Stranger Things Recap: Lost In Translation

July 4, 2019
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV, TV Recaps
3.5

Summary

“The Mall Rats” deepens this season’s mysteries and relationships in satisfying ways, showing Max and Eleven bond, Billy deteriorate, and the plot thicken.

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3.5

Summary

“The Mall Rats” deepens this season’s mysteries and relationships in satisfying ways, showing Max and Eleven bond, Billy deteriorate, and the plot thicken.

This Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 2 recap for the episode titled “The Mall Rats” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.


Whenever red lightning cracks on the skyline, you know something’s about to go down. Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 2 proves it. After Billy escapes the warehouse into which he was dragged in the previous episode, still unclear what — if anything — happened to him, he’s greeted on a misty road by eerie figures — one of whom looks just like him.

We’ll return here briefly later. But “The Mall Rats”, true to its title, has other business to take care of first: Namely, Mike and Eleven’s relationship. After having been warned off by Hopper — who is extremely pleased with himself — Mike makes excuses not to see his girlfriend, who quickly sees through the facade and turns to Max for advice. Mike does the same, imploring Lucas and Will to help him atone. Both groups decide that the best course of action is going to the mall.

Already at the mall is Dustin, who wants Steve’s help in translating the Russian communication. Thankfully, Dustin and Steve still have a great relationship and Robin slots right into the dynamic. “How many kids are you friends with?” she asks Steve, slightly aghast at the prospect, but she quickly finds herself roped into deciphering the transmission. Scoops Ahoy is thus far functioning like a secret headquarters for the heroes, and I’m fond of that idea. There’s nothing that goes better with ice cream than a fair helping of Cold War conspiracy.

At the pool, Karen tries to apologize to Billy, who is looking a bit worse for wear, for standing him up in the previous episode. After a brief flashforward of him assaulting her, Billy tells her to stay away. There’s clearly something up with him in “The Mall Rats”, and that’s before he dips into unconsciousness and remembers his doppelganger stating that he wants “to build”. I don’t think he means Lego.

Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 2 also sees Nancy and Jonathan playing amateur sleuths, investigating a call about ravenous rats eating through bags of fertilizer. They visit a charming old lady who has caught one of the rodents, and while Nancy scares up leads, Jonathan photographs it writhing and squirming. Once they leave, it swells and pops, and its innards, seemingly sentient, squeeze through the cage bars and leave.

“The Mall Rats” also introduces us to the smug, slimy Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes), who is planning a huge Independence Day celebration to appease the citizens who lost their jobs to the new mall. Many of them are protesting outside, not shy about broadcasting their hatred of him, and Hopper is tasked with dispersing the crowd, much to his annoyance. He’d rather be on a date with Joyce, which is planned for that evening, but she’s busy researching electromagnets with Mr. Clarke (Randy Havens) and accidentally stands him up.

Meanwhile in “Mall Rats”, the mall is full of nostalgia and comedy beats as the girls try on clothes and make mischief while the boys run away from lingerie shops and search for a perfect — and affordable — apology gift. Outside, the kids all accidentally encounter each other. An argument ensues, and Eleven unceremoniously dumps Mike. How dare she! I’m telling you, you give that girl an inch and she takes a mile. But that’s the least of the problems in Hawkins. Steve, Robin, and Dustin decipher the Russian message. It’s in code, which excites them even more — why would they disguise what they were saying if it wasn’t a potentially world-ending conspiracy? And what’s more is that Steve is able to figure out where the music in the background of the recording is coming from: Not Russia, but the Starcourt Mall.

Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 2 has one more revelation. Back at the pool, Billy’s condition is rapidly worsening; he’s experiencing visions and developing open wounds. When his pretty lifeguard colleague goes to check on him, he knocks her out and bundles her in the back of his car. The episode ends with him taking her to the warehouse, and offering her as a sacrifice.

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