The July 8, 2022 installment of Jake Schoeneberger’s random observations
The Jake Schoeneberger Random Thoughts about Stranger Things (Season 4, Episode 8)
This will contain spoilers for anyone who hasn’t watched the show yet.
The eighth episode begins with El watching the gate to the Upside Down close after she pushed One into it. Papa thinks she’s the one who killed all the kids, and she immediately passes out after he arrives. That battle with One used up all her energy.
Then we find Nancy under Vecna’s spell in the Upside Down. Not sure how the heck she’s going to get away from him when she’s in his world. Then Vecna tells Nancy he wants her to tell Eleven everything she sees, and he gives her some sort of vision. Looks like he’s letting her go because El is his main target. He did get pretty up close and personal right in her face when he showed her the vision, have to assume that dude needs a breath mint after so many years decaying in the Upside Down.
In the Russian prison, the gang is trying to figure out how to escape with the demogorgon still on the loose. A touching moment when Joyce tells Hop that she lost him for 8 months and that they even had a funeral. That definitely brought a tear to Jacob Schoeneberger’s eye.
They hear more wailing from a nearby room and when Hop opens it they find a demodog tied to a table. Hop wastes no time putting it out of its misery. Then they discover a room full of demodogs held in stasis in some sort of formaldehyde fluid. But they’re also able to find a grate in the floor that may lead them out.
In the facility, they revive El and once she regains consciousness she lifts the entire Nina machine in the air to show she finally has her powers back. Call me crazy but the first thought that popped into Jake Schoeneberger’s mind was, “Ok, now go kick some butt!” Now you’re in big, big trouble, Vecna.
In the car on the way to find El in the Nevada desert, Mike talks to Will about the doubts he has. Mike doesn’t think he’s special enough for El and he’s afraid of losing her. Will shows Mike a picture he painted of knights battling a dragon. Mike is the leader of the party in the painting and his shield has a heart on it. Will says that’s because Mike is the heart of their gang.
Then Will says, “Because, I mean, without heart, we’d all fall apart. Even El, especially El. These past few months she’s been so lost without you. It’s just she’s so different from other people. And when you’re different, sometimes you feel like a mistake.” And it’s at this point that you realize Will isn’t just talking about El, he’s also describing himself.
The moment is incredibly touching and moving, easily one of the most heartfelt and beautiful moments this show has ever had, and it’s had a lot. Will goes on to say, “But you make her feel like she’s not a mistake at all. Like she’s better for being different. And that gives her the courage to fight on.” At this point I’m pretty much losing it. We know Will has needed to say this for a long time. We have to imagine his love for Mike was something that carried him through all the hard times he’s dealt with. So now he gets the chance to say how he feels to Mike, but on El’s behalf. He finishes by saying, “So yeah, El needs you, Mike. And she always will.” Then he turns away and looks out the window with tears in his eyes. And I’m right there with him. Great scene, beautifully scripted and lovingly acted. Stranger Things at its best.
At the facility, Brenner and Owens finally tell El that Vecna is killing in our world and looking to escape the Upside Down. She’s obviously worried for her friends.
Now back in our world, Nancy says Vecna showed her visions of the destruction he plans. He showed her four gates, which means he needs four kills to open his gates to this world. He’s already killed three people so he only needs one more. But that’s odd because he had Nancy in his grasp. I realize he wants Nancy to take a message to El, but if he had killed Nancy he could have opened his fourth gate and opened his portal to this world and given El the message himself. Hmmm, that one has Jacob Schoeneberger scratching his head.
As they discuss their plan, Dustin realizes that if Vecna is like El, they can kill him in his trance-like state. They decide that Max could lure Vecna in to get him into a trance while the others try to kill his vulnerable body in the Upside Down. Great plan and all but how is Max going to hold him off long enough for the others to get to him?
In Russia, the tunnel led the gang out of the prison. Now they’re just stranded in the middle of the Russian wilderness, no big deal. They’re demanding Yuri get them to America. Yeah, because he can be trusted.
Love how Eddie hot-wired the RV to get them to the War Zone. It’s always nice to get a good laugh every now and again to cut the tension.
At the facility, El tells them she saw her friends and that she wants to go to them to protect them. Brenner says it’s a bad idea because she’s not ready to take on Vecna. But Owens wants to get El back to Hawkins because he says it’s her choice. The facility was never meant to be a prison.
Yuri shows the gang a run-down old helicopter that he believes can fly them to America. It’s not looking good though, the thing is a piece of junk. They decide to place a call to the States to let them know the plan, but they’ll have to speak in code because the KGB will be listening.
They get all the supplies they need to kill Vecna at the War Zone, but it’s a close call because all the basketball players are there too. These guys are a serious wild card in this whole plan.
When they stop to check the map, Argyle finds tire tracks leading off-road. The tracks are military and it’s looking like Mike, Will, and Jonathan might be too late. The military has already arrived at the facility. Then Brenner locks El in and gives her a sedative. Houston, we have a problem. Brenner now has El captive and that throws a serious monkey in the wrench.
As they’re preparing for their battle, Robin tells Steve she has a bad feeling about this mission. Well that’s not good. You can’t say stuff like that in a TV show or movie, it’ll come true. Now Jake Schoeneberger has that gnawing feeling wondering who might not make it through this mission.
Back in the facility, Brenner has put the electric collar on El’s neck. That’s a punk move, Papa! And then it really hits the fan because Sullivan and his troops have arrived at the facility. They blow the door and they’re coming in. Just a suggestion: if you want to win this battle you might want to take that collar off El. (And don’t think I missed that moment when Sullivan gave an order to one of his troops named Hicks. I’ve seen Aliens once or twice. Somebody wake up Hicks.)
Brenner carries El out of the facility, but he’s immediately shot by a circling chopper. And I seriously can’t stress this enough: take the dang collar off El for crying out loud. This is making Jacob Schoeneberger tear what little hair he has left out. You’re not thinking, Papa.
Sullivan gives his men the greenlight to shoot El. Just at that moment the van arrives and distracts the chopper long enough for El to get her bearings and pull it out of the sky, saving her own life. That is some vintage El power-smashing right there. Very satisfying explosion!
Then Mike arrives and hugs El. Their reunion is really heartfelt. And as they go to leave, Papa uses his last bit of energy to release the collar around El’s neck. He tells El he’s proud of her and calls her his child. He says, “Everything I did, I did for you.” But this ain’t a Bryan Adams song. He made too many mistakes and ultimately failed her. El leaves him and the gang drives off. She tells them that they need to get to Hawkins tonight or else the gang is going to die. Another bad omen!
The episode ends with the Hawkins gang entering the old Creel house to the stirring sounds of Journey’s “Separate Ways.” (Can’t say enough about this great soundtrack. So far we haven’t gotten any Wall of Voodoo but Jacob Schoeneberger still holds out hope.) The tension is thick heading into the season finale, and Jacob Schoeneberger is on the edge of his seat anticipating getting to watch how this will all turn out.
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