‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: MADMAX

Is Eleven alive? Who is Mad Max? Is Will okay? All of these questions and more are answered in the Season 2 premiere!


It’s here!!! After what feels like an eternity of waiting, Netflix’s hit sci-fi show Stranger Things has finally released its second season! And while I’m tempted to binge-watch it all in one shot, I decided to make my little corner of the internet a part of this experience. That’s right. For the next few days, Fiction’s Mistress will be Stranger Things central!


I will be posting episode by episode recaps/reviews. Want to know what happens in Episode Three but don’t want spoilers for the fourth? This is the place to be! So sit back, relax, and let’s recap that premiere!

Note: This article contains spoilers from Season 2 Episode One.

Firstly, Who Exactly Is Mad Max?

This was the question on everyone’s mind. The first episode is named after Max (full name Maxine), surely we’ll get to meet her in the first episode? We weren’t disappointed. Though there’s still a lot to learn about her, here’s what we do know. 1. She’s new in town, and seems to be a bit of a loner. 2. She’s absolutely amazing at video games, reaching scores that seem impossible. 3. Our protagonists first encountered her upon discovering she beat Dustin’s high scores on two of the games at the Arcade, knocking him from first place to second. 4. She has a decidedly dreamy older brother, but he might be bad news. It looks like Max’s home life isn’t the greatest, but again, we don’t know the full extent of it yet. Hopefully we’ll learn a lot more about Max in Chapter Two, but for now, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Will are pining from a distance. And Max knows.

Life After The Upside Down

Will, at first, seems surprisingly okay! Sure, it’s been a year since the whole being trapped in another dimension thing, but he seems to be coping very well. At first. But Will is having flashes, episodes if you will. One minute he’s in the Arcade with his friends, and the next he’s completely alone in the Upside Down. And he sees an oncoming storm, one that he would later describe as “evil”. It wants to kill everyone.

The psychiatrist Will is seeing suggests to Joyce and Jim (both of who sit in on the sessions) that the episodes are a result of post traumatic stress, especially considering he is approaching the first anniversary of the incident. Though the theory is sound, and there’s probably some truth to it, I think we all know it’s more than that. This is more than in Will’s head. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, there’s no doubt in my mind that Will is actually getting a glimpse into the current Upside Down. These glimpses could be crucial in preventing the coming apocalypse. Speaking of…

What Is Happening In The Hawkins National Laboratory?

Season 1 ended with the Hawkins National Laboratory management team being destroyed by a combination of Eleven and the Demogorgon. But it’d be naive to think that’s the end of that. The HNL has brought in a new team, and I have to admit, they’re looking a lot better than the last one. Undoubtedly just as vile, this team puts on a much friendlier, helpful persona. And though Will’s therapy/regular check ups are for their research, they at least pretend it’s for his benefit too. And they don’t seem to be nearly as crazy as the old ones. Of course, we’re only one episode in, so there’s tons of time for them to prove themselves psychotic…yay?

All Is Okay With The Hawkins Teens

Season 1 left Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve in an interesting place. Steve arrives at Jonathan’s house to try and make things right, and instead finds Nancy there with a gun and baseball bat. Oh, not to mention a monster from another dimension. Against Nancy’s suggestions, Steve comes back and helps defeat the Demogorgon, saving their lives in the process. After these events transpire, we see that Steve and Nancy are still together, but it’s unclear just how close Nancy is to Jonathan. Well, the premiere of Season 2 clears everything right up for us.

Steve and Nancy are still together, which I’m really happy about. I ship them, and I actually really love Steve, which I’m sure you’ll hear all about in the coming recaps. As for Nancy and Jonathan? They’re close friends, and the friendship is kind of adorable! It’s really great to see that the characters have changed for the better. It seems Jonathan may still have a thing for Nancy, but then again he may just not like standing around while people suck face. It’s probably the former, but hey! You never know, right?

Justice For Barb?

Later in the episode, we watch as Steve and Nancy join Barb’s parents for dinner, where they inform the teens that they found a freelance detective who is willing to take on their daughter’s case. Nancy can barely get through the dinner and it’s understandable why. She knows perfectly well that their daughter is never coming back, but she can’t tell them. She has to feed into this false hope. Will this come back to haunt her? It’s Hawkins, of course it will. But for now, it’s heartbreaking to watch.

Eleven and Hopper: A Blossoming Father/Daughter Relationship

Unsurprisingly, the writers decided to wait until the final moments of the episode before updating us on Eleven. We can all stop worrying – Eleven is alive and well. Living in an abandoned house in the middle of the forest, she is regularly visited by Jim Hopper. He keeps her fed and healthy, making sure she eats more than just eggos all the time. He’s also teaching her the ways of our world, and quite frankly, she seems to be doing pretty well! Their relationship is adorable, and feels like justice. She never had a true father figure, and he lost his daughter when she was very young. They both give each other hope as well as closure.

But there are many questions that still need to be answered in regards to Eleven. We get why she’s hiding (there are always more bad men), but why is she not even contacting Mike? Why doesn’t Hopper at least tell Mike that she’s okay and give him some peace of mind? When is Mike and Eleven’s inevitable reunion going to happen? Have her powers grown? How did she survive the Demogorgon!?!?

These are only a few of the biggest moments from the premiere. But so much more is going on. We found out that Eleven’s name is exactly what is suggests. There were ten others before her, and it seems that number Eight is in Pennsylvania, surviving as a member of a group of thieves. Powerful and bad-ass, there’s no hint as to whether or not we’ll see her again. But one thing’s for sure, there are others out there. And there’s no telling just how widespread they are.

Oh! And as for Sean Astin? He’s playing Joyce’s new boyfriend! And things seem to be progressing well! He joins Joyce, Jonathan, and Will regularly for movie night! It’ll be interesting to see what happens there!

And that’s it for Episode One! What a huge premiere! Feel free to geek out with me in the comments, and stay tuned for a recap of Episode Two!

3 comments on “‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: MADMAX”

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