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Stranger Things: S02E07 – The Lost Sister

Now we’ve come to the episode you think you disliked most from Stranger Things 2. But you actually don’t dislike it, and I’m going to prove it to you. Sure, a glitzy 80s punk vigilante story crossed with a crime caper and a pseudo coming of age drama might not be your thing. But “The Lost Sister” is exactly the kind of episode Stranger Things needs, if not one it deserves.

Overall, I think most people dislike this episode because of its placement as a standalone story that immediately followed the most chilling cliffhanger of the season. It killed some great momentum like an unwelcome speed bump. Bad move. However, don’t let that deter you from the fact that this episode sets up essential, universe-expanding potential the show needs in order to remain fresh.

No, this isn’t your typical episodic review, but hey, it’s for an atypical episode from a season of a lot of the same.

Here are 5 Reasons You Don’t Dislike Episode Seven of Stranger Things 2

1. You Get All the Eleven You Can Handle

Let’s be honest: Eleven IS Stranger Things. No doubt the thrills of the upside down, the eerie jump scares and the nostalgia of the 1980s are each integral as well. But without Eleven, it would all be so much less… strange. She’s our hero, our tether between worlds, and here she’s at peak awesome, throwing knives, trains and people around with her mind. The episode gives her character much greater depth, cool factor, and most importantly- more power.

With Eleven’s newfound ability to channel her powers through anger, there’s no telling what lies ahead for her. It definitely means she can defeat all the shadow monsters and demagorgons the upside down could throw at her, but it also means she could lose control of those powers and become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Hang on to your Eggos.

2. It Has the Best Character Development of the Season

I think this season struggled from the burden of adding new characters, while taking all the ones we had further. It’s a tough feat to be sure. It’s still a good season, but it got off the ground slowly and ultimately did nothing much with important characters like Chief Hopper and Mike Wheeler. “The Lost Sister” does more for character development in a single episode than the rest of season two combined. That’s kind of the point of the episode, but still.

The establishing of Kali (number 008) as Eleven’s sister and confident in their shared trauma was fantastic. Seeing Kali’s hell-bent revenge compared to Eleven’s penchant for grace is an essential construct needed for character development to come. Both character’s natures felt like a natural response to where they came from, and each is earned. The other 80s punk team members are developed enough that we care about them, and we even sympathize with bad guy Ray who they almost kill. Seriously, watch this episode apart from the season. It’s pretty great.

3. It Breaks the Universe Wide Open

I’ve heard concern from fans about the show turning into an X-Men ripoff. Establishing characters with mutated powers will do that, so it’s understandable. And while I hope the Duffer Brothers have the reserve to keep the story centered in Hawkins, that could lead to a staleness in future seasons.

Simply stringing us along with the unknown mystery of the upside down isn’t enough to carry multiple seasons. There needs to be something on the horizon that will require all our characters to utilize the lessons they’ve learned from their arcs and band together to defeat it. For that, you’ve got to go bigger, and this episode set that up. There’s now no limit to how strange things can get.

4. It Observes How We All Deal with Pain

“You have to confront your pain. You have a wound, Eleven, a terrible wound, and it’s festering. Do you remember what that means, festering? It means a rot. And it will grow, spread, and eventually it will kill you.” – Dr. Brenner

“The Lost Sister” is pretty on the nose in delivery. It’s all set up for Eleven to confront her pain in a single episode arc. Arguably this should have been done over several episodes, but here we are. For what it is, it produces an elegant result. Eleven finds commonality for the first time in her story. And not just in another person who has power, but in a group of people who have been deeply wounded.

All the punky camaraderie Eleven enjoys here is sorely needed. I mean, she let them give her a makeover. You could say she’s open to their friendship. After her rift with Hopper, and in hiding from Mike and crew, she needs community. It is the only way that her wounds will begin to heal. She sees a vision of Dr. Brenner telling her to confront her pain, but remember it is Kali manipulating her mind. It is her new friend who gives her necessary truth.

We all deal with pain in our lives. And we are not meant to shoulder it alone. We are meant for community. And this episode gives us a picture of why. Through common ground with others we can build beyond our pain. Now Eleven can begin to build beyond hers.

5. It Has the Best Music Selection

No, seriously. In the sea of great music that fills the landscape of every episode, this one really sings. Literally. When Kali shows Eleven her power with the light butterfly and those voices are humming in the background? That’s great stuff right there. [That song is by a band called Big Giant Circles if you want to check them out]. Plus, this episode makes perfect use of “Runaway” by Bon Jovi. And you can’t hate Bon Jovi, right?

Did I convince you that you like this episode a lot more than you think? No? Well the only convincing you really need is a re-watch. Go do it. It’s worth it.

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Written by Mark Wingerter

(@MarkWingdinger) is a writer and aspiring filmmaker. He spends most of his free time with his family, talking about the Green Bay Packers, or discussing films on Reel World Theology…

  • Mike Poteet

    I admit this episode threw me a little at first, but it is about as clear-cut an example of the Hero’s Journey as you could hope for, and is especially welcome considering how El’s story was really unfinished at the end of season 1.

    I don’t know if El has a “penchant for grace” overall (she did, after all, make Troy wet himself in season 1), but I did appreciate her making another strongly moral choice.

    I have been unforgivably tardy to your reviews and will catch up asap… but has there been any speculation why this character’s nickname is also one of the Hebrew names for God?

    Good points and great review, Mark!

    • Mark Wingerter

      Thanks Mike! Man… I didn’t really put together “El” as the Hebrew for mighty God but you’re right. I don’t think there’s been any speculation on it that I’ve read. It’s a fascinating possibility, however, that she could have a God-esque arc. I do think she has a penchant for grace now that she didn’t have before. I think her first season arc shows her starting in a place of wrath and anger and ending in a place of grace. And her tendency to show mercy comes out here when she spares Ray’s life despite easily being able to do the opposite. So as God’s story somewhat goes from a place of wrath to grace thanks to Christ, perhaps we could see El in the same way continue her path towards mercy.