This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2.
The creators of Stranger Things have spoken out about that Season 2 episode. Indeed, when it comes to TV seasons with a limited number of episodes, there’s an opportunity to cut right to the chase and not have to pad out story with what feels like filler. But there’s also a much smaller margin for error, and so the Season 2 episode “The Lost Sister”, which is Episode 7 out of a total of 9 installments in the second season, has been drawing some very strong reactions.
Just as the action in the main plot takes a harrowing turn, the show takes an episode-long detour with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) as she hunts down her “sister” from the lab, a girl named Kali/Eight (Linnea Berthelsen) who has the power to create illusions in peoples’ minds. What ensues is a Warriors riff, complete with an Eleven makeover and punk music. The narrative purpose of the episode is for Eleven to realize she should be using her powers to help her friends, not get revenge on those that hurt her, and to provide some semblance of closure to the whole “mama” issue. But in execution, the episode comes off as pretty silly.
Stranger Things creators Ross Duffer and Matt Duffer have now spoken up about Episode 7, telling EW they were excited about the prospect of taking such a departure:
“Whether it works for people or not, it allows us to experiment a little bit,” says Matt. “It’s important for Ross and I to try stuff and not feel like we’re doing the same thing over and over again. It’s almost like doing a whole little other pilot episode in the middle of your season, which is kind of a crazy thing to do. But it was really fun to write and cast and work on.”
Indeed, a backdoor pilot is exactly what “The Lost Sister” feels like, except whereas Stranger Things introduced compelling and likeable characters from the start, these new characters lack that endearment or intrigue that’s necessary to hook viewers into such a different storyline.
But The Duffer Brothers stand by it, and go so far as to say the finale doesn’t work as well without “The Lost Sister”:
“Our test of the episode was we tried to pull it out of the show just to make sure that we needed it because I didn’t want it in there as filler — even though some critics are accusing us of doing that. But Eleven’s journey kind of fell apart, like the ending didn’t work, without it. So I was like, whether this works or not, we need this building block in here or the whole show is going to collapse. It’s not going to end well. The Mind Flayer is going to take over Hawkins.”
Adds Ross, “That Eleven story line overall is sort of the biggest risk we took. We’re going to continue to do risks moving forward to keep us on our toes. I didn’t want her to just magically save the day. Just like Luke Skywalker, she needed to go off on her own and learn something about herself.”