Friday, May 27, 2022

Stranger Things: Episode 26

26. The Hellfire Club
1979. Dr. Brenner trains 010, a telepath, at Hawkins National Laboratories when a massacre ensues. The perpetrator is revealed to be a young Eleven. 1986. The Byers have relocated to California where Joyce now works from home selling encyclopedias via phone. Eleven believes she is adjusting well at Lenora Hills High School despite being bullied non-stop, with only Will coming to her rescue. Joyce receives a package from Russia with a porcelain doll that contains a message saying, “Hop is alive”. Back in Hawkins, Lucas joins the basketball team while Mike and Dustin hang out with the Hellfire Club, a club of nerds dedicating their time to D and D. Their leader Eddie (Joseph Quinn) peddles weed and drugs on the side, one of his new customers being cheerleader Chrissy (Grace Van Dien), who keeps seeing visions of her family as well as flashes of the Upside Down. As she accompanies him back to his trailer to pick up her drugs, she slips into a trance and is visited by an otherworldly creature who tells her it’s time for her suffering to end.

It’s been, what, 3 years since the last season debuted? It’s been a while, so the longer runtime is very much appreciated. Aside from the three-minute refresher played before the episode starts, the pilot also gives you a lot of time to breathe and just catch up on what happened to everyone in the interim. The first signs of danger don’t appear until the half hour mark and only revisited once before serving as a conclusion for the episode. Much of the Upside Down involvement is kept between the two newbies for the time being, which permits enough leeway for the rest of the cast to just be themselves and pick up where they left off without much pressure. At least not yet. The only interesting plot points for now are Hopper’s anticipated return which is yet to happen as well as that opening flashback sequence which paints a juvenile Eleven as a mass murderer. But is she, really? As for the new big bad, we still have to wait whether Chrissy will be the new Billy or whether this serves as her first and last appearance on the show.

"Joyce says time is funny like that. Emotions can make it speed up or slow down. We are all time travelers if you think about it." –Eleven

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