A curse has befallen Hawkins in season four of Stranger Things, and it doesn’t look like it’s getting better. Netflix, Matt and Ross Duffer –  if those kids suffer, I will never forgive you. The first two episodes have been terrifying but good, and episode three, “Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero,” continues to wow us. We watch as Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) head off to Alaska in hopes of saving Hopper (David Harbour) while El (Millie Bobby Brown) faces the consequences of her actions. Time to get this show on the road – let’s dive in!

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 Three: The Monster and the Superhero” opens as a helicopter lands outside of the home of Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) in Ruth, Nevada. It seems Lt. Col. Sullivan (Sherman Augustus) thinks he knows where El is being kept and that she is the one behind the murders in Hawkins. Dr. Sam denies any connection to El and goes as far as claiming that she is dead. The Colonel doesn’t believe him and orders his men to ransack the house and take everything they can and figure out exactly what Sam has been up to over the past year.

Here at GGA, we don’t skip intros. You shouldn’t, either. Hopper would be very disappointed in you.

The episode picks back up at the skating rink in California. El waits with Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will while the EMTs look over Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin). Everyone is looking on, and we can hear the murmurs going through the crowd. On the way home, Argyle (Eduardo Franco) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) try to make her feel better. They might not have helped, but they sure were funny. Blip, blip, blip, blip.

When they return home, Murray and Joyce lie about why he is there. They then go on and lie about a work conference that she has. Joyce should be thankful that Jonathan is high at the moment because her lies are terrible. The topic of El’s attack against Angela comes up, but they never actually call her out. When Argyle and Jonathan say that Angela is going to be fine, Mike pipes up that she didn’t look fine, which sends El running off to her room.

Mike’s reaction to what happened brings up memories that she can’t quite place of Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) and the attack we saw in episode one. In the Upside Down, Vecna seems to be getting stronger, like he is feeding off of something. Her sadness? Her despair? Maybe nothing connected to her at all.

Vecna connected to tentacles within the Upside Down.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” shifts to Hawkins as Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) awakes to Jason (Mason Dye) and the other basketball games preparing to head out to find Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). They don’t want to hurt him, just get him to confess to killing Chrissy (Grace Van Dien). They give him to chance to step away, but Lucas decides to stick it out and go with them.

We jump to Reefer Rick’s, where Eddie is anything but calm. Even the arrival of Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Max (Sadie Sink), Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) gets him freaking out. But they brought food, so all is forgiven. The bad news for Eddie is that the police are on the hunt for him in connection to Chrissy’s murder. The good news is that Eddie’s name isn’t public yet. But, like Robin so elegantly puts it, everyone will be after him once others find out.

Eddie isn’t too convinced they can help him, but they have been here before. Things are a bit rough at the moment since they don’t have El and her superpowers, but they are working on stuff. Eventually, they hear police sirens, but they go right past. We shift again to where Fred (Logan Riley Bruner) died at the end of the last episode.

The police are questioning Nancy (Natalia Dyer) about what happened. She asks if they looked into Victor Creel (Robert Englund), but they won’t take that seriously. While the police are trying to get answers, Steve and the others arrive to save the day. Our poor kids need all the moral support they can get.

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” returns to California, where the following day, Will and Mike are eating eggos without El. Jonathan tries to get the guys to see a movie, but nobody wants to go out. Mike grabs El’s breakfast and heads upstairs. The two finally chat about how she has been feeling and her lies.

El doesn’t think that Mike understands what it is like to be bullied. She is a monster. Everything she has done leads her to believe that she doesn’t belong anywhere. Everyone sees her as a monster, including Mike. In none of his letters or since he has arrived, Mike hasn’t told her he loves her. Even in the moment, he isn’t able to say it to her either. He cares but never says love.

Downstairs, the doorbell rings, and Will thinks that Joyce must have forgotten something. However, it’s the cops, and they are looking for El. They arrest her for attacking Angela and take her down to the station. Side note. I was born in the late 80s, but I wonder if police were actually able to arrest a minor without a parent back in the day. Just curious.

Will and Jonathan sitting in the living room watching TV and reading the newspaper.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

The episode jumps to Joyce and Murray. She is worried that they should have just told the kids what was actually happening. But Murray knows that telling them would have just pushed them to get involved and who knows what could have happened. Plus, it’s too late now since they are already on a flight to Alaska.

In Russia, Hopper is working with the other prisoners when “Enzo” (Tom Wlaschiha) starts a fight with him. He drags him off so the two can have a quiet conversation. “Enzo,” tells him that Joyce has agreed to pay the money and is on her way to Alaska to drop it off. Now it is up to Hopper to find a way to get out and to the meeting point to meet the pilot. If Hopper doesn’t make it out, oh well. “Enzo” still gets the money.

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” returns to Hawkins as Steve, and the group gets Nancy up to date on their theories. However, they still aren’t sure exactly why Fred and Chrissy were targeted. Robin brings up a good point: Vecna must have been stalking Fred and Chrissy for a while, and maybe they told someone about it. Max remembers that Chrissy was seeing the counselor at school and that perhaps she can help them figure out exactly what is going on.

The team heads out, but Nancy has something else she needs to look into. Steve tries to join her, but Robin doesn’t have a license, and he isn’t about to let any of the kids drive his car. Never again. So Steve gets to play babysitter (his favorite role), and Nancy and Robin team up. Seriously we have been waiting for this team-up since the images of the two first surfaced a few weeks ago. As they drive away, the electricity in Eddie’s trailer starts to flicker, and we can see a scar on the ceiling.

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In the Upside Down, we get another glimpse at Vecna as he starts sifting through people’s minds before landing on the young basketball player named Patrick (Myles Truitt) sitting in the car with Lucas. We overhear what we assume to be his father, angry that he was out drinking and calling him an embarrassment. It seems that this is how Vecna has been reaching out to people, but we still don’t know exactly why he is picking his victims.

It looks like his head is hurting, and he gets a nosebleed, but we don’t hear any ticking clocks or weird visions. Not yet, at least. Jason and the others arrive at Eddie’s friend’s house. They don’t know where he is and try to get Lucas to help them explain, but he pretends to know nothing about them. Jason is tired of people lying to him and nearly breaks one of the guy’s fingers until they tell him that Dustin has been looking for Eddie and that maybe he found him. What is Lucas going to do now?

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” returns to California, where the police question El. I ask again how the police can interrogate a minor without a parent present? They aren’t happy with her answers and decide that she is a risk. They send her to juvenile hall until her case. Jonathan, Will and Mike try to get answers, but they aren’t forthcoming since Joyce isn’t present. So they can interrogate a minor without a parent, but when her family has questions, she is needed?

El being interogated by the police about her attacking Angela at the skating rink.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

Murray is napping away on the flight to Alaska while Joyce enjoys a rather interesting meal. The episode flashes to Hopper and his dinner, which looks far worse than Joyce’s. But he isn’t going to be eating his. Instead, he uses his bread to bribe the guy next to him to hit him in the leg. At first, the guy isn’t interested but then says he will do it for the soup and bread. Later on their shift, the guy does as Hopper asks while he bites down in order not to scream. He is willing to do anything to get out of there.

Back in Hawkins, Robin and Nancy arrive at the library to go through old newspapers. Nancy is looking for information on Victor Creel. Robin isn’t sure how he might be connected since his murder predate El’s opening of the Upside Down by nearly 30 years, and this is a massive shot in the dark. Nancy knows that’s the case, but she can’t shake the feeling that this is somehow connected. Robin apologizes for coming across strongly. The girl knows her flaws and just needs Nancy to be straight with her.

Elsewhere, Max arrives at Ms. Kelly’s house while Steve and Dustin hang outside. Dustin tries to ask about Steve and Nancy, but Steve doesn’t want to talk about it. What’s great here, though, is that Steve clearly hasn’t shared Robin’s secret and doesn’t even try to elude to why they aren’t dating. Just Steve being a great friend. And speaking of being a great friend, he just wants to protect Nancy from getting hurt. We know he might just have a small thing for her, but he doesn’t seem willing to admit it yet.

Inside the house, Max tries to butter up Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen) by talking about how she lived near Chrissy and that all of this stuff is causing her issues to get worse. We get a small flashback glimpse to the night Billy (Dacre Montgomery) died before Max bottles that back up. But Ms. Kelly won’t give her any information on Chrissy and tells her to let the cops handle it. When Max heads off to the bathroom, she snatches Ms. Kelly’s office keys, runs for the car, and tells Steve to hit it.

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” shifts to Lucas, Jason and the others. They have arrived at Dustin’s house, but thankfully no one is home. Personally, I don’t want that guy within twenty feet of Dustybuns. While Jason and the others try to get someone to answer the door, Lucas sneaks into Dustin’s room and tries to radio them. He finally gets through to Dustin, who gets Lucas kind of caught up, but before Lucas can share what is happening on his end, he gets cut off. Jason demands to know what he was doing, and Lucas just claims he was looking for clues. When the other guys laugh it off, he tells them that he knows where Eddie is hiding.

Lucas telling Jason and the others that he thinks he knows where Eddie is hiding out at.

Image courtesy of Netflix 2022.

In California, El and the prison guards are making their way through the desert when a few black cars cut them off. She panics, not wanting to be caught by the government and attempts to escape. However, before she can run, Dr. Sam gets out of one of the cars. He isn’t here to hurt her; he is here to help her.

Joyce and Murray eventually land in Alaska. It’s cold and pretty welcoming, which is a big contrast to Hopper in Russia. We watch as he returns to prison. Everyone has their ankle bands checked, and no damage is done to his. But as the officer yanks it, we can tell just how bad it hurts. In his cell, we see the real damage that he paid the guy to do. It is broken just enough that he is able to get the bands off of his foot.

Back in Hawkins, Robin and Nancy continue to look through the old newspapers. They aren’t finding much, and Robin is starting to think this has been a big waste. Nancy tells Robin that if she doesn’t want to be there, then to call Steve to come to get her. Robin makes it a point to tell Nancy that she and Steve are just platonic friends. With a capital “P.” She Robin eventually spots a reel for The Weekly Watcher, a paper dedicated to the supernatural.

On the reel, they find one about the Creel house. In the article, Victor talked about how a demon haunted the house and even went as far as hiring someone to exorcise it. They realize that what is written might actually be true but never publically shared because of a plea bargain. The world might think he is crazy, but they know that Vecna is probably the one behind all of it.

On the way out of the library, they check in with Dustin, Steve and Max and update them on the Vecna/Creel connection. But Dustin and the others are in a bit of a tight spot since they are breaking into the school to go through Ms. Kelly’s files. At the school, Max breaks in and dives right into Chrissy and Fred’s files. While they are busy going through the files, Jason, Lucas, and the others prepare to sneak up on Eddie through the woods. It is becoming more clear that Jason isn’t going to be gentle when he finds him. As they make their way through the woods, we get a glimpse of a building that doesn’t look like Reefer’s shed but oddly like someone else’s cabin.

“Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” returns to El and Dr. Sam. They are hanging out in a diner as Dr. Sam breaks the news of what is happening in Hawkins to El. She wants to help, but she doesn’t have her powers anymore. While discussing the evil in Hawkins, we get glimpses of Vecna and El’s fights in the past. We even see Jason and the others break into the Hopper’s cabin. It seems that Lucas took them in the wrong direction. While Jason heads off to search the back, Lucas runs off.

Dr. Sam knows that El has people willing to fight alongside her in this war. He has a way to help her get her powers back. All El needs to do is decide to walk away from everyone and participate in an experiment. In Hawkins, we watch as Max realizes that all of the issues she has been having are the same as both Chrissy and Fred. Then we hear Vecna call out to her. We jump back to El, who is worried that she is a monster and maybe not having her powers is for the best. Dr. Sam gives her a choice to either come with him or return home, no questions asked.

In Califonia, we see the agents that were with Dr. Sam arrive to meet with Jonathan, Will and Mike while El travels away with Dr. Sam towards whatever plan he has for them. But this isn’t where the episode comes to an end. In the final moments, we watch Max make her way through the school’s hallway, where she finds the same clock Chrissy, and Fred saw in one of the walls. As the screen fades to black, we hear Vecna call out to Max once more, and a flash of his eyes opening before credits roll.

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We knew Hopper would try to find a way out! Our favorite small-town police chief isn’t a pushover. I just hope that Murray and Joyce are able to get to him in time. And speaking of saving people. Netflix, we need to talk about what you are putting my poor Max through! She has suffered enough after the death of Billy, and her family essentially falling apart. Does she need Vecna chasing after her? No. The answer is no. Take your clock back, please.

A shining light on this Stranger Things episode is the team-up between Nancy and Robin. This has been one of my most anticipated moments from the trailers, and I couldn’t be happier. Things may have gotten off a bit rocky, but this badass team is sure going to shake things up in Hawkins. Let’s hope we get more of this dynamic duo as the season goes on and leave good old Steve as the babysitter.

I know you are worried about what might happen next, but we need to push through! El is leaving them all behind to save the day, and we need to be there with her! Let’s jump right on into episode four!

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Julia Roth
Catch Me