Chapter Four: The Body
Warning! Full spoilers for the episode below.
The opening exchange between Hopper and Joyce in Chapter Four started off the episode on a melancholy note, but a note that was necessary. Hopper continues to grow into one of my favorite characters, a truly tragic hero. He talks about his own tragedies, his own pains, and opens up in a magnificently heartbreaking way. Although he’s trying to communicate his own grief with what he presumes is Joyce’s grief, and we know that there are spooky happenings, it is touching all the same.
Joyce knows that she isn’t crazy though, or her motherly intuition won’t let her consider that option at least. We see this on numerous occasions in this episode, from her conversation with Hopper, the inevitable visit to the morgue, and her confrontations with Jonathan. Joyce cannot let herself give up on her son, she can’t give up on Will, no matter what. Body or no body. Lights or no lights. Monster or not, Joyce will not give up.
As I praised in Chapter Three, Millie Bobby Brown continues to impress in every single chapter. During her conversation with Mike following the discovery of Will’s body, her eyes glimmer with so much pain and frustration and they could break your heart in a moment’s notice. She has done such an astounding job in Stranger Things, and I cannot praise her enough.
I was initially drawn to Stranger Things because of the 80’s nostalgia and homages and inspirations. I have stuck with Stranger Things because of the impressive work done not only by Brown, but the entire rest of the cast as well. So many series and films inspired by the same 80’s sources often bring the same cheesiness, trite characters, dialogue and approaches. Stranger Things, however, has done so much more with the same. Despite the subject matter, these characters and these relationships feel real and genuine and I cannot praise the work that Matt and Ross Duffer have done with this series.
The plot progression in Chapter Four was as strong as ever, with the fallout of discovering Will’s body in Chapter Three now front and center. From the get-go, the setup at the morgue seemed off, and Joyce agreed with these feelings. She refused to believe that it was Will in the morgue. Even as she meticulously asked to see each and every birthmark and presumably every single flawed mark on her child, she still refused to believe that it was Will on that table. All while this was happening, Jonathan couldn’t stand to see Will’s body on the table, so he moved out into the waiting room. This led to a fantastic scene between Jonathan and Hopper, and probably the closest thing that Jonathan has had to a father-son talk in who knows how long. You could see the yearning for Lonnie in Jonathan’s eyes, and you could feel the same for Sarah from Hopper. It was touching and heartbreaking all the same. This transitioned into another confrontation in the middle of town between Jonathan and Joyce, in which Joyce’s sanity was once again called into question. It is tough to see Joyce shunned away into madness, despite all that we know as viewers, and Winona Ryder continues to shine in her descent into madness.
Chapter Four had one of my favorite sequences yet. Although a slight homage to something just outside of the 80’s, Pretty Woman, it was just as effective as the other inspirations within Stranger Things. “Pretty. Good.” Mike and El continue to be a far more captivating “couple” than Nancy and Steve, through and through. Sure, they’re just dumb kids feeling new emotions for the first time, but that doesn’t make it any less charismatic and sweet.
Hopper continuing to show off his real detective skills continues to be impressive. All of the characters in Stranger Things have had distinct character arcs, but none quite as revealing as Hopper. After Sarah died(?) and Hopper moved to a small town where nothing happens, he became lethargic and pessimistic and a shell of who he once was. Despite the grotesque nature of everything happening in Hawkins, it has been a catalyst to return him to something resembling his former self. “I’m just a concerned citizen.” Out of all of the characters in the world of Stranger Things, if I could only have one find true redemption, it would certainly be Hopper.
The next big leap in character was with Mike confronting Troy at school. Although he had inevitable help from El, it was a huge spike for his character. This isn’t the Mike we met at the beginning of Stranger Things. Heck, it wasn’t even the Mike from days ago when he was confronted by Troy previously. This is a Mike who loves his friends, who loves Will, and is sick of being scared. If Mike can confront a Demigorgon, why not confront a bully? It was also another sweet moment with Mike acknowledging El for the help with the “mouth breathers” before they continued on.
We also got shades of Nancy and Jonathan teaming up finally. While it isn’t exactly a love triangle with Nancy and Jonathan and Steve, it will be interesting to see if and when they do bring Steve into the fold of spooky happenings within Stranger Things. Nancy aided Jonathan in connecting the dots, about how the monster, “Didn’t have a face.” It will be interesting now that Jonathan has this information, and how he’ll relay it to Joyce. Will Joyce finally get the vindication she deserves after all of the doubts and disbeliefs?
Towards the end of Chapter Four, we were treated with another intense sequence, and Stranger Things continues to top itself from chapter to chapter. This time, it was the trifecta of not only El and Will and Joyce all interacting with each other on various levels, but also the flashbacks with El that paralleled the same happenings. It was, per usual, tragically heartrending for Joyce to finally have vindication that Will was still alive somewhere, but to still be so far away from her son. But by the end, Joyce is just as broken as ever before. She can do nothing else but take an axe to the wall in a fit of rage and frustration and heartbreak. And then in comes Lonnie to pick up the pieces, which is another can of worms on its own. While I first presumed that it was Jonathan coming home to vindicate Joyce, now Lonnie is back in the picture for the time being, presumably just until the funeral and then he’ll be gone again. But at least he was there for Joyce in her time of desperate need.
Chapter Four ended with yet another powerful scene with Hopper forcing his way into the morgue to inspect Will’s body. Such an intense sequence, but it was so illuminating all the same. Hopper discovering that the body in the morgue was a fake was a huge revelation not only for his own police work, but for Joyce as well. Unfortunately, Hopper fell into the horror trope of adventuring out on his own, instead of, you know, reporting what he found. Hopper headed straight towards Hawkins Lab, all on his own, and now I fear that this is the last that we’ll see of Hopper.
Chapter Four of Stranger Things delivered on all fronts. From phenomenal moments between Eleven and Mike, to the subtle father-and-son interactions between Hopper and Jonathan, Chapter Four delivered touching character moments, which continue to make Stranger Things so damn special. On top of that, this episode was jam-packed with vital plot movement that delivered on every aspect while perfectly leading us towards Chapter Five.