The biggest unspoken mystery in Netflix's Stranger Things is the one that no one ever asked last year, despite the fact that it was staring us right in the face. If that girl who escaped Hawkins Labs has the number "011" tattooed on her arm... then where are "001" through "010"? No one starts their numbering system with "011." Season 2 began the explore that question with the amazing opening sequence that introduced us to Kali, aka "008." But what is Eight's power? What we saw her do in Chicago sure wasn't anything like we've seen Eleven do so far in the series. Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2.
The opening sequence with Kali and her criminal friends begins far from the town of Hawkins, and almost seemed like it was accidentally edited in from a different Netflix show altogether. That is, until her compatriots turned to the navigator in the passenger seat to "do something" and the entire front of a tunnel collapsed inward, giving her a nosebleed out her right nostril, just like Eleven gets every time she uses her powers.
What happened after that was more amazing. Just as fans were asking themselves how many more Elevens were there, and how were we not hearing about these telekinetic accidents on the news, we turned back to the front of said tunnel... which was just fine.
The tunnel was totally intact. The collapse was only seen by one person — the leading driver of the first cop car, and it was all in his head. His sudden panic to avoid what he thought he saw caused the rest of the cars to pile up behind them. Basically, he was tricked into halting the chase by an illusion.
What had Kali done? She'd done something that we haven't seen Eleven do. In fact, what she did was something Eleven can't do. She got inside a single person's mind and convinced them they were seeing something completely not real.
In a way, Eight's powers are complementary to Eleven's powers. What Kali can convince you you just saw happen, Eleven can actually *do.* Kali can convince you the tunnel in front of you just collapsed, when it did no such thing. Eleven will collapse the tunnel. Kali can convince you that bus is coming flying at you. Eleven will actually make the bus fly.
But while Eight's powers are certainly different than Eleven's, what becomes obvious once Kali has her as part of her gang is that Eleven's abilities are more far reaching. She can do something Eight can't. All that time spent in the sensory deprivation chamber has made it that all she needs is darkness and a little white noise and she can travel anywhere in the world to find someone, as long as she has an image of them in her mind.
Eight is therefore kind of a building block towards what the scientists made Eleven into. She's one of many prototypes that happened along the way, until they got Eleven and her spying abilities to try and find out what the Russian government is doing.
Now Eleven is using that ability to find those who hurt her mother and hurt them back. That is, until she realizes that vigilantism isn't really her bag... not when there's real evil in the world back at Hawkins that wants fighting. Maybe if Eleven had never opened the Upside Down and seen the real monsters, she might buy into Eight's belief that those who hurt them are the real monsters.
But once you've faced a Demogorgon, some poor elderly schmo who worked at a weird hospital once upon a time following the orders he was given seems less a monster than just a sad, pathetic old man, whose kids need him.
Perhaps if Eight ever came back to Hawkins, she might learn that lesson, too.