Stranger Things has finally returned after a nearly three-year wait for the Netflix original series’ fourth season. In “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse,” we see multiple necessary flashes from the past, Mike reunites with Eleven and Will, and the town of Hawkins is once again terrorized as dead bodies are discovered. If you, like many of us, binged all seven available episodes in one go and may have missed some of the finer details of the episodes, keep reading to let our recap fill in any gaps for you!
Major spoilers for Stranger Things season 4 episode 2 ahead.
We begin with a scene from the past where Hopper is shown running before Joyce pushes the two buttons at the end of season 3 and jumps. When the smoke clears, and the rubble settles, the camera pans in on the face of Hopper as he lays amongst the destruction. His eyes open. In his attempt to find a way out of the testing chamber, Hopper comes across a few Russian soldiers who have also survived the blast. They take Hopper and torture him, seeking the identity of the woman he was with. As we all know, Hopper is one tough cookie, which earns him the admiration of one of the Russian officers, who chooses to send Hopper to “Russian hell” — the prison we were briefly introduced to at the end of season 3, resigning to beat the information out of him there.
But don’t worry, Hopper still has friends in high and low places, and our beloved Murray joins Joyce in California with all of his equipment to read the ransom letter she received in the mail. The letter contains more than we saw in the last episodes and reads, “Hop is alive. He looks ford to date. Pleaz to make a reservation call 741-53,” and “Open 12-day P.E.T.T. no government, please. King regards, Enzo.” The letter’s contents aren’t exactly the most reassuring, and while Joyce thinks this does mean Hopper is alive, Murray believes this letter is trickery straight from the KGB. The only way to find out is to call the number and speak with Enzo, which the pair does. Enzo instructs Joyce to bring $40,000 in exchange for Hopper, but she will have to travel to Alaska to do so.
Eleven’s Perfect Day
Eleven, Will, and Jonathan are reunited with Mike at the airport, and Eleven’s perfect day with her boyfriend begins. While the friendship between Mike and Will appears strained here (they are getting older and do live quite far away now, and long-distance friendships are hard), Mike and Eleven still seem to be head-over-heels for one another. Eleven begins to tell Mike the plans she has for their first day together in a long time — breakfast burritos and roller-skating, which according to her, she frequently does with her friends Angela and posse. Will seems confused and upset with the lies Eleven is telling Mike, as he knows Angela and Eleven are truly far from friends.
So, of course, it only makes sense for Angela and her awful friends to show up while Mike and Eleven are enjoying what should have been their perfect reunion. Angela takes El’s hand and gets her to skate a few laps on the rink, until forcing her to stop in the center. In a flash, El is surrounded by several girls who skate around her chanting “snitch” while the tool of a roller rink DJ plays the song “Wipe Out.” All this as another older guy tapes the entire ordeal as Mike and Will watch on from the side. Mike makes a lame attempt to stop the song, and when he looks back at the events unfolding on the rink, he sees one of Angela’s friends throw a milkshake in El’s face, causing her to fall. Mike doesn’t have a chance to run to El’s aid as the other kids block him, and she runs away crying.
Before the episode ends, we see El hiding in the manager’s office, having another flashback to the scene we saw in the season premiere with Brenner asking her what she has done. El leaves the office and finds Angela, demanding that the cruel girl apologize and tell Mike that they were all just joking because they’re friends. Reaching a new level of low for this teenage bully, Angela tells El she won’t apologize, and El won’t have anyone to cry to today — not the teacher, and not her dad. El can’t use her powers anymore (which we still do not know the reason for), so she grabs a skate and connects it straight with the bridge of Angela’s nose — finally giving her a face that matches her hideous personality.
Hawkins Is Under Attack
Eddie’s uncle finds the grotesque body of Chrissy and calls the cops. Powell, who has taken over the police force, arrives at the scene as Max sees the body through the ocean of blue uniforms. She rushes to Dustin’s house to tell him she saw Eddie going into the home with Chrissy the night before, but that Eddie ran out mere minutes later, looking terrified.
Hawkins, Indiana is under attack again … but this time, Nancy Wheeler is going to find some answers herself. Nancy and Fred head to the trailer park to do their own investigating, and a couple of interesting developments come to light. First, Fred has hallucinations and a secret — he was in a car accident last summer, and the car he hit killed an entire family. Second, Eddie’s uncle tells Nancy that while his nephew may look dangerous, Eddie is not a killer — he believes the killer is none other than Victor Creel, who is still alive and may have escaped from the state mental hospital. After all, Creel did apparently kill several people years ago and took his victim’s eyes.
While Nancy and Eddie’s uncle talk about the chilling past of Creel, Fred has wandered into the woods and is hallucinating a clock lying in/on the ground. As the clock chimes, the family Fred killed a year prior appears all in black, staring at him. As the daughter raises her finger to point at Fred, the hand grows into a gigantic skeletal limb, causing Fred to run away into the woods out of fear for his life.
Dustin, Max, Robin, and Steve find Eddie hanging out at his drug dealer’s house. The oddball quartet convince Eddie that they believe his story, and allow him to tell what happened the night before in his own words. As the group listens to what Eddie saw, they decide the evil, demonic, dark wizard Vecna is responsible for Chrissy’s death — he likely was casting spells and putting her in a trance (aka curse). They now have several problems to face — how do they convince law enforcement of Eddie’s innocence? How are they going to be able to keep Eddie’s whereabouts secret until they can prove his innocence? And most importantly — how are they going to save their town, and probably the world, from the feared Vecna?
Fred has been running and running to an unknown destination, and after seeing another terrifying hallucination, he falls into a deep grave next to a corpse. When he rises from the grave, he sees the same demon that disfigured and murdered Chrissy — the dark wizard the other group seeks, Vecna. Frightened, Fred asks the evil figure what he wants, to which Vecna responds:
“I want you to join me.”
Vecna grabs Fred’s head, and we now see Nancy’s friend in the middle of the street, eyes rapidly moving as he enters a trance and begins to levitate. Hanging in the air in the dark night on the quiet Indiana highway, Fred’s limbs begin snapping in ways that should not be possible for the human body — his jaw is broken, and his eyes are sunken into his skull. Vecna slams Fred into the asphalt, leaving body number two to be discovered.
The final scene shows Vecna with the underground roots (at least half a dozen) the military tried to blow up in the preceding season attached to its back. The roots detach, and the camera pans back to show us these events happening in the Upside Down as Vecna performs body-altering spells in the attic of a house.
Stranger Things season 4 part 1 is available to stream on Netflix now. Follow our episodic recaps here.