‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Episode 2 Recap: Who Exactly Is Victor Creel?

 Does Hawkins have its very own Michael Myers? We suspect there is more to this story.     

In the second chapter of Stranger Things Season 4, the Duffer Brothers bring us another shiver-inducing episode that will fuel our nightmares for weeks to come. “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” finds Vecna snatching up another poor unfortunate soul, El getting her revenge on Angela, and finally, answers the question we’ve all been waiting for: what happened to Hopper (David Harbour)?

The episode opens with a flashback to the crucial final moments we last saw Hopper in the Season 3 finale. After Hop sacrifices himself to destroy the gate, the platform starts to explode and becomes engulfed in flames, just like we saw in the finale. But then the episode shows us what we didn’t see (and no, Hop didn’t get trapped in the Upside Down, which admittedly would have been a lot cooler). Instead, Hopper simply jumps down onto a lower platform. He manages to climb through the smoke and wreckage and up the ladder, only to be blocked by the Russians who are waiting at the top, guns pointed at him. He is taken to Russia where he is ruthlessly tortured for information. When he doesn’t give up Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) identity, even though he is just barely surviving, the Russians send him to Kamchatka to work for the Motherland. But this is certainly not an act of mercy: Kamchatka, the guard says, is Hell.

‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Episode 1 Recap: What Happened to Chrissy?

Back in Hawkins, Max (Sadie Sink) jerks awake from a nightmare. As she is standing at the sink, again taking more medicine for yet another headache, she watches a bunch of cop cars speed into the trailer park and stop outside Eddie’s (Joseph Quinn) trailer. Outside, Officers Phil Callahan (John Paul Reynolds) and Calvin Powell (Rob Morgan) talk to Wayne Munson (Joel Stoffer), Eddie’s uncle, who is visibly shaken. The cops walk into the trailer, and they are horrified, clearly at a loss at what they are seeing. Max is able to sneak outside and get a quick glimpse inside, where she sees Chrissy’s corpse (Grace Van Dien), her limbs twisted.

In California, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Argyle (Eduardo Franco), El (Millie Bobby Brown), and Will (Noah Schnapp), wait for Mike (Finn Wolfhard) at the airport. Will is holding a rolled-up painting he is clearly going to give Mike. They jump up in excitement when they see him, and Mike gives El flowers he handpicked from Hawkins. El is excited, but her face falls slightly when she looks at the card, which is signed “FROM MIKE,” noticeably not “LOVE.” Mike and Will have an awkward reunion and Will, looking disappointed, doesn’t give Mike the painting. El excitedly tells Mike she has their whole day planned while Will walks next to them, clearly left out. He looks at El in confusion when Mike asks El when he is going to meet her friends, Stacy and Angela. El brushes it off quickly and says he will meet them eventually.

As they exit the airport, we see Murray (Brett Gelman) hopping into a cab on his way to meet Joyce and figure out what the hell is up with that shady letter from Russia. When he gets to the Byers residence, he reads the full message: “Hop is alive. He look ford to date. Pleeze to make resarvazion, call 74152 blah, blah. . . Open 12 day P.E.T.T. No government, pls. Kind regards, Enzo.” Murray says it reads and looks too much like a ransom note and he doesn’t trust it, especially because there’s no proof that Hopper is alive in the note. Joyce says that only she and Hopper knew about their Enzo date, so it must be Hop sending her a message. Joyce, never one to be deterred, points out that there was no body. (Cardinal rule: we all saw that from a mile away when that episode aired.) Murray counters with a more likely theory that if he miraculously survived, he was probably captured by the KGB who tortured information out of him – including their date at Enzos – and this is all just an elaborate ruse to capture Joyce as Hop’s co-conspirator. Joyce convinces him to give it a shot, and he begrudgingly agrees to call the number. In Russia, a payphone rings and we see a man – Enzo (Tom Wlaschiha) – answer. He says if they want to get Hopper back, they have to go to Alaska and make a deposit of 40,000, which he knows is in Hopper’s trust. In Alaska, they will meet with a man named Yuri and give him the money, which he will then in turn give to Enzo. While he is talking, a woman outside the phone booth bangs on the door and yells something at him in Russian. Joyce says that if he wants her to go to Alaska, she needs to speak to Hop to confirm he is alive. Yuri informs her that isn’t possible because Hopper is “stuck,” but if she brings the 40,000, he will be “unstuck.”

Murray and Joyce listen to their recording of the phone call in an attempt to figure out who Enzo is. They are able to raise the volume of the woman speaking in the background to Enzo using Jonathan’s sound system. Murray translates that the woman called him a “mooser,” which is Russian slang for “pig” and is usually directed at cops or guards in Russia. Joyce and Murray realize that Hop must be “stuck” in prison and maybe bribed Enzo to break him out. Joyce tells Murray to pack because they are going to Alaska to get Hopper back.

Meanwhile, Jonathan and Argyle drop Mike, Will, and El off at Rink-o-Mania where a miserable Will is forced to play the third wheel all afternoon. El lies to Mike and says she goes to parties here at the skating rink all the time. Will confronts her when he and El get a minute alone and tells her Mike doesn’t deserve to be lied to, and he’s going to be upset when he finds out. Unfortunately for El, it looks like her lies are about to unravel, because Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin) and her pack of high school hyenas show up at the rink. They are delighted to see El, or “the snitch” as they’re now calling her, obviously jumping at the opportunity to humiliate her in front of her boyfriend. They go over to El’s table to introduce themselves, and Mike tells her it’s nice to finally get to meet one of El’s friends. Angela puts on her fakest smile and tugs El out of the booth to come skate with her. Will looks on nervously as Angela pulls El along the rink and a circle slowly forms, leaving El in the center. One of Angela’s friends is holding up a giant video camera when one of the DJs announces that the next song is dedicated to Jane. Will hurriedly explains to Mike in a panic that El has been lying to him and that she has actually been having a hard time in California. “Wipeout” starts to play as all the kids start rolling up to El and call her a “freak” and a “loser” as they mockingly stretch their hands out like El did earlier when she instinctively reached for her powers. El starts to cover her ears and cry while Mike races to the DJ and demands they turn it off. Just as the record comes to a screeching halt, one of Angela’s lackeys rolls up to El and throws a chocolate milkshake at her, causing her to slip on her skates and fall backward. Mike calls out to El and tries to break through the crowd while El makes an escape from the rink.

While Mike is looking for El, he asks why Will has been moping all day, and Will tells him with frustration that El has been lying to him ever since he got there. Not to mention, he’s been a third wheel all day. Will calls Mike out for only calling him a handful of times over the course of the year they’ve been gone, while El has a book of letters from him. Will says they are supposed to be best friends, and Mike shrugs him off, annoyed, and asks why Will didn’t reach out more and why it has to be all his fault.

El decides to confront Angela and demand an apology. Angela, of course, laughs and smiles like the Cheshire cat and mockingly tells her, “Cry to your Daddy,” but “Oh wait! You can’t.” As she turns away El screams her name, but this time, instead of trying and failing to use her powers, she does the next best thing her instincts think of. She grabs a roller skate and smashes it in Angela’s face. Angela is stunned as blood starts pouring down her face, and she starts screaming. It dawns on El what she has done as she watches everyone race over to Angela. Mike looks at El and echoes Dr. Brenner when he asks, “What did you do?!” (If anything, Angela got off easy. That skate was plastic. Imagine what El could do to her if she had her powers.)

Jonathan and Argyle, meanwhile, are hitting golf balls at an abandoned junkyard while the kids are at the rink. Jonathan admits he secretly hoped Nancy would surprise him at the airport, but he also felt relief when she wasn’t there. He shows Argyle his acceptance letter to Lenora Community College and confides in him that he is not going to Emerson because he doesn’t want to leave his mom and brother to go chase a dream that isn’t his. If he told Nancy the truth, she’d throw her dreams out the window to be with him instead, and eventually, she’d grow to resent him.

In Hawkins, everyone is watching the news where there are reports of an unnamed teenage girl who has just been found murdered. The cops question Jason (Mason Dye) about Chrissy’s whereabouts last night: was she partying with them after the game? Did she purchase drugs to bring to the party? What is her relationship with Eddie Munson? Jason is stunned and terrified and tells them Chrissy said she was going home after the game to change. He insists that she would never do drugs and has nothing to do with a freak like Eddie. He storms into the woods and falls to his knees as he begins to sob and lets out a guttural scream. Later, he tells his boys that Eddie is a satanist who must have sacrificed Chrissy to the devil. He claims that Hellfire is a satanic cult. When Lucas tentatively tells him it is just a D&D club, Jason insists that there is an epidemic sweeping the country where people who play D&D are warping fantasy and reality and killing people. Convinced Eddie is going to kill again, Jason gives another one of his stupid motivational speeches where he rallies his teammates to hunt “the freak,” Eddie Munson.

Max confides in Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) that she saw Eddie with Chrissy last night. Dustin asks why she hadn’t told the cops, and she admits that it wasn’t the only thing she saw. While sitting on the couch watching TV, her power started to flicker in and out – uncomfortably familiar to the Hawkins kids at this point – when she heard Eddie scream and saw him run to his van. Max asks Dustin if it could be possible that the Upside Down is interfering with Hawkins yet again (they really need to get a grip on this whole gate situation). They team up with Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) at the video store where they fill them in on what they know. They manage to track Eddie down at his Reefer Rick’s (his drug dealer) house. After Eddie relays the horrific events of the night prior, he is wary when Dustin tells him they believe him. Dustin decides it is time to fill him in on the Upside Down. He asks Eddie if he saw anything that looked like swirling dust. Eddie says no, but it seemed like Chrissy was under a spell. It dawns on both Dustin and Eddie at the same time: Vecna’s curse. Vecna is, as Dustin explains, “an undead creature of great power. A spell caster. A dark wizard.” As Dustin is explaining, we see Vecna connected to what looks like eight vines, as if he is charging. He slowly kneels and opens his eyes. The camera zooms out, and we see he is holed up in some terrifying-looking house in the Upside Down.

Meanwhile, Nancy and Fred convince the cops patrolling the trailer park to let them in to “check in” on their good friend Max, when really they are there to get the scoop. As they are trying to fool the cop, he suddenly looks at Fred strangely and says he knows him — Fred was the one who killed that kid last year in a car crash. Fred looks petrified as suddenly the cop’s voice starts to grow distorted (nice knowing you, Fred) and his eyes turn white as his skin starts to rot. He begins to chant “murderer” repeatedly to a horrified Fred. Suddenly, everything snaps back to normal, and Nancy and the cop are looking at him strangely.

Nancy manages to talk to Eddie’s uncle and convince him to tell her his side of the story. Wayne says that Eddie may look dangerous, but it just isn’t in his nature to do something like this. Wayne believes that a man named Victor Creel killed Chrissy. Back when Wayne was a kid, Victor Creel lost his mind and killed his wife and kids and took out their eyes. Wayne thinks that Victor Creel somehow broke out of Pennhurst Asylum and killed Chrissy just like he did with his family.

As Nancy talks to Wayne, Fred starts to hear the dreaded sound of the chiming clock. He walks into the woods where he sees the clock lying on the ground and a group of people all dressed in black, standing eerily still with their heads down. A little girl slowly lifts her head and points at Fred, her outstretched hand morphing into what looks like Vecna’s creepy claw-like hand. The rest of the people slowly lift their heads, their faces looking like straight-up walkers from The Walking Dead, and start to chant, “Murderer!”

Nancy suddenly realizes Fred is not where she left him by the fence. Panicked when she can’t find him, she tells the cop on patrol. We see Fred running terrified through the woods, ending up on the road, dark, with no cars around except for one. Fred approaches the car slowly, a look of terror on his face. The car is upside down and consumed with flames. He sees a boy crawl out of the car, bloody, desperately calling out for help. Fred falls backward into a grave where he turns to see a rotting corpse next to him. Then (here it comes), he hears his name. Vecna slowly walks through a tunnel leading into the grave and tells Fred he wants him to join him. He stretches out his claw-like hand as Fred floats up in the air on the road. Fred’s bones begin to snap, and his eyes pop out as he suffers the same horrific fate as Chrissy — and the episode comes to another horrifying conclusion.

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