Netflix’s Stranger Things
“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse”
Directed & Written
by The Duffer Brothers
* For a recap & review of 4×01, click here.
* For a recap & review of 4×03, click here.
Flashbacks of Hopper before everything went to shit at the end of Season 3, when Joyce had to flip that switch. In the midst of all that technological chaos, Hopper leapt to freedom, ultimately surviving the blast out of what can only be considered sheer luck.
At home, Max continues to struggle with what we can probably call PTSD, really. She doesn’t sleep well, waking from bad dreams or thoughts of her brother’s death. She wakes up now to hear police sirens rushing to Eddie’s trailer, where his uncle found Chrissy’s dead body mangled inside. The cops are, rightly, horrified by the scene, and Max gets a brief glimpse of Chrissy’s corpse before an officer rushes her off. And the government, they’re always watching from somewhere behind the curtain.
In California, Eleven, Will, and Jonathan, along with Argyle, await Mike’s arrival. There’s some awkward stuff, like Will, who clearly wants a better reunion with Mike than he gets, almost watching Mike and Eleven with jealousy. Murray’s also in Cali with things to do and places to see. Back home in Hawkins, Robin’s obsessing over her crush, talking it out with Steve. He has his own love troubles, unable to find one girl to whom he wants to give his undivided attention. Then there’s Lucas dealing with his “first hangover” after last night’s team celebration. Meanwhile, the whole of Hawkins is in the process of being devastated by Chrissy’s horrific murder. The death of Barb is brought up on TV again, too. People believe “the Devil is here in Hawkins.”
Max goes straight to Dustin’s place, explaining she saw Eddie and Chrissy the night prior. Dustin can’t believe Eddie would do something so horrible; he knows his older friend wouldn’t hurt somebody in that way. Max isn’t ready to rule anybody out, bringing up Ted Bundy’s nice guy demeanour. She also didn’t say anything to the cops, either. Because she tells Dustin that after going back inside the night before, when she saw Eddie and Chrissy, some wild stuff happened with the electricity. Then she saw a terrified Eddie fleeing his trailer and driving off into the night. It was enough to make Max wonder. She’s reluctant to say anything out loud, but Dustin knows what she’s trying to say. Now they have to find Eddie.
Murray goes to Joyce’s house so he can figure out the note she received from Russia. The note was signed “Enzo,” relating to the first date between Hopper and Joyce, so she’s sure that either Hopper sent the note, or someone Hop trusted sent it. Murray’s sure that Hopper is dead, not to mention Joyce essentially witnessed it; or, she thought so, anyway. Joyce has faith that Hopper is, indeed, alive, even if Murray’s too paranoid to believe anything without concrete, corporeal proof. Murray believes that even if Hopper IS alive, the man is probably being tortured by the KGB.
And yet, it’s not far from the truth.
We see Hopper crawl out of the blast only to be captured by the Russians and subjected to, yes, a little bit of good old-fashioned torture, starting with a nice beating and then moving onto the more serious stuff involving a gas mask. Hopper was pressed for information but refused to give them anything, and the torture just got worse.
Mike is having fun in Cali at the roller rink with his friends, but Will’s not having much fun. Will doesn’t know why Eleven is lying to Mike about friends and everything. But it’s a bit silly, really. Eleven doesn’t want Mike to know how torturous it’s been in California for her. At the same time, it’s clear Will has feelings for Mike and it’s only jealousy talking. Ah, the joy of being a teenager! Things just get shittier when Angela and her nasty friends show up at the roller rink, spotting ‘Jane’ with Mike. Oh, no.
Back in Hawkins, the cops are questioning the basketball team. Jason’s up first, considering he was Chrissy’s boyfriend. He doesn’t even know she’s the one who got killed. The cops ask about drugs, as well as Eddie, but Jason doesn’t know anything about all that. Jason automatically assumes that Eddie did something to Chrissy. And that’s not good, sending Jason off in a bad, angry state, knowing it was his girlfriend who got killed, plus assuming he knows the killer’s identity.
Dustin sets up a “base of operations” to search for Eddie via friends’ phone numbers. He uses the video store while Robin and Steve are working, since there’s three phones available in the building. Simultaneously, Nancy and Fred try to get a further look into things surrounding Chrissy’s death. They go to the crime scene but can’t get through. A cop talks to them and Fred hallucinates, seeing the cop turning into a horrible creature, accusing him of being a “murderer” and killing somebody in a crash, which is why Fred has a scar on his face. Whoa. Hawkins is in for a wild ride, as the influence of the horrible creature that killed Chrissy is spreading.
At the roller rink, Angela pulls ‘Jane’ out onto the floor and has the DJ announce her as “the local snitch.” Then the popular crowd surround Eleven, calling her a loser and teasing her, getting it all on videotape. But that doesn’t sit well with Mike, who confronts the DJ. The music gets turned off just in time for someone to throw a chocolate milkshake all over Eleven as she falls to the floor. A sad, embarrassing scene. Mike rushes to Eleven but she just wants out of there.
Joyce and Murray make the call to Russia, getting a man on the other end who calls himself Enzo. They’re required to make a deposit of “forty–thousand dollars.” They have to bring the money to a man called Yuri in Alaska. Joyce says they need proof Hopper’s alive. Enzo claims that Hopper is “stuck” and only the money will fix things. He gives them two days to give up the money. But what’s really happening? It isn’t a friend of Hopper, and it wouldn’t be the KGB. What’s going on here? All we know is that poor ole Hop’s constantly getting the shit knocked out of him by the actual KGB, who admire his durability.
There’s some 1980s Satanic Panic occurring in Hawkins. Jason believes that Eddie worships the Devil because of Dungeons & Dragons, so that means he killed Chrissy to sacrifice her. Lucas attempts to explain that isn’t the case, but his jock status is threatened knowing anything about D&D. Jason and his jock buddies are convinced Eddie’s a serial killer who’s confused “fantasy and reality.” Perfect use of The Talking Heads here. Across town, Dustin and Max, along with Robin, are searching everywhere over the phone lines to find any trace of Eddie. Steve is busy hitting on girls and though he believes in “all that constitutional shit,” he isn’t sure Eddie’s innocent, thinking the cops should handle it. The next step is tracking down Eddie’s drug dealer, a guy named Rick, but how? Robin uses the video store’s computer system, finding a Rick who loves Cheech, Chong, and Jeff Spicoli.
Nancy keeps looking for any info on what happened to Chrissy, managing to talk with Eddie’s uncle Wayne. She pretends to be a full-fledged reporter, not just working for the Hawkins High paper, hoping she’ll get more of the story. She tells Wayne she wants to tell his side of the story and not the sensational one others in town want to tell. So Wayne begins to talk, sure that his nephew couldn’t have killed somebody, and especially not in such gruesome fashion. “Pure evil,” Wayne calls it. Then he mentions the name Victor Creel, a man who supposedly “lost his mind and killed his own family,” taking all their eyes out. He’s reminded of Victor because of the way Chrissy looked when he found her. While Wayne and Nancy are chatting, Fred’s lured into the woods by the sound of a grandfather clock. Then Fred sees a bunch of people in black clothing. A little girl points at him with a hideous claw-like finger. All the people look dead, rotten, and the call out “Murderer!” at Fred, who runs back out of the woods.
In Russia, Hopper’s imprisoned. In California, Joyce and Murray go over the recorded tape from their brief conversation with Enzo for any further clues. She notices another voice on the tape talking to the mysterious Enzo. Something the voice says suggests that Enzo is a cop or a guard. We’re able to see that Enzo is, indeed, a prison guard where Hopper’s being kept. Joyce is determined to get the money to free Hopper.
Eleven decides to take matters into her own hands, smashing Angela in the face with a roller skate after being teased more and more. It causes a scene and a big cut in Angela’s forehead. Everyone at the rink is shocked, including Eleven, who doesn’t feel good about letting loose her violence again, knowing the consequences that have come before. It takes her back to that day at Hawkins Labs with Dr. Brenner. At the same time, Angela had it coming. Not sure I feel that bad for her. Yet a roller skate was a bit much. Eleven could’ve just used a fist.
Dustin and the crew go looking for Eddie at the home of “Reefer Rick” but it doesn’t look like anybody’s home. Max sees a light on out back in a shed, so the gang go have a look down there. Inside the shed they come upon Eddie hiding underneath a tarp in a boat. He’s a bit scared and sceptical, holding a blade to Steve’s throat until Dustin calms him down. “We‘re on your side,” Dustin tells his friend. After things settle, Eddie explains the crazy shit he witnessed when Chrissy was killed. Then Dustin explains everything he and his friends know about Hawkins and the Upside Down.
Nancy’s still out at night searching for Fred, who’s nowhere to be found. She tells one of the cops Fred has disappeared. Fred’s being psychologically tortured by the horrible thing spreading through Hawkins, coming across the car crash from his recent past. And he finds himself trapped in a grave with that awful creature, Vecna, becoming one with it.