We're past the halfway point with Stranger Things season 3, episode 5, and the show is finally beginning to answer some of the more tantalizing questions. In "The Flayed," the stars of Stranger Things continue to explore the mysteries of Hawkins, Indiana.
It really is quite refreshing seeing how much the kids have matured over the course of Stranger Things. In season 3, they're old enough to know when they're out of their depth, and even attempt to reach out to Hopper for help with the Mind Flayer. Unfortunately, Hopper's busy having his own adventures, so Eleven and her friends swiftly realize they're on their own. They take the initiative, and are soon putting a plan in motion against the Shadow Monster. Meanwhile, Dustin's group learn the true purpose of the Russian installation beneath Hawkins - it's powering an open Gate to the Upside Down.
The pieces are moving into place in Stranger Things season 3, episode 5, and all the heroes are asking the right questions. How can you actually stop the Mind Flayer for good? How did the Russians build such a massive installation beneath the town of Hawkins? And why are the Flayed consuming chemicals?
5. How Can You Actually Stop The Mind Flayer?
The scale of the Mind Flayer's threat is gradually becoming clear in Stranger Things season 3, episode 5. The kids rightly realize that, in order to truly defeat the Mind Flayer, it isn't enough to banish the creature from its hosts, which are now referred to as "the Flayed." So long as a part of the Mind Flayer is on Earth, it can always make another attempt to conquer the planet.
At the end of the episode, the Mind Flayer demonstrates its power; Nancy and Jonathan successfully defeat two of the Flayed, but the Mind Flayer then breaks them down to their raw organic material and merges them together into a hideous monster. It's exactly the same trick the Mind Flayer has been using to create its new body in the abandoned steelworks, albeit with rats; and it raises the disturbing possibility that every one of the Flayed can be combined into its new form. The prospect of beating the Mind Flayer this time is seeming increasingly remote, given it is far too well-established.
4. What Are The Flayed Doing With These Chemicals?
It seems the Flayed aren't just eating fertilizer; they're guzzling all manner of chemicals. The kids swiftly deduce that the chemicals are being mixed in order to create a new substance, but Stranger Things season 3, episode 5 remains silent about its purpose. The most likely explanation is that this new chemical helps the Mind Flayer break down its Flayed to their constituent organic parts, in order to merge them into new creatures.
3. What Does The Scientist Hopper Kidnapped Know?
Hopper and Joyce successfully kidnap a Russian scientist, who Joyce manages to learn is called Alexei but who Hopper insists on referring to as Smirnoff. This seems to be positioned as a key event in Stranger Things season 3, episode 5, so presumably Alexei can tell Hopper and Joyce about the Russian Gate project. The one problem, however, is that he doesn't speak a word of English. Hopper hits upon the idea of getting in touch with the one man in Hawkins he knows who speaks Russian; Murray Bauman, the conspiracy theorist introduced in season 2.
2. Why Hasn't The Russian Terminator Called For Backup?
Hopper and Joyce are pursued by what appears to be one of the Russian complex's security guards, who can only be referred to as the Russian Terminator (a mix of Arnold Schwarzenegger's foreign threat and Robert Patrick's cold demeanor). The Russian Terminator seems to have developed something of a vendetta against Hopper, and is relentless in his pursuit. What's not clear, however, is why he never calls for backup.
1. How Did The Russians Build Such A Massive Complex Beneath Hawkins?
Robin, Steve, Dustin and Erica continue to explore the vast underground complex beneath Hawkins in Stranger Things season 3, episode 5 - and discover a Gate into the Upside Down. In truth, it's difficult to believe even the unlimited resources of the USSR could possibly build this kind of structure in the space of just a year or so, but to be fair the show is borrowing from classic Cold War spy tropes that were never particularly realistic. Interestingly, though, the design of this secret lab matches quite well with Hawkins' previously-established geography. It looks as though the Russians have used the tunnels and caverns shown in Stranger Things season 2, which were dug out by the Mind Flayer's Demogorgons and Demodogs.