Netflix and Matt and Ross Duffer‘s fourth season of Stranger Things kicked off with a bang. The entire first episode knocked our Hellfire Club socks off, and we aren’t losing steam. In the second episode, “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse,” Mike (Finn Wolfhard) lands in California for spring break with El (Millie Bobby Brown). At the same time, Hawkins is terrorized by a new mysterious killer. Can the Scoop’s Troop plus Max (Sadie Sink) help Eddie (Joseph Quinn)? Let’s get this show on the road!

DISCLAIMER: This is a recap and, by definition, contains spoilers. More spoilers than times Will (Noah Schnapp) will ask to play D&D. So; we highly suggest checking out season four first and then coming back and catching up with our recaps!

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“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” opening scene answers the question that has been on everyone’s mind these last few years – how did Hopper (David Harbour) survive. It turns out that when Joyce (Winona Ryder) turned the keys, he rushed off the platform and fell below, essentially missing the blast that closed off the portal to the Upside Down.

Don’t you just love the opening theme for Stranger Things? Seriously, this thing never gets old.

After the opening, we see Max awake the next day to what we assume is a nightmare and another migraine. She downs some medicine before hearing sirens and cop cars flying up to Eddie’s house. His van is gone, but it turns out that his uncle Wayne (Joel Stoffer) found Chrissy’s (Grace Van Dien) body. Max sneaks over and catches a glance before the police can push her away. But viewers get to see the full damage of what that thing caused.

While police comb the scene and photograph evidence, Chief Powell (Rob Morgan), who took over the job after Hopper’s “death,” reaches out to a man named Frank, asking for assistance. It seems even he doesn’t know how to deal with what is going on in Hawkins. While he is chatting, the government is listening to his conversation. Is this a case of the government always watching? Or are they keeping close eyes on Hawkins because of El and everything else that has happened?

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” jumps to California, where El, Will, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) are waiting for Mike’s plane to land. We get the El and Mike reunion we have been expecting and a rather odd bro-hug between Mike and Will. Mike is eager to meet El’s friends, but she has plans for them to spend the entire day together – alone. It seems like she isn’t ready to open up about being bullied. Instead, they set off for burritos for breakfast and a day at the skating rink. On their way out, we spot Murray (Brett Gelman) hopping into a taxi and heading to Joyce’s house.

Back in Hawkins, Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery) are hanging out at work, a place to rent movies. I know; who knew those existed, right. Me. I knew. Pretty sure I might owe late fees still. Anywho, Robin is filling Steve in on her night with Vickie (Amybeth McNulty) and how she is having a bit of word vomit when talking to her. If only the two could combine into one. Robin knows what she wants, and Steve has the charm to go out and get it. Tragic love. Robin settles on their morning movie, Doctor Zhivago, but the news catches her eye before she can start it. They are covering Chrissy’s death, though they only refer to her as a Hawkin’s High student.

Steve and Robin chatting together at work about the game the night before.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

Elsewhere in Hawkins, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is puking up his guts after a night of partying with the basketball team. The other guys are catching up on the news, where they are discussing the murder. It turns out that Chrissy bailed on Jason (Mason Dye) the night before. Eventually, the cops show up. They aren’t the only ones watching the news; Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and everyone at the paper is getting caught up on the night’s events. Nancy has a short flashback to Barb’s (Shannon Purser) death from season one before deciding to head out to the scene with Fred (Logan Riley Bruner) in tow.

The scene shifts to the trailer park, but the scene is upside down as the camera pans in. It is a great nod. Over at Dustin’s (Gaten Matarazzo) house, Max shows up and fills him in on everything she knows. During the events, she caught Eddie rushing out of the trailer in a panic. He looked terrified. Dustin stands firm on his idea that Eddie is innocent in this case, and they decide they need to find him to protect him and get the whole story.

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” skips back over to California, where Murray has finally arrived at Joyce’s. He reads the note and reacts just like Murray would – no trust in this man, and we love it. Joyce knows that Hop is alive and that he trusted whoever wrote it enough to tell him about the date at Enzo’s that they had planned. Murray reminds Joyce that they know Hop died. But Joyce subscribes to the same idea we do – no body means no death. Murray shares his theory but decides that he will indulge her fantasy, but they are doing it his way.

We jump into the past and pick up after Hooper fell off the platform. He has successfully climbed back up, only to be picked up by Russians. He is knocked out, beaten, suffocated and subjected to other terrible things but never once gives up who Joyce is. Hopper is a good man and would rather die than let them hurt Joyce.

Back in the present time, Argyle and Jonathan drop the kids off at the skating rink. It is all fun, games and loud music. Mike asks El if she goes there all the time. Will says no, but El cuts her off. When the two have a moment alone, Will asks El why she is lying to Mike about everything. Will tells her that when Mike finds out the truth, he will be mad about her lying. The day goes on, and poor Will is rocking the third wheel spot. While they are skating, Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin) and her terrible group of friends arrive and spot them. We smell trouble.

Back in Hawkin’s, Jason is being questioned by the cops while the rest of the team hides outside. The cops let on that Chrissy is the one killed and try to see if he will confess. But he didn’t see her last night and was even more surprised that she was with Eddie. She didn’t do drugs and would have no reason to go to his place. Jason rushes out, ignoring everyone, and heads straight into the woods, where he finally gives himself a moment to lose it.

Jason being questioned by the police about where he was when Chrissy was murdered.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” returns to Dustin and Max, who have just arrived at Steve and Robin’s work. Since they have three phones, the video store will be the base of operations. They are going to call all of Eddie’s friends to try and find him. Steve and Robin try to kick them out, but Max fills them in on what happened.

On the way to the trailer park, Nancy and Fred discuss the current situation with Jonathan. She finally opens up that something is going on and that he is acting weird, but she isn’t looking to talk about it. She shuts him down and focuses on the case at hand. Nancy lies to the police officer to get through the barricade, and while they are talking, Fred has a vision. More like a nightmare. It turns out that he killed someone last year in a wreck, and now it looks like Vecna is after him. Nancy eventually snaps him out of it, but it’s unsettling nonetheless.

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Back in California, Jonathan and Argyle are playing golf in the desert. Jonathan finally opens up about what is going on with Nancy. He isn’t leaving California to go away to college because he can’t leave his mom and brother behind. But he won’t tell that to Nancy because he knows that she will give up her whole life and dreams to follow him. Jonathan doesn’t want her to do that because he is afraid she will eventually hate him over it. Argyle tells him the answer to all his problems is palm tree delight.

At the skating rink, things are going great with El, Mike and Will. They are sharing milkshakes when Angela and her friends pop in. They drag El out onto the floor and torment her. It’s terrible. Will finally breaks the news to Mike that El has been lying and that El is having problems in California. But before he can do anything, the torment gets worse. I don’t think I will be able to listen to “Wipe Out” ever again without associating it with this scene. Mike finally gets the DJ to stop the music, and one of the guys throws El’s milkshake all over her. The entire crowd is laughing at her, and she makes a run for it as Mike tries to catch up.

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” jumps to Joyce’s house, where Murray has set up his little command station. They essentially VPN to somewhere on the other side of the country, and Joyce makes the call. The guy, who goes by “Enzo” (Tom Wlaschiha), wants $40,000 and, in return, will make sure that Hopper returns. He can’t prove that Hopper is alive since he is stuck. But as long as she brings the money to Alaska, he will make sure that Hopper is unstuck.

Murray and Joyce talking to "Enzo" about Hopper and the ransom.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

We jump back to Hopper in the past after all the torture. He is still alive, so the Russians decide to send him to the Motherland. This must be how he eventually makes it to Russia and where we spot him in the trailer.

Back in Hawkins, Lt. Colonel Sullivan (Sherman Augustus) arrives. While he is being briefed on Chrissy’s murder, Jason gets the guys ready to head out to find Eddie. Lucas tries to get them to understand that Hellfire isn’t a cult and tries to explain Dungeons and Dragons, but the guys won’t listen. When they ask how he knows all about it, Lucas blames it on Erica (Priah Ferguson) and that she plays.

While they get hyped for the hunt, Dustin and the others are making calls to try and find him. Max is given the name of “Reefer Rick,” but they aren’t sure where to find them. Steve tells them they should go to the cops with this information and isn’t entirely on board with Eddie being innocent. Robin uses the store’s database to find their guy. It turns out that Rick likes Cheech and Chong films. They get the address and head out to see if Eddie is hiding there.

Across town, Nancy is trying to talk with neighbors but keeps getting shot down. She eventually spots Eddie’s uncle and tells Fred to hang tight while she goes to chat with him. He isn’t willing to chat with her at first, but Nancy breaks down his barriers and just wants to tell their side of the story. Wayne explains that he thinks all of this trouble in Hawkins is connected to Victor Creel (Robert Englund).

While their conversation is going on, Fred starts to hear a clock ticking. He heads off into the woods, following the sounds. Wayne tells Nancy all about Creel and how Chrissy’s murder is so similar to the ones he committed years ago. In the woods, Fred spots a clock that looks almost like a coffin. Finally, Nancy realizes that Fred has disappeared and steps away to try and find him. She calls out to him, but he doesn’t answer. In the woods, Fred is staring at the clock when a group of people dressed in black appears behind him. They chant “murderer” at him, and he goes running through the woods.

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” returns to Hopper, who is getting his head shaved and hosed down in preparation for his stay in the Motherland. The guard warns him and the other men that running away is worthless. They will be found, and there are no second chances. Back at Joyce’s, they are relistening to the call. We are pretty sure where Hopper is stuck, but they are still trying to work that out. They can hear a woman in the background, but it’s too low.

Hopper getting his head shaved at the Russian Prison.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

The following few scenes bounce back and forth between Joyce and Murray in California and Hopper in Russia. Murray translates what the woman is saying and realizes that she refers to the man on the phone as a pig. He must be a guard, and when “Enzo” says that Hopper is “stuck,” he must mean that he is in prison. We see “Enzo” back in Russia outside of Hopper’s cell. It seems that this is the guard that Hopper got to help him get a message to Joyce. Now that they have a better idea, Joyce is ready to do what she needs to get Hopper back.

At the skating rink, Mike and Will are searching for El. The two are arguing about how Will has been treating El the entire day. Will is angry that she has been lying and that he has been playing the third wheel on their date. Will finally lets Mike know that he isn’t happy about the direction their friendship has gone. They barely talk these days. Mike isn’t interested in fighting and just wants to find El. She is hiding away in a storage room when she overhears the group laughing over the video they recorded of her.

She rushes out to try and get Angela to apologize and tell Mike that this was all a joke and that they are friends. Angela isn’t going to do any of that and then makes a smart remark about El not being able to cry to her daddy. This sets El off, and she grabs a skate and hits Angela in the face with it. Mike and Will rush over as the crowd watches over, and Mike demands to know what happens. It reminds her of when Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) asks her the same thing.

“Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” returns to Hawkins as Robin, Steve, Dustin, and Max arrive at Reefer Rick’s house. It almost seems like no one is home, but they spot the lake’s shed. After poking around inside, Eddie jumps out and threatens Steve. They get him to calm down and ask that he explain everything that happens. Back at the trailer park, Nancy continues to look for Fred. It looks like it’s been hours, and she finally goes to the cops. They start looking for him, and we spot him in the woods running. He eventually hits the road where a car is in flames.

At Reefer Rick’s, Eddie goes into detail about what happened to Chrissy. He doesn’t think they believe him, but they do. They even explain everything that has been going around in Hawkins for the last few years. If he needed anyone on his side here, it’s them. While Dustin goes into what has been happening, we see Fred walk closer and closer to the car. He is eventually pushed into a grave.

Vecna eventually finds Fred, and we watch as he suffers like Chrissy. Dustin and the others realize that what is happening is more like a curse. And thus, the idea that this new creature from the Upside Down is similar to Vecna from Dungeons & Dragons, thus giving us a name for the terrible creature. But what he wants and why he is killing people is still up for debate. The episode draws close as we realize that Vecna is tied to Creel House.

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I didn’t think Stranger Things could surprise me, and then it gave us this. My heart goes out to El. Unfortunately, I know what it was like to be on the rough end of bullying. Never to the extent that El faces, but it’s easy to feel empathy for what she is going through. On top of that, she struggles with her relationship with Mike and tries to hide all the hurt she is going through. Speaking of struggling relationships, clearly, something is going on between Will and Mike. More than just two best friends fighting.

And speaking of major trouble. Hawkins. That poor town can’t seem to get over all its trouble. Now we have to worry about Vecna sneaking up and snatching people while also worrying about the entire town learning about Eddie’s connection to Chrissy’s murder. And now Fred is dead! Things are about to get really stressful, and we are only two episodes in. Let’s hope that the Hawkins group is ready for the challenge without El, Mike, Will and Jonathan.

What are you still doing here? We’ve got a Vecna to catch! Let’s jump right into episode three!

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Julia Roth
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