Episode two, Trick or Treat Freak, follows four storylines, Eleven’s time in the forest and subsequent meeting with Hopper, Hoppers investigation of the poisoned farms and time with Eleven, Will, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Max’s activities during Halloween, and the turmoil between Steve and Nancy over Barbara’s death which reaches its climax during a Halloween Party. It is one of the defining episodes of the series as it introduces some of the important season conflicts.
Trick or Treat Freak was one of my favorite episodes in this season and certainly one that has best kept in my thoughts afterwards. It sets up many of the major plot points in the season as well many of the most intriguing character relationships. I think it can certainly be considered an iconic episode of stranger things that perfectly follows up upon the previous episode MADMAX and leads into the following episode The Pollywog. It is filled with wonderful moments, mystery that will keep viewers engaged, and intrigue that encourages binge watching the rest of the season just to see how it all ends.
The second part of this article contains a spoiler heavy review of Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 2: Trick or Treat Freak and therefor
Trick or Treat Freak is one of the most memorable episodes in season two. It begins by showing Eleven’s escape from the upside down after obliterating the demogorgon. These flashbacks are common throughout the episode displaying the events leading up to Elevens meeting with Hopper. In parallel you watch Eleven’s relationship with Hopper, who she is staying with, develop as well as the rules Hopper has imposed on her to keep her safe which eventually cause her to lash out at him near the end of the episode. Many other character relationships are explored alongside Eleven and Hoppers. Steve and Nancy have been in constant turmoil over the disappearance of Barb in season one and her parents constant search for her, oblivious to the event that transpired the previous year. Nancy, feeling guilt over Barbs death and hating to see her parent’s pain, had been wanting to tell them despite being under watch by the mysterious officials covering up the events in hawkins and presumably being sworn to secrecy. Steve fearing for himself, argued against divulging the information, which leads to his conflict with Nancy. This comes to its climax the night of Halloween in a fight between Steve and a drunk Nancy who curses Steve for his choice not to reveal Barb’s death. At the end of this you see Jonathan bring a drowsy Nancy back home beginning one of the most important relationships of the season.
Now onto the party of Will, Lucas, Dustin and Mike, who you first see in a montage of their ghostbusters costumes. It is halloween day and they have their wonderful costumes which they planned out months in advance. Yet when they reach school they are in shock to see that not one of their fellow students is in costume. I found this seen amusing though a bit silly since as Will says “Everyone dressed up last year”. That night the boys are out trick or treating, when they are met by Max who had been invited by Dustin and Lucas earlier that day. Mike is dismayed by this which seems to show how much he misses Eleven as he will not allow another member in the party apparently in fear of her being replaced which may be part of his effort to cling onto the hope that she may return. Will and Mike are walking on their own behind Dustin and Lucas discussing Max’s presence. Will asks for Mikes opinion and Mike states his dismay “She is ruining the best night of the year.” He walks off leaving Will alone. Will continues to follow when suddenly three people in costume jump out at him. “Watch out zombie boy” says one “Trick or treat freak” says another “BOO”. Will falls on his back, the ground grey and bare, particles of dust visible in the air, signs of upside down. “Mike” he screams “Mike” above him a dark shape black tendrils descend towards him. He runs towards the nearest house and hides behind a stubby brick wall. A black tendril slithers its way past the wall, searching for him. Suddenly Mike is at his side, his hand on his shoulder, asking if Will is ok. Lucas Dustin and Max run over to help. In the end Mike takes him back home them both having decided that they had had enough.
Throughout the episode there are great scenes that subtly build up to the upcoming seasons. Many of these elude to further supernatural event befalling the residents of Hawkins as well as to the development of characters throughout the remaining season. The relationship between Joyce and Hopper is explored in a scene where they are discussing Will’s “nightmares” a conversation which shows Joyce’s worry over her son and quickly takes a turn down memory lane as they recount their times spent together during their school years after Hopper gives Joyce a cigarette. These scenes give insight into a prior relationship between them as well as a possible developing one. Another scene begins to develop the mystery of the poisoned crop fields showing Hopper and his men investigating a rotting pumpkin patch which is described as giving off a putrid smell. Hopper requests that his men see how far the rot goes and to stake out its perimeter. Finally there are the last two scenes, one of Eleven and Mike and one of Dustin. In the prior, Eleven has been in her room watching television. She puts the television on static and dons a blindfold transporting her into the dark realm seen when she is using her telepathy You hear the voice of Mike echo which Eleven walk towards. Mike is seen sitting in the fort where Eleven slept the year before “I had a bad day today.” says Mike “I don’t know. I I guess I wish you were here. I mean, we all do. If you’re out there, just please give me a sign.” Eleven tries to reply “Mike” he seems to feel her presence yet in noticeably unsure if it is just in his head. “Eleven?” he inquires. Yet after a minute he gives up pushing down the antenna of the walkie talkie and giving up. It is the few of these moments where you begin to get a sense for just how much Mike misses Eleven which leads to his disdain for Max. The latter scene is of Dustin who is scene biking home in the night with Lucas. He turns off to his house, dismounts his bike and makes his way inside. In his house you can hear the sound of his television as he opens the door when suddenly there is a sound from behind him. The trashcan by his driveway is shaking and an odd sound is coming from inside. Dustin advances arming himself with the proton blaster on his ghostbusters costume. The trashcan is silent as he makes his way towards it. He yells, opening the lid with the final scene of the episode a shot from the trashcan showing him looking down into it. A sound is heard as Dustin says “Holy sh” but his utterance is cut off by the ghostbusters theme song.
Overall this is one of my favorite stranger things episodes. Seeing the Dustin Max and Lucas in ghostbusters costumes was fabulous as well as a little amusing when they came to school to see themselves celebrating halloween alone. I loved having a glimpse into Joyce and Hoppers shared school history as well as Joyce’s stress over Will’s safety, and Hopper’s relationship with Eleven. Seeing a mystery develop around the poisoned crop fields is a good lead up to the events that transpire later in the season as well as the final question left by the episode of what is that we heard in the waste bin at Dustin’s home. The begging of the second season is an intriguing return to Hawkins which can excite all who watch it for the wonderful season ahead.