Spoilers ahead, feel free to come back once you’ve seen the second episode.
‘Trick or Treat, Freak’ opens up with a flashback, Eleven is in the Upside Down at the school trying to escape as government agents scour Hawkins looking for her. Given how the finale ended with Eleven’s fate up in the air, it felt a little anticlimactic for her to just wander out of the Upside Down and hide out in the woods. I suspect this was done to keep the Upside Down more of an end-game mystery. A few characters have been to the Upside Down now, but we still have no idea of its origin and/or purpose.
In current day, Eleven is tired of being shacked up in the woods as she suggests going trick-or-treating wearing a ghost costume, Hopper is clearly very protective and instantly rejects the idea. Similarly, Joyce is overprotective of Will, she panics when she doesn’t find him in his bedroom one morning; he was in the bathroom. However, if you lived in Hawkins, after the events of season one, being overprotective has to be parenting 101 right?
The boys dress up as the Ghostbusters for costume day at school – or so they thought. I have to say, when I saw a potential Halloween costume day at school teased pre-release, the potential of a school full of kids dressed up in their favourite 80s pop culture characters was something that I was really looking forward to seeing; sure it would’ve been a momentary overdose of pop culture nostalgia but that’s central to the appeal of Stranger Things. When that didn’t end up happening, I was a little disappointed.
That evening, the boys are out trick-or-treating when Max drops by to jump scare them witless, Dustin and Lucas jump at her offer to go trick-or-treating together having somehow completely forgotten how her douchebag brother Billy nearly ran them over as they cycled home earlier in the day. Being the only one of the group actively missing Eleven, Mike is not so sure about Max’s perceived replacement of Eleven’s place in the group.
Meanwhile, the #JusticeForBarb hashtag has clearly reignited Nancy’s desire to revisit the loss of her friend, I had no idea they had Twitter in the eighties. Steve suggests they cannot tell Barbara’s parents the truth because that would make them a target, and they should just be teenagers. This leads to Nancy doing her best Walt Jr. impression at the Halloween party that night, drunk Nancy is just like angry Walt Jr. “This is bullshit, it’s bullshit” she insists several times over in a drunken slur, feeling guilty for Barb’s death.
In this episode, character development takes priority. We see how Eleven’s disappearance has affected Mike, Nancy struggles with Barb’s death, Will’s visions are getting worse, and how Eleven’s powers have developed since season one. She no longer needs a sensory deprivation tank to contact or locate people. With white noise in the background and a blindfold, she is capable of reaching Mike, but not quite. Eleven locates and sees Mike in his bedroom trying to contact her through his walkie-talkie, they both sense each other’s presence yet there isn’t a definitive connection.
The plot doesn’t really move in this Halloween themed episode. Looking back later on, we might appreciate this episode for being the calm before the storm as there are certainly a lot of conflicts brewing. There’s a great little easter egg of Eleven watching the original Terminator commercial on tv. The episode ends with Dustin approaching a dustbin with something rattling inside, no clues as to what it could be but it has taken him by suprise.