Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 5, “The Flea And The Acrobat”

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat Mr Clarke explains other dimensions

So you’re asking about other dimensions at your best friend’s funeral, for a friend? [Image via Netflix]

Welcome to the recap of Episode 5 (entitled “The Flea and the Acrobat”) of Season 1 of Stranger Things. Here’s what went down in Episode 5.

Hopper (David Harbour) is sussing out the not-secret secret lab. Lucky for him it’s the 80’s and he gets to see plenty of cool stuff before he is busted and has to, once again, resort to punching everyone. He manages to escape for a while and sets eyes on the blobby wall monster. Pretty sure you shouldn’t touch that dude! But then he wakes up at home, there is booze and pills everywhere in an attempt to make it look like he has partied pretty hard rather than broken into not-secret secret lab. Hopper is not falling for it though and searches the place for wires, which he totally finds. Just like Joyce (Winona Ryder) has succumbed to Team Crazy, Hopper is now the founding member of Team Conspiracy Theory. Which is a good thing because another random guy that completely works for the not-secret secret lab is fixing the school radio the boys blew up when contacting Will (Noah Schnapp) in Episode 3 of Stranger Things.

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat Joyce and Lonnie

[Image via Netflix]

Speaking of Joyce, her ex-husband, Lonnie (Ross Partridge), turned up at the end of Episode 4 of Stranger Things and what a motherfucking piece of work he is. At first he seems to be trying to convince Joyce she’s batshit crazy, which is a legit thing, because, let’s face it, the only other alternative is that she is right. Then, he starts talking about how Joyce should consider suing on account of Will fell into the quarry. That’s when Joyce loses her shit, because, of course it is all about the money to Lonnie. He also implies it was probably Joyce’s fault as well, because being a single mother and having to work is entirely her fault and not his at all…

The boys and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are furiously piecing together what’s going on in Stranger Things before they have to show up at Will’s fake funeral. Eleven calls the place where Will is trapped the “Upside Down,” another dimension that is a darker, colder, downright scarier place to be. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) totally gets what Eleven is saying and explains it back to the others using their Dungeons & Dragons board as an example.

So, now it’s time for the funeral and Joyce and the Goonies are all behaving like they don’t really care because none of them believe Will is really dead. The wake is interesting though as it gives the boys a chance to really quiz their teacher, Mr. Clarke (Randall P. Havens) about science and hypothetical other dimensions. This is where the title of Episode 4 comes into the equation as Mr. Clarke likens other dimensions to an acrobat and a flea on a tightrope. The acrobat can only travel along the rope, the flea can travel underneath it. He also introduces the kids to the idea of if you have enough energy, you could tear a hole into the other dimension. However, he doesn’t think a tear exists right now because it would create complete chaos.

And this is when Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) thinks that maybe there is chaos already because suddenly all the compasses aren’t working properly and if they just follow them, it should lead them straight to the tear (and Will). So they follow their broken compasses along a train line and Eleven is having major PTSD flashbacks to an immersion tank and tries to call the whole thing off. The boys say no so Eleven just leads them in a great big circle which pisses them off no end. After a huge argument and another flashback for Eleven we discover water is the key to her entering the Upside Down.

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat Hopper and Joyce

[Image via Netflix]

Hopper turns up at Joyce’s place after being told Barb’s (Shannon Purser) car has been found at a bus stop and that her running away is the only logical explanation for a girl who has never been a flight risk before. Hopper shushes Joyce as she opens the door. He’s looking for bugs and wires, once the place is clear he explains to Joyce that Will’s body was actually a fake, something she suspected anyway. Now we just need the boys, Jonathan and Nancy to fess up to Joyce and everyone will be on the same page.

Speaking of Jonathan and Nancy, what have they been up to? Chasing monsters, of course! They figure the monster can’t be far from where Barb was taken, which is how they end up finding an injured deer. When Jonathan goes to shoot it to put it out of its misery, it is taken by something. And this is how Nancy ends up crawling into a hollowed out tree entering the Upside Down. Whoops!

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat Nancy in the Upside Down

That moment when you fall down the rabbit hole and realise Lewis Carroll was lying [Image via Netflix]

80’s Rip-Off-O-Meter

Each week I will post all the times I saw a reference to an 80’s movie. I am sure I have missed a pile of them though, so feel free to let me know if you spot any others!

Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat the boys and Eleven walking along the train lines

So if we follow the dodgy compass we will find the body? Erm, I mean Will… [Image via Netflix]

  • When the boys are following their whackadoodle compasses along the train lines, it is reminiscent of the movie, Stand by Me. The boys in Stranger Things are also looking for a body (of sorts) just like the boys in Stand by Me.
  • Steve finds Nancy swinging a bat as she prepares to fight monsters. As this scene begins, the camera shows a close up of a croquet set, my immediate thought was of the classic 80’s movie, Heathers, a movie Winona Ryder also starred in.
Netflix's Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 5 The Flea and the Acrobat Nancy with a bat croquet set circled

[Image via Netflix]

  • According to, the whole sensory deprivation water immersion tank Eleven is forced to use in her flashbacks to the lab are similar in feel to the movie, Altered States.
  • Another thing points out is the fact the Nancy in Stranger Things is very similar to another Nancy; the one from A Nightmare On Elm Street. Both Nancy’s like to tackle monsters head on.

What did you think of the Episode 5 of Netflix’s Stranger Things? Let us know by commenting below!

[Image via Netflix]


3 thoughts on “Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 5, “The Flea And The Acrobat”

  1. Pingback: Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 5, “The Flea And The Acrobat” | Rachel Tsoumbakos

  2. Pingback: Stranger Things, Season 1, Chapter 6, “The Monster” | The Snarking Dead TV Recaps

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