Chapter Eight: Papa
Nancy and the gang
Episode 8 of Stranger Things Season 4 starts with Nancy experiencing frightening visions. It’s Vecna, he’s got into her head and she finds herself walking through the bloodied hallways of Hawkins lab.
Vecna catches up with Nancy and pins her down. “I want you to tell Eleven everything you see.” He rasps, and with that, a barrage of memories filter through and she’s let go, back into Steve’s arms.
Nancy’s visions include a dark cloud descending over Hawkins and a giant creature with a gaping mouth alongside an army of other monsters coming into Hawkins. This is an ominous, foreshadowing glimpse of what’s to pass should Vecna be successful in his endeavour.
Not only that, but she mentions how there are Four Gates – one for each kill. This harks back to the motif of four chimes for Vecna’s clock. He’s been teasing his plan this whole time and the group realize they need to stop whomever is the victim.
Up in Russia, the Demogorgon is still on the rampage. Joyce helps patch up Hopper and tells him he’s the hero of Hawkins, especially if the turn-out from his funeral is anything to go by. The thing is, the Demogorgon can actually climb and that spells big trouble. It climbs up the balconies and kills all the Russian soldiers inside the prison, shrugging off a barrage of bullets.
Hopper hears shrill screaming and notices that there’s a Demodog in the lab, seemingly having been experimented on, and strapped tight to a stretcher. After putting it out its misery, Hopper heads deeper into the lab and notices numerous other creatures in separate chambers. There’s even a separate cell holding those same strange, swirling particles from before.
The gang are interrupted by Antonov, whose seemingly found a way out the prison. There’s a vent leading down and out the prison. Scrambling into a van, they hurry away, slamming through the gates and trying desperately to find a plane of some sort to make it to the States. In order to do that, they ned to use Yuri once more, despite him being incredibly untrustworthy.
Well it turns out Yuri does have a way out… but it’s a helicopter called Katinka. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any good so it’s back to the drawing board. Joyce decides to use Owens’ contacts to bring in some outside help to extract them.
In the lab, Eleven is brought back from the brink. In doing so, her powers have returned, bigger and badder than before. However, she’s still suffering from nosebleeds. Brenner admits to her that he’s always had an inkling that Henry is out there but now they know for sure.
Brenner warns El that Henry is putting cracks in the dam (the metaphor for this world and Vecna’s). If that happens, Hawkins will fall.
Eleven is adamant she needs to help her friends and prevent that from happening. Using her powers, she projects herself over to the gang of Nancy and the others, who discuss what their plan is going to be to take out Vecna. Max decides to ditch Kate Bush and instead of running up that hill, she’ll allow him to run toward her, using herself as bait.
Just outside Hawkins, there’s a store called the “Warzone”, which sells loads of guns. They intend to load themselves up before the big fight.
Hotwiring a van, they head out. When they do, El speaks to Brenner, who warns about how dangerous Vecna is and how her friends are walking into a trap. He doesn’t think El should be acting rashly right now but Owens takes Eleven’s side, deciding El should be making her own decision. And if she wants to go then that’s up to her.
Brenner’s true goal
Unfortunately, Brenner uses his powers to keep her in the lab, stopping Owens and claiming that there’s only one way out of this. Brenner wants to go with Eleven to Hawkins but only when the time is right. El is not so sure. She knows not to trust Brenner and believes he’s using her to search through the darkness to look for Henry.
This revelation explains all the experiments, with Brenner intending to use Eleven to open up a gateway to bring him back. “You are the monster.” El rasps, promising to kill him if he tries to stop her. Unfortunately, she turns her back to him and Brenner injects a sedative into her neck. knocking her out.
When El awakens, she finds herself in her room with a shackle around her neck. Alarms wail overhead as Brenner learns from his subordinates that Sullivan and the other military personnel have found them.
Driving to various destinations
Elsewhere, Jonathan, Mike, Will and Argyle drive out to the coordinates Suzie gave them for the lab. On the way, Mike starts to falter but Will shows off a drawing of a three-headed dragon being fought against by the boys.
Leading the charge is Mike, complete with a heart on his shield signifying the group being kept together by the fact he’s always been the heart of the group. Although Will mentions how El will “always need her”, it’s clear he’s actually projecting his own feelings. As he turns toward the window, he tries in vain to hold back his tears.
On the road, Lucas speaks to Max and decides they should investigate who Vecna’s next victim will be. Max shoots down that idea completely, claiming it’s not going to work. Instead, they’re going to go ahead with their initial plan, which involves her fighting Vecna and “running toward the light”. If that goes awry, there’s always Kate Bush to fall back on!
At Warzone, the gang show up and begin grabbing as many guns as they can. They trouble is, the basketball bullies are all there too and things quickly go sour when Nancy and the others realize they’re surrounded. Jason confronts Nancy and asks about Hellfire but she manages to escape his grasp, as the gang race off into their van and back to Hawkins.
Following the trail
Meanwhile, Mike and the gang head out to the coordinates and notice tyre tracks leading into the wilderness. And not just any tyre tracks, “fatties”, which indicates military personnel. So off they go, on the hunt., intending to track them down.
As we know, they’re actually at Hawkins Lab and they blow the front door off and break into the compound. The soldiers in the basement attempt to hold their ground but the army have riot shields and far stronger firepower.
While they fight, Brenner scoops up Eleven and takes off. Unfortunately, Owens is left handcuffed to the wall – just in time for Sullivan to show up and begin interrogating her.
Outside, a helicopter shows up and the sniper onboard shoots him in the leg and the back. As he bleeds out, Eleven is left shackled on the floor. Unfortunately the sniper turns his attention to El next.
Owens interjects and decides they should put El in a medically induced coma to prove his theory that Eleven is not the killer and that there’s a far stronger supernatural entity at play. Sullivan doesn’t listen and lets the sniper take the shot.
Just before he fires, Jonathan and the others drive up and honk their horn, distracting the soldiers long enough for El to stand up and use her powers, even with the neck brace ON. She turns the helicopter around and eventually slams it into the ground, standing in front of the massive inferno that engulfs the metal.
Jonathan and the others arrive, Brenner unlocks Eleven’s collar in his final act before he passes away, while Mike and Will reunite with their old friend. They soon race off before Sullivan can stop them, desperate to get to Hawkins. Despite it being over 2000 miles away, Eleven warns that everyone is going to die if they don’t get there quickly.
As the episode closes out, we get a tense final montage as our Hawkins kids band together and prepare to fight Vecna. But are they waling into a trap?
The Episode Review
Learning that Brenner’s plans through all of this happens to be a result of trying to find Henry is a great way of contextualizing the doctor’s motivations through all of this and why he’s experimented on El for so long. It’s a really smart move, especially with those flashbacks to boot, and it helps to show just how far this guy is willing to go to get his “family” back.
This is a dark chapter overall, with many threads running through this as we prepare for the end-game. That final episode should be quite the doozy, with an epic 2.5 hour run-time and, presumably, the final fight with Vecna to come.
We already know there’s going to be a fifth season and I’d imagine we’ll see the end of Vecna this time and the fight turning toward the Mind Flayer to finish off the season. It would also appear at this point that someone is going to die, but who could it be? Will everyone make it out of this unscathed? It seems unlikely at this point.
That final montage was goosebump-inducing too, with the perfect music choice as they enter Vecna’s house and prepare for this final fight. This should be one heck of a finale!
You can read our full season review for Stranger Things Season 4 here!