WARNING! Spoilers below for “Stranger Things” Season 2 through Episode 7, “The Lost Sister.”
The name “Eleven” has had “Stranger Things” fans scratching their heads from the start. We only meet one extraordinary test subject from Hawkins Lab in Season 1 of the Netflix hit, but what happened to numbers one through 10? Did they die in experiments? Were they moved elsewhere?
Did they escape?
At least one more of them did. Season 2 introduces viewers to another young girl with special powers like Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) right off the bat ― a foreign teen named Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) living a life of crime to the tune of punk rock. And having another psychic in the mix might be just the game-changer poor Hawkins needs to solve its ever-evolving Upside Down problem.
After reuniting with her mother, who’s been in a near-catatonic state requiring full-time care, Eleven realizes that she had a friend at Hawkins National Laboratory in her early childhood. Using her abilities to locate people, she goes in search of her “sister,” finding her in the underbelly of Chicago. Turns out, where Eleven has a small “011” tattooed on the inside of her wrist, the older girl has “008.”
Eleven and Eight, reunited at last. Or, to use their real names, Jane and Kali. In a sweet moment for the former character ― whose family life has consisted only of a covert, forest-bound existence alongside Chief Hopper (David Harbour) over the last year ― Kali welcomes Eleven into the crew of violent outcasts. Among them, Kali is the only one with a special power: the ability to make people see whatever she wants them to see, like a pack of spiders or a flashy butterfly.
As we learn throughout the episode, Kali escaped Hawkins Lab ― part of the U.S. Department of Energy that the real U.S. Department of Energy has stressed is entirely fictional ― some time after being unceremoniously separated from Eleven. The girls’ biological relationship is unclear; while Eleven refers to Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) as “papa,” Kali refers to him as “the man who calls himself our father.” When her powers were strong enough, Kali ran away from the lab, making it her life’s mission to get revenge on the people in charge of the experiments. Apparently, she and her merry band of outsiders have been picking off Brenner’s former associates for some time.
Importantly, Kali shows Eleven how channeling anger makes their psychic powers more effective. But while we’re pretty sure we can count on Eleven to still function as a doer of good, we’re not entirely sure what to expect from Kali, who seems to live by a moral code all her own. That’s illustrated clearly after a little warm-up exercise in which Kali distracts a convenience store clerk with the illusion of an overflowing toilet so the gang can stock up on supplies. Thinking Eleven is ready for something bigger, Kali then shows off her hit list, and the group tracks down a Brenner assistant named Ray Caroll, who once hurt Eleven’s mother.
“I’ve killed,” Eleven reassures her sister, flashing back to her Season 1 escape from Hawkins Lab lackeys. But she has a tougher time with this target after discovering Ray has children as innocent as Jane and Kali were when their lives were upended at the lab. She can’t do it, and stops Kali from killing him, too.
“If you wanted to show mercy, that’s your choice,” Kali later responds. “But don’t you ever take away mine. Ever.” (Uh oh.)
We’re also left with a tantalizing hint that Brenner is likely still alive ― and Ray might know where to find him.
Although the sisters appear to make up, and Eleven confronts the idea of looking for Brenner, she’s distracted by a new, more urgent purpose: helping her friends trapped at Hawkins Lab. It’s goodbye to Kali ― but probably not forever, especially considering her sister’s psychic GPS and the fact Hawkins will probably need every bit of help it can get, in the end, to free itself from the Upside Down.
“I think it’s this moment where Kali realized that she really missed out," Berthelsen says of the sisters' parting in the aftershow “Beyond Stranger Things.” "She doesn’t know how to connect with other people. I think she understands that it’s going to take more than doing what she’s doing at the moment to succeed.”
For now, Kali’s influence on Eleven has left her with a better understanding of her powers, a taste of vengeance ― and a brand-new style.
“Stranger Things” Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.