Episode 5 of Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 left us with the chilling image of the gooey monster in the hospital hallway with Nancy and Jonathan. Episode 6 picks up from right there and if you were expecting narrative respite, there is none. The protagonists are hard on the trail of the aliens now, be it from the Upside Down or from mother Russia. With only two more episodes to go, it does not look like the Duffer brothers are going to ease up.
However, there are some new character dynamics like the clique including Hopper, Joyce, Alexei, and Murray. Their scenes include some sharp and funny scriptwriting, which comes as a relief when compared to the looming threat of the monster. I believe they could give the Starcourt Squad a run for their money when it comes to humor and rapport.
Titled ‘E Pluribus Unum’ which means ‘out of many, one’, and which happens to be the motto of the USA, this episode has set the stage for the final fireworks to take place in the season. The title literally ties in with the theme of this episode, and since it happens during the Fourth of July celebrations, we can expect the final action to unfurl at the fair that Mayor Klines has organized for the people of Hawkins.
As I said, the biggest worry was whether Nancy and Jonathan would make it alive out of the hospital after being trapped with the creature. However, the creature seemed to be more interested in Nancy who got a good thrashing from this monster, I might add. Just when it looked like Nancy was running out of time and Jonathan could not do anything, El and her friends intervened. In one of the most spectacular sequences yet, El gave the monster a good flinging with one hand, before using her powers to literally fling the monster out of the hospital.
Meanwhile, it seems like our Russian Terminator is not such a good tracker after all, because he leans on Kline to help in finding Hopper, and subsequently Alexei. Meanwhile, we see Alexei helping Hopper and Joyce understand what the Russians are doing. Their motivations are now clear. They have a key to open a gate to another world (Upside Down), and while they have many keys in Russia, Hawkins is the ideal location because the gate has been opened here once, already. Acting on this information, Hopper calls in the cavalry to try and deal with the Russians.
Speaking of dealing with Russians, our Starcourt Squad runs into trouble as they are discovered. Steve and Robin play the heroes, allowing themselves to be captured while Erica and Dustin escape. Though it is sad to see the Steve-Dustin duo break up, the Duffer brothers do a good job exploring Steve’s relation with Robin, and Dustin’s with Erica, in the meanwhile. Steve and Robin get the harsher deal though, as Steve is brutally beaten up in interrogation, and later they are both injected with what seems to be truth serum. However, Dustin and Erica double back to rescue their friends, and we will see in the upcoming episode if the squad makes it out of the facility safe and sound.
This brings me to my favorite part of the episode, and certainly the most stunning. El, in trying to track down the monster’s location, accesses Billy’s mind and memories. As I have already mentioned, Dacre Montogomery has done a stellar job this season, as far as acting is concerned. It is nice to see that the showrunners have hashed out Billy’s character beautifully by showing a montage of his troubled childhood and his parents’ marital problems, which probably made Billy the way he is. Anyhow, El does find the monster’s hideout, but in the process, she gives herself away to the Mind Flayer and the flayed humans under his control. There is also a hint that El might share a deeper bond with the Upside Down than what we are aware of, but that will surely be made clear in the last two episodes.
In the meanwhile, another of my theories comes to fruition in the last few scenes of Episode 6. As posited, the Duffer brothers were using the narrative strategy of keeping the monster lurking underneath, till it was powerful enough to rise to the surface in all its might. It seems, the Mind Flayer is now powerful, having absorbed the gooey substance from all the flayed, and out of many, one powerful, monstrous creature has risen to the surface. We will be sure to see how Hawkins fights back against this monster in the future episodes.
Okay, first things first. Of all the ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 episodes till now, this has been the most visually stunning. Using El’s powers to access Billy’s memories, allows for some excellent scenes to play out, like the tranquility at the beach during Billy’s childhood being juxtaposed against the monstrous storm when things begin to go wrong in his family. At the center of the storm is the core of the monstrosity, the Mind Flayer, which resides in the abandoned factory, as El glimpses.
We also loved how Steve and Robin got a chance to show their emotional range, from scared to nostalgic, to laugh out stoned. This episode also speeds things up a lot and sets up for two very action-packed final episodes. One big revelation in the Russian facility was the discovery of the cage by Erica, which seems big enough to hold a Demodog. Do the Russians have an infernal creature from the Upside Down locked away? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Hopper and his gang are on their way to beat the Ruskies and perhaps we will see another brilliant confrontation between ‘fat Rambo‘ as Alexei calls Hopper, and the Russian Terminator. The storylines are beginning to converge, and we will probably see the Starcourt Squad intersect with Hopper’s clique soon enough.
Overall, this has been an episode that has maintained its brutality and hilarity in equal measures, with the most impactful moments coming from El and Billy’s interactions, which helps us gain a greater insight into the mind of Billy, and only makes us more excited to see what the Mind Flayer does in the episodes to come.
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