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Stranger Things 3 - Episode 5: The Flayed

July 27, 2019

 

     The Scoops Troop continues to fall, panicking all the while until they come to a sudden stop. There's a latch on the ceiling and the gang climbs out, only to find they're way too far underground to climb out.

     Joyce and Hopper arrive at one of the properties, and we see a Lynx truck parked outside, the same company Robin got the delivery from. The inside of the house is almost empty, but they can hear a noise coming from the basement. As they head down, Russian Terminator arrives on his bike. Joyce and Hopper find a couple of men speaking in Russian, one is the scientist from the first episode. Hopper gets into a fight with Russian Terminator. This is the first time we hear him speak, and he actually sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Joyce and Hopper barely escape with the scientist (Alexei) in tow. I don't know if the reference is intentional, but during the fight Hopper hits Russian Terminator in the knee with a wrench. While chasing after them, Russian Terminator limps in a similar manner to Max Rockastansky after his injury at the end of Mad Max. Cue credits.

     Jonathan receives a phone call at 5:48 AM. Its Nancy, investigating the Driscol case. Jonathan isn't going along with it until Nancy asks if Will is safe, at which point Jonathan becomes worried.

     In the woods, the car has broken down, Hopper tries unsuccessfully to fix it. Instead it blows up, which Alexei, to his credit, does try to warn them about. Hopper decides to take Alexei to Murray Bauman, since he's the only one Hopper knows who speaks Russian. The world around Hopper becomes dark, Eleven is looking for him and learns they're going to Illinois, making the kids realize they're all alone. Luckily for them, Nancy and Jonathan arrive, having also realized something bad is going on.

     Dustin tries to contact someone on the outside using the walkie talkie, he is unsuccessful. Dustin tries to convince Steve to hook up with Robin. Erica, like an idiot, starts trying to BREAK OPEN THE CANISTER OF GOD KNOWS WHAT because she wants to drink it. This is one of the single dumbest things anyone does this season. Robin hears noise, and the Scoops Troop hide on top of the elevator. A pair of agents arrive to take a couple of boxes somewhere. When they're gone the kids use the canister to bar the door long enough to get out. Just as Steve gets through it breaks and the green liquid starts to melt the floor. Behind them, they see a hall that continues forever.

     Back at the Wheelers, everyone exchanges information. They figure out that Mrs. Driscol freaked out during the same time as the Sauna test on Billy. As they discuss what happened, it turns out Jonathan and Nancy know Heather and immediately make the connection to her father Tom, their jackass former boss. The gang piles into the station wagon (an iconic American car that's not around anymore) and heads out.

     In the woods, Russian Terminator finds the car and Hopper's footprints. Joyce and Hopper argue as they walk through the woods, Hopper continues to act like a jerk. When Hopper is distracted, Alexei makes a break for it, but it turns out he's not running away. They're right by a 7/11. The gang picks up some snacks and a six pack of New Coke while Alexei tries out the Slurpee machine. Hopper commandeers a vehicle from a douchebag named Todd. It has to be seen to be believed. We know he's a douchebag because his license plate says "Toddfather."

     Underneath the mall, the Scoops Troop continue down the long hall, trying to figure out why the Russians are here. When Robin starts wondering "why Hawkins," Dustin and Steve both realize it might be connected to the Upside Down and Eleven. Suddenly the walkies pick up another Russian broadcast. They realize wherever the transmission is coming from, it can reach the surface.

     The party arrives at the Holland house, only to find it cold and empty. Chemicals are lying about on the counter. Jonathan and Nancy realize they must be eating/drinking it, which allows Mike to figure out that the Mind Flayer is building something, because when you mix chemicals you create a new substance. Entering the dining room, they find that everything is still set out from the night Max and Eleven briefly visited. Using all the clues, the gang figures out that Tom and his wife were attacked, tied and taken somewhere. Remembering that Mrs. Driscol kept saying "I have to go back," they decide to head to the hospital, hoping Mrs. Driscol will lead them to the source.

     Russian Terminator enters the 7/11 and interrogates the employee.

     Hopper and Joyce arrive at Murray's compound. We go through the same song and dance Nancy and Jonathan had last season. Murray may be paranoid, but he's also correct. Murray opens the door and immediately holds a shotgun to Alexei's face. Alexei answers in Russian, which Murray understands. He allows them in but is less than amused that Hopper has brought a Soviet Agent to his home.

     At the mall, the Scoops Troop finds an entire facility full of Russian guards and scientists. Red Dawn indeed. They sneak into the comms room, where they come face to face with a Russian agent. Steve knocks him out and Dustin is super proud that Steve finally won a fight. They steal his electric card, but then find a generator that has opened a door into the Upside Down.

     The party arrives at the Hospital. Nancy is not able to convince the nurse to let everyone see Mrs. Driscol, so she and Jonathan leave the kids in the waiting room. In the elevator, Nancy and Jonathan both apologize to each other for their behavior the day before. It's refreshing to see a couple actually act mature by both admitting the other had a point. Back in the waiting room the vending machine stops working, and El uses her powers to let Mike get some candy. Seeing it as a peace offering, Lucas convinces Mike to talk to Eleven, which is the only correct advice he's given Mike so far.

     Nancy and Jonathan arrive to find Mrs. Driscol is no longer in her room. They're confronted by a brain-washed Tom and Bruce (Jack Busey). The brain-washed individuals become known as "The Flayed." Jon smashes Tom in the face with a flower vase and they run.

     Mike offers El some M&Ms, and they make up. There's a mistake here that I didn't notice because I was unaware of it. The M&Ms Mike offers contain red ones. Apparently, there were no red M&Ms in 1985. It detracts absolutely nothing from the scene, but it's a fun piece of trivia.

     Jonathan and Nancy keep running, we see dead bodies laying about, people that Tom and Bruce have presumably killed. In a tense scene that comes straight out of a horror film, Bruce corners the pair in a room and nearly kills Jonathan, throwing him to the floor and hitting him in the back with a stool. Nancy stabs Bruce in the back with a pair of scissors, getting his attention. As Nancy runs down the hall yelling for help, Bruce follows her. Jonathan tries to get up, only to get kicked back down by Tom. Nancy grabs a fire extinguisher. Tom picks up Jonathan and starts beating him to death. He's about to finish Jonathan off with the scissors, but in another part of the hospital, Nancy hits Bruce in the face with a fire hydrant. Remember the Mind Flayer, everything is connected. When Nancy hits Bruce, Tom feels it. What follows is probably the most violent the show has ever gotten. His teeth and nose broken, Nancy hits Bruce in the face one more time, killing him. Jonathan takes the opportunity to grab the scissors and plunges them into Tom's neck, killing him. This is disturbing, two of our teenage heroes have now actually killed people. It was in self-defense and absolutely necessary, but that's not a line you can uncross. But it's not over, no, it's about to get worse. As the lights flicker, the bodies of Tom and Bruce melt, turning into the same goo we saw the rat become earlier. Their bodies merge together and form into the giant monster we saw in the trailer. It's now standing between Nancy and Jonathan. It screams, cue credits.

This is easily the darkest episode to date. Two incredibly gruesome deaths, and two teenagers have to kill in order to stay alive.           And then the bodies melt down and merge to become a monster that resembles John Carpenter's The Thing. Yes, there's still some sweet stuff with the couples, for instance, despite both pairings getting into arguments, it's clear that Mike/Eleven and Nancy/Jonathan truly care for each other, and just because one may be upset with the other doesn't mean they no longer love them. Hopper is better away from the kids this season, since when he's around them he's been controlling and abusive. I still don't really care for how he treats Joyce, but at least she's the "sane one" this season. And the Scoops Troops adventure uncovering a secret communist plot literally beneath their feet is the most fun part of this season, but even that comes with its own set of dangers. The Soviet Union wasn't exactly known for its humane treatment of prisoners. In fact, the Russian Federation, the country that exists today after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, still isn't known for treating its prisoners well, which has led to several international controversies. There's three episodes left, and it's going to be one hell of a roller coaster.

 

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