The third chapter in season four of Stranger Things covers a lot of ground, both literally and figuratively. We see a familiar face in Nevada, old friends joining forces in Hawkins, and Joyce and Murray traveling to Alaska to rescue their friend. Also, a beloved relationship begins to crumble under extreme duress.
Here’s the recap for “The Monster and the Superhero.”
Spoilers lie ahead, so beware!
The Gang Gets Back Together
At Reefer Rick’s, Eddie wakes up drenched in paranoia. Suddenly, Dustin, Robin, and the others burst through the door with food and other supplies for their friend. While Eddie is inhaling dry cereal, the others fill him in on the happenings from the outside world: Eddie is now suspect #1 in the police investigation of Chrissy’s death, but fortunately, his name hasn’t yet gone public, so he still has some anonymity protecting him. Dustin then tells Eddie that all they need to do before Eddie is found and arrested is to find Vecna, kill him, and prove Eddie’s innocence. This in no way makes Eddie feel any better at all, whatsoever.
Suddenly, the group hears police sirens approaching. But the cops don’t stop at Reefer Rick’s. Rather, they speed past and drive farther down the road to a hideously disfigured and very much deceased Fred, lying in the middle of the road. Nancy is there answering questions from the police, and Dustin and the others arrive, having followed the sirens. Nancy is visibly relieved to see her friends.
Back at the mobile home park where Chrissy died, the others update Nancy on their working theories about Vecna and how he might be the murderer. While they’re discussing why Chrissy and Fred would be victims of a monster from the Upside Down, Max mentions they might have spoken about any visions they had with the school counselor. Max saw Chrissy exiting Ms. Kelly’s office previously, so she has the idea to go to Ms. Kelly’s house and see if she can get any information from her about anything Chrissy might have told her. But before they leave, Nancy says she wants to investigate something else, so Robin goes with her to help.
Relationships Become Strained
At Rink-O-Mania, EMTs are tending to Angela. The camera pans to the audience of stunned, silent skaters who are all staring at a very upset El, her outfit covered in a milkshake. Jonathan and Argyle have arrived to pick up her, Mike, and Will, and they all try to convince El on the way home that Angela will be fine. Once they arrive back at the Byers residence, they’re greeted by Murray in the kitchen, who is making some risotto.
Around the dinner table, Joyce tells everyone that she has a work conference in Alaska the next day and will be gone for a while. The conversation then moves to the “roller skate attack” at the rink. This makes El uncomfortable, so she leaves abruptly and goes upstairs to her room. She is racked with guilt and remembers Mike’s shock at her behavior, which reminds her of Brenner’s shock at her behavior, and this releases a deluge of bad memories in which she deems herself responsible for chaos and death.
The next morning, El hasn’t joined the others for breakfast, so Mike takes the Eggos that he made for her up to her room, hoping she will talk to him. She clearly doesn’t want to talk about anything, though, so Mike tells her that he is very confused why she wouldn’t be honest with him about the difficulties she’s been facing. He himself isn’t “Mr. Popularity” at home, he says, so if anyone can understand what it’s like to be bullied, it would be him. But El corrects him: he doesn’t deserve to be bullied, because he isn’t a monster like she is. He tells her that she is completely wrong. She then accuses Mike of not loving her any more, because he never says the words. All letters he had sent to her were signed “From, Mike” instead of “Love, Mike.” He tells her that he thinks she’s the most incredible person in the world and that she’s a superhero. “Not anymore,” she replies.
Downstairs, the police have arrived looking for El. Will and Jonathan try to throw them off course, but El walks downstairs and lets them know she’s there. El is arrested and taken away in a patrol car. At the station, El is interviewed, fingerprinted, and entered into the system, mugshot and all. Mike, Will, and Jonathan are there as well, trying to get in to see El. But they are too late. As the boys leave the precinct, Mike sees the police van driving away with El in the back, on its way to juvenile detention.
On the Hunt for Eddie Munson
At Benny’s Burgers, the shuttered restaurant now a hangout spot for “Winners Only,” Lucas steps outside and sees his teammates gearing up to hunt for Eddie Munson. Jason gives Lucas an out and says that, because he didn’t know Chrissy, he doesn’t have to participate in this. But Lucas says he wants to help.
We then get a look inside Eddie’s house, where Chrissy was murdered. The lights are flickering, and there is an all-too-familiar fissure starting to form on the ceiling, where Chrissy’s body touched while she was levitating. The camera then takes us to Vecna, suspended in the attic of his house. He seems to be searching people’s whereabouts telepathically, perhaps searching for his next victim. He settles on Patrick, one of Lucas’ teammates, who is in the car with the other players as they drive on their search for Eddie Munson.
While Patrick cleans up his bloody nose, they arrive to the house of one of the Hellfire Club members. He and some others are jamming out in his garage. Jason and his teammates approach them and ask where Eddie is. They have no idea where he is, and they also have no idea why Lucas is hanging out with these guys. Lucas acts like he doesn’t know the HFC members very well and tells them all that they’re just there to find Eddie. A fight then breaks out, and Lucas sees how serious his teammates are about finding Eddie. One of the HFC members gives up Dustin’s name, and this frightens Lucas.
The guys’ next stop is Dustin’s house. While Jason and Patrick are banging on the front door, Lucas sneaks in through the upstairs window into Dustin’s room. He finds the two-way radio system and calls out, reaching Dustin. He thinks Eddie killed Chrissy, but Dustin tells him that isn’t the truth and that they’re hiding Eddie in a safe location. Max then tells Lucas to just meet them at the school, and they will fill him in on everything they know. Meanwhile, his teammates find him in Dustin’s room. Lucas tells them that he was searching for clues, and he found one: he knows where Eddie is hiding.
He misleads his teammates and takes them to Hopper’s old cabin. And while they ransack the place, looking for signs of Eddie, Lucas makes a break for it and runs away, toward his real friends who are at the school.
On the Hunt for Victor Creel
Nancy and Robin arrive at the library. Because Eddie’s uncle told Nancy that he suspects Victor Creel is behind Chrissy’s murder, Nancy wants to see if she can find anything in the archives about the events that took place at Creel’s house, anything that may not sound like it makes much sense to most folks, but would make sense to her and her friends. She and Robin search for a long time in the newspaper archives and find nothing unusual: Creel’s family was murdered, and he was the only survivor, unharmed. Creel was eventually sentenced to spend the rest of his life at Pennhurst Asylum, where he resides today.
Robin then finds microfilm for the publication The Weekly Watcher. Nancy disregards the find at first, because they write about UFOs, Bigfoot, and other silly phenomena. But Robin reminds her that they’re looking for information on dark wizards, and if anyone were to write about that, it would be The Weekly Watcher. And Robin’s hunch was right: they find a story that mentions that Creel believed his house was haunted by an ancient demon, and that demon murdered his family.
Robin and Nancy call the others over the radio and let them know what they’ve found. Dustin tells them to meet them at the school as soon as possible, because they’ve made some connections of their own.
A Familiar Face in Ruth, Nevada
It’s the middle of the night, and Dr. Sam Owens is snoring away in his recliner. Suddenly, a military helicopter shines its bright light on his house and lands in his front yard. Inside, Lt. Colonel Sullivan shows Dr. Owens images of the crime scene where Chrissy died, including pictures of her mangled body. Sullivan wants to know if Owens has any information about who — or what — could cause this type of destruction.
He then says that everything strange that has happened in Hawkins can be traced back to “Brenner’s little pet,” and he hands Owens a photo of Eleven. Owens tells Sullivan that Eleven is dead, and Sullivan tells him that there are rumors that she is alive, and that she is receiving help from someone on the inside. Owens denies helping Eleven, but this doesn’t deter Sullivan. His men ransack Owens’ house, take some items of interest to them, and leave on their chopper as loudly as they came.
On the way to juvenile detention, a handcuffed El notices some unmarked government-looking cars racing up to the police van. The van is pulled over, and a woman flashes a badge to the driver and tells him that they’ll be taking custody of Jane Hopper. Dr. Owens then gets out of an unmarked car and says to El, “Hey, kiddo.”
Later, at a café in the middle of nowhere, Owens and El are sitting in a booth. He is telling El that he has come to her for help. “A war is coming to Hawkins,” Owens says. Hawkins is in danger, and the evil that is threatening the town is the same evil that El has defeated before. But El tells him that she doesn’t have her powers anymore. “What if I told you that there was a way to bring them back?” he responds. El is convinced that she might be the monster herself, but Owens says he’s willing to bet that she’s one of the good ones. And if she wants to help her friends and the entire planet, she needs to leave with him immediately. And so she does.
On the Hunt for Answers
While Nancy and Robin are at the library, Max, Steve, and Dustin arrive at school counselor Ms. Kelly’s house. Max is invited inside, and she begins to talk about how her stress levels are through the roof, because of the recent murders. Ms. Kelly asks Max if she wants to talk about the night her brother died. But instead, Max wants to know if Chrissy ever mentioned to Ms. Kelly anyone who could have hurt her. Ms. Kelly understandably doesn’t share anything because of student confidentiality, and this frustrates Max, and she gives up trying to get information. Max goes upstairs to use the restroom, and she sees keys in a bowl that opens Ms. Kelly’s office at the school. She swipes the keys, runs outside to Steve and Dustin, and they screech off.
Inside Ms. Kelly’s office, Max rummages through the filing cabinet and finds files for both Chrissy and Fred. As she reads through them, she sees that both Fred and Chrissy suffered symptoms that are eerily similar to the ones she herself has been suffering: terrible headaches, nosebleeds, constant nightmares, etc. And as she is realizing that she, too, might suffer the same fate as her deceased classmates, she hears Vecna call out to her. His voice draws her out of the office and into the hallway, where she sees the ticking, chiming grandfather clock embedded in the wall.
The first volume of Stranger Things season 4 is available to stream now on Netflix. Follow our episodic recaps here.