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Recap / Stranger Things S1E8 "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"

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Being interrogated at Hawkins Lab, Hopper manages to negotiate a deal with Brenner. He gives up the location of Eleven; in exchange him and Joyce are allowed to enter the Upside Down to attempt to save Will. They find Will unconscious in the Upside-Down town library. They pull a tendril out of his throat, perform CPR, and revive him.

Nancy and Jonathan booby-trap the Byerses' home, then cut their hands to attract the monster with their blood. Steve arrives, intending to apologize to Jonathan about their fight, but the monster attacks. The monster springs the trap but escapes back to the Upside Down. Eleven and the boys hide in the middle school.

Mike asks Eleven to a school dance, the Snow Ball, and kisses her. The military storms the school to re-capture Eleven, but she kills them, before collapsing from the strain afterwards. As Brenner cradles her, the monster attacks, apparently killing him. The boys hide Eleven in a classroom. The monster corners them, but Eleven pins it against a wall. She says goodbye to Mike, disintegrates the monster, and vanishes.

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Will is hospitalized and reunited with his mother, brother, and friends. Happy that all seems well, Hopper steps outside the hospital for a smoke, but as he does so, a black car pulls up to him and two government agents step out, beckoning him to enter the car. Reluctantly, he enters it and is driven off.

One month later, at Christmas time, Nancy and Steve are back together, and both are friends with Jonathan. Hopper is seen leaving Eggo waffles and other food in a box in the woods. At the Byerses' household, Will excuses himself from the Christmas dinner to go to the bathroom. There he coughs up a slug-like creature into the sink and has a vision of the world as the Upside Down, but he hides this from his family.


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This episode provides examples of:

  • Abuse Mistake: When Steve sees Nancy's bandaged hand after she and Jonathan cut themselves to lure the monster, he initially thinks Jonathan has been beating her.
  • Anachronistic Soundtrack: The haunting music played over the climax as Eleven sacrifices herself, Hopper and Joyce frantically try to revive Will and Hopper flashes back to the death of his daughter is Moby's "When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die", a song released about eleven years after the events of the episode would have taken place.
  • Anticlimax: Joyce and Hopper gear up and descend into the Upside-Down, prepared to face off against the monster to save Will and protect the younger members of the cast from danger. Unfortunately, while they do so, the monster is in their world attacking said youths.
  • The Atoner: Steve arrives at the Byers household intending to be this simply by apologising to Jonathan, but quickly gets caught up in events that he certainly was not anticipating. Although saving Jonathan's life from the Demogorgon by bashing it with a baseball bat with nails hammered into it probably didn't hurt his efforts to be this either, granted.
  • Batter Up!: Jonathan hammers nails into a baseball bat to combat the Demogorgon, though Steve is the one who makes use of it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When the monster has Jonathan pinned, Steve comes back in time and starts bludgeoning it with the nail bat.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Doubles as an Awkward Kiss. After trying and failing to explain his feelings toward Eleven with words, Mike finally just kisses her, getting a smile that makes her look totally different in response.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Both Nancy and Jonathan tell Steve to shut up when the latter freaks out after seeing the Demogorgon for the first time.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Mike shows Eleven the La-Z-Boy in episode 2, he says, "This is where my dad sleeps." In this episode, we see his father passed out on the chair.
    • At Will's funeral, Dustin gets a little giggle out of the fact that one of their classmates, Jennifer Hayes, is crying, and tells the others that they have to tell Will when they're reunited with him. Literally the very first thing Dustin tells Will when they visit him in his hospital room is that Jennifer was crying at his funeral.
  • Call-Back: In episode 2, Dustin makes fun of Lucas trying to take out the Demogorgon with his sli... wrist rocket. Mike makes note of it again in episode 6. In this episode, it seems like Lucas does exactly that when ...
  • Correlation/Causation Gag: ... the monster opens its maw and it looks like the wrist rocket throws it across the room. Turns out it was Eleven who did it.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Hopper instructs Joyce on how to perform CPR on Will when they find him in the Upside-Down. It doesn't work and Hopper, in an act of desperation, simply pounds on his chest while shouting "Come on, breathe, dammit!", which, of course, works.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve, employing nothing more than items they got from a hardware store, manage to injure the Demogorgon badly enough to send it running back to the Upside-Down, through judicious use of fire.
  • Electric Torture: The Hawkins Institute security chief repeatedly shocks Hopper with a stun gun while interrogating him.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Hopper finds a lion doll in the Upside Down which kicks off another Flashback Cut to him and his dying daughter.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: At one point the Demogorgon rises behind Jonathan and Nancy.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Nearly the entire scene in the school when the kids are being chased by the monster and the Hawkins men is while the lights are constantly and rapidly flickering.
  • Flatline: A dramatic moment when Hopper's Littlest Cancer Patient daughter dies in her hospital bed on a flatline sound.
  • Freak Out!: Steve, when he shows up at the Byers home at the moment Nancy and Jonathan are setting up a trap for the Demogorgon. He then crumbles down and escapes when they tell him that it will appear again. He puts himself together and returns to save both Nancy and Jonathan.
  • The Glomp: After Will is saved from the Upside-Down, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin give their friend a huge hug for surviving.
  • Go Through Me: Dustin, Mike and Lucas each tell the government agents that they'll have to go through them to get to Eleven. Unfortunately, they're 12 years old and the agents easily pick them up and move them away.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Nancy and Jonathan bring a bat and a revolver respectively to kill the monster. Initially, they try practicing with the weapons they picked, but trade when Nancy proves to be the better shot.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Played with. As Hopper is being interrogated by the agents, they demand to know who he is working with. Hopper answers that he is working alone, but he is also savvy enough to attempt a bluff by telling them that he has shared all the information he has with a journalist.
  • Heroic RRoD: Happens to Eleven when she kills the lab employees and the Demogorgon in short succession.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Eleven manages to destroy the Demogorgon for good using her powers, but is apparently disintegrated in the process.
  • Heroic Second Wind: During the climax, Eleven is completely exhausted after fighting off the military goons and has to be carried away by Dustin. But when the Demogorgon shows up and threatens her friends, she gets up again to kick more ass.
  • Hero Insurance: A non-super example: Joyce destroyed much of her house throughout the previous episodes, but everything is like new a month later despite the fact that she works a low-wage job.
  • If We Get Through This...: Mike tells Eleven twice how she can move in with him and his family after the monster has been dealt with, and they'll have a normal life together. The second time he tells her this is while she's drained of her powers and the Demogorgon is coming for them. Soon after, Eleven sacrifices herself to kill it.
  • Ironic Echo: In the second episode, Mike explains the concept of a promise to Eleven as "something that you can't break", and Eleven later promises that she's okay when he finds her crying. In the Season 1 finale, Mike and Eleven promise each other that she'll be okay and have a life with Mike and his family. That promise is quickly broken.
  • Irony: The only reason Brenner lets Hopper and Joyce enter the Upside-Down is because he's convinced they'll be killed by the creatures within. They never encounter anything. Meanwhile, everyone else outside the Upside-Down spends the entire episode being attacked by, running from or being killed by the Demogorgon, and Brenner himself is attacked and (presumably) killed by it in the school corridor.
  • Karma Houdini: Although Brenner is killed by the Demogorgon (maybe, Word of God is not so clear-cut), the organization which created Eleven and caused the entire mess in the first place ultimately escapes justice for their actions.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: It's not hard to take immense satisfaction when Eleven offs Frazier and her team during the climax, no matter how far it crosses into Cruel and Unusual Death.
  • Kill It with Fire: Combined with a bear trap as part of Jonathan and Nancy's second plan to kill the monster. It doesn't take, but it hurts the creature badly enough that it retreats back to the Upside Down. Unfortunately, it regenerates quickly enough to be seemingly no worse for wear when it shows up again.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end, the boys complain that Mike's D&D campaign was short and left a bunch of questions unanswered. Also something about a "princess" (Eleven?) and "those weird flowers in the cave" (the Upside-Down?). It might as well be the audience talking to the Duffer brothers.
  • Like Brother and Sister: When Mike tells Eleven that he wants her to stay with his family and that Nancy would be like a sister, Eleven asks if Mike would be like her brother which he vehemently objects to.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The scene of Nancy and Jonathan preparing to battle the Demogorgon by setting Bear Traps, driving nails through a baseball bat, soaking the area with gasoline, and even the literal locking and loading of a pistol.
  • Madness Mantra: After freaking out on seeing the Demogorgon for the first time, Steve spends a few moments frantically babbling "This is crazy!" to himself
  • Moment Killer: Jonathan and Nancy have a moment when bandaging their hands. Cue Steve knocking on the door.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the hospital, we are treated to a slow pan over a room full of our main characters who, for a mixture of reasons, all look incredibly tense, concerned, guilt-ridden, traumatised and broken-hearted... until we encounter Dustin and Lucas, who have fallen asleep on each other's shoulders.
  • Mook Horror Show: Eleven's dispatching of the agents definitely shows that Good Is Not Nice.
  • Mooks: The Department of Energy's foot soldiers are essentially only there to be slaughtered by Eleven or the Demogorgon.
  • Never Found the Body: Hopper is shown to be leaving food and Eggos in a dead drop in the forest, implying that Eleven might have survived her final fight with the Demogorgon, or at least that he has reason to believe so.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Steve comes by Jonathan's house to apologize, but Nancy answers the door. He notices her bandaged hand and becomes suspicious enough to barge in, where he sees Jonathan sitting on the couch with a nail bat nearby. He understandably demands to know what is going on.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When the lights start flickering and everyone collectively realizes the Demogorgon is about to break through the wall.
      Mike: Blood.
      Lucas: What?
      Mike: Blood!
    • After Steve barrels his way into the Byers house and begins a shouting argument with Nancy, the lights begin to flicker.
    • When he sees car lights coming, Mike runs out of the cafeteria, thinking it is Nancy and Jonathan - but then he sees it is Brenner's men.
    • When it looks like Dr. Brenner is about to take Eleven back to the lab, Mike realizes the corridor is full of blood from Eleven's earlier killing of the lab agents. And then the wall starts to contort...
      Dustin: Demogorgon!
    • Nancy, when she realises that emptying a revolver into the Demogorgon is having absolutely no effect on it.
  • One Head Taller: It's the case with Hopper and Joyce as we see them side by side in their hazmat suits.
  • On Three: Jonathan and Nancy decide to cut their palms "on three" to draw the Demogorgon. Jonathan starts counting to two but then stops to ask Nancy if she really wants to do this. But she shouts "three" upon which both cut their palms.
  • Orifice Invasion: When Hopper and Joyce find Will, he has a disturbing amount of a long, snaky thing inside of his body via his mouth. Later, it turns out that at least one smaller critter stayed in there. Barb's corpse also had something coming out of her mouth when El visited her in the previous episode.
  • Palm Bloodletting: Jonathan and Nancy cutting their palms to draw the Demogorgon.
  • Pre-Explosion Glow: The Demogorgon glows from the inside before it evaporates.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Despite the Ship Tease that's been developing between Jonathan and Nancy, for now she chooses to stay with Steve. Though the wish-fulfillment conventions of the genre would have her go with Jonathan, from her standpoint it makes sense: she already has a sexy boyfriend who dumped his friends and then risked his life for her, so why give that up for a rather emotionally uncommunicative guy whose only close relationship has been with his little brother?
    • A group of twelve-year-olds is standing before you saying that if you want their friend, you'll have to Go Through Me? They're twelve-years-old, and you're a grown-up with a group of secret agents. Just pick them up and move them.
  • Reduced to Dust: The Demogorgon disintegrates and turns to dust when El defeats it.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: A zippo is tossed on a pool of gas to burn the monster.
  • The Scapegoat: One of the newspaper clippings seen near the end of the episode shows that the State Police were blamed for misidentifying Will's body.
  • Shooting Superman: When the boys are cornered by the Demogorgon, they try attacking it with Lucas's slingshot, even though they just saw it take dozens of bullets without flinching.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: In the epilogue we see that Mike kept Eleven's Blanket Fort in the basement the way she left it.
  • Sleep Cute: Dustin and Lucas end up doing this in the hospital.
  • Spanner in the Works: The kids going from the gym to the school canteen screws up Brenner's plan, as it gives the former a few more minutes to escape and ends setting up the confrontation with the Demogorgon.
  • The Stoic: Dr. Brenner remains impassive to the very end. Upon seeing the Demogorgon burst through a wall and begin to tear through his men, he simply steps towards it with a look of what could almost be fascination on his face.
  • Suicide Mission: Brenner thinks he got rid of Hopper and Joyce by letting them enter the Upside Down. Little does he know that Jonathan and Nancy managed to draw away the Demogorgon from the place.
  • Tainted Veins: When Eleven takes on the Demogorgon, the veins around her eyes turn black and highly visible.
  • Tears of Blood: Happens to the lab employees when Eleven crushes their brains. Also happens subtly to Eleven herself when she kills the Demogorgon and blood starts to seep out of her irises from the strain.
  • Tempting Fate: In Episode 7, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven decide to trust Hopper not to give their location to the government, reasoning, "Why would the chief betray us?" In this episode, Hopper does exactly that.
  • Time Skip: The season's epilogue takes us one month past the events, showing how various characters are dealing with the new situation.
  • Trail of Blood: After Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan force the Demogorgon to retreat back into the Upside Down, it leaves a blood trail that allows Hopper and Joyce to track it.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: There are 4 articles pinned to a corkboard regarding the events of the season, all of which are quite detailed.
  • Up Close with the Monster: When the Demogorgon has Jonathan at its mercy, it does not go for the quick kill as usual but roars into his face, giving Nancy time to fire a shot at it.
  • Uriah Gambit: It's clear that Dr. Brenner only lets Joyce and Hop go into the Upside-Down because he expects them to die there.
    Connie: What if they find the boy?
    Dr. Brenner: They won't.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Demogorgon arrives to attack the government goons, allowing the heroes to escape, at least for a short while.
  • Weapon Twirling: Steven twirls his bat while pounding on the Demogorgon.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Hopper placing the stack of Eggos in the box.
    • Will coughing up the slug creature.

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