'Stranger Things' - "Chapter Four: Will the Wise" Recap

Following three table setting episodes, “Chapter Four: Will the Wise” gives us all what we’ve been waiting for. The pace has quickened, the stakes have been raised, (stranger) things are actually starting to happen! Filled with some truly knockout moments, this is easily the best episode of Stranger Things 2 so far. So, let’s dive in.

After pulling Will from his Shadow Monster vision, Joyce has an emotional sit down with her son. Will opens up to his mother and reveals everything that has been going on with him lately. Joyce, shown in season one to not be afraid of believing in the strange, is an immediate sympathetic ear to her son. This is a truly amazing scene featuring some outstanding performances from Noah Schnapp and Winona Ryder. Schnapp in particular is a revelation. He’s been given a lot of extremely weighty and dramatic material this season and he handles it all like a seasoned veteran.

Somehow topping the Will and Joyce scene is one featuring Hopper and Eleven. Their relationship has been rocky since Hopper missed their Halloween plans, breaking his promise. The status is worse now that he knows Eleven snuck out of the cabin during the day to checkin on Mike. This leads to a brutal, drag out fighting of words between the two. The father/daughter bond that they’d been building is being torn to the ground. The proceedings carry more weight and suspense due to Eleven using her powers in bursts of rage, flinging objects at Hopper and rendering him powerless. The more isolated she becomes, the angrier she gets. It turns out, you won’t like Eleven when she’s angry.

Hopper leaves the cabin to then help out Joyce and Will. The youngest Byers can’t put into words what he feels from the Shadow Monster, so instead he takes crayon to paper and frantically produces dozens of seemingly incoherent scribblings. Luckily, Joyce is used to cracking the code of her son and discovers that the drawings can be pieced together like a puzzle. Goodbye, Christmas lights! Hello, crayon drawings! Deducing that the crayon puzzle is a giant maze of roots, Hopper has an idea of where those roots might be taking hold and takes off for the pumpkin patch.

There were also huge strides in the #JusticeForBarb campaign. Nancy and Jonathan give a call to Barb’s parents and tell them to meet the teens at the park for information on their lost daughter. While waiting at the park, Nancy and Jonathan see no signs of the parents, but a lot of signs of the most obvious spies in existence. They try to escape the watchers, but Jonathan’s car engine won’t start, leaving them sitting ducks. The watchers were of course employees at Hawkins Labs, which is where Nancy and Jonathan are taken. They’re given a tour by Dr. Owens, who continues his warm pleasantries with an increasingly sinister undertone. He admits, yes Hawkins Labs was responsible for Will’s disappearance and the death of Barb, but there’s nothing they can do about it now. The situation is being taken care of, and any further discussion of the matter would have to be taken care of as well. Nancy and Jonathan are then allowed to leave and it’s revealed that getting caught was part of their plan all along. Stashed in Nancy’s purse was a tape recorder with all of the incriminating evidence they needed to take down Hawkins Labs once and for all.

The only frustrating part of the episode was Dustin’s continued support of his new pet, Dart. Even that plotline appears to be correcting itself, as Dustin discovers Dart has grown substantially and is feasting on his cat. Oh, and Dart is totally a baby Demogorgan. Dustin may have bitten off more than he could chew with his new front teeth on this one.

The episode ends on another solid cliffhanger, as Hopper discovers that beneath the pumpkin patch are the vines from Will’s drawings. Breaking through, the sheriff lowers himself into what turns out to be an Upside Down tunnel. And then we cut to black. What a great cliffhanger to top off a truly amazing episode.

Let us know your thoughts on "Chapter Four: Will the Wise" in the comments below!