WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Stranger Things 2
Ever since we were introduced to Eleven in season one of Stranger Things, viewers have been waiting to meet the other children who were stolen by Dr. Brenner and his team at Hawkins Laboratory. That wait came to an end in the cold open of season two's first episode with the introduction of Kali, AKA Eight, who exhibits her telepathic powers during a police chase. However, she's more than just another product of Brenner's experimentations, she's "The Lost Sister" that lends itself to the title of episode seven.
The episode - directed by Rebecca Thomas (Elektrik Children) - is entirely dedicated to Eleven and her journey to find her "lost sister." After communicating telepathically (using astral projection) with her mother, Terry Ives, El learns the truth behind her abduction. As we know, Terry was a participant in one of Dr. Brenner's Project MKUltra experiments but on the day she gave birth, he stole her baby and covered it up by saying the newborn died. Terry never believed the lie and spent years trying to find her daughter until she eventually traced her to the Hawkins Laboratory. Armed with a gun, Terry stormed the facility and found Jane in the "rainbow" room playing with a young Indian girl, but she is captured and given a lobotomy by Brenner and his team before she can escape. Hence Terry's semi-comatose state and repetition of words linked to the harrowing events. Eleven regales the story to her Aunt Becky, believing that her mother wants her to find her "sister."
"She kept showing me the girl in the room. I think this is why mama wanted to talk. I think she wants me to find her."
Becky then finds her sister's file filled with the missing children she thought had been taken - just like her Jane - and gives them to her niece. Eleven finds a news story about an Indian girl missing in London, realizes it is the very same girl and uses her telepathic powers to locate her in Chicago. This is where we properly meet the lost sister.
Kali looks to be at least six years older than El and also has telepathic powers but hers manifest in a different way. Kali is able to implant images into people's minds to make them see or not see what she wants. We saw this power in the opening episode where she makes a cop believe a bridge had collapsed in order to make their getaway. She also makes her comrade, Axel, believe there are spiders on his hand so he'll stop threatening Eleven, however, she points out that her powers don't have to scare people. They can be used to make beautiful things too like a butterfly which she conjures up for El's benefit.
It seems that the two were raised together in the Hawkins laboratory, and though Eleven has no recollection of their time together Kali remembers it well and tells Eleven that she feels "whole" now they have reunited.
"I think your mother sent you here for a reason. I think she somehow knew that we belonged together. I think this is your home."
However, the sentiment may not be that sincere as soon enough Kali tries to recruit Eleven to help her take out all of the people who were involved in her forced captivity. El's adoptive sister reveals that she was treated as badly as Eleven during her time in Hawkins Lab and only managed to escape after her powers grew strong enough. She managed to find a new family but "they couldn't help her" so she "lost them" and was forced to run away again. That's when she decided that she would go from hunted to hunter and found some people to help her with her mission.
As Kali points out to Eleven, her rag-tag band are not gifted like them but they are outcasts too who seem to own her their lives. That's why they are helping Kali to take out all the people who were ever a part of Brenner's unit. Now Kali wants Eleven to help them find the rest of her kill list and uses the young telepath's own internalized pain and experience to persuade her to join them.
"I was just like you once. I kept my anger inside, I tried to hide from it but then that pain festered. It spread until finally I confronted my pain and began to heal."
Kali begins to teach Eleven how to strengthen her powers and control them by channeling her anger into her telekinetic abilities, though it soon becomes clear that while El has had it tough she no longer wants to be a murderer. When the opportunity comes to take out the bad man who lobotomized her mother, El falters when she sees that he has children too and her killing him would make her no different to what he did to her mother. Leaving daughters without a parent. But Kali has been out in the world longer than Eleven. She has a developed a far more anarchic temperament and does not share the same sort of empathy and tries to manipulate El by putting Brenner in her mind so that they will continue their hunt for "the man who calls himself our father."
Their different outlooks makes it impossible for Eleven to stay with her sister and so she heads back to Hawkins to reunite with her friends and Hopper, and to help them in their fight against the Shadow Monster. Though it's doubtful that this will be the last viewers see of Kali.
She and El share a bond and with Brenner believed to be still alive their paths could cross once more in future seasons. But they could also team up again to fend off the Shadow Monster, because despite the fact that Eleven closed the gate to its dimension, the final shot of the season sees it looming over Hawkins high school in the Upside Down. And, now that we know that El has the power to find people she may use her mother's file of missing children to find the nine (at least) others who were experimented on in Hawkins Lab.
Kali certainly isn't the only lost sister in Stranger Things.
- Stranger Things release date: Oct 21, 2018