We get our first glimpse at Jake Busey, who plays a character named Bruce, described as a “journalist for the The Hawkins Post, with questionable morals and a sick sense of humor.” I’m guessing he’ll be Nancy and Jonathan’s boss, who somehow encounters the Upside Down’s latest creature judging by his bloody appearance and crazed eyes.

The strange purple lighting with flashes of red suggest that a portal to the Upside Down has opened near or at the Starcourt Mall, where maybe Steve and Robin were working late. It looks like the big showdown of the season will happen at the mall, as all showdowns should.

Eleven does the Bird Box challenge.

Fresh off being stood up at his date, it looks like Chief Hopper got a call about a hitman at the carnival. The presence of the purple lighting here too makes me think that both the mall and the carnival may be hotspots of some sort.

Jonathan gets the first encounter with the new monster at the hospital, where it slowly grows and sprouts more body parts until it towers over him. This may be the grossest-looking Dema-monster yet.

Is this the carnival hitman again? I’m going to double down on my theory that the strange happenings at Hawkins have attracted all kinds of monster hunters, including this trigger-happy guy.

The dead-eyed, hypnotized looks of these two random characters at the carnival who are bathed in red light gives me Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibes. Could the Upside Down’s next attack be even more aggressive than before, turning the people of Hawkins into their host bodies?

Boy, Steve cannot catch a break — first getting beat up in his sailor uniform, then getting forcibly injected with some mysterious substance into his neck. Don’t you dare kill Steve, Stranger Things.

Billy and Mike’s mom part two!

I have nothing to add about this, this is just cute. But it is nice to see Eleven enjoying a normal childhood (or teenhood at this point?) with her new friendship with Max and her budding romance with Mike. She even dances!

Crazy conspiracy guy is back, and he’s even more unhinged than before, yelling and waving wildly at the carnival. That’s Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), a former journalist turned conspiracy theorist who helped Nancy and Jonathan expose the U.S. government’s cover-up last season. But judging by those ominous previous shots of the hitman and the zombie-like passerby at carnival, perhaps he’s on to something.

Remember that shot of Eleven getting dragged underwater? It comes full circle here, in which a lifeguard gets pulled underwater into the Upside Down — her sudden disappearance kicking off the series of strange incidents that start to plague Hawkins. And it looks like that may be Billy who witnesses her disappearance? It’s too hard to tell.

And finally we have our shot of this season’s Dema-monster. It is indeed the grossest, most Eldritch horror of the monsters we’ve had yet, with spider-like legs, bulbous limbs covered in spikes and slime, and a murderer’s row of fangs.

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