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"Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly" is the third episode of Stranger Things and the third episode of the first season. It was written by Jessica Mecklenburg and directed by Shawn Levy. It premiered on Netflix on July 15, 2016 along with the rest of the season.


An increasingly concerned Nancy looks for Barb and finds out what Jonathan's been up to. Joyce is convinced Will is trying to talk to her.


Barbara being dragged back into the pool by the Monster.

Tuesday, November 8, 1983

While Nancy Wheeler and Steve Harrington are making out on Steve's bed, Barbara Holland is shown in what appears to be another dimension in Steve's empty pool, but overgrown and in ruins. Barb climbs up the pool ladder and screams Nancy's name, but she is not heard and the mysterious monster drags her back into the depths.

Wednesday, November 9, 1983

Eleven and the Coca-Cola can

Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair decide to meet Eleven after school and she will lead them to where Will Byers is hiding. Before leaving, Mike permits her to eat Dustin's snacks, provides her his watch and asks her to meet with them at 3:15 pm. As Eleven waits and remains at Mike's house, she decides to explore Mike's house. She looks around at Nancy's room then watches their TV. While switching channels, Eleven notices a commercial for Coca-Cola, which triggers a flashback. Eleven is shown in the Hawkins National Laboratory where she is forced to use her telekinetic abilities to manipulate a Coca-Cola can. Eleven succeeds, however, her nose begins to bleed as Dr. Martin Brenner smiles behind a glass.

Police arrive at Hawkins Laboratory

Chief Hopper manages to get into the Hawkins Laboratory, but does not find much evidence of Will's disappearance. However, when he is shown the security footage from the night of Will's disappearance, Hopper notices it is not raining in the footage despite the huge storm which occurred that night. Hopper tells the other cops that he suspects the staff at the laboratory are lying.

Powell is prompted to visit the public library and search for any newspaper which mentions Hawkins National Laboratory. The newspaper clippings show Dr. Brenner working with several patients (one of which is Terry Ives). Hopper reads enough information on Dr. Brenner in the old newspaper archives to suspect him of involvement in Will's disappearance.

Joyce Byers buys a lot of Christmas lights and hangs them all around her house in hopes of communicating with Will. After she has finished, Karen Wheeler arrives with Holly. As the mothers are speaking in the kitchen, lights start flickering, leading Holly to Will's room. Holly witnesses the wall distort, but before she is harmed Joyce finds her. After asking if Holly had seen anything, Joyce asks Karen to leave.

Jonathan is confronted by Steve and his friends in the school's parking lot, demanding the pictures Jonathan took at the party. They accuse him of stalking, while Jonathan said he was just looking for his brother. When Nancy arrives, she is shown one of the photos Jonathan took of her. Steve tears the photographs apart and breaks the camera. Upon seeing the photograph of Barb, Nancy takes the pieces and joins the group, leaving Jonathan behind.

When Eleven arrives behind the power-lines to wait for Mike and his friends, she witnesses a cat growling, which triggers another flashback where she is hooked up to a machine monitoring her brain waves. The scientists force Eleven to kill a cat with her abilities, but she cannot bring herself to do so. Dr. Brenner has her put in solitary confinement, as she screams "Papa!" when the scientists drag her down the hallway. They throw her into solitary confinement, but before they can close the door, Eleven telekinetically kills the two guards. Dr. Brenner comforts Eleven as her nose and ears are bleeding, calling her "Incredible."

Mike, Dustin, and Lucas meet Eleven and start looking for Will. As they are searching, Eleven asks Mike why "they" hurt him. Mike tries to lie, but Eleven sees through it and asks for the truth. Mike reveals that it was the bullies from school and apologizes for lying.

Nancy, Steve and his friends are sitting in the hallway waiting for the game to start. Nancy decides to leave, lying that she had to do something with her mother. She goes back to Barb's car and starts to looking for her. Nancy is at Steve's pool when she hears a noise coming from the forest. Walking towards the sound, she sees a silhouette run by, scaring her and causing her to leave.

Meanwhile, Joyce's Christmas lights start flickering, which leads her to a crawl space with more lights in her hands. Will begins speaking to her through the lights, with one blink for "Yes" and two blinks for "No". He then tells Joyce that he is alive. She asks if he is safe, but Will replies no. Since their communication is stuck to one word answers, yes and no, Joyce paints the alphabet on her wall and uses the Christmas lights as an Ouija board.

Joyce communicating with Will

Nancy comes home and reveals to her mother that something terrible happened to Barb. In the woods, Eleven leads the boys to Will's house and says he is hiding there. None of them believe her, as Will would have been found already. Suddenly, police cars and an ambulance rush by, and they head off to follow.

Joyce's makeshift Ouija board

Back at the house, Joyce has Will spell out where he is. Will lights up "RIGHT HERE". Joyce quickly becomes more distressed. Will then spells out "RUN" as a mysterious monster starts crawling out from the wall. Joyce runs out of the house as all of the lights begin flickering erratically.

Will's "body" being retrieved from the quarry.

Meanwhile, Chief Hopper and the police arrive at the quarry. A body can be seen being pulled out of the water, which everyone assumes is Will. The three boys and Eleven doubt that the lifeless body is indeed Will, but they catch a glance of it, and realize it is him. They watch devastated, and question Eleven as to why she said Will was alive. Eleven can't give Mike any answers and he runs home to his mother's arms in tears.

Simultaneously, Joyce is running down the road away from the monster and encounters Jonathan. They hug as police cars come down the road toward them.




  • "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner - First song as Nancy loses her virginity with Steve.
  • "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" by Joel Evans & Friends - Joyce goes to town to buy more Christmas lights.
  • "Brahm's Lullaby" by Johannes Brahms - Eleven opens up a music box while exploring Nancy's room 
  • "Heroes" by Peter Gabriel (originally by David Bowie) – Hopper and the kids find out what has been discovered at the lake.

Original Score

  • "You Can Talk to Me" - Nancy talks with Karen after arriving home.
  • "Lamps" - Joyce tries to tell Jonathan that Will is communicating through the lights.
  • "A Kiss" - Nancy and Steve talk in front of Nancy's locker.
  • "Lay-Z-Boy" - Eleven decides to explore Mike's house.
  • "Papa" - Brenner carries Eleven down a hallway after she kills the two guards.
  • "Eleven" -Eleven closes the music box and looks at Nancy's photos.
  • "Hanging Lights" - Joyce hangs Christmas lights around her house to communicate with Will.
  • "Night of the Seventh" - Hopper and the agents watch the security footage.
  • "See Any Rain?" - Hopper notices there wasn't any rain on the security footage and suspects the agents are lying.
  • "One Blink for Yes" - Joyce communicates with Will through the lights.
  • "Where's Barb?" - Nancy investigates Steve's house in search of Barb.
  • "Dispatch" - Hopper and Powell head to the quarry.
  • "Let's Go" - The party begins to follow the passing police cars.
  • "Breaking and Entering" - Everyone makes their way to the quarry.

Influences and references

See also: Cultural influences and references

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, written and directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of Roy Neary, an everyday blue collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an UFO. When developing the character Joyce, the Duffer Brothers "talked a lot about Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters, because for much of the show, Winona is entirely on her own and to the outside world, she seems absolutely bonkers." In 'Holly, Jolly', Joyce tips over the edge and chooses to fully embrace the supernatural happenings in her house as reality, mirroring Roy's own character arc.


  • This is the first episode of the season, and of the entire series, to feature scenes set within the Upside Down.
  • This is the only episode of the first season in which Ted Wheeler does not appear onscreen.
  • This is also the only episode of the first season to not have 'The' in the title.


  • When Steve steals Jonathan's pictures, a cell tower can be seen in the background.


External Links