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Mike And Eleven From Stranger Things Are Sitting In A Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

These two hopeless weirdos are about a billion times more entertaining than Nancy and Steve. Plus, while El's the one with magic powers, she's still 100% less creepy than Steve is.

Episode 3 of Stranger Things, "Holly, Jolly," explores a few key relationships. We figure out that Barb was actually more important to Nancy than she originally let on, that perhaps Steve and Nancy aren't as connected as we originally thought, and that young Mike actually might be falling for Eleven, the secret basement child that can make things fly with the power of her mind.

First, Nancy's intuition seems completely accurate -- while in bed with Steve the morning after their wild party, she seems a little distraught, leading us to believe that hey, maybe they didn't have sex after all. Maybe she stopped the encounter, and came to her senses regarding this Steve fellow. But, uh, no -- after being made fun of for moaning and bed-noise by the other popular kids that occupied the Harrington house that night, it's clear sexy times did, in fact, happen. Thus, it can be concluded that Nancy simply has a weird feeling that her best friend may have been swallowed by a monster that took her to a dark, parallel universe. Every high schooler has that thought every once in awhile, right?

On the topic of relationships, we also need to discuss Jonathan and Joyce -- not in a shipping way, of course. (Gross.) See, while we understand that Joyce is simply trying to figure out where Will ended up, it's obvious that she's acting a little bonkers. Elder son Jonathan walks in on Joyce trying to interact with the lights, since in her eyes, Will is "trying to talk" to her through them. "Something is going on here! Yesterday the wall..." Joyce starts up, before Jonathan wonders if his Mom is completely exhausted, and possibly a little bit mentally ill. Joyce's light obsession gets way worse this episode, especially when she purchases roughly ten to a dozen boxes of Christmas lights to try to communicate with her son while simultaneously staying festive. After avoiding questions from her boss Donald, she nails them to the wall and -- lo and behold -- they light up beautifully, one by one. Youngest sibling Holly is a little intrigued by the light show, probably too young to understand that it's her missing brother trying to communicate his pain and misery.

(Super-off-topic, but as Holly notices the lights, Joyce's friend Karen stops by. And I take note of fictional Karens, as my name is slowly dying out, and I'm concerned about its legacy. After Holly witnesses wall movement, Joyce says something to Karen that I assume I would have heard at pretty much any gathering I'd have been invited to in my teens and twenties -- "Karen, thank you for the casserole, but I need you to leave." Sigh.)

Jonathan eventually understands his Mom a bit more after taking his creeper party photos to the dark room. While Barb's disappearance isn't fully explained, he does see a monster lurking in the background, fitting the description of the monster that Joyce witnesses coming out of the wall. Nancy witnesses a similar monster in the woods after searching for Barb, who wasn't at school.

But the biggest development this episode was the budding relationship between Mike and El. Mike, the one who taught El what friendship is, has bonded with her way more than the rest of the guy gang. The guys believe in El's ability to find Will, and they all take it upon themselves to fight the mysterious monster she mentioned earlier by using weapons from 'Nam, rockets, binoculars, and a bunch of candy and snacks provided by Dustin, who believes that they're necessary to build stamina. Prepping for this big fight before school, they ask El to meet with them at 3:15 PM by the power lines to try to fight for their buddy. Mike even gives her his watch to be able to tell the time. His first romantic gift!

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As the guys are at school, El takes another tour of Mike's house. She lovingly sits in the fun La-Z-Boy again, and plays around with their landline. She also discovers television, even though a Coke commercial brings back awful memories of testing and post-power nosebleeds.

While at school, the guys look for some rocks that'll help them defeat the monster. Of course, there's some light ragging on Mike for his teeny tiny crush on El. It happens after Mike defends her when Dustin and Lucas mock him for not admitting she was a weirdo, and Lucas goes so far as to use the "If you love her so much, why don't you marry her?" line, alongside a mock proposal.

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Mike's smart response is a well-timed "Shut up, Lucas!" Then, Mike gets hurt by some teenage hecklers nearby, who use the opportunity to mock Will's tragic situation. These jerk kids may be the only kids ever who aren't at least a bit jarred by the news of a missing schoolmate. Hopefully the monster takes them next.

When El meets up with the guys at 3:15, she quickly notices Mike's injury. Mike tells her that he was hurt based on an incident started by some "mouthbreathers" and "knuckleheads," introducing both words into El's vernacular.

El takes the boys over to Will's house, and insists that he's hiding there. All three of them are skeptical about this, but El is actually right on the mark -- in fact, Will tells Joyce himself through Christmas lights that correspond with painted letters on the wall (that Joyce seemed to have taken all day to create, as she ends on "D" in the daylight and finishes "Z" at night) that he's "R-I-G-H-T H-E-R-E."

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(Seriously, how long did that really take?)

The skepticism of the boys is quickly interrupted by cop cars and ambulances. The team bikes down to the scene of a crime with a quickness, and witness a body being pulled out of the water. A body that is kinda-sorta dressed like Will, the same size as Will, but perhaps not totally Will -- there's no close-up, and the kids are all witnessing the scene from afar, hiding behind a fire truck.

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This makes Mike doubt everything about his pseudo-girlfriend El, and filled with tears, he quickly bikes home. She was supposed to find Will alive, dammit!

El is a little heartbroken. She takes the heated insults that are hurled at her like a champ, but it's obvious she's really sad that her strange yet powerful connection with Mike is a bit tarnished now. But I kinda-sorta think that the two of them can get over this -- after all, all relationships, even pre-teen relationships, all face a "first fight" hurdle. And most of them get stronger afterward.

In short, listen -- El has maybe had about fifteen lines in the series so far, but she and Mike still have a bond like no other. He's different from the other guys, and she actually seems to trust him. If these two don't at least kiss by the end of the series, love is dead.

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