Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Episode 2 ended on a rather dark note as we saw Billy kidnap his colleague from the Hawkins community pool and take her to the creature from the Upside Down, who seems to be residing in the abandoned factory for now. Well, we cannot completely blame Billy for this horrific act because he is being controlled by this creature.
When we start with Episode 3, which has been aptly named ‘The Case of the Missing Lifeguard’, it is immediately evident that there is a change of pace and tone. The Duffer brothers make that evident through the pathetic fallacy of the weather. As all traces of the sun disappears, so do the traces of playfulness in the narrative. With the looming clouds, comes an impending sense of danger, that is more prevalent than ever. Finally, the torrential rain brings to surface a lot of emotions and fears, in what is perhaps the darkest episode of the season, yet. It is clear that we are headed towards some sort of culminating event, and this episode is one of the instrumental moments when a lot of important factors come into the light.
The Duffer brothers are not playing around in this episode, and even as they show something as light as Max and El discussing how hot Ralph Macchio is, after they dump Lucas and Mike respectively, there is a sense of ominousness that looms. This is soon made evident when El uses her powers to spy on how the boys are holding up. While this provides a moment of humor, the very next time El uses her power is to see Billy do something terrible to Heather, the lifeguard. This puts Max and El on Billy’s trail. Meanwhile, Joyce approaches Hopper after standing him up. She wants to go back to the lab that shut down in Season 2. I am sure you remember the Hawkins lab, from where all the creatures first emerged? Yeah, they go back there because Joyce believes there is something there which is messing with the magnets.
One cannot help but root for Joyce and Hopper to get together as their rapport is brilliant, from Hopper’s jealous outburst to his caring and protective attitude towards Joyce, so that she feels safe in Hawkins. Another investigative thread begins to unspool as Nancy and Jonathan follow up on the rat mystery after Nancy is ridiculed again in her workspace. Their investigations now show that the old woman who reported the problem seems to have been infected by the disease, as they catch her eating fertilizer. Undoubtedly, future episodes will explore this further.
Now we come to some of the most important revelations of this episode. Firstly, the involvement of the Russians has intensified significantly. Something shady is afoot at Starcourt Mall and Dustin, Steve, and Robin are on the case. This leads to the only moments of comic relief in this episode. Hopper tangles with an unknown assailant at the lab and while he is thoroughly defeated by this close combat expert, this might only be a preface to a more thorough, and more thrilling encounter between the two men.