It has been a little while since I’ve done a deconstructing, and since we’re shortly after Halloween and, by now, almost everyone should have seen it, I want to share my deconstructions about Kali in Stranger Things. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Several people have complained about the episode in Chicago where Jane/11/Elle left to go meet her “sister” and learn more about her own powers. We learn that 008/Kali is going around eliminating people from their shared past, destroying the people who had harmed them. She’s built her own team, one that stands in stark contrast to the team that 11 has built around her. Both are families, but they are in stark contrast to each other. Kali and her team are outsiders, they’re the ones that the rest of society has ousted. They’re just fine with that, engaged in stealing from small businesses and torturing those who had wronged them.
A lot of people have argued that Kali is their attempt to negotiate a spin-off for Stranger Things, or it was just an oddity. I think that if you pay attention to how Stranger Things tells a story, and how the Duffer Bros have built this narrative, there’s a much more obvious option presented to us.
Kali and her group are going to fall under the sway of the Mind Flayer. Many have pointed out that they’re already prone to more extreme options, more willing to do things that Elle and the kids aren’t willing to do. They’ll get in shoot outs, they’ll fight, they’ll shove back when a threat comes.
The end of season two left us with three major considerations out of that last scene.
1) The Mind Flayer is still after them
2) The Mind Flayer has it’s eyes on Elle and her friends and
3) The Mind Flayer is (probably) no longer in Will (though maybe in Dustin and Hopper?)
We’ve also seen that Elle appears to have the abilities to more directly interact with the Upside Down, and no evidence that Kali can do so. That being said, we’ve only seen one power from Kali (implanting thoughts and visions) versus several from Elle (telekinesis, remote viewing, opening and closing portals at the least), we might get some more.
Kali’s willingness to be more extreme than Elle is a comparison they are intentionally setting up. Elle is a Guardian, a Protector, she’s taking her cues from a police officer, from mothers and family members. Kali is an Avenger; she has the outsiders who are mad at the world, and almost always have some very reasonable justifications for it. Kali has also created a difference in power structures from Elle. Elle has been willing to accept that she’s still a kid, while Kali has set up a situation where she is undoubtedly in charge.
So, on to the theory.
Kali has been set up to become an ally of the Mind Flayer. Without the ability to reach as much into the world, the Mind Flayer needs a new tact. We’ve seen that even if it possesses a more animal like intelligence, it can make plans. We’ve also seen that Kali is willing to do a lot to get her vengeance, compared with Elle’s willingness to forgive.
Whether Kali and her group are actually infected by the Mind Flayer, or if they will merely be allies of it, agreeing that revenge must be gotten against the secretive government agencies that have affected each of them will likely be the source of this decision. Kali and her group are after vengeance, and when they had access to Elle they were willing to use her as a powerful weapon. What would they do if they had their own Demogorgon or other weapons?
From there, the story will likely evolve along a similar pattern to what we would’ve seen in the 80’s, though with the Stranger Things twists. Kali and her group will be antagonists, but ones that we can more identify with than the stranger other of previous seasons. They’ll give us a mouth piece for the Mind Flayer, and might even help raise the stakes in a meaningful way.
Even if she takes a step back before absolutely turning on Elle, my prediction is that she’ll be an antagonist in the next season.