This season of Stranger Things has been nothing if not thrilling, but episode six entitled “E Pluribus Unum” outdid itself with the edge-of-your-seat thrills and the “Eww, gross!” moments.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
Opening in the Russian lair, we join Team Scoops Ahoy getting their first glimpse of the laser machine trying to reopen the gate. They quickly run away worried, Steve and Dustin more than the others, knowing what the “gate” is and how bad it can actually get. Before they can explain anything to Robin and Erica, however, they are discovered by the other Russian soldiers and are chased through a labyrinth of stairways and hallways trying to escape.
Finding a room to hold off the bad guys, Steve and Robin barricade the door with their bodies as Dustin and Erica find an escape hatch. Steve and Robin tell them to go without them, trying to save their friends, and Dustin tells Steve “I won’t forget you,” in true Dustin/Steve bromance fashion. Then, the Russians barge through the door and capture Steve and Robin at gunpoint.
Back at Hawkins Memorial Hospital, we find our heroes (Max, Will, El, Mike, and Lucas) in the concession area waiting on Nancy and Jonathan. The lights are flickering, and Will gets his Mind Flayer chills and says the ominous “He’s here.” Upstairs, the goo monster that was created from Tom and Bruce’s remains is standing between Nancy and Jonathan and has his eyes on Nancy.
Jonathan tries to distract the monster to no avail, and Nancy runs through the hallways of the hospital trying to escape. She finds a room and locks the door, but that does nothing to stop this new monster. In a moment of true nastiness, the monster melts into a puddle of goo and pushes its way under the door. It reforms itself and throws her against the wall.
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In the meantime, Jonathan is trying everything in his power to get into the door she previously locked, including using a fire extinguisher against the glass window. El and the others are on their way and arrive just in time to save Nancy from a goo monster kiss. El uses her powers to throw the monster all over the room and eventually out the window. After Jonathan makes sure Nancy is okay, they all run outside to witness the monster ooze its way down a sewer tunnel to rejoin another goo monster as Billy and Heather watch. And we hear Billy say, “It’s time.”
It’s Fun Fair time in Hawkins proper, and we see the town and Mayor Kline preparing for a jolly old summer time. Kline sees Grigori (the Russian Terminator) watching him. He joins Grigori inside the Gravitron to have a conversation about where Hopper and Dr. Alexei have gone, and Kline tells him he has everyone looking for them.
At Murray Bauman’s house, Hopper has just arrived with Burger King for the troops and a Slurpee for Alexei/Smirnoff. Joyce and Hopper are playing Good Cop/Bad Cop with Alexei, with Joyce asking questions nicely and Hopper being a little more, well, Hopper. After some arguing, lots of yelling, and a threat by Alexei to run away, the group begin to work together to figure things out, because they all know that they’re better off helping each other than standing at a stalemate.
Back with Dustin and Erica in the depths of the underground Russian lair, Dustin has just finished explaining everything he has seen and gone through the past few years. However, the only thing Erica can’t wrap her head around is that her brother, Lucas, helped them in any way. Later, in an attempt to help Dustin figure a way out of their latest predicament, Erica does quick math in her head and rattles off numbers. Dustin takes this opportunity to explain to Erica that she is actually a bonafide nerd, much to her chagrin. After a long diatribe using her My Little Pony backpack as proof of her nerdness, Erica is left speechless for the first time in the series.
Steve is being viciously tortured and beaten by the Russian boss, who keeps asking him, “who do you work for?” Steve’s only answer, of course, is “I work at Scoops Ahoy,” but that’s not the right answer according to his torturer. The beatings continue and eventually Steve is dragged into another way, unconscious, where Robin is being held. Concerned for Steve, Robin demands from the soldiers to know what’s happened to him. When one Russian officer laughs in her face, she spits in his.
El is now mindscaping, searching for the Mind Flayer. She has obviously been searching for a long time considering the pile of bloody tissues next to her. In Hopper’s living room, the others are discussing whether or not it’s good for El to be continuously mindscaping. Mike thinks she could get hurt or have brain damage, while the others think El can take care of herself and she knows her limits. After arguing back and forth, Mike intensely declares his love for Eleven and says he can’t lose her again. Everyone stares at Mike, as Lucas just smiles at him. El, who didn’t hear what Mike just said, walks out of her room and says, “I found him.”
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Back in the Bauman Bunker, Alexei is spilling his guts about what the Russians are doing in Hawkins. Through charades using a Burger King straw and fry cup, he explains that the machine that’s been built is being used to reopen the gate to the Upside Down. Hopper and Bauman asks if there is a way to turn off the machine, and Alexei says there is a way, but he can’t do it because he is now compromised. Hopper offers to get him into the facility, but Alexei scoffs and says, “This [machine] is in an underground fortress designed by the greatest Russian minds…. Breaking in is impossible.”
Cut to Dustin and Erica who have just broken into the impossible-to-break-into underground fortress designed by the greatest Russian minds. They have discovered a room filled with the toxic green goo that powers the laser machine. As Dustin is trying to find keys to a Jeep, he hears a zapping sound behind him and he jumps. Erica is holding a stun rod, or as she calls it, a “deadly weapon.” And she is proud.
Robin and Steve are still tied up in the torture room. Steve has awakened finally, so they make a plan to jump simultaneously across the room to some random scissors the “moron” Russians left behind, so they can cut themselves free of their binds. Of course, this plan literally falls apart when they fall over onto the floor. When Steve hears sounds coming from Robin, he tells her it’s ok, and not to cry, however Robin is laughing hysterically and says “I can’t believe I’m gonna die in a secret Russian base with Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington.” After some back-and-forth, Steve reveals to her that he’s enjoyed being with her this summer, slinging ice cream with her. Just as things are getting a little too sweet, Russian boss man comes back in with his doctor friend who has a special truth serum which he injects into the neck of a screaming Steve.
Back in Hopper’s living room, El has found Billy via her mindscape, but he is just sitting in his room, alone, on the 4th of July. Max says that is very strange, and they all agree it seems like he wants to be found. They voice their concerns, thinking it’s a trap, but El still wants to go into the mindscape again and talk to Billy. After Mike explains his concerns, she asks him to trust her.
Inside the mindscape, El walks toward Billy. She seems to get through to him — the Billy inside the Mind Flayer — and he sends her through his memories. She lands on a beach and sees a woman calling out to her child. She calls him Billy, and Max tells El that this must be a memory from their time in California.
Hopper has called a number from Dr. Sam Owens (Dr. Owens, played by Paul Reiser, was in charge of Will’s treatment last season), telling the “operator” his secret code name is “Antique Chariot.” He then relays the short version of what is going on and that they need backup. After hanging up, Joyce asks how long do they have to wait and Hopper says he doesn’t know. Not acting quickly enough for Joyce’s liking, she grabs the phone and calls the number again, telling the “operator” she is “Antique Chariot’s partner, Wheelbarrow.” In her best stern mom voice, Joyce tells the “operator” how urgent the situation is, to get off his ass, and to tell Owens he needs to get there right now. And then she offers a polite “Good day!” (I must say, I’m loving this take-charge Joyce!) She gets Alexei, and Hopper and Bauman follow her out the door as they head back to Hawkins.
The truth serum is taking effect on Robin and Steve as they giggle and call the Russians “morons.” Upset, the Russians threaten to start yanking fingernails, until Robin blurts out about the code that Dustin grabbed via Cerebro. As they’re listening to her story, alarms go off all over the lair. As the Russians try to escape, Dustin and Erica burst in with Erica’s deadly weapon, and the doctor friend is immediately zapped. Steve and Robin are thrilled as they are untied, and Dustin tells them to “Get ready to run!”
Back in Billy’s memories, El is still on the beach, but things are getting foggy and dark. Billy’s abusive father makes an appearance, and we then see Billy’s mom and dad fighting. A young Billy jumps between them, begging him not to hurt her. Next, Billy is on the phone with his mom, begging her to come home; he is beating up other kids at school; finally, he meets his new sister, Maxine. Then it’s the night he met the Mind Flayer in the Upside Down. The air clears and the red clouds are circling El and the Rimborn Steel Works.
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El tells the others where Billy is, and Jonathan finds the address. Mike yells for her to get out of there. She appears to leave the mindscape, but she’s alone at Hopper’s. As she yells for Mike, Billy says “He can’t hear you. You shouldn’t have looked for me, because now I see you. Now we can all see you.” Heather and the other flayed victims all over town are being called into action as Billy speaks to El. Billy explains to El how she let them in and now she will have to let them stay. The Flayed are marching into the steel works building, toward their destiny.
As El is crying, Billy tells her they are going to end her, her friends and everyone. She pulls off the blindfold again, this time safe in Hopper’s living room, as she screams and Mike is there to hold her. As she explains to them what she saw, the Flayed are in the steel works building, sacrifice themselves by melting into piles of goo to join the master Mind Flayer, as if they are his meal. The Mind Flayer bursts out of the building ready to go after El and her friends.
What will happen next? Will El be able to fight the Mind Flayer, or will she lose her friends and her own life? Will Hopper and Joyce be able to stop the machine from opening the gate?
Catch tomorrow’s recap of episode seven “The Bite” and watch the latest season of Stranger Things on Netflix now!