Stranger Things: Season 4 Episodes 5-6 breakdown
Mahnoor Imam continues her breakdown of Stranger Things with episodes 5-6.
Welcome back to the third Stranger Things recap as we dive into the season’s thrilling, intense Chapters Five and Six.
Chapter Five: The Nina Project
Episode five jumps straight into the action, picking up where we left off in California. Mike, Will, Jonathan, and an injured Harmon have successfully escaped, Argyle having come to the rescue. But, with nowhere to turn, Harmon gives out one final clue with his dying breath: the name ‘Nina’ and his agent pen. Later in the desert, the gang buries his body, trying desperately not to freak out.
Will and Mike exchange an awkward glance while attempting to reconnect––as if they want to say something but cannot find the words. Eventually, Will mentions the fear of opening up to people, hinting again at the secret painting he clutches too harshly.
Wondering what number Agent Harmon tried to give them, the gang try to understand the ink-less pen’s significance—unscrewing it to find a tiny piece of paper with a computer phone number. And with the only hacker they know in Salt Lake City, they travel to season three’s ultimate unsung hero: Dustin’s girlfriend, Suzie.
Resuming the Russian storyline, the prison guards locate Hopper after his failed prison escape. Hopper shares a heart-to-heart with new friend and former colluding guard, Enzo, giving insight into his US military past and the horrors of using unsafe chemical warfare such as Agent Orange. Their conversation eventually provides viewers with Hopper’s previous life with ex-wife Diane and their late daughter, Sara. Hopper then reveals that even though feeling needed by El and Joyce when came into his life, he soon realised how much he depended on them. Despite the scene’s initial tenderness, after hearing a sinister growl from the prison’s depths, Hopper and Enzo return to the reality of their situation, the rumoured monster.
One easter egg super-fans such as I missed is the show’s infamous grandfather clock appears in episodes as far back as Season Two
Joyce and Murray work together to defeat Yuri, leading to my favourite episode moment when Murray uses his black-belt skills. “My fingers are like arrows! My arms like iron, my feet like spears!”. From the semi-annoying conspiracist to the action star for all things Russian, it is safe to say Murray has had a brilliant character development over the show’s last two seasons.
Back in Hawkins, the team try to understand the Upside Down better. With Nancy piecing together Max’s seemingly unrelated drawings of her experience, revealing the heart of Vecna’s storyline: Victor Creel’s creepy house––a development leading the gang to break in and search for clues. Among their first discoveries after splitting into pairs is the infamous grandfather clock.
One easter egg super-fans such as I missed is the show’s infamous grandfather clock appears in episodes as far back as Season Two. For example, in episode four, when Hopper discovers the underground portal to the Upside Down, distinct yet subtle gongs of a clock can be heard in the background––a reveal corroborating the time travel theory many viewers suggest. The motif of time appears throughout the show. Its most prominent allusion appears during Vecna/001’s villainous monologue in this season’s last few moments when we see young Henry Creel turn back the clock’s hands with his powers.
El faces an unhappy reunion with Dr Brenner, hoping to restore her supernatural abilities. First, eleven enter a confusingly large machine Brenner calls Nina before waking up in a remembered version of Hawkins Lab. Then, upon entering the lab’s playroom, a creepy yet friendly new orderly. He welcomes her, repeating the following each time she enters the room. “Well, well, well. Look who finally decided to join us. Someone’s a sleepyhead this morning.”
The scene then cuts to El floating in the same “Nina” pod. Drs Brenner and Owens monitor her from an adjacent room. One hopes they share the same goal, that the process will help Eleven accept and overcome her repressed, traumatic memories––revealing, in turn, the truth behind Vecna’s origins and the apparent war coming to Hawkins.
Nearing the episode’s end, Eleven breaks free from her visions and makes for the exit. Guards catch up and hold her down. However, in an explosive moment, she screams and throws them against the surrounding walls. She stands and faces Brenner, who, stretching out his hand, implores her to stay. Eleven takes his hands, knowing she needs all the help she can get if she is to regain her power’s full potential and stand a chance against Vecna. They return to the lab as the screen fades to black.
Chapter Six: The Dive
The penultimate Volume One episode begins with Hopper and his fellow inmates tucking into a meal oddly provided by the prison. Pocketing a bottle of vodka, Hopper figures to his group that the meal is their last, plumping them in readiness to be a meal for their opponent, the deadly Demogorgon rumoured earlier.
Hopper and Enzo fight in front of the guards and get dragged back to their cell, where Hopper reveals the lighter and the Demogorgon’s one true weakness: fire. Along with the small bottle of vodka, they perhaps stand a chance at survival.
Having crashed nearby and tied Yuri to a tree, Joyce and Murray discuss plans to sneak into the prison where Hopper is being held captive. Murray will disguise himself as Yuri, bring in the “intended” prisoners and hopefully, if all goes well, rescue and reunite with Hopper.
Meanwhile, Jonathan, Argyle, Will and Mike arrive at Suzie’s house, seemingly run by children that behave like animals. Among the chaos, they encounter Eden, a teenage girl played by newcomer Audrey Holcomb, with whom Argyle feels instant infatuation. Eden directs the group to Suzie, who, tracing the coordinates found in Harmon’s pen, determines El’s whereabouts: the Nina Project’s desert bunker.
El uses “Nina” (a sensory deprivation tank) to enter and relive her repressed memories; this she and Brenner hope will restore her powers. Having returned to the Hawkins lab, El befriends the new orderly, who reveals the strange woman wanting to visit El was her mother: a memory filled with enough anger to invoke the full strength of her powers. Later, in a mentally challenging training session, El defeats Number Two.
Back in Hawkins, Jason Carver and the rest of his basketball team brand Eddie as Chrissy’s killer, convincing the town that the Hellfire Club is a satanic cult. Eddie hides by Skull Rock, where the Hawkins gang finds and s with him. Dustin theorises his seemingly broken compass is affected by the electromagnetic field of another gate to the Upside Down.
Following the compass leads them to Lovers Lake, where Nancy, Eddie, Robin and Steve row out to the source. Putting himself forward, Steve swims down to the lake floor. After finding and regrettably touching the gate (this, unbeknownst to him, triggered a tentacle from the Upside Down to break through), Steve returns to the surface to confirm Dustin’s Watergate theory. However, in what must be a callback to Jaws’ iconic opening, Steve is pulled under and propelled through the gate.
With his fate left undecided, the show leaves viewers dreading one question: Will Steve survive, or could this be the end of an original?
Without thinking, Nancy dives in after him, followed by a determined Robin and reluctant Eddie. Cutting back, we find Steve alone and soon to be assailed by a colony of Demobats. Three fly down, the first whips its tail around Steve’s neck, strangling and pulling him to the ground, while the other two land by his stomach and gnaw at his flesh.
Despite his desperate attempts to fend them off, the show’s frequent hero seems to have met his match. And with no friends in sight, the show ends with a distressing overhead shot of Steve, defenceless, seriously wounded, and crying out in pain. With his fate left undecided, the show leaves viewers dreading one question: Will Steve survive, or could this be the end of an original?
A shocking end to an otherwise action-packed episode. Join me next week for a breakdown of the incredible mid-season finale.