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We'll always be monsters to them. Do you understand?

–Kali Prasad


Kali Prasad[1], also known as Eight, is a recurring character introduced in the second season of Stranger Things. As a young girl, Kali was one of several test subjects experimented upon at Hawkins Lab. Ever since her escape, she has sought revenge for the injustices she suffered there.

History

Background

Kali lived in London before she was abducted at a young age. At the the age of five[2] she was taken to Hawkins National Laboratory. At the lab, she was given the number “008” and experimented on alongside Eleven and likely other children possessing abilities like herself. Together, she and Eleven would play in a room in the lab called the “rainbow room”. She was present that day Terry Ives came in looking for Eleven. One day, when Kali went to the rainbow room, she discovered that Eleven had been taken away.

Once Kali's abilities were strong enough, she used them to escape the lab. She found a new family and home but eventually lost them as they were unable to help her. She then began using her powers to get revenge on the people from the lab. At some point, she met Axel, Mick, Funshine, and later Dottie. The gang would pursue and kill the people from their pasts who had wronged them.

1984

On October 29, 1984, Kali and her gang had traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After the gang successfully killed one of their targets, they were quickly pursued by the police. After entering a tunnel, Kali used her abilities to manipulate an officer into believing the tunnel had collapsed, allowing them to get away by causing a massive car crash. The gang then fled to Chicago, residing in an abandoned warehouse.

Eleven discovered the existence of Kali through her mother and made it her mission to find her. Using her mother's files on missing children, Eleven came across a picture of young Kali and was able to guide herself to find her.

Kali first saw Eleven after she had arrived at the warehouse and was being threatened by Axel. Kali used her powers to make him see spiders, and Dottie tells her that she possessed a picture of Kali as a child. Eleven explained she received the image from her mother, before demonstrating her powers and introducing herself as Jane. They revealed to each other their tattoos and declared themselves sisters.

Kali took Jane to the roof, where Jane explained that her policeman thinks he can work out a deal with the lab to let her go. Kali didn't believe he can do this, saying the lab saw them as monsters, but that their "gifts" are not bad, and should not be hidden. Kali explained her illusion powers to her, creating an illusion of a colorful butterfly. After Kali made Jane a bed to sleep in for the night, she explained that she felt whole now that she had her sister. She said she believed Terry sent Jane to Kali because the two of them belonged together.

After Jane fell asleep, Kali decided to use Jane's abilities to find another member of Hawkins Lab. Mick objected to the idea of hunting another man so soon, as it would put them at risk of being found, but Kali insisted that Jane was in pain and needed to do it, before declaring that they're going the next day.

The next day, Kali woke Jane up and re-introduced her to her gang, explaining that while they were not experimented on at the lab, they were still outcasts and Kali brought them together. She then showed her photos of people who were responsible for the pain the gang had gone through, and explained that they hunt down the men to serve justice. She believed that killing the men was necessary, as they are criminals and simply getting what they deserve. Jane revealed to the group that she had killed before, and that the people she had killed had hurt her; Kali explained that the people her gang hunts down still wanted to hurt them, but now they make the first move.

Kali took Jane to a train yard, explaining that she once kept her pain inside, but was healed by confronting her pain. She asked Jane to use her powers to move a train; though Jane was hesitant at first, Kali encouraged her to focus only on the pain and anger from her past and use those emotions to move it. Jane succeeded in pushing the train closer to them, and Kali and her gang cheered her on.

Jane identified a man in one of Kali's photographs as someone who had hurt her mother. Kali remembered that he once attacked her with a cattle prod, identifying him as Ray Carroll. Jane managed to use her powers to find his location, and the gang agreed to go find him. Before they left, they gave Jane a makeover to better fit in with the gang.

On the way to Ray's apartment, the gang stopped by a convenience store for supplies. As the store employee was distracted by one of Kali's illusions, Eleven and the gang began stealing from the store. The employee soon found out, and threatened the gang with a gun. When Kali was unsuccessful in convincing him to let them go, Eleven slammed him against the wall, knocking him unconscious and allowing the gang to get away. The gang hastily escaped, as they heard police approaching.

After arriving at Ray's residence, the gang broke in. Kali and Jane confronted Ray, unmasking and revealing themselves as the girls from the Lab. When Ray claimed that he was only following orders, Kali said that he still had a choice and chose to hurt them. When Jane was hindered by Ray's claim that Brenner was still alive, Kali believed he was lying. Just as Jane was about to kill him, she noticed a photograph of Ray with his daughters. Upset that Jane wouldn't kill him, Kali took out a gun in order to kill him herself. However, Jane used her powers to throw the gun out the window. The police arrived, and the gang was forced to retreat. Kali was angry at Jane for taking away her choice to kill Ray, and warned her against trying to stop her next time.

Back at their hideout, Kali told Jane the reason for her being so hard on her was because she saw all of her past mistakes in her. She explained that after Jane had been taken away, she had used her powers to escape the lab. She eventually had found and hidden with people she trusted, but they couldn't help her and she eventually lost them. After that, Kali had decided to stop hiding and to use her powers against the people who had hurt her. Kali then told Jane that she had a choice to make: to either go back into hiding, or to fight and face Brenner again. In an effort to make Jane face her problems, she conjured an illusion of Brenner in her head, which reduced a terrified Jane to tears. Kali then told her she could leave whenever she wanted, but if she stayed, the two of them could heal together.

As police swarmed the hideout, Kali gathered the gang together, using her powers to turn them all invisible to their pursuers. They managed to escape to the van, but had to dodge the police who were waiting for them outside. Kali created an illusion of a massive wall in-between them and the van, allowing everyone time to escape before the illusion wore off. However, Jane told her that she needed to leave and help her friends. Kali tried to convince her to stay, saying they belonged together and the others could not save her. Jane agreed, but said that she could save them, and left just as the wall faded, forcing the gang to flee. The gang successfully escaped the police, but Kali was incredibly upset at her sister's departure, staring out the window as they drove away.

Personality

Kali is a head strong independent young girl who uses her powers for the sake of robbery and revenge. Identifying as an outcast and stuck on the streets, Kali feels her life was destroyed by the people that took her away and seeks justice.

Despite Kali's upbringing and cold personality, she shows a different side to her friends and to Eleven. She is welcoming to all fellow outcasts, regardless of whether they are "gifted" or not. After being shown proof that Eleven is gifted like her, she instantly accepted her into the group and even trained her to use the pain of her past to empower her telekinesis. However, her survivalist lifestyle means she's not above manipulating others into doing her bidding, as she did with Eleven.

Powers and Abilities

Kali has the psychic ability to induce mental hallucinations, causing her target to see and hear something that is not truly there. Kali can project the illusion to one or more people. The more complex or intense the illusion, the more strain it puts on her. Her power even allows her invisibility, as she was able to cloak herself and her friends in broad sight from police men to escape. She also displays a form of precognition, using it to guide her friends away from the authorities in Pittsburgh. Like Eleven, overuse causes her nose to bleed.

Relationships

Familial

Jane Hopper

Because of their similar abilities and shared experiences at Hawkins Lab, Kali and Eleven view each other as sisters. The two were shown to play together in the rainbow room when they were young (something that Eleven originally had no memory of). Following their reunion, Kali took her in immediately. During their time together, Kali became a mentor to her of sorts, teaching Eleven how to better control her powers by using anger.
Kali’s true intentions for helping Eleven are mostly left ambiguous. It is implied she originally intended to manipulate Eleven so she could exploit her abilities to make tracking down their targets easier. However, she appeared to genuinely want to help Eleven overcome her pain from the harsh experiences she had suffered. Though, her methods for doing so were no doubt dubious, her skewed morality almost leading Eleven down a dark path of crime and murder. She even went as far as making Eleven see an illusion of Brenner in an attempt to convince her to face her pain. Good intentions or not, when Eleven ultimately chose to return to Hawkins instead of escaping with the gang, Kali was visibly devastated.

Non-familial

The Gang

Kali is the founder and leader of the gang, comprised of Mick, Axel, Funshine, and Dottie. Outcast by society, Kali took them in, and in doing so provided them the opportunity to get revenge on those responsible for what happened to them. In return, the gang was loyal to Kali, following her orders with little to no protest. However, Eleven’s arrival and Kali’s subsequent decision to take her in caused some friction between her and some of the gang’s members, particularly Mick and Axel. Though, they still reluctantly went along with Kali’s wishes after being convinced.

Martin Brenner

Kali despises Brenner for being the one responsible for her imprisonment in the lab, in addition to the cruel treatment she received at the hands of the scientists under his supervision. It is implied by Kali he had tried the same manipulation tactics on her as he had with Eleven, attempting to condition her into viewing him as a father figure.

Appearances

Season Two appearances
MADMAX Trick or Treat Freak The Pollywog
Will the Wise Dig Dug* The Spy
The Lost Sister The Mind Flayer The Gate*

* Kali appears during flashbacks in both "Dig Dug" (as a child) and "The Gate".

Memorable Quotes

  • "Boom."
  • "So, we're threatening little girls now, are we?"
  • "I can make people see, or not see, whatever I choose."
  • "This butterfly, it isn't real. I've just convinced your mind it is. Think of it as a kind of magic."
  • "Society left them behind, hurt them, discarded them."
  • "They're criminals. We simply make them pay for their crimes."
  • "I was just like you once. I kept my anger inside. I tried to hide from it, but then that pain festered."
  • "If you wanted to show mercy, that is your choice. But don't you ever take away mine. Ever."

Behind the scenes

The character was first revealed in a casting call obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. She was billed as a series regular and described as "male or a female of any ethnicity between the ages of 30 and 38," meaning the character could end up being of either sex. The character was also referred to as "Roman".[3]

On November 7, 2016, it was announced that Danish actress Linnea Berthelsen had been cast for the role.[4]

Originally, the Duffers intended for the character to be male, a different number,[5] and aged somewhere in his 30s. However, when they couldn't find the right person to play the part, they decided to change the casting call to include women and younger actors.[6]

Trivia

  • In Hindu mythology, Kali is a powerful goddess who fought against evil forces.
  • "Prasad" (commonly spelled as prasāda) is food that is left as a religious offering in Hinduism and Sikhism.
  • Kali's hairstyle was partially inspired by Cyndi Lauper.[7]

References

  1. Newspaper clipping from "The Lost Sister" detailing Kali's disappearance from London
  2. Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
  3. "'Stranger Things': Meet the 3 New Characters Joining Season 2" The Hollywood Reporter. September 1, 2016.
  4. "Stranger Things 2 exclusive: The Goonies, Aliens stars join Netflix series" Entertainment Weekly. November 7, 2016.
  5. "Emmy Contender: Stranger Things 3D-printed Demodog Heads, Made Eleven Scarier in Post" SYFY. August 23, 2018
  6. "The Duffer Brothers Recap Stranger Things 2, ‘Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister’" Vulture. November 7, 2017
  7. "Stranger Things Actress Linnea Berthelsen on the Advice That Millie Bobby Brown Gave Her Before She Shaved Her Head" Vogue. November 2, 2017