Netflix’s Stranger Things
“Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab”
Directed & Written
by The Duffer Brothers
* For a recap & review of 4×06, click here.
* For a recap & review of 4×08, click here.
Steve is battling for his life in The Upside Down until Nancy, Eddie, and Robin get there to help fight with him. They’re all attacked by those hideous creatures but they stand together. Steve definitely got the worst of it, though Eddie later admires how “very metal” Steve got biting a bat like Ozzy Osbourne. And there’s still worse out there to deal with, like Vecna. There’s also the military, who continue torturing Agent Wallace for any info possible on Eleven, using that hot locker to wear him down until he gives up.
Meanwhile, Eleven goes through her own torture trying to bring back her powers to full capacity. She’s not making any further progress yet. Owens worries time is running out, and that Eleven’s merely a damaged child, whereas Brenner’s convinced things will work out: “I see a frightened, traumatised little girl. Good for us.” Brenner tells Eleven she can’t hide from the truth but she feels guilt for what’s happened in her past. He says it’s only by facing oneself, the good and bad, that a person can heal. So, Eleven agrees to go back into the past one last time, putting trust in Papa. That also means accelerating the past a bit.
And can Eleven handle that?
The cops question Dustin, Lucas, and Max about why they were at the lake. The kids claim it was just a walk to the lake, y’know, in the middle of the night while there’s a murderer loose in Hawkins. They pretend not to know where Nancy and the others are, either. Because how can you explain The Upside Down and Vecna to these small-minded grownups? Impossible. Mostly the grownups are arguing amongst themselves until Chief Powell decides some one-on-one interrogation is required. While they’re all squabbling, Eddie, Steve, Nancy, and Robin keep trying to survive The Upside Down, patching Hairy Harrington’s wounds up and avoiding any further monsters from the sky. Eddie and Robin are trying to get a grasp on The Upside Down’s logic. They decide to go look for Nancy’s guns to help in the fight against Vecna.In Russia, Hopper and Dmitri bond a bit over kids. Hop talks about Eleven lovingly. He also talks about why he was put there, thinking that even if he only does one last thing with his life before dying maybe he’s still able to help Eleven after all this madness. Hopper wants to live, but he also knows it’ll be a miracle if he does. Then again, he’s survived so far. Who’d count him out at this point?
Once more in the past, Dr. Brenner confronts the other gifted kids about what happened to Eleven. Two is the first to speak up, calling Eleven stupid and clumsy, saying she fell. That gets him collared. Brenner confronts Two, asking why he attacked Eleven, who obviously denies it. He turns up the collar until it brings Two to the ground with pain, continuously shocking Two brutally in front of everybody.
On the way through The Upside Down, Eddie and Steve get to know each other better, as Eddie admits Steve’s actually a cool guy. Ah, the jock and the metalhead D&D player coming together! Eddie feels like a coward, only coming into The Upside Down because Nancy and Robin came. He tells Steve that Nancy didn’t think twice about going after Steve, believing it was “unambiguous true love.” Then, the earth quakes beneath them. Though they’re not far from their destination. In the real world, Dustin, Lucas, and Max worry about their friends, completely unaware of the fact their pals are in The Upside Down. The boys let Erica in on what’s been happening, too. Then they start talking about how the gate was opened in the lake in the first place. This leads Dustin to speculate how everything’s related, from the Demogorgon to Vecna and The Mind Flayer. It’s all about “psychic connection” and opening more gates to take over the world, so Vecna’s like a general in the army of The Mind Flayer.Nancy finds no guns where she thought they were, discovering her house in The Upside Down is an older version of the house; they’re in 1983, the day “the gate opened” when Will went missing. Then they see Steve yelling out for Dustin, whom he believes is in the walls. They soon all hear Dustin’s voice, in the real world at the Wheeler house. Nancy attempts to use the lights to communicate, like Will did once upon a time. They see a familiar dust-like substance in the air, reaching out to touch it. They’re able to use S.O.S. to reach out to the real world where Erica notices, then Dustin and Lucas see it, too. Dustin knows their friends went through the lake’s gate.
In Russia, Murray’s managed to get himself through the prison gates as Yuri, along with Joyce and the real Yuri tied up as prisoners. Murray talks a good game and gets himself further into the prison, where they see Hopper with the other prisoners being prepared for the monster fight. The prisoners are given a key to a cache of weapons, though it’s unlikely weapons will do much to keep them alive in the face of a monster.
In the past, Eleven finds herself ostracised by the other gifted kids, who all look at her as a traitor and blame her for what happened to Two. The orderly is still there to keep helping her. He plays chess with Eleven to challenge her. He then asks her to stay emotionless and playing the game while he talks, telling her Two and the others are going to try killing her when Two is out of the infirmary. He says Papa “wants it to happen,” that Brenner has been orchestrating this whole thing like a chessboard and its many pieces. He tells Eleven she needs to escape.
Dustin uses a Lite-Brite to communicate into The Upside Down, allowing Nancy to send a message back using the lights. He communicates that there’s a gate at every murder site, which might help the gang in The Upside Down get back to reality, so long as they’re not attacked by more monsters, or, worse, by Vecna. The kids are able to slip out without the cops or the parents noticing, knowing they need to save Hawkins because nobody else will, certainly not the Hawkins police force. That doesn’t mean the parents aren’t worried sick, believing there’s a serial killer out there. Love the juxtaposed shots of one part of the gang on bikes in reality versus another bunch of them in The Upside Down on their bikes. They’re all in it together!
But in the past, Eleven’s alone, facing those painful memories. We’re at the day of all that blood, the scene that started Season 4 with Dr. Brenner heading off to test one of his subjects. Eleven goes to an orderly with complaints of not feeling well, so she’s taken to the infirmary but slips off on her own into the corridors. She uses a stolen security card to get out into another part of the lab, making it into the basement where the friendly orderly’s waiting. He shows her a route out of there, albeit a tight squeeze. Eleven has to go on alone again from here because the orderlies are fitted with tracking devices. But she wants to get rid of the tracker, to help him escape along with her.
In the Russian prison, Hopper and the prisoners rush for weapons as the alarm sounds, signalling the monster is about to be released from its cage. The only one properly prepared is Hopper, who’s about to create a flaming weapon for himself to wield. Except the lighter won’t work. And then, the Demogorgon emerges from the dark, tearing men apart and tossing their corpses like trash. Hopper manages to light his spear after all, driving the Demogorgon back, but the creature keeps killing prisoners. At the same time, Murray’s trying to solve things on his end with a gun. The Russians refuse to open the door because it’ll let the monster loose. Hopper desperately fights against the Demogorgon as Dmitri tries opening the door. Joyce starts pressing buttons on the security console inside and one eventually opens the door. Hopper and Dmitri get out, but the door’s left open just enough for the Demogorgon to get inside. Thankfully, Hopper lands the spear in the monster long enough for the door to shut. Moments later he’s reunited with Joyce.
Eleven has to tear the tracker out of her orderly friend so he can safely go with her. It only takes a few bloody seconds. They’re nearly caught by soldiers so they try running for it, only to be surrounded. The soldiers try to capture them, then the orderly reveals he has powers, sending the men flying into the walls and even killing one by snapping his neck. The orderly reveals he was the first: he is One.
In The Upside Down, Nancy and the others go back to the trailer park. In Eddie’s trailer there’s a gate on the ceiling. They arrive just in time to find Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Erica on the other side waiting for them. Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Erica get a mattress ready for landing, then they throw in a line of tied sheets to help the others climb back right-side up again. Before they can escape The Upside Down, Nancy’s trapped by Vecna’s curse, finding herself propelled even deeper into that nightmarish world. Vecna plays upon Nancy’s guilt about Barb dying, taking her into a pool full of slime and horror.
The truth of Eleven’s memories about that fateful day in Hawkins Laboratories is revealed to her after all this time. It wasn’t Eleven who caused all that mayhem and murder, it was, in fact, One, who unleashed his hatred on Dr. Brenner and everybody else at the lab. Eleven once more witnesses the carnage, passing through the halls and all the corpses. This time she finds One in the middle of killing Two, rightly horrified. She tries to run but One locks her in with him.
Nancy gets a tour of the Creel house, and we find out at the moment that One is also the youngest Creel boy, Henry; and thus, One/Henry is now Vecna. One/Henry saw humans as “a unique type of pest” that was ultimately poisoning the world, instituting a terrible order upon what is natural. He sought to use his powers to “restore balance to a broken world.” He wanted to dive past peoples’ secrets, to get at the truth, even if that meant tearing them apart. No demon cursed the Creel house, it was One/Henry who killed everybody, and he nearly killed himself because he didn’t yet know how to use his powers. When One/Henry woke up he was back under the care of Dr. Brenner. And it was because Brenner couldn’t control One/Henry that the entire project that birthed Eleven began. The madman wants Eleven to join him.
Now, Eleven and One/Henry/Vecna fight. She tries to overpower him but he’s too strong. Vecna has Eleven in his grip, then he starts to twist her limbs apart while suspending her above the ground. All Eleven can see is the first moment she came into the world, seeing her mother look back at her, and this gives her the strength to fight back viciously against Vecna. She completely destroys Vecna and we see another gate to The Upside Down start to erupt while Vecna falls through it into the depths.
But that was technically the past.
And Vecna is still alive.