Stranger Things 2 has reminded us that Will is inextricably linked to the Upside Down, but this time around, it’s not just Will who will venture into the unknown.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Stranger Things 2, episode 4.]
- Will Byers
- Joyce Byers
- Jim Hopper
- Mike Wheeler
- Dustin Henderson
- Lucas Sinclair
- Nancy Wheeler
- Jonathan Byers
- Steve Harrington
- Mr. Clarke
- Dustin Henderson’s house
- Jim Hopper’s house
- Hawkins High School
- Hawkins Middle School
- Hawkins National Laboratory
- The Byers house
- Forest Hills Park
- Hawkins Public Library
- Hawkins Police Department
STRANGER THINGS 2, EPISODE 4: “WILL THE WISE” WATCHTHROUGH
BEFORE THE CREDITS
We open right where the third episode ends: Will is on the field, his body being invaded by the Upside Down monster. Joyce makes it to the school to find the AV club empty, but it’s not long before she runs into Dustin in the hall. Lucas runs in frantically to tell them he found Will.
As the group run out to him, Will’s frozen in place, eyes rolling back in his head. In the Upside Down version of the football field, tendrils of the shadow monster enter Will’s nostrils and mouth as his body is frozen in a silent scream. Joyce calls to him repeatedly, but Will does not respond. The scene plays out, cutting intermittently between the real world and Will’s living nightmare on the other side. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the monster releases his grip and Will’s eyes open wide.
JOYCE PROMISES A FIX
“Maybe it is True Sight.”
Lucas’ words seem to echo in the fabric of this episode. Back at home, Joyce does her best to seek out some truth, as well. Will tells her he doesn’t remember anything. She shows Will the shape she sketched out from his Halloween videotape. “What is it,” Joyce asks. “What does it want?”
Will doesn’t know.
“It came for me and I tried to make it go away. But it got me, Mom,” Will tells her. “I felt it everywhere. I still feel it.”
It’s an emotional scene, to be sure. But as we’ve learned throughout the show’s first season, Joyce is dedicated and never gives anything up without a fight.
ELEVEN GETS GROUNDED
After her walkabout, Eleven returns to the cabin to find Hopper smoking a cigarette on the porch. Eleven knows he’s angry. With everything she’s been through, it seems like she’s never received the tough love Jim Hopper was about to dole out.
“Friends don’t lie,” Hopper says, using Mike’s words against Eleven. He presses her for answers on where she went on her field trip. She says she went to see Mike at the school but assures him she wasn’t seen. But Hopper’s point gets made when he informs her the mother and daughter she ran across called the cops. It’s that type of visibility that will get Eleven caught, or worse. And while it’s clear Eleven need Hopper to fulfill his promise to let her leave, it looks like she’ll be quarantined to this prison for an undetermined amount of time.
“You lie,” Eleven yells, doing her best to escalate the argument. But unfortunately for her, she’s still a child and Hopper knows this. Having a police officer for a father must be quite challenging. “I don’t lie,” he replies. “I protect and I feed and I teach.” Furious, he grounds Eleven for a week — no Eggos and no TV. The punishment quickly grows to two weeks, then a month. Threatening to take away TV privileges sends Eleven over the edge. This is her main conduit to the outside world, and revoking her privileges sends her reeling. How will she connect with Mike?
“You’ve got to understand, there are consequences to your actions,” Hopper tries to explain. Instead, Eleven takes a page from Carrie and begins using her powers to throw a book at Hopper. A couch soon follows. She slams the door with her psionic abilities and lets out a scream that shatters all the windows in the building.
JONATHAN DOES NANCY’S BIDDING
Jonathan comes home for a beat to find Joyce and Will asleep in bed. We see the boy’s eyes quickly moving back and forth underneath his eyelids. That shadow monster got inside of him and is already getting to work. But what exactly is it doing?
After Nancy lies to her parents about her whereabouts, she and Jonathan drive off to the park where they hope Marsha Holland will be waiting.
WILL CATCHES COLD
Joyce attempts to call Hopper but he’s not in the office. As she hangs up, Will walks into the kitchen in his pajamas. She asks if he feels any better. According to Will, he still feels weird. But in the Byers household, it seems that weird is relative.
She checks for a fever and the thermometer comes back with a temperature below 96 degrees. She asks if Will feels cold. He just feels a little out of it. Instead of taking him to the doctor, she opts to run him a warm bath to help him feel better. It probably won’t, though. If Dart’s disdain for light and heat is any sign, it’s that Will’s contact with the shadow beast in the Upside Down has begun to change him.
CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH
Dustin finds Luke, Max and Mike digging through the school dumpster. The group is still looking for Dart. Dustin hasn’t come clean yet, which will probably come back to haunt him, but deep down he is still clinging to this connection he’s made with the little green bugger.
As the camera closes in on a giant roach fleeing for its life, the scene cuts to Mr. Clarke’s class as he delivers a lesson on survival instincts.
“When we encounter danger, our hearts start pounding. Our palms start to sweat,” Mr. Clarke’s voice continues as we watch Will approach the bathtub hesitantly. “These are the signs of the physical and emotional state we call fear.”
Will refuses to get into the bath. As Joyce tries to call Hopper again, Will comes in to tell her the tub is too hot. She offers to cool it down a little, but Will snaps, saying, “No! He likes it cold!” And just like that, he turns and walks away like an emotionless zombie.
HOPPER AND ELEVEN’S RELATIONSHIP HITS A WALL
As Joyce once again struggles to connect with her son, Hopper hits a wall as he tries to get through to Eleven. She’s still shut away in her bedroom with the door locked. Hopper hammers up boards to provide a temporary fix to all the shattered windows.
Before he heads out, he attempts to appeal to Eleven through the locked door. And for a moment, the man drops his guard to possibly offer the girl an apology. But he catches himself and puffs his chest once more, telling her to clean the house before he gets back. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll fix the TV.
He gets in his truck to discover that Joyce has tried calling him eight times this morning. Unsure of what to expect, he drives off.
BILLY THE BUZZKILL
Billy and Steve have another run-in at school. This time, the boys are in the locker room shower. While it’s almost impossible to avoid the homoerotic undertones of the scene, it’s here in the shower where Billy and his buddy let Steve know that Nancy has moved on.
She might not have actually moved on, but hearing she’s “hanging out with the freak’s brother” probably won’t inspire any positive actions on Steve’s part. Billy’s friend does his best to make Steve feel better, though, telling him, “A pretty boy like you has got nothing to worry about.”
9 A.M., FOREST HILLS PARK
Nancy and Jonathan wait on a park bench for Barb’s mother, Marsha, to arrive. She’s fifteen minutes late and, as the time ticks on, it becomes evident they’re being watched. As their eyes scan the crowd, the camera begins picking out possible lab workers from the random park-goers. The guy at a table reading the newspaper, the man feeding the pigeons, adults supervising a group of children, two women getting ready to exercise ... it’s enough to make them leave. And after a moment of panic, they do just that.
As they briskly walk to their car, we see a man with a briefcase following close behind. Could it be a coincidence or is he on their tail? Jonathan and Nancy makes it into the car, but the car won’t start. A tapping on the passenger window reveals the newspaper guy. He offers to help them. A quick look around the car finds that they’re surrounded. The jig is up, it seems.
WILL DRAWS HIS FEELINGS
Hopper arrives at the Byers household to find the front door wide open. He attempts to shut it, because it’s freezing out, but Joyce tells him to leave it open. She takes him to Will’s room and shows him the drawings of the shadow monster. Will tells them the beast likes it cold. How does he know that? He just does. This begins a mini interrogation between Hopper and Will. We find out that Will doesn’t talk to the monster, he just doesn’t have to think anymore.
“I just know things now, things I never did before” he tells them.
He struggles to explain, trying to compare the sensation to old memories stuck in the back of his head; they’re not his memories, but they’re happening all at once.
“It’s like they’re growing, spreading and killing,” Will continues.
Is he describing these memories or the beast’s tendrils inside of his mind?
Joyce and Hopper are at a loss but a glance at a Dungeons and Dragons drawing on the wall, depicting her son as “Will the Wise,” inspires a different approach. Since Will is having a hard time translating his trauma into words, Joyce suggests he sketch them out. Almost immediately, Will gets to using his crayons to paint the world in his head. This scene not only adds a kinetic puzzle-solving component to the mix, it draws a connective line back to the first season where Joyce communicated with her lost son through a bunch of colorful Christmas lights.
MIKE CALLS AN EMERGENCY MEETING
Mike still can’t get a hold of Will. He’s beginning to seriously worry. It’s only been a year since their first adventure into the Upside Down and after Will confided in him on Halloween night that he’s been having these uncontrollable visits to the other side, Mike has a feeling something bad has happened. He brings Lucas and Dustin to the AV club room for another meeting, once again, keeping Max out of the loop.
Dustin tries to instill some D&D logic here, but this isn’t the first season and Mike finally knocks some sense into him. The group has graduated from their battle with the Demogorgon. Mike tells him, “this is real life.” And yet, Mike turns around with some RPG terminology and devises a plan to “gain more knowledge.” He decides that, after school, he’ll head to Will’s house to check on him. The second part of the plan is to find Dart because, according to Mike, they’re both connected. Finding Dart may help them solve this whole thing.
ELEVEN PICKS UP THE PIECES
Eleven has finally left her room and, by the looks of things, is once again following Hopper’s rules. She sweeps up the glass from the shattered windows and moves the couch and books back to their original spots. It’s in the middle of her chores that she happens upon a door in the floor to the crawlspace below. Unable to resist the urge, she investigates.
The space under the house is filled with boxes. The camera gives a collective view of them all, and while it’s brief, this visual helps to inform just how complex of a character Jim Hopper is. There’s a box labeled, “Dad,” and one that says, “Vietnam.” We already knew Hopper was dealing with the loss of his daughter, but his involvement in the war alludes to a whole other type of trauma. These boxes are hiding here for a reason. Eleven turns her attention to the box labeled, “Hawkins Lab.”
AN IMPROMPTU LAB VISIT
Cut to Hawkins Lab, where Nancy and Jonathan are being held against their will. After a beat, Dr. Owens arrives and takes them on an impromptu tour of the facility. “Mistakes have been made,” he tells them. “Mistakes?” Nancy replies, “You killed Barbara!” He attempts to assuage her rage by explaining that those responsible for what happened to Will and Barb have been removed from the lab.
He walks the two past various rooms where technicians test soil samples and monitor rotted pumpkin pieces. They finally reach the bowels of the building. This is where Dr. Owens shows Nancy and Jonathan the breach between our world and the Upside Down.
“We can’t seem to erase our mistake,” Owens says. “But we can stop it from spreading.”
That hazmat suit-wearing tech heads in to set fire to the growth. “It’s like pulling weeds,” says Dr. Owens.
Sure, that’s one way of looking at it.
If this visual wasn’t enough to stop Nancy and Jonathan in their tracks, Owens poses the notion that, if word got out, the Soviets could try and replicate this “mistake.” If they tell Marsha how Barb died, this information will spread and eventually become global knowledge, sparking even more Cold War tensions.
WHAT VERY BIG VINES YOU HAVE
Back at the Byers household, Hopper and Joyce have a tough time making sense of Will’s drawings. The boy is frantically producing colorful scribbles. But then, Joyce has a moment of clarity and tells Hopper the smaller drawings must connect like pieces to a much bigger puzzle.
Hopper moves the furniture out of the way to create more space and the two begin compiling the drawings on the floor. They step back and reveal a twisty turny thing that Joyce thinks may be a maze or a road. Or is it roots?
“Vines,” Hopper says.
MAX AND LUCAS AND BILLY, OH MY
After two secret meetings, Max has had enough. Lucas attempts to connect with her but she tells him off. She doesn’t understand why the group won’t include her in these AV club meetings. Lucas obviously wants to tell her the truth — about Eleven, about Will, about the Upside Down, about Dart — but he is loyal to his friends. Plus, letting Max in on their secret only jeopardizes her safety. That is, of course, if she were to even believe them.
Billy watches them argue and presses Max for more info. He’s not her real brother and has shown he really doesn’t care deeply for his step sister. So why does he want to know these details?
After a bit of name calling, Billy tells Max, “we’re family now, whether I like it or not.” He warns her that Lucas is dangerous, that there are certain people in this world to stay away from. What does he know about Lucas that we don’t?
HOPPER GOES DIGGING
Armed with determination and a shovel, Hopper heads out into the rotten pumpkin patch once more and begins to dig. He’s literally digging for answers, but in the process, it feels like he’s scooping out his own grave.
ELEVEN SEARCHES FOR HER MOTHER
Picking through the box, Eleven finds pictures of her mother as a young woman. One image shows her standing next to Dr. Brenner — Eleven’s original Papa — adding new fuel to the girl’s quest for answers. And why shouldn’t she look? It’s about time she got some understanding of where she came from and what her backstory is.
Instead of using the TV, Eleven tapped into the static on Hopper’s portable radio. With blindfold on, she goes looking for her mother. In the blackness of the void, she walks up to a woman in a rocking chair, muttering numbers under her breath. She sees Eleven and calls her, “Jane?”
Eleven attempts to hold her hand and the woman disappears at her touch.
NANCY SEEKS REVENGE
Nancy and Jonathan are escorted to their car, which is working fine now. The lab techs watch as the two drive away. Once they’re a good distance from the building, Nancy pulls a tape recorder from her purse. She hits play, revealing a portion of Dr. Owens’ dialogue regarding this ongoing cover-up. Jonathan looks are her worried, asking if she wanted to move forward with their plan.
After a beat, Nancy says, “let’s burn that lab to the ground.”
DUSTIN’S DASTARDLY DISCOVERY
Mike follows through on his plan and visits the Byers residence. Joyce comes to the door and says Will isn’t feeling well, asking Mike to come back another time. But he doesn’t move. Instead, he tells her he knows of the shadow monster and the visions that have been plaguing his friend. Joyce suddenly looks at Mike as someone who may be helpful in this whole fiasco and invites him inside.
As Mike visits Will, we see Dustin enter his bedroom on a mission. It seems he’s finally come to his senses. He heads to Dart’s cage only to find it shattered and empty. Realizing he made a horrible decision bringing this little guy into his home, we hear a munching noise coming from the corner of the room. Cautiously walking to the noise, Dustin makes a gruesome discovery: Dart has grown exponentially and is eating the insides of his orange tabby cat. This teenage reptilian death monster pauses and looks up at Dustin, opens it’s flayed mouth and lets out a shrill scream. This isn’t good at all.
HOPPER HAS A BREAKTHROUGH, LITERALLY
Back at the pumpkin patch, Sheriff Hopper has dug a giant crater around him. This hole is quite large and quite deep, which means he’s been out there for some time. Covered in sweat and dirt, his shovel finally hits something different. At first, it looks like he’s stabbing into one of the many vines depicted in Will’s drawings. But a quick cut reveals the hole he’s created acts as a doorway from our world to the other dimension.
He crawls down into the tunnel and immediately recognizes that familiar float-y ambiance of the Upside Down. Realizing he’s suddenly in the middle of the place he’s been avoiding all this time, Hopper expresses himself with two simple, yet poignant words: “Oh, Jesus.”
Stranger Things 2 is streaming on Netflix now.