“Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly” is the third episode of Stranger Things and the third episode of the first season. It was written by Jessica Mecklenburg and directed by Shawn Levy. It premiered on Netflix on July 15, 2016, along with the rest of the season.
An increasingly concerned Nancy looks for Barb and finds out what Jonathan‘s been up to. Joyce is convinced Will is trying to talk to her.
Before leaving, Mike permits her to eat Dustin’s snacks, provides her his watch, and asks her to meet with them at 3:15 pm. As Eleven waits and remains at Mike’s house, she decides to explore Mike’s house. She looks around at Nancy’s room then watches their TV.
While switching channels, Eleven notices a commercial for Coca-Cola, which triggers a flashback.
Eleven is shown in the Hawkins National Laboratory where she is forced to use her telekinetic abilities to manipulate a Coca-Cola can. Eleven succeeds, however, her nose begins to bleed as Dr. Martin Brenner smiles behind a glass.
Chief Hopper manages to get into the Hawkins Laboratory but does not find much evidence of Will’s disappearance. However, when he is shown the security footage from the night of Will‘s disappearance, Hopper notices it is not raining in the footage despite the huge storm which occurred that night. Hopper tells the other cops that he suspects the staff at the laboratory are lying.
Powell is prompted to visit the public library and search for any newspaper which mentions Hawkins National Laboratory. The newspaper clippings show Dr. Brenner working with several patients (one of which is Terry Ives). Hopper reads enough information on Dr. Brenner in the old newspaper archives to suspect him of involvement in Will’s disappearance.
Joyce Byers buys a lot of Christmas lights and hangs them all around her house in hopes of communicating with Will. After she has finished, Karen Wheeler arrives with Holly.
As the mothers are speaking in the kitchen, lights start flickering, leading Holly to Will’s room. Holly witnesses the wall distort, but before she is harmed Joyce finds her. After asking if Holly had seen anything, Joyce asks Karen to leave.
Jonathan is confronted by Steve and his friends in the school’s parking lot, demanding the pictures Jonathan took at the party. They accuse him of stalking, while Jonathan said he was just looking for his brother.
When Nancy arrives, she is shown one of the photos Jonathan took of her. Steve tears the photographs apart and breaks the camera. Upon seeing the photograph of Barb, Nancy takes the pieces and joins the group, leaving Jonathan behind.
When Eleven arrives behind the power-lines to wait for Mike and his friends, she witnesses a cat growling, which triggers another flashback where she is hooked up to a machine monitoring her brain waves. The scientists force Eleven to kill a cat with her abilities, but she cannot bring herself to do so.
Dr. Brenner has her put in solitary confinement, as she screams “Papa!” when the scientists drag her down the hallway. They throw her into solitary confinement, but before they can close the door, Eleven telekinetically kills the two guards. Dr. Brenner comforts Eleven as her nose and ears are bleeding, calling her “Incredible.”
Mike, Dustin, and Lucas meet Eleven and start looking for Will. As they are searching, Eleven asks Mike why “they” hurt him. Mike tries to lie, but Eleven sees through it and asks for the truth. Mike reveals that it was the bullies from school and apologizes for lying.
Nancy, Steve, and his friends are sitting in the hallway waiting for the game to start. Nancy decides to leave, lying that she had to do something with her mother. She goes back to Barb’s car and starts look for her.
Nancy is at Steve’s pool when she hears a noise coming from the forest. Walking towards the sound, she sees a silhouette run by, scaring her and causing her to leave.
Meanwhile, Joyce‘s Christmas lights start flickering, which leads her to a crawl space with more lights in her hands. Will begins speaking to her through the lights, with one blink for “Yes” and two blinks for “No”. He then tells Joyce that he is alive. She asks if he is safe, but Will replies no.
Since their communication is stuck to one-word answers, yes and no, Joyce paints the alphabet on her wall and uses the Christmas lights as an Ouija board.
Nancy comes home and reveals to her mother that something terrible happened to Barb. In the woods, Eleven leads the boys to Will‘s house and says he is hiding there.
None of them believe her, as Will would have been found already. Suddenly, police cars and an ambulance rush by, and they head off to follow.
Back at the house, Joyce has Will spell out where he is. Will lights up “RIGHT HERE”. Joyce quickly becomes more distressed. Will then spells out “RUN” as a mysterious monster starts crawling out from the wall.
Joyce runs out of the house as all of the lights begin flickering erratically.
Meanwhile, Chief Hopper and the police arrive at the quarry. A body can be seen being pulled out of the water, which everyone assumes is Will. The three boys and Eleven doubt that the lifeless body is indeed Will, but they catch a glance of it, and realize it is him.
They watch devastated, and question Eleven as to why she said Will was alive. Eleven can’t give Mike any answers and he runs home to his mother’s arms in tears.
Simultaneously, Joyce is running down the road away from the monster and encounters Jonathan. They hug as police cars come down the road toward them.