In 1984, several Soviet scientists attempt to create a Gate to the Upside Down. Although a small portal is successfully created, the machine and ray opening the portal begins to fail, closing the gate before exploding, killing many nearby scientists. Stepanov, a Soviet general, disappointed with the progress, has one of the scientists killed for failure while giving the remaining scientist, Alexei, only one year to finish, before heading out of the facility in a helicopter.
Fast forwarding to 1985, El and Mike Wheeler are seen passionately kissing in Hopper's cabin while Hopper himself watches TV. He notices them kissing and objects about a “three-inch minimum” before El closes the door telekinetically long enough for them to separate and get into position reading some comic books. Mike then departs and promises to see El tomorrow.
Arriving at the Starcourt Mall to meet an impatient Lucas, along with Max Mayfield and Will Byers, they head in to see a movie while Lucas complains about Mike ignoring his friends to "make out". They arrive at an ice cream shop where Steve Harrington is working, and he ushers them in through back hallways to sneak into the movie theater for free, specifically to see a film called Day of the Dead.
Before the movie truly begins however, the projector wears out. The entirety of the mall also loses power, followed by seemingly the entire city of Hawkins, power grids failing across the town one by one. Over at Brimborn Steel Works, an amorphous mass very similar to the Mind Flayer’s form in the Upside Down is slowly coalescing, right before the power is restored.
As Day of the Dead rumbles back to play, Will starts having flashbacks of his possession by the Mind Flayer, until Mike snaps him out of it. Back at the Byers house, Nancy and Jonathan are just waking up, their clocks having been reset during the power outage. Nancy flees out the window while Jonathan prepares for work, and together they drive to drop Nancy off at her Hawkins Post job while Jonathan heads to his.
Meanwhile Dustin Henderson returns home after being away a month, none of his old friends responding to his radio calls. Sitting in his room, Dustin remarks how his turtle is the only one happy he is home, just before all of his toys spontaneously come to life and start moving out of his room in a procession, seemingly of their own volition but actually under the control of El. Dustin grabs hair spray and follows them, ready to attack and telling himself that it’s all a dream, before they suddenly stop moving. As Dustin investigates, El, Max, Lucas, Mike, and Will come out from behind a wall with a large "welcome home" poster and surprise him, causing Dustin to freak out and spray Lucas in the face with hair spray.
At the Hawkins Community Pool, Billy Hargrove now has a new job as a life guard, where several moms including Karen Wheeler ogle him. Meanwhile in downtown, local businesses are struggling to compete with the Starcourt Mall, and Jim Hopper enters Melvald's General Store where Joyce Byers works. Hopper complains about how Mike Wheeler is "corrupting" El, and that they should break up because their kissing is "constant", although Joyce tells him to calm down. She suggests that he have a "heart to heart" with them rather than ordering them about, and tutors him in what to say.
Nancy meanwhile arrives at her job for The Hawkins Post, bringing food to them. Nancy tries to get them to take up a story about local businesses closing, but the journalists merely laugh at her because she didn’t put mustard on one of their hamburgers. Back at Henderson house, Dustin is building a new, powerful radio to be able to talk to his new girlfriend, Suzie, all around the world. This intrigues Mike, El, and the others, all rushing to meet his new girlfriend.
At Scoops Ahoy, Steve is flirting with customers, dropping change and stumbling. Then he asks to hang out and they say no, so his co-worker tallies another point on the 'You Suck' side of the 'Do You Suck?' tally. He blames it on the hat that he is obligated to wear, and when the next girls walk in, he says, "Screw company policy," and throws the hat away to talk to them and tries to hard to make a good impression. They laugh at him and his co-worker tallies another negative point.
Hopper tries unsuccessfully to get Joyce Byers to go on a date while the Party heads to the top of a hill to construct Dustin's powerful radio. Mike and El excuse themselves, citing "curfew" even at 4 PM, while the rest of the gang heads on. Will however, is still uneasy, and rats walk past his feet. All around the city rats are congregating at Brimborn Steel Works, where they explode gruesomely.
Back at the Hawkins Community Pool, Billy continues to hit on Karen Wheeler, and he offers to teach her "swimming lessons" in private, at the Motel 6 pool where it is "very quiet". Although initially hesitant, Karen eventually accepts. Once more on the hill with Dustin however, the party successfully completes Dustin's advanced radio to call out to Suzie, but Suzie does not answer.
At the Byers house, Joyce Byers eats alone, watching TV, remembering the shows she used to watch with Bob Newby, before he heroically died the previous year. Mysteriously, all the magnets in the house begin to fail at the same time before cutting away to Nancy Wheeler, as she cleans up in The Hawkins Post. Nancy receives a tip about diseased rats, and seizes upon this as an opportunity to become a true journalist. Hopper however, has a long talk with Mike about "boundaries" in order for him to continue dating El.
Just after the rest of the Party leaves Dustin behind, Dustin picks up Russian encoded communications on his radio. The Soviet scientists have once again rebuilt their ray, and they are using it to open another Gate to the Upside Down. Worse, while Karen decides against going out, Billy heads toward the Motel, when suddenly he hits some kind of Upside Down creature on the road and crashes his car just outside Brimborn Steel Works. He is then dragged inside by some vines, to where the rats had been congregating.
- Joyce Byers - Winona Ryder
- Jim Hopper - David Harbour
- Mike Wheeler - Finn Wolfhard
- Eleven - Millie Bobby Brown
- Dustin Henderson - Gaten Matarazzo
- Lucas Sinclair - Caleb McLaughlin
- Will Byers - Noah Schnapp
- Max Mayfield - Sadie Sink
- Nancy Wheeler - Natalia Dyer
- Jonathan Byers - Charlie Heaton
- Steve Harrington - Joe Keery
- Billy Hargrove - Dacre Montgomery
- Robin Buckley - Maya Hawke
- Erica Sinclair - Priah Ferguson
- Karen Wheeler - Cara Buono
- Bruce Lowe - Jake Busey
- Ted Wheeler - Joe Chrest
- Claudia Henderson - Catherine Curtin
- Grigori - Andrey Ivchenko
- Tom Holloway - Michael Park
- Russian Scientist - Yasen Peyankov
- Heather Holloway - Francesca Reale
- Alexei - Alec Utgoff
- Bob Newby - Sean Astin
- Mom #1 - Caroline Arapoglou
- Russian Scientist - Alexander Chernyshev
- Cute Girl - Erika Coleman
- Secretary #2 - Greta M. Glenn
- New Cute Girl - Abby Glover
- Secretary #1 - Nita Hardy
- Russian Comm Officer - Georgui Kasaev
- Annoyed Girl - Sophie Levy
- Mom #2 - Cara Mantella
- Newsman - Olan Montgomery
- Johnny - Dylan Gage Moore
- Erica's Friend - Leiloni Arrie Pharms
- Holly Wheeler - Anniston and Tinsley Price
- Mom #3 - Lauren Revard
- Major General Stepanov - John Vodka
- Customer - Susan Williams
- "The Red Army Is The Strongest" performed by The Red Army Choir - Soviet General kills a scientist.
- "Never Surrender" by Corey Hart - Eleven and Mike are kissing in El's bedroom.
- "Funky Fanfare" by Keith Mansfield - The kids head into the theater.
- "Daisy Bell" - Kids on a ride at the mall.
- "Captain Pugwash" by Johnny Pearson - Power goes out at Scoops Ahoy.
- "Open the Door" by Gentlemen Afterdark - Nancy and Jonathan wake up and rush to work.
- Various tracks from "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" by John Massari - Eleven use her powers to pull a prank on Dustin.
- "Rock This Town" by Stray Cats - Hawkins residents swim in the community pool.
- "Moving in Stereo" by The Cars - Mrs. Wheeler ogles Billy as he takes his shift as lifeguard.
- "The Touch of You" by Andrea and Ervin Litkei - Hopper visits Joyce at the store.
- "Anthony" by Andrea and Ervin Litkei - Joyce gives Hopper advice on Mike and El's relationship.
- "Workin' For A Livin" by Huey Lewis & The News - Nancy rushes to work to deliver lunch.
- "She's Got You" by Patsy Cline - Hopper lovingly looks at Joyce from afar.
- "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner - Billy watches Mrs. Wheeler swim.
- "Italian Gigolo"by Vincenzo Salvia - Billy flirts with Mrs. Wheeler.
- "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon - El and Mike kiss and Hopper comes in.
- "I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight" by Cutting Crew - Karen gets ready to go out but has a change of mind.
- "Nothing to Say" by Head On - Billy is driving and has an accident.
- “Portal Drill” - The gate in Russia begins to open.
- “Birth/Rescue” - The general inspects the aftermath of the explosion.
- "Starcourt" - The kids arrive at the Starcourt. Steve secretly sneaks them into the movie theater to watch Day of the Dead.
- "The Upside Down" - The lights go down in Starcourt and in the city.
- "Lay-Z-Boy" - Dustin shows Will, Mike, and Eleven some toys he got at camp.
- "Rats" - Hundreds of rats run to an abandoned steel mill.
- "Coffee & Contemplation" - Dustin tries to radio Suzie. Joyce arrives home.
- "Kids Two" - Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Max set up the radio antenna.
- "Eulogy" - Joyce has a flashback of watching TV with Bob.
- "It's Just Ice" - Dustin intercepts a Russian transmission and Alexei goes to see a machine.
- ”No Weapons” - Billy assesses the damage done to his car.
- On December 9, 2018, a teaser trailer for the third season was published across social media, listing the titles of the eight episodes, the first of which was "Suzie, Do You Copy?".
- The Soviet general choking the scientist in the opening scene is an allusion to Darth Vader choking a rebel in A New Hope.
- One of Dustin's toys is a G1 Transformers toy name Ultra Magnus, but this toy wasn't available yet until 1986. Even though it is 1985 in the story of this Season.
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