Welcome back to our Nerds Gets Spooky series! Every day in the month of October, the staff here at Nerds and Beyond are sharing their favorite Halloween themed television episodes to get you in the spooky mood. Today we are highlighting season 2, episode 2 of Stranger Things, “Trick or Treat, Freak.”
This episode moves the storyline along as we find out what happened to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) after the events of the final episode of season 1. We follow her as she manages to escape the Upside Down and live in the woods alone, before being taken in by Chief Hopper (David Harbour). Eleven desperately wants to see her friends and go trick or treating, but Hopper convinces her to stay inside so she doesn’t get caught. They compromise and agree to a quiet night, eating candy and watching scary movies. However, when he gets caught up investigating rotting pumpkin fields (very seasonal), he turns up late and El is angry at him.
Meanwhile, we also see how Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp) celebrate the Halloween season. They have all coordinated costumes as they show up at school as Ghostbusters. However, in what is too much like a nightmare for my liking, they find they are the only ones at school who have dressed up. Undeterred, they plan to go trick or treating and Dustin and Lucas invite new girl, Max (Sadie Sink), much to Mike’s annoyance. During their trick or treating, Will falls down after being accosted by some bullies. He sees into the Upside Down and sees a shadowy monster, which is later named the Mind Flayer. More disturbingly, the Mind Flayer also sees him. Will runs and hides and is eventually taken home by Mike as he is shaken.
We also see how Steve (Joe Keery) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) are celebrating Halloween. Nancy is guilt ridden over the death of her friend, Barb, last season. Steve convinces her they should go to a Halloween party and just act like stupid teenagers for once and forget what happened for a while. Nancy takes this a little seriously and gets very drunk and tells Steve that she doesn’t love him.
Stranger Things is a great spooky watch in general and I did wonder how they were going to handle the Halloween episode. Surprisingly, this episode is one of the more light-hearted ones, and I loved how they explored how people of different ages experience the holiday. However, there is still the horror element that we have grown accustomed to in the show and even a jump-scare (or maybe I’m just a bit jumpy). We see how adults like Bob (Sean Astin) still love the Halloween season and dress up for the trick or treaters — or “victims,” as he refers to them. Personally, I am much more of a Hopper, who enjoys the season by watching scary movies and eating too much candy.
We also explore how the teens of the series have a party and although they have much cooler costumes, they still admit that they spent a stupidly long time on them. I’m sure we can all relate to a time we’ve been so excited about Halloween but had to downplay this. I love the party scene because there are so many great 80s themed costumes. Nancy and Steve go dressed as Joel and Lana from Risky Business and there are other great references to Madonna, Wonder Woman, and so many more. It’s definitely a great scene to rewatch and take in all of the detail (shout out to the guy at the back of the party dressed as a yellow crayon!).
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However, the main focus of the episode is on how the main group of pre-teens experience Halloween. It is the most important day of the year for them; they have coordinated costumes and know exactly where to trick or treat to find the best haul. It makes us all nostalgic for that time.
This episode is a great Halloween watch and even manages to sneak in a few classic, cheesy songs like “Ghostbusters” and “Monster Mash.” All three seasons of Stranger Things are on Netflix, so make sure you give it a watch to get you in the spooky spirit. Make sure you check back tomorrow for our next Halloween themed episode!