Warning: This recap of the “Chapter Four: Will the Wise” episode of Stranger Things contains spoilers.
To be alive is to spend a lifetime discovering all the ways the human body can feel terrible. At birth, we learn the pain of simple hunger; childhood brings skinned knees and chickenpox; teen years are a hellscape of the heart. And THEN our bodies begin to truly fall apart in gruesome ways for the next six decades. Being alive is painful enough, but there are things out there that could make our lives even more unpleasant. Like, for example, interdimensional smoke tendrils that invade all your face holes as you scream into the void. That was one lesson in unpleasantness Will Byers learned about in “Chapter Four: Will the Wise.” To paraphrase the old adage, “It gets worse.” Let’s talk about this episode!
We began with a pea-green Pinto racing through a school zone!
After connecting the dots on some TV static, Winona Ryder (as herself) knew her son was in trouble RIGHT NOW.
And once again, Winona Ryder’s maternal instincts proved prescient! She arrived at Will’s middle school just in time to see him standing in the middle of the field, eyes rolled to the back of his head, just sort of shimmying but in a unfun way. This wasn’t a daytime rave. This was an interdimensional possession!
Yep, his unintentional astral projection and then monster heckling led to this moment: Shadow tendrils fingering all of his face holes without his consent! It looked very bad and painful. Like getting pool water in your nose, but worse, probably.
Later, Will explained that he now had a presence inside of him, like whatever that monster was could now see through his eyes. It’s a spooky thought, especially if you were to undress in front of a mirror or whatever, just no privacy. Also, this thing wanted to end humanity, so that was another thing to deal with. (At this point, it needs to be pointed out that this actor Noah Schnapp is truly an incredible actor. He’s had multiple monologues in this season that have been seriously Emmy-worthy. Give him one please, why not?)
We then saw the fallout from Eleven’s day out. In short, Sheriff Hopper was pretty ticked about her leaving the Evil Dead cabin, and they got into a surprisingly nasty shouting match about it, complete with telekinetic book-throwing and shattered windows.
Now, I haven’t been a parent in years (long story), but I’d imagine this scene was relatable to parents whose protectiveness toward their children can sometimes come across as rageful and unloving. What a terrible position to find yourself in! Like, obviously he wanted what’s best for Eleven, but couldn’t he also understand the psychological torment she’s experiencing locked away by herself all day? Just not a great situation for anyone.
Over at Dustin’s house, he was still feeding Three Musketeers to Dart, and the damn thing just kept getting bigger. I’m not sure why Dustin was finding this situation so charming, because this creature was clearly a hell creature that belonged in hell. Still, it was multicolored and looked like a squeaky toy, so that clearly counted for something.
Um. So Stranger Things had a shower scene in this episode. Billy and his nameless friend were razzing Steve about how Nancy was hanging with Jonathan, but Billy came across as genuinely kinda-sorta wanting to give good advice? Sure, it was condescending and involved humiliation-nudity, but I felt like there was a chance Billy wants to be friends with Steve and doesn’t know how to tell him. Or is that just the slash-fic I’m writing? Either way, this was a terrific scene and another good Emmy clip for all involved.
Speaking of Nancy and Jonathan, it was time for them to put their secret plan into motion. Last week, they intentionally attracted the attention of the Department of Energy by calling Barb’s mom on a tapped line and asking her to meet so they could tell her simply EVERYTHING. So now it was a matter of waiting on a bench and eyeballing all the strangers around them. Which was an undercover agent watching them? The answer was, ALL OF THEM.
The spookiest part was when the duo made a dash to their car and found it suddenly surrounded by “ordinary” people with steely gazes. Man, this shadow organization does not mess around!
Anyway, they ended up getting taken into the Department of Energy, where Dr. Paul Reiser (as himself) admonished them for not keeping their secret, and threatened that it was his job to do whatever it took to prevent people from finding out that they’d accidentally created a dimensional rift. What if the Soviets found out?! But I felt that it was very cool of him to let them take a look at the rift itself. Very show-don’t-tell of him, and I respected that. So Nancy and Jonathan nodded that secrecy was a good policy, and they bade him adieu.
Except Nancy got it all on tape! Including the part when Dr. Paul Reiser casually mentioned that Barb was indeed dead. Nancy is a rascal!
Back at Will’s house, he was struggling with body temperature issues, as the shadow presence in his body did not want him to do anything warm, like hot baths or wearing clothes or eating hot salsa. But when he kept failing to put into words what he was experiencing, his mom (Winona Ryder) suggested that instead of talking, he should just mindlessly grind his crayons into whatever papers they could rustle up. And would you know it? It wasn’t just random scribbles. … It suddenly all came together!
Will had been drawing a network of vines or tunnels or something. And now it was covering the parquet!
At school, a furious Mike demanded that the group get together and talk about what was going on with Will, but he refused to let Max into the discussion. He obviously had a real chip on his shoulder about another girl joining the group, and this hurt Max’s feelings. Lucas tried to make it up to her, but when she asked him what exactly had been going on, he stayed mum. This made her pretty steamed!
But perfect Billy was even more steamed, mostly because he didn’t want her hanging out with “those” people. Now obviously there was a racial connotation to this, considering he’d just seen her with Lucas, but something tells me he knows more than he’s saying about what’s going on in this town. That’s just my opinion, folks!
Eleven decided she’d clean up the cabin using a minimum of telekinesis, and eventually, she discovered a secret door in the floor that led to a trove of bankers’ boxes. Including one, helpfully called “Hawkins Lab,” which contained a file folder about HERSELF and her mother. Before Eleven was Eleven, she was a baby named Jane who’d been separated from her mother, and her mother had unsuccessfully sued Matthew Modine (as himself) to get her back. Because Eleven had had moms on the brain recently, this was her cue to put on a blindfold and attempt to mind-meld with her mother.
But their psychic connection was tenuous at best, and her (seemingly catatonic) mother disappeared into the ether! It was a sad metaphor to be sure, I’ll explain later.
Back at Dustin’s house, he went to go feed Dart but discovered that not only had it broken out of his terrarium, it had shed its previous form! Also, it was now in the corner EATING HIS CAT.
CONFIRMED: Dart is a baby demogorgon! So yes, a demogorgon had knocked up Will in the Upside Down, Will had upchucked a slug, and that slug has now started to transmogrify into a demogorgon. Not quite as adorable as Dustin thought, in other words.
Finally, Sheriff Hopper decided to look into this vine situation (currently mapped out in the Byers’ living room) and dug a hole in one of the blighted pumpkin patches. Within minutes he dropped down into a tunnel filled with those sinister floating specks. He was now in the Upside Down, and worse, it appeared the Upside Down had winnowed its way beneath all of Hawkins! Not great, Bob.
While not as shocking as the ending of last week’s episode, the dread of this revelation was unbearable. This town was in mega danger and once again, only a small band of heroes would be able to do anything about it. “Chapter Four: Will the Wise” was another captivating hour in a season that is already fantastic as far as I’m concerned. But we’re not even halfway through, so a lot could still happen. Hey, let’s watch another one!
Stranger Things is streaming now on Netflix.
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• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Two recap: Going crazy together
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Three recap: Reunited and it feels so slimy
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Four recap: What happened to Baby Jane?
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Five recap: Tangled and Strangled
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Six recap: They’re heeeere
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Seven recap: Baby’s day out
• ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Chapter Eight recap: Blackout forever
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