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5 Ways Episode Seven of Stranger Things Could’ve Been Improved

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Drexel chapter.

On Friday, October 27th, the long awaited second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things debuted. According to Nielsen, which publishes metrics on television show viewership, an average of four million viewers watched each episode, making the new season a success. Not everyone thought Stranger Things 2 was perfect from start to finish, however. The most polarizing episode has been “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister,” which (spoilers!) follows telekinetic Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) as she travels to Chicago to reunite with Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), a girl she grew up with in Hawkins Lab, and Kali’s posse of outcasts.

Image courtesy of Vulture

The creators of the show, the Duffer Brothers, have spoken out in defense of the episode by saying that they wanted to experiment with the show and that it was important for Eleven’s character development. I agree that it was important for our heroine to leave Hawkins and explore this other family – one that chooses a criminal lifestyle and vengeance. It makes her decision to ultimately stay with Chief Hopper (David Harbour) instead of her Aunt Becky (Amy Seimetz) or Kali even more impactful. However, I also think the episode could’ve been executed better. Here are five ways the sister storyline could’ve been more appealing:

1. Berthelsen’s acting could’ve been better.

Kali is an interesting character, but the lackluster performance by actress Linnea Berthelsen doesn’t do the character justice. Acting alongside Millie Bobby Brown who is amazing at conveying emotions with just her face highlighted the lack of movement on Berthelsen’s own.

2. Kali should’ve been in more than two episodes.

The very first scene in episode one showed Kali and her friends getting chased by the police. During the getaway, Kali uses her ability to alter reality to escape. As she uses her powers, she gets a nosebleed and the camera shows us a tattoo of the number eight, similar to the one Eleven has. This is proof that not only was Eleven one of many experimental subjects at Hawkins Lab, but that Kali, or Eight as her tattoo reveals, has lived a very different life.

The show then makes the mistake of not showing Kali again until episode seven. Viewers weren’t given a chance to develop an attachment to the character because we only had one episode to get to know her. The writers could’ve included clips of Kali and the gang in the episodes leading up to the seventh. That way, fans of the show would be more excited for her and Eleven’s paths to cross and “The Lost Sister” episode wouldn’t have felt as out of place with the rest of the season.  

3.  Don’t do a standalone episode immediately after a cliffhanger.

In the preceding episode “Chapter Six: The Spy,” it was revealed that the Mind Flayer forced Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) to betray his friends and family and a demo-dog appears behind the glass barrier in Hawkins Lab. Instead of having the cliffhanger resolved in episode seven, the show chooses to focus on Eleven’s adventures in Chicago. Although both of these storylines are important, it may have been better to show a little bit of what happened at the lab before diving completely into the “Lost Sister” plot. Instead of being able to completely focus on these new characters, viewers are worried about the lives of the old ones in Hawkins.

Image courtesy of Slate

4. It seemed like a preview for Season Three instead of flowing with Season Two.

One criticism that I often hear about the Marvel films is that they like to set up the plot lines for future movies and that these set ups never fit in with the plot of the movie you’re currently watching. Stranger Things 2 managed to commit the same crime in this episode, which in some ways seemed more like a preview for season three rather than a continuation of season two. These characters even have the potential to star in their own spinoff exploring Kali’s past. Plus, we never really find out why Eleven’s mom wanted her daughter to find her sister. Maybe in season three, everyone will need to team up to finally defeat the Mind Flayer or to find another one of Dr. Brenner’s experiments. In any case, weaving the characters of episode seven into other episodes would have helped the season flow better. 

5. The characters should have been less contrived.  

Kali’s group of outcasts includes four other edgy criminals who live in a massive cool-looking warehouse. The most work they do is shoot some guns, drive the getaway van, and give Eleven a makeover which seemed ridiculous given the circumstances. Yes, it was a fun moment to include a Breakfast Club reference but it didn’t make much sense in the context of the episode. There were moments where it seemed like these people had more depth, like when Funshine (Kai Greene) mentioned Kali saved each of their lives or that he would do whatever he could to help Eleven, but those moments were few and far between. The choice to make one member of the gang have a giant mohawk and for most of them to have grungy outfits felt like the show was trying really hard to make me believe that they were outcasts instead of just showing me through plot or dialogue. This is where including these new characters in multiple episodes other than the first one would’ve been helpful. Most of these people just come off as one-dimensional because there isn’t enough time in this one episode.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

This storyline had the potential to be a great episode, but some of the decisions made by Kali’s actress, the writers, and crew of the show left some of the show’s fans feeling less than impressed. Despite these issues, Stranger Things 2 overall was a great continuation of the series and we can’t wait to see what happens in the third season.

Sarah is a Marketing and Technology & Innovation Management major from Brooklyn, NY. In her free time she enjoys reading lifestyle/fashion/beauty blogs and literature, trying to get her life together, watching Netflix, and spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media. 
Her Campus Drexel contributor.