This season of Stranger Things opened with a whiplash scene that was seemingly unconnected with anything happening in Hawkins, Indiana. By the time the credits rolled, we at least understood why the scene was there: to let us know there was at least one other Lab escapee on the loose in America, a thing Eleven finally caught on to as well, before searching out Kali aka "008." But how did Kali escape on Stranger Things? And why didn't she take Eleven with her when she left Hawkins? Please be advised: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2.
Our estimates using the image of Kali from the newspaper pegs her around five years old when she was abducted, which was probably around the time Jane was born and the tests began. When Jane was little, she and Kali were allowed to hang out in the same playroom. Kali says that one day she came to the Rainbow Room and Jane was simply gone.
We don't know if that was directly after Terry's abduction attempt or not, but we surmise it might have been. Eleven does not remember Kali or the Rainbow Room in her own memories (suggesting she was still young when she was removed). Terry's abduction attempt on his strangest and best weapon might have also shaken Brenner enough to put her somewhere safe.
But Kali was only enough to remember the little girl, and to be very hurt and frightened to see her disappear completely. She then says "When my gifts were strong enough, I used them to escape."
That's not unlike Jane's own story. She used her powers to escape, along with the confusion in the lab from the Upside Down opening. Even if she hadn't had a Demogorgon shaped assist though, we see that Jane was quite capable of killing. It probably wouldn't have been more than another year or so before teenage hormones and angry kicked in and drove her to do the same.
We did see that Kali is not as strong as Jane, and her powers are narrower. So it may have taken her more time to figure out an escape plan. We peg her as having been out three or four years now, escaping around the age of 13 or 14.
Kali says her first place to hide was "far away" with "a family and a home" but "they couldn't help" her. Could she have traveled back to London? (Her UK accent is very pronounced, if she had stayed in America, she would sound more flat in her vowels like we do.)
Suppose she did find her original family. (Terry wouldn't have the articles about it, since this would have been post-comatose state.) They would have been overjoyed to have her back, but also probably be a little floored as to what to do with her. One can assume Kali would not want to go visit with doctors, even (and maybe especially) NHS ones, after what she'd been though.
Her family wanted their 5-year-old innocent girl back. What they got instead was an enraged teen who could get into their heads and screw with their perception of reality. That's got to have been terrifying. Terrifying enough that eventually Kali realized they didn't trust her and she couldn't stay there. She "lost them too."
As she puts it, that's when she "decided to play the part." She came back to US, and decided to be the freak this country had made and then thrown away. She came back with a vigilante cause, not unlike a Marvel superhero, and used that drive to build herself a family from others who were broken and abandoned.
If Jane had escaped on her own at age 13, there's little doubt in my mind that she would have joined Kali's quest for justice. But Eleven's story is more complicated. She escaped at a younger, more impressionable age. She found a family already, in Hawkins. One whose cause is less of a grey area, against something they have declared evil, but a fight with an actual evil mirror universe, filled with actualfacts monsters.
And with that, Eleven packed her bags and clicked her heels together for a greyhound bus. Home was always there, waiting for her to come back.