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    • We're at the halfway point now, and things are intense. Plot points are slowly converging, mysteries are beginning to unravel, and we finally got to see El kick some ass in episode four. Here's my discussion on episode three if you missed it. Now on to the halftime show.

      The Sauna Test

      We have to start with the sauna test. Finally all the kids (except Dustin) got together when Will told them the Mind Flayer was back. El was right to trust her gut and suspected that Billy was the new host, and we finally got to see some of that ingenuity the kids have developed a reputation for when they came up with the plan to trap Billy in the sauna. Side note, that exchange between Mike and El, hilarious! "I make my own rules."

      The first showdown between El and Billy (Mind Flayer) was incredible, and I'm glad we finally got to see El in action. Billy's transformation/possession was brutally incredible, terrifying, and just bone chilling the way he roared as he broke down the door. Paired with the hospital scene where the old lady was wailing in pain gave us a very edge-of-your-seat moment. El won the battle though, throwing Billy through a brick wall with an enormous amount of power. It was nice to see how she stood between Billy and Mike, protecting him after he saved her from being choked to death. That was one of the best scenes so far this season.

      The Mind Flayer is clearly a powerful creature, and El most likely won't be strong enough to defeat him alone. Let alone if he has an army, which we saw at the end of the episode. Needless to say, I'm excited to see the next encounter between El and the Mind Flayer.

      The dynamic duo

      It may be a personal pet peeve of mine, but I hate when people in a position of authority are so cocky and abuse their power when they very clearly have done something wrong. It was so satisfying to see Hopper beat the crap out of the mayor, and Joyce is really proving herself to be a great detective herself. We've got ourselves another dynamic duo here! We're finally seeing the connection between the Russians and the mall, but we still don't know what exactly is at the mall. But we will soon.

      Operation Child Endangerment

      Erica is such an annoying little brat, but she is very funny at the same time. Looks like there really is something underneath the mall like I thought, but we don't know what yet (probably going to see it in the next episode). And what was in those boxes? Looked like samples of the Mind Flayer suspended in some sort of containment tube. At the moment, Steve, Dustin, and Robin only think this is some Russian conspiracy, but once they find out that the Mind Flayer is back, things will go crazy.

      Nancy and her mom

      It was a nice change of pace to see a tender moment between Nancy and her mom, who up until now didn't really have any scenes of significance. Her mother's message to her can also be looked at as a message to young girls watching the show, and how they should keep fighting for anything they believe in. The scene does carry a somewhat sociopolitical sentiment, but it fits so perfectly with the plot that it doesn't disrupt the flow of the story at all. Nicely done.

      The second half of the season is sure to turn the intensity up to eleven (get it?), and I'm looking forward to it!

    • I loved Erica as a character! "You can't have America without Erica!"

      She definitely has always been a scene-stealer as Lucas's little sister, and now to see her get to have her own adventure is really fun for us as the audience.

      In the meantime, poor Hopper has had a really lousy few days - first hungover from his "dinner" at Enzo's where Joyce never showed up (she was too distracted by the missing magnetism) and then he has to try to get the truth from Mayor Kline (aka Cary Elwes) as to WHAT'S GOING ON AT THE MALL!

      About the Sauna Test with Billy: I'm getting worried about El's ability to fight this newest incarnation of the Mind-Flayer. You can tell that she's having difficulty just wrangling with Billy. But clearly, there are many more bodies sustaining the Mind-Flayer than just him.