Netflix’s Stranger Things
Season 3: “Chapter Four – The Sauna Test”
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by Kate Trefry
* For a recap & review of Chapter Three, “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard” – click here
* For a recap & review of Chapter Five, “The Flayed” – click here
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is scared about what happened to Heather, she knows it’s more than “a fever” like Max (Sadie Sink) believes. She also suggests Billy (Dacre Montgomery) “seemed wrong.” The two girls sit and read about ‘Princess Diana’ a.k.a Diana Prince a.k.a Wonder Woman in a comic. Much needed perspective for a girl with superpowers, instead of reading about male superheroes.
Mrs. Driscoll is carted off in an ambulance. “I have to go back,” she screams. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are left scratching their heads. At the steelworks, Heather has her parents ready to be food for the creature. It steps from the darkness for its lunch, sucking them dry until they’re nothing but fleshy vessels.
At home, Chief Jim (David Harbour) recuperates from his ass kicking with Joyce (Winona Ryder) there to help him. He’s not well, and, like always, has a major hangover. Nothing he can’t handle. The two of them put their heads together about the government agent, the big Russian, and might at least have a clue.
Mike (Finn Wolfhard) convinces the girls to come over, while Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is calling for Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) over the radio— their buddy is with Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery), mulling over how to get inside the Lynx facility within the mall. Robin is contemplating a “safe way” for them to the job done. Also, when is dumb-dumb going to realise his ice cream shop co-worker is an awesome girl and ask her out? HURRY UP, DUDE!
Nancy and Jonathan come up against Tom’s (Michael Park) anger. A real perfect target for the creature, taking over the head of the Hawkins Post. Tom paints Mrs. O’Driscoll as a “sick old lady” to put out this little fire— another score for the Upside Down. Then he fires the teens. This puts the friends / lovers at odds. Jonathan can’t see where Nancy’s coming from as a woman in the workplace, fighting just to be considered equal. She finds comfort in her mother. Karen (Cara Buono) knows what it’s like being told you’re not smart enough or good enough. She urges her daughter to chase the story.
Will explains the presence he’s been feeling lately. He tells his friends about the sinking sensation. He feels “the Mind Flayer.” Maybe when El closed the door the monster was locked inside their world. Will suggests whatever was in him that remained after the portal was shut stayed in Hawkins, and found “a new host.”
“… in the real world,
there are consequences for your actions.”
Chief Hopper visits Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes) for a heart-to-heart. He wants info on the big dude. Quite clear Kline is a slippery eel of a man. Regardless of Jim’s flaws, he’s NO slouch. Plus, he’s got dirt on the Mayor. On the flip side, he’s got his own demons. The Mayor makes a “dead daughter” comment and sends the Chief into a violent rage. Finally, info flows. There are expansion plans in the future for Hawkins, and the (Soviets /)Russians are connected deeply, buying up property all over town. Joyce notices all of it’s by Jordan Lake, right near the power plant.
Back at Scoops Ahoy, Robin brings a blueprint of the Starcourt Mall with her. They find vents leading to Lynx. Good thing Dustin has “no collarbones” like Gumby. He tries jamming himself into the vent with Steve’s help. They actually need someone smaller, requiring the use of a hungry young customer: Erica (Priah Ferguson), little sister of Lucas. The girl knows plenty about the “free market system” and demands a lifetime of ice cream in return for her services. Smart little lady.
At the pool, Will and the others keep an eye on Billy. Mike takes the boys into the locker room, scoping out a potential way to force the Mind Flayer into a sauna— the creature hates heat, which is why his fleshy host tries to keep cool so his skin doesn’t singe off.
While Mike and El try to help Will, they have time alone to chat. It doesn’t go quite how he’d expected. In all fairness, it’s a bit sketchy for someone with powers like her to use them for personal reasons. Nevertheless, Mike should’ve come clean to her about what Hopper said to him earlier, too.
Erica gets into Lynx and opens the doors easily for her new pals. Across town, Chief Hopper— rocking the Tom Selleck in Magnum, P.I. look— and Joyce go through the various properties bought by Starcourt. At the pool, the kids lure Billy into a sauna and lock the door. After that, they turn on the steam.
“You know what I love most about this country?
Steve and the other three take a look in the boxes at Lynx. They find a strange tube full of green liquid. The whole room moves a bit. They can’t open the door again, either. They end up triggering something and the room moves more— they’re actually inside an elevator, and it’s flying fast below the earth.
At the hospital, Nancy visits Mrs. Driscoll. She looks over the medical chart and the old lady’s heart monitor goes wild. (Nice shot of the old woman is framed upside down— get it?) Coincides with the Mind Flayer trapped in the sauna freaking out at the kids. Billy cries, telling Max something’s controlling him. Only a ruse to distract. Will can sense the Mind Flayer emerging fully, and Max barely moves before Billy comes swiping out of the sauna with a jagged piece of tile. Lucas knocks him back, but the Mind Flayer’s coming out to play. It gets free of the sauna, so El uses her power to subdue it. But Billy grabs hold of her, squeezing her throat. Mike whacks him, giving the girl enough time to pick the Mind Flayer up and throw him right through a wall. THAT’S OUR GIRL!
Still, Billy escapes into the night.
Back to Heather, back to the Upside Down— and the many Flayed already accumulated.
Father Gore’s favourite use of “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn
in recent memory during that final shot
Keeps getting better! And so much great music.
Are we going to see a Dawn of the Dead reference eventually with those Upside Down Flayed swarming the Starcourt? That’d be absolutely incredible considering Romero’s already been given props in the opening episode of Season 3.
Just a thought. So much cool stuff happening.
“Chapter Five: The Flayed” is next.