The June 20, 2022 installment of Jake Schoeneberger’s random observations
The Jake Schoeneberger Random Thoughts about Stranger Things (Season 4, Episode 7)
This will contain spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the show yet.
The seventh episode begins with Steve getting chewed up by the bat creatures in the Upside Down. Luckily Nancy, Robin, and Eddie come to his rescue. They kill the bats but then run into the woods. Don’t they need to stay near the gate? How are they going to get back to our world? They’re heading to find guns at the Upside Down’s version of the Wheeler house. Jacob Schoeneberger guesses that’s a plan but personally he would have tried to find the gate immediately.
El is regressing in her training because she now realizes that she killed the bullies who hurt her. Papa is trying to push her to move past what she’s done but El will have a hard time coming to terms with all this.
Murray pretends to be Yuri to get them into the prison Hopper is being held in. Good thing that guy is a man of many talents. Karate, polyglot… this guy’s the American James Bond.
Nice bonding moment between Steve and Eddie while trekking through the Upside Down. They realize they have more in common than they ever could have guessed. This show’s strength is in the believability of its characters and this is a shining example of that.
Meanwhile in our world, Dustin does what Dustin does yet again and figures out a theory on what the heck has been going on. He thinks Vecna is using the psychic connection he has with his victims to open the new gate. And if he’s opening gates, that means he’s paving the way for the Mind Flayer to take over our world. He says the Demogorgons are foot soldiers, Vecna is a general, and the Mind Flayer rules all. Now we know how all this is part of the Mind Flayer’s big plan.
When they get to the Wheeler’s house in the Upside Down, Nancy realizes that the Upside Down exists in the past. Her diary there stops on the exact day the gate first opened and took Will. They figure out how to use the lights the same way Will did, and they’re able to message Dustin with an SOS by blinking the lights.
When Joyce and Murray arrive at the Russian prison, they’re just in time to watch the fight with the Demogorgon. Joyce sees Hopper but he doesn’t see her yet.
In a chess game, the orderly tells El what Papa is planning. He tells her the others are planning to kill her. He’s been a true friend to her from the start.
Dustin, Lucas, and Erica brilliantly figure out how to communicate through a Lite-Brite. Dustin is able to tell the gang in the Upside Down that there are other gates at all the murder sites that they can get home through. Very cool shot when Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Erica are riding their bikes to Eddie’s house in our world while Steve, Nancy, Robin, and Eddie are doing the exact same thing in the Upside Down. The camera flips to show them both and these are exactly the kinds of shots that made us all fall in love with this show from the very beginning.
The orderly gets El a badge that allows her to escape down to the basement where he opens a grate that leads outside. He can’t go with her because he has a chip planted in his neck that will track him. But El offers to get it out of him instead of just bolting to save herself. This is why we all love El.
As the Demogorgon is released, Murray springs his trap, pulling a gun on the Russian guard. Hopper has trouble lighting his torch but finally it lights and he holds the monster at bay. The Demogorgon kills most of the other prisoners while Murray tries to open the gates for Hopper to escape. As he gets out of the cell, Joyce is there waiting for him. It’s an incredibly touching moment but you can tell Hopper was completely taken aback. She was the last person he was expecting to see on the other side of that door.
When the Upside Down gang arrives at Eddie’s house they find the gate in the ceiling. Something punches through the gate and let me tell you, Jake Schoeneberger nearly had a coronary it was so scary. But luckily it was Dustin and the gang in this world opening the gate for them. They look up at each other and of course they each appear upside down to one another. Robin pretty much sums the moment up perfectly when she says, “This is so trippy.” Looks like they’re getting out unscathed and that’s a huge sigh of relief.
El is able to remove the Soteria chip from the orderly’s neck and they attempt to escape. But they’re stopped by some MPs and the orderly uses telekinesis to incapacitate them. It turns out the orderly has been Number One all along.
Dustin sends a rope made of sheets into the gate for the gang to climb out with. Robin and Eddie are able to climb out into our world, but when Nancy tries to climb out Vecna invades her mind and keeps her trapped in the Upside Down. He shows her images of poor Barb’s death.
Meanwhile in the Nina, El realizes that it was One who actually massacred all the other children, not her. It makes much more sense this way; it was hard to imagine El having that in her.
Nancy is fully in Vecna’s trance and trapped in his world. In the visions, Vecna shows Nancy that One is actually Creel’s son. And simultaneously in the Nina, One is telling El about his experience and his thoughts. He was the one who tortured the animals, the one who killed his mother and sister. After those murders, Brenner took control of him. But realizing his powers were too strong, Brenner used the Soteria to hold One’s powers back. El now knows One tricked her and they battle.
Just as One has El in his grasp she sees her mother in her visions and finds her power. She throws One back into the wall, seems he completely underestimated her strength. While pinned to the wall, she tears him apart sending him to the Upside Down where he becomes Vecna.
And that ends the first half of season four. It’s safe to say Jacob Schoeneberger has some mixed emotions about this first half of the season. While I liked the adventures the Hawkins team had, I feel weird about Mike, El, Will, and Jonathan being separated from the group. And I have to admit, the whole Hopper, Joyce, Murray plotline seems out of place.
I mean, Murray becoming some sort of supersoldier and singlehandedly saving Hop from a Russian prison? I started watching this series because it was about a tight-knit group of likable, relatable kids in a small town battling evil. Now the kids are spread out to the wind and we’re watching Murray karate chop Russian guards. What is going on here? I realize the show needs to grow and keep expanding the issues the characters have to face, but it seems to be stretching beyond the point of believability and, what’s worse, likability for me.
Jacob Schoeneberger hopes the plotlines simplify a bit and bring the characters home to Hawkins for the conclusion not just of this season, but the series in general. Somehow, Jacob Schoeneberger doubts that will be the case. It will probably grow and grow but that seems to go against the whole point of the show to me.
More Thoughts from Jacob Schoeneberger