stays at the Byers with the other kids. On the way to the Lab, Hopper asks Eleven where she went, saying he isn't mad at her, he only wants to know. Eleven tells him she went to see Terry (but leaves out her trip to Chicago), and Hopper apologizes for his lies, saying he was only trying to keep her safe. While talking he mentions his daughter Sara, who Eleven never knew about, and admits that he was mainly afraid of losing Eleven the way he did her. Hopper and Eleven apologize for their previous actions and admit they both acted stupid, with Hopper snarking that means they each broke the rule. Hopper then agrees that Eleven's new look is "bitchin".

Dustin convinces Steve to preserve the dead demo-dog for scientific study, but Steve counters that Dustin is going to be the one explaining to Joyce why it's in her fridge. Mike paces in agitation despite Lucas' insistence that he relax; Mike is worried about Eleven's chances for survival against the dozens of demo-dogs he saw in the lab. He then hits on the idea of going to the place Hopper found and burning it down: this should attract the attention of the Mind Flayer and the demo-dogs, thus freeing the way for Eleven and Hopper. However, Steve is taking his task of protecting the kids very seriously, and vetoes the idea.

Unknown to them, trouble approaches in the form of Billy, who has managed to sweet-talk Mrs. Wheeler into telling him where Max could be. Steve tries to make Billy believe Max is not there, but he sees her looking through the window and pushes his way in, deciding to threaten Lucas so he will stop trying to be friends with Max. Lucas answers with a Groin Attack, and Steve steps in, punching the daylights out of Billy. The fight initially seems to go in Steve's favor, but then Billy smashes a dish on Steve's head and turns the tables, threatening to kill him. Before he can make good on his threat, Max jumps in and stabs her brother with a syringe full of sedative, leaving him groggy: she then threatens him with Steve's nail bat if he won't leave her and her friends alone, burying it in the floor just below his crotch to make her point; Billy agrees to do so just before he passes out.

At Eleven's cabin, Jonathan, Joyce and Nancy build a fire in the fireplace and turn on all the heating units, pointing them at Will, who begins to scream as the Mind Flayer in him reacts to the heat.

Meanwhile, at the Energy Lab, Eleven and Hopper find a surprisingly still-living Dr. Owens. Hopper makes a tourniquet to stop his bleeding from the leg, and introduces him and Eleven to each other, while snarkily asking the doctor if he could do something good for the girl, since she is going to be closing the gate.

Steve awakens from unconsciousness in pain and in Billy's car, which is being driven by Max towards the hole in the ground at Merril's pumpkin farm. A few close calls notwithstanding, she gets the group safely to their objective, and, under Steve's strenous objections, they all go down the hole with several cans of gasoline, protective glasses and face coverings to filter the tunnel's air. Steve joins them and takes charge of the group, deciding he might as well follow the kids' plan, but that since it's his ass on the line if any of them get hurt, he might as well be the one in front. The group reaches the hub and begins to spread gasoline all over the place, and Steve ignites it up with his lighter, burning the place down and causing great damage and pain to the Mind Flayer.

At the cabin, Jonathan, disturbed by the fact the plan does not seem to work, tries to untie his brother, but Joyce stops him. Nancy points at Will's neck: something black is moving up Will's body, covering part of his face and neck: the Mind Flayer empowers Will so he can break the rope tying one of his hands and tries to unknot the other, but when Joyce stops him the Mind Flayer begins to strangle her, with Jonathan unable to break Will's grip. Nancy stops the Mind Flayer by burning Will with a red-hot poker, and finally the parasitic presence is driven out of Will's body.

Steve and the kids begin to run for the way out of the tunnels, but they meet a Demo-dog on the way: Dustin sees the yellow markings on his hindquarters and recoginizes that it's Dart. Dustin manages to keep the creature from attacking them by showing his face and offering him several Three Musketeers bars. Dart lets them pass, and Dustin says goodbye.

At the Lab, Eleven and Hopper have reached the place where she accidentally opened the gate, which is now big enough that it extends hundreds of feet down from the surface. When Jonathan calls Hopper to tell him of their successful exorcism, the two take the elevator and descend into the shaft. Hopper stops it halfway down and Eleven begins to draw on her powers to force the gate closed.

The kids run through the tunnels, followed by the sound of the Demo-dogs. Steve manages to get Max, Lucas and Mike out of the hole, but there is not enough time for Dustin and Steve to follow, so Steve stands in front of Dustin, ready to protect him with his own life. Much to their surprise, the Demo-dogs ignore them, running through the tunnels around the duo, and Mike realizes that they must be going after Eleven.

While Eleven continues to push her powers, she and Hopper notice a shadow moving on the other side of the gate, obviously wanting to keep it open. A Demo-dog then jumps on the elevator, but Hopper manages to drive it and several others off with his assault rifle and his shotgun. Eleven uses the lessons Kali gave her to go further than she ever has, and the gate begins to visibly close down. The Mind Flayer attempts a last-ditch attack aimed at possessing Eleven, but she uses her power to shield herself and begins to float. The headlights of Billy's car and Hopper's cabin begin to shine brighter, and finally Eleven forces the gate closed. All the Demo-dogs die, as does everything the Mind Flayer left in our world, and Hopper holds an exhausted Eleven close.

One month later, the tape Nancy and Jonathan got has gone public, causing a scandal that forced the Army to close down the Hawkins Lab, and Barbara's parents finally get closure over their daughter's disappearance. Hopper meets with Dr. Owens (now mostly recovered from his injuries) at a diner, and Owens gives him a present: he has forged a number of papers as evidence that Hopper is Eleven's father (her legal name now being Jane Hopper), but advises him to keep her close for at least another year. Hopper asks him if an exception can be made for one night.

That night is the Snow Ball. The Party gets well dressed for the occassion, with Will (who has made a drawing of "Bob Newby, superhero", to commemorate his mother's boyfriend's sacrifice) learning how to dance from Joyce, Mike once more embarrassed by his mother's insistence of taking photos of him, Lucas training his 'wanna dance' come-ons and Dustin styling his hair with some of the hairspray Steve reccomended. Steve drives Dustin to the Ball and gives him some late advice before he goes in. Steve looks at Nancy — who is chaperoning the event — with longing before departing.

Dustin arrives to find Lucas, Max, Mike and Will, all of whom comment on his '80s Hair, before the DJ begins playing Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time". Lucas awkwardly tries to ask Max to dance before she interrupts saying yes, and another girl decides to ask Will to dance with her. Dustin tries to approach two other girls to ask for a dance, but the first laughs at him and the second just ignores him. Nancy sees him sitting on the bleachers and decides to dance with him, claiming him he is her favorite out of Mike's friends, and that the middle-school girls might be ignoring him now, but by high school they'll change their minds. Outside, the understandably still-overprotective Joyce is giving Will some space by staying in the parking lot, where she is joined by Hopper. They share one of Hopper's cigarettes and he asks how she is dealing with Bob's death. Joyce admits that she's making progress, and Hopper consoles her by saying that each day it will be a little easier, then he pulls her in for a comforting embrace.

Meanwhile, Mike is sitting alone when Eleven comes in, wearing a dress and makeup, and smiling when she sees Mike. Mike tells her she looks beautiful before asking her to dance. Eleven admits she does not know how, and Mike says he doesn't either, suggesting they learn together. As they all dance, Lucas and Max share their First Kiss, Mike and Eleven share a short but heartfelt kiss, and everyone enjoys the night.

But, at the Upside Down's version of Hawkins Middle School, the Mind Flayer waits, ready to claim revenge...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Almost Kiss: Hopper is having none of this kissing business between Mike and Eleven.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Dustin at the dance, until Nancy steps in to dance with him.
  • Androcles' Lion: Dustin taking care of the Demo-dog D'Artagnan when it was small allowed him and his friends some good will when trying to defeat the Eldritch Abomination from The Upsidedown.
  • Beam-O-War: During the Final Battle, Eleven uses her telekinesis to block what looks like another smoke/infection attack coming from the Eldritch Abomination.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Between Eleven and Mike, of course. Soon after, Eleven with the rest of the boys as well as with Hopper and Joyce.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Will is cured of the virus and Eleven is able to close the Gate to the Upside-Down, ending the Mind Flayer's attempt to invade our reality. Nancy's exposure of the Lab's role in Barbara's death, if not the exact circumstances, forces the government to shut down the Lab and the experiments within, allowing the Hollands closure. Dr. Owens is able to procure a fake birth certificate for Eleven as "Jane Hopper", allowing her a chance to live a normal life and be with Mike. However, Bob and a lot of (mostly) innocent people were killed at the Lab when the Demodogs overran the compound, leaving Joyce in mourning. While Steve and Dustin have accepted the Nancy/Jonathan and Max/Lucas pairings, they're still not fully over it. Also, Kali is still out there, and wants her sister back. It's also implied that Owens went behind his superiors backs to get the forged documents for Eleven, meaning that they may come for her if they find out. There's also the possibility that Brenner is still alive, and may want Eleven back. Worst of all, while confined to the Upside-Down, the Mind Flayer is still alive, and clearly out for revenge against the Party.
  • Call-Back: Dustin using the Farrah Fawcett spray, as recommended by Steve.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Mike gives a massive breakdown to Hopper about hiding Eleven from them for a whole year. Hopper takes it in strides, even when Mike punches him, and consoles Mike when the boy calms down.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Discussed in the epilogue. When Hopper asks about his leg, Dr. Owens jokingly notes that his football career may be over.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: They didn't include a school dance for nothing.
  • Dance Party Ending: Season 2 ends with a school dance.
  • Delicious Distraction: Dustin distracts Dart with some three Muskateers bars allowing the group to sneak past.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The way the virus is driven out of Will is reminiscent of the practice of exorcism.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After Max drugs Billy with anesthesia, she threatens to smash his groin with Steve's spiked bat if he doesn't back off. He acquiesces just before passing out.
  • Dramatic Slip: While running across the tunnel to safety Mike slips and falls. A vine immediately grabs on to his ankle and tries to drag him away but his friends return to rescue him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While the series isn't over, the finale nonetheless has this moment for Eleven and Mike. After everything they've been through fleeing government agents, fighting a monster from another dimension, Eleven being momentarily lost in the Upside Down afterwards and then being kept away from Mike to hide her from the government for nearly an entire year, and then facing down a horrific Eldritch Abomination attempting to break through into Hawkins they finally get to have their dance at the Snow Ball, topped off with a Big Damn Kiss. Earn Your Happy Ending indeed.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final shot shows the Mind Flayer looming over the Upside-Down version of Hawkins Middle School where the most of the characters are assembled, showing that it hasn't given up or forgotten who foiled it.
  • Eureka Moment: Joyce remembering how Will mentioned the Mind Flayer doesn't like heat makes her and the others realize how they can drive it out of Will's body.
  • Flipping the Bird: As Baumann lazily waves a salute to the soldiers leaving the locked down Lab, one MP flips him the bird without so much as looking in his direction.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Inverted, when a large group of demodogs runs past Dustin without attacking, everybody realizes that the Mind Flayer is sending them after Eleven.
  • Freaky Is Cool: The girl who asks "Zombie Boy" Will to dance seems to think so, just as Jonathan claimed earlier in the season.
  • Get Out: Steve demands this of Billy. The latter is not willing to comply so a fight scene ensues.
  • Groin Attack: How Billy takes out Steve during their first bout. It's also one of the few things that Billy seems to be vulnerable to. Lucas manages to temporarily stun Billy by kneeing his nuts when the latter attacks him. Later we see Max threatening Billy's groin with a nail bat which seems to be the only thing that gets him to stop his rampage.
  • Happily Adopted: What Owens sets up for Hopper and Eleven as a way of thanking them for sealing the gate (which his team had been unable to do).
  • Hard Head: Steve is back in fighting form remarkably soon after Billy gives him a concussion.
  • Headbutt of Love: Mike and El after their kiss on the dance floor.
  • High-School Dance: A Call-Back to the last episode of season 1, where Mike asked Eleven to go with him to the "Snow Ball". In this episode they finally do.
  • I Can't Dance: At the "Snow Ball," Mike invites El to dance. She agrees, but it turns out neither of them know how. Mike assures her they'll learn together.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: "Sandwich" substituted for "Drink"; Hopper initially refuses to share Dr. Owens' sandwich as he's on a diet, but when he finds out that he should keep Eleven out of sight for another year, he grabs the other half and chows down.
  • Interrupted Bath: Mike's mom is enjoying a relaxing bath when the door bell rings.
  • Ironic Echo:
    Boy at the school dance: What's in this?
    Nancy: Pure fuel.
  • Keystone Army: While the Mind Flayer isn't dead, when the breach is closed it loses its power over this world and all the creatures it was controlling die.
  • Kids Are Cruel: At the School Dance, Dustin's attempts to rebound off of being the Romantic Runner-Up with Max don't exactly end well, leaving him sitting by himself and nearly in tears. Luckily, Nancy, who was chaperoning, offers to dance with him.
  • Laughing Mad: Billy comes completely unhinged during his fight with Steve, revealing just how deranged he really is.
  • Longing Look: Steve shoots one in Nancy's direction upon dropping Dustin off at the Snow Ball.
  • Lowered Monster Difficulty: Hopper is able to use firearms to hold off the demodogs, which previously barely noticed bullets. Admittedly he's just causing them to lose balance so they fall, the bullets still don't seem to penetrate. However, his shotgun blasts are visibly shown exploding one of the Demodogs' heads. It's possible that since they are juvenile, they have yet to grow the extremely thick skin of a "proper" demogorgon. It's also possible that a shot gun at close range can hurt Demogorgons/Demodogs due to being a much larger caliber with far more stopping power than the pistols and sub-machine guns that were previously used.
  • Makeover Montage: Played with. All of the boys are shown either already dressed up or getting ready for the winter dance, while Max's mom does her hair. Eleven isn't part of the sequence, but later shows up complete with some purple eyeshadow that compliments her dress.
  • Meaningful Look: On their Climactic Elevator Ride down to the Hellgate, Eleven grabs Hopper's hand and both share a meaningful look before the former starts her mission to seal the gate shut.
  • Mirror Monologue: Lucas's Annoying Younger Sibling catches him preparing his pick-up lines in front of a mirror.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Billy compliments Mike's mother on her youthful look by telling her that he didn't know Nancy had a sister. An awkward flirting scene ensues.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Steve's second onscreen fight with another human also ends with his face being repeatedly punched into the floor until someone intervenes, Max in this case.
  • No-Sell: Just when it seems like Steve is going to give Billy the beatdown he has been begging for all season, the latter just shrugs off every punch with a maniacal laugh.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: We hear a news reporter saying that they spoke to residence of Hawkins who thought they lived in a safe town where nothing ever happens.
  • Official Kiss: After their Awkward Kiss in Season 1, Mike and Eleven kiss for the second time in this episode, both now more fully aware of how they feel about each other.
  • One Dose Fits All: Averted. The same dose of the drug that caused Instant Sedation in little Will puts hulking Billy on his ass, but takes a while to knock him out.
  • Pass the Popcorn: As the military finishes withdrawing from Hawkins Lab, Baumann is sitting in his camping chair watching them leave.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Eleven collapses from exhaustion after having shut the gate. Hopper is there to hold her safe in his arms.
  • Power Floats: When Eleven taps into her power more fully to close the breach she starts to levitate.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Steve to Billy before punching him in the face.
    Billy: So dead, Sinclair! You're dead.
    Steve (tapping Billy's shoulder from behind): No. You are. — (punch)
  • Reality Ensues: Steve vs. Billy. They are roughly the same height, but Billy is much stronger and crazier. Steve gets a few good hits in, but Billy positively mashes Steve's face (it also helps that Billy fights dirty, and bashes Steve's head with a plate to stun him). Steve ends up passing out from the pain, and takes a while to properly wake up.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Mews the cat died, Mrs Henderson is seen snuggling a new kitten named Tews.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: In order to start a fire that would draw the Demodogs away from the facility, Steve tosses his Zippo lighter onto a large pool of gas they created in the tunnel.
  • Seal the Breach: The main characters set out to close the interdimensional rift that allowed the Mind Flayer and its minions to enter our dimension. They manage to do so with Eleven's powers.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Mind Flayer still has total dominance over the Upside-Down, but Eleven closing the Gate has prevented it from entering our dimension. All it can do is seethe at the heroes at the Hawkins Middle School in the Upside-Down.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The season ends with The Police's "Every Breath You Take" being played in the background of the 1984 Snow Ball before we transition to the Upside Down, where the Mind Flayer is looming directly over Hawkins Middle School, at which point the Stalker With a Crush-esque lyrics (see bottom of this page) take on a whole new meaning.
  • Tainted Veins: Dark veins appear all over Will's face as the virus is driven out of his body.
  • Tears of Joy: Eleven honestly sounds like she's about to cry upon being reunited with Mike, and the same happens with Mike, who does break down while talking with Hopper.
  • That Didn't Happen: Seems to be how Billy and Max reconciled her threatening him. He sees her mom doing her hair for the dance (at which presumably she'll be with Lucas), but though they lock eyes momentarily, he simply keeps walking.
  • Time Skip: The epilogue takes us one month ahead in time.
  • Use Your Head: Billy headbutts Steve during their fight.
  • Villain Song: "Every Breath You Take" playing in the background isn't refering to Mike and Eleven; it's refering to the Mind Flayer, who is watching them in the Upside-Down. Commentary by the cast and crew even states that the Mind Flayer's thoughts are "You belong to me", which are lyrics in the song.
  • Where It All Began: Eleven finally returns to Hawkins Lab, the place she escaped from in first episode of season 1.