Warning: This recap of the “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister” episode of Stranger Things contains spoilers.
When you live in a small town — be it in a normal suburban home or in a secret government facility — you never forget your first trip to the big city. All those lights and buildings and people! Big cities have it all: culture, restaurants, stores that stay open late, skid rows, abandoned warehouses, cults of masked killers who murder former government officials. Who knew such a wonderful techno-fantasia could exist? Certainly not Eleven!
In a remarkable departure from the rest of the season, this week Stranger Things 2 took a detour to allow Eleven to have her own episode. And she went on a field trip to Chicago! There she met a very important person and learned a lot about herself along the way. Let’s talk about “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister”!
We began with a psychic child learning the truth about her mother’s broken brain.
As we saw last week, Eleven (aka Jane)’s mother had attempted to get baby Eleven back from the government only to find herself on the business end of some electroshock paddles. And now she was, as Eleven put it, trapped in a dream circle, just repeating the same flashing imagery over and over in her head. But there was at least one notable element to this dream circle: a second girl.
It was the girl Eleven had been friends with in the lab, another psychic girl! And, yes, I think we can all agree it would prove to be the one from the cold open of Chapter One. This was verified only a minute later when Eleven put on her blindfold and attempted to commune with her, only to get a fleeting glimpse of her standing beside a barrel fire.
Eleven had found her former friend! Sort of. But this wasn’t enough. Eleven believed that her mother must’ve really wanted the two girls to reunite, so when Eleven’s aunt decided to contact Sheriff Hopper back in Hawkins, Eleven took the cue to steal her wallet and buy a bus ticket to the big city!
All Eleven had to do to achieve this was just look at her childhood friend’s photo and think real hard and also navigate a bus system that she would not have much experience with, in my opinion. But I guess when you’re a powerful psychic anything is possible!
Next thing we knew Eleven was in Chicago, simply dizzy from all the sights. And at first I was worried about her when she began trudging through all the worst parts of town, but then again, this was Eleven. Anybody who stepped to her would be in big trouble.
For instance, when she arrived in an abandoned warehouse and took a gang of funkily dressed hooligans by surprise. The man with the Mohawk brandished a switchblade but dropped it when his hand exploded in spiders! (The same thing happens to me when I get out the artificial Christmas tree every year.) Fortunately for this guy, though, the spiders were just in his head!
Meet Kali. The girl from Eleven’s memory, all grown up and looking insanely badass. Honestly, how much cooler can a person look? Kali’s even cooler than that.
And, yes, she was the NUMBER EIGHT Eleven used to hang around with back at the lab. And when they hugged — calling each other sister — it was as happy as it was heartbreaking. These were two girls torn from their real families and now suddenly feeling less alone in the world. So good.
As we guessed back in the season premiere, Kali’s psychic power is the power of suggestion. Meaning she can make anyone see anything. She conjured a funky glowing butterfly for Eleven’s benefit, and also apparently she’d used her skills to change the “hearts and lives” of the misfits in her gang. No, they weren’t bank robbers; they were simply people who adored Kali and would do anything she asked, including help her MURDER HER ENEMIES.
Yep, that “heist” we saw them commit in the first episode wasn’t a heist at all. It was just Kali personally murdering a man who used to work for the government and had had a hand in her torture as a child. So, yeah, questionable morals, but seemingly justified. Again, this masked hit squad was easily the coolest concept this show has had yet. I’m in.
Kali also immediately became a bit of a mentor figure for Eleven, who hadn’t really had much in the way of an instructor when it came to her abilities. In this scene Kali encouraged Eleven to lift an incredibly heavy train car by harnessing her own rage. Rage over what had been done to her, and what was still being done to her and her loved ones by the government. If you hadn’t noticed, Kali was still pretty upset about the things she’d been through, and wanted Eleven to get in on the revenge spree with her. So she brought her to a wall of potential targets, and Eleven recognized one of the men as the one who’d administered her mother’s shock treatment.
Next thing we knew, the gang gave Eleven a CRAZY-CHIC 1980s power bitch makeover, and they loaded up the van to go find this MFer.
I mean, come on. Look at them. I’d watch THIS show as well. Don’t tell me Netflix hasn’t already considered a spinoff.
I enjoyed their little pit stop at a convenience store in which Kali attempted to talk the counter clerk into letting them steal, since the store was insured and he wouldn’t lose any money. But he wanted to brandish a gun and stand his ground or whatever, so Eleven let him HAVE IT. See, she was definitely finding her own inner badass, someone we hadn’t seen since she’d straight-up murderized a bunch of folks last season. Welcome back, girl!
So the gang eventually found the dude who’d hurt Eleven’s mother all those years ago, and he was played by the great Pruitt Taylor Vince. I loved when he claimed not to remember what any of them were talking about, so Kali reminded him:
Aw, li’l Eleven. She used to be so blond!
Anyway, it was now retribution time, so Eleven set about strangling him with her brain.
But he protested that he’d only been doing his job, and also, FYI, Matthew Modine was still alive and he’d tell her where he was! This was obviously news to Eleven, who had more or less witnessed the man’s death. But ultimately Eleven couldn’t bring herself to kill this guy, especially when she discovered he had two young daughters cowering in the next room. Some things are too dark, even for Eleven. She even slapped a gun out of Kali’s hand to prevent her from pulling the trigger, and they all made a run for it! All in all, a confusing night for everybody.
Later Kali took Eleven to task for wimping out, and conjured an imagine of Matthew Modine to really help Eleven sort out her feelings toward all this. She did not appreciate the effort.
In general, Kali truly felt that Eleven needed to harden herself against the world and use her powers to exact revenge on the monsters who’d hurt her. But Eleven wasn’t that person, at least not yet. She had a moral compass, and more than that, she missed her friends back home.
And after communing with them in the black space, she realized they were actually in a lot of danger at the moment! It was time for her to return to Hawkins and save them!
Unfortunately, that’s when an entire SWAT team arrived. As it turns out, systematically murdering former government officials tends to attract the ire of law enforcement. Fortunately, Kali was able to make herself and her friends appear invisible to the cops, and later she made them believe an enormous metal wall had risen up between them and her van. God, what a great skill to have.
But before they could all race off into the night, Eleven informed Kali that she wouldn’t be joining her. Kali protested that they were meant to be together, and Eleven countered that she really needed to save her friends. After Eleven ran off into an alleyway, Kali looked downright devastated. Between you and me, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Kali, and personally I’d love for her to show up in Hawkins, but you never know. Ultimately this was a difficult sisterly reunion, but I think it spells good things for them both. Growth and all that.
In our final beat, Eleven boarded a bus back to Hawkins and allowed a kindly old lady to sit next to her. But she wasn’t here for small talk — she was focused on making sure Mike, Sheriff Hopper, and the whole damn town were OK. (They probably weren’t.)
Man, I loved this episode. It was weird and thrilling to see this world expand beyond Hawkins, and I truly loved Kali and her ragtag gang. But also I couldn’t help but be moved by the celebration of sisterhood and the feeling of having a cool older sibling who wants to throw an arm around you and show you the world. Eleven had been deprived of so many normalcies in her life, it was nice for her to have a person she could fully relate to (if not actually want to emulate). Again, I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of Kali, but even if this was an isolated one-off, it’s a side trip I’m really glad we took. Now go rescue those boys!
Stranger Things is streaming now on Netflix
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter One recap: Return that frown to the upside down
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Two recap: Going crazy together
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Three recap: Reunited and it feels so slimy
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Four recap: What happened to Baby Jane?
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Five recap: Tangled and Strangled
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Six recap: They’re heeeere
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Seven recap: Baby’s day out
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Eight recap: Blackout forever
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Nine recap: Ward and savior