“Stranger Things 2”: Why Kali Was A Necessary Character

If you’ve binge-watched Stranger Things 2, you probably have some very strong opinions about Chapter 7, ‘The Lost Sister’ While some loved that the Duffer Brothers branched out of Hawkins, most people found the plot boring and unnecessary. Critics are calling it dull at best, and a bottle episode at worst. But let’s look past the episode itself for a moment, and look at the title character. Kali may not have taken up a lot of screen time this season, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t play a vital role. She may not seem like it on the surface, but Kali was more important than many are giving her credit for.

Eleven Isn’t Alone

eleven and eight
Credit: Netflix

This was one of the key pieces of information that we learned from Stranger Things 2. In the first season, they didn’t really give us any insight into the children that came before Eleven. Had the experiments failed? Were they dead, or were they out there, somewhere, maybe even living normal lives? While we still don’t know what happened to the majority of them, we do know that Eight/Kali survived the experiments. Which means there’s a chance that some of the others did as well.

So what does this mean for future seasons? Well, from what we know, it’s probable that The Mind Flayer is going to be the arch-nemesis of the series. The big bad. The Voldemort, if you will. And right now, the residents of Hawkins have no idea how to beat this thing. They don’t even know it’s still out there, coming for them. But it’s logical to assume that Eleven is going to play a big part in defeating The Mind Flayer, and while she’s powerful, it’s doubtful she’ll be able to take it out on her own. Maybe this is where the other kids come in. Her lost brothers and sisters, whose powers, as we now know, vastly vary. Kali’s introduction in the Season 2 premiere wasn’t just a teaser for Chapter 7. It was the Duffer Brothers’ way of telling us that there are more people just like Eleven. And Kali may not be the last one she meets.

What Does Family Mean?

This is a question that Eleven has struggled with since day one. Her first introduction to the idea of family was with Papa, Doctor Brenner. And he certainly wasn’t father of the year. When she meets Mike and the others, she begins to understand the concept of friendship, but her relationship with them is so much more than that. They are the closest thing she’s ever had to family. And when she meets Joyce, she meets her first real Mother figure. This is a lot for anyone to go through, especially at such a young age. And Season 2 only makes things more confusing for Eleven.

In Season 2, Eleven lives with Hopper. He cares for her, even loves her, but they have their ups and downs. Their arguments are explosive and she begins to feel trapped again, like she did with Brenner. This is what leads to the discovery that her Mother is alive, the journey to find her Mother and her Aunt, and later to find Kali. Eleven is desperate for any concrete definition of family. Someone she can look at and feel that sense of belonging with. She’s looking for her true home, but she just can’t find it. In the end, it’s Kali that unwittingly makes Eleven realize who her real family is, and despite her best efforts, it isn’t her.

Kali Exposes Eleven To The Darker Side Of Herself

eleven kali
Credit: Netflix

Many are accusing Kali and her gang of being wannabe thugs, not that scary, and not that punk. Whether or not that’s true is for you to decide, but the fact of the matter is that Kali showed Eleven an extremely different side of herself. Eleven has, up until now, very much been a heroine. She saved her friends and the entire town of Hawkins from the demogorgon, after all. But now she meets Kali, who not only teaches her that she has so much more power than she ever believed, but that she can use it for more purposes than she ever imagined. This is both exciting and comforting for Eleven, because she’s finally found someone who she can relate to. It isn’t until later in the episode that she realizes she can’t be like Kali, even if she wanted to be.

Near the end of the episode, Eleven is faced with a choice. Kill a bad man who hurt her mother and countless others, or show him mercy. Kali attempts to pressure her into killing him, torturing him with a slow death. But when she sees the picture of him with two young girls, she can’t do it. And she won’t let Kali either. She cannot and will not take away someone’s family. And the fact that Kali wants to is what inevitably makes her realize that her true family is back in Hawkins. Mike, Hopper, Joyce, everyone. Those who would do anything to save their friends, and those who fight for what’s right. Kali tells her that they can’t save her, but Eleven now understands that it isn’t about that. “I can save them,” she says. She was given a choice, she’s now seen and understands both sides of herself. And though she has a lot of anger, she knows that she doesn’t want to be someone who harms. She wants to be someone who helps.

Eleven needed to confront her pain and anger, but more than that, she needed to know where she belonged. She needed to know who her family was, and who she was, and that could not have happened without Kali. Kali showed Eleven what her life could be, and that was what made her realize what she wanted her life to be. Maybe the episode  wasn’t the Duffer Brothers’ best work, and maybe Kali wasn’t what you expected or hoped, but she was necessary. Without her, Eleven wouldn’t have discovered who she really was, she wouldn’t have returned to Hawkins in time, and she wouldn’t have been able to summon the strength to close the gate. Kali taught Eleven a lot, and she deserves credit for that.

Stranger Things 2 Is Currently Streaming On Netflix.