Episode 7 of Stranger Things season 2 was something of a departure for the show - largely featuring an entirely new setting, no major presence from any regular cast members beyond Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), and introducing a number of new characters we would follow for the duration of the episode (although all made cameos in the season's mysterious cold open). It was such a fascinating experiment in one of today's hottest shows, we felt compelled to sit down with the cast and crew of Stranger Things to hear the full story straight from the individuals who created it.
The First Duffer Brother: Right from when we were first conceiving season 2 of Stranger Things-
The Second Duffer Brother: -we knew we wanted an episode that just stopped the season dead in its tracks-
The Duffer Brothers (simultaneously): -and killed the momentum entirely.
The First Duffer Brother: Right after that huge cliffhanger from the previous episode (episode 6, "The Spy"), where we discover that the tentacled shadow monster from the Upside Down is controlling Will and has tricked the lab people into an ambush from multiple demogorgons-
The Second Duffer Brother: -who were then climbing up the hole and into the lab to kill everyone-
The Duffer Brothers (simultaneously): -we thought it would be cool to waste an hour of everyone's time on a plodding, slow, pointless episode that didn't move the story along whatsoever in any way.
Millie Bobby Brown ("Eleven / Jane"): When the Duffer Brothers first explained their vision for the 2nd season to me, I was initially a little hesitant. I would largely be completely separated from the other kids, with whom I spent nearly all of the first season with and the chemistry we all had was a major part of what made the show successful. So when they told me that they would be taking that a step further where I was basically in a spinoff and no longer even adjacent to the main storyline, I was like....please don't do this objectively terrible idea.
Justin Doble (Writer): I was assigned this episode by the Duffer Brothers, who were in one of their moods where both would be speaking simultaneously like the creepy twins in The Shining, and my first thought was "I know a way to make this compelling and interesting and relevant to the show and Eleven's growth as a character." They told me to do the exact opposite of that, and then blinked at exactly the same time. Pretty sure they were BREATHING in total sync too, but I might have just been seeing things.
Linnea Berthelsen ("Kali"): It was so exciting finding out I would be such a central figure in Eleven's life - a fellow "number" from Hawkins Lab who also exhibited psychic powers. And then I found out my big pivotal scene with Millie would be LARPing Palpatine from the prequels and telling my apprentice to murder someone in cold blood, it was less exciting.
James Landry Hébert ("Axel"): I really wanted to get into my character, Axel, so I asked about what my motivation was to help this psychic woman with cool hair murder people in their homes for crimes she says they committed that have no relevance to me, and the Duffer Brothers said simultaneously "You're a mean punk guy with a mohawk" and then scampered away.
Kai Greene ("Funshine"): I kept saying "Isn't calling me Funshine and describing me as a teddy bear and having me wear a Care Bears mask all a little TOO on-the-nose"? And then the Duffer Brothers said "Dude, the show is 90% about too on-the-nose 80s pop culture references." Then they put their rings together and said "Wonder Twins unite!" and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Later I found out they'd installed a trap door there, but for a while I was pretty weirded out.
Linnea: I literally had lines that were like "give in to your anger" and stuff. So much for subtlety.
James: I'll be honest, even I skipped this episode when I was watching the season.
Millie: The Duffer Brothers were walking me through their plan for the third season recently, and they kept-
The Second Duffer Brother: Are you excited to meet Number 5?
The First Duffer Brother: She's also a psychic - and also alive!
The Second Duffer Brother: The world will expand, the plot will move faster -
The First Duffer Brother: While psychic children get revenge on their master!
MIllie: They do this sometimes. It's like a Doctor Seuss thing or whatever.
The Second Duffer Brother: Each episode will be much like The Lost Sister-
The First Duffer Brother: And Kali will go after those who have dissed her!
The Duffer Brothers (simultaneously): Each episode a spinoff, away from the plot - and if you think they'll tie in, we promise they will not! The characters you love, the setting you know - we won't include any of it, it all has to go!
The Duffer Brothers disappear in a puff of smoke, although the slamming of a door was also heard.
Millie: ...at least the costumes were pretty cool.