Things fall apart in Hawkins as religious zealotry takes over in a genuinely frightening episode where the fate of a beloved character is left with a bleak outlook going into the next episode.
This recap of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 4, episode 6, “The Dive Curse,” contains spoilers.
Stranger Things season 4, episode 6 recap
I think it is time for Rob Morgan’s Officer Powell to stop bringing Officer Callahan along for interviews. Every time a young or older man or woman explains they saw unspeakable things, he smirks and rolls his eyes. Frankly, it just irritates the witness to no end. Take Jason, for example. He just saw Patrick die. You’d think Callahan would show empathy since they rolled up to the lake and found Jason holding his friend in his arms. Jason tells them it wasn’t necessarily Eddie. He is just a vessel for the devil. He is the one who did this. (Jason here is an interesting example of religious zealotry and white supremacy going hand in hand and being morally superior to everyone around him).
Jason and his other basketball players show up at a town meeting claiming The Hellfire Club is a cult. They hand out a picture of the members, including Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Eddie, and others. Do Mike or Lucas’s parents stand up to defend their child? Dustin’s mother? No. The only one who does is Erica, who tells them it’s just a club for nerds to play their D & D and not a cult. Jason is convincing, and almost everyone leaves the town hall meeting set on finding the club members.
When we check on Team Hawkins and Team Lenora, both search for one person. The Lenora four reach Suzie’s house. They knock on the door and enter. (Also, they do something on television that drives me crazy — the door is left wide open). Suzie has seven brothers and sisters. One of them, Eden, looks at Argyle, and they are immediately in love. They find Suzie on the roof working on her antenna. She can trace the IP address and locate where El is located – Nevada.
The Hawkins’ five get a hold of Eddie, hiding out at Skull Rock. Steve knows where it is, and they leave immediately. When they locate Eddie, Dustin finds a small portion of electrical interference, and this could be a sign that there is a gateway open to Vecna. They think it is in the lake. And, if you remember, we saw some of these creepy vines moving at the bottom when the cops found Jason holding Patrick.
One thing that the Duffer brothers tend to capture is the mistrust of government. Yes, that directly reflects the Trump administration, but government mistrust has been happening since the early 70s FBI records heist in Media, Pennsylvania. Here, you don’t know who to trust because the Duffer’s do not want us to charge any. You have dueling government factions trying to fight over Eleven – the U.S. Military and the Department of Energy.
The military, Lt. Colonel Sullivan, tortures the other unknown Department of Energy hero agent. He won’t give El up (or can’t because he doesn’t know where she is). However, can you trust the Department of Energy? They kidnap children, and people like Owens and Brenner openly deceive El. The military may want to weaponize El, but does Brenner want El to save the world? As we see with Peter, the lab orderly, El remembers that he told her Brenner doesn’t always tell the truth. He also brings up her mother and the lie El was fed.
It is more likely Peter represents Eleven’s subconscious in the saltwater bath memories not to trust Dr. Brenner, even today. My theory is put into question almost immediately when Brenner has a sumo wrestling mind game of sorts. He puts one kid in each circle, and each has to try to move the other with their mind. Two beats Six first off and clears each one, sending every child into a wall.
That’s until he meets El, who sends him into a double-sided mirror, cracking it (they need to add padding). For the first time, Brenner acknowledges Peter, by looking his way as he stands behind him. Has he been using the orderly to implant mistrust that leads to anger, fear, and El locating her powers? When Brenner looks back at El, she is no longer the teenager she has been hiding in Nevada. She is that little child we saw destroy the lab in the flashback that started the season. Was Peter a tool to help El bring out her powers? Though, he could still be a memory warning her about the future.
That mistrust is also represented in Hopper. You have Mike’s father, an older generation who thinks everyone should trust the government and FBI. Compare that to Hopper, who went to Vietnam and had exposure to Agent Orange. The two are archetypes of rival beliefs in the U.S. Government at the time. Hopper, even before this season, was full of cynicism. Take, for instance, the final meal for the Russian prisoner.
Hopper, Dmitri, and six others are provided a feast in a warm room. One Russian prisoner is prideful because, as he tells the group, they need strength to fight whatever monster the prisoners fight on a weekly basis. However, Hopper jumps in. They are not being fed to honor proud or exultant men. Hopper and the rest are being fed to get fatter and tastier. Why? So, the Russian military can feed the beast to grow strong, so they weaponize it.
Just like Eleven.
Joyce and Murray plan for the latter to be Yuri and escort her and the smuggler into the prison to free Hopper. To have a chance to defeat the Demodog, Hopper starts a fight so he can grab a lighter off the guard. As he tells Dmitri later, as he pulls the bottle of Vodka out of his coat, the only thing those monsters are afraid of is fire. They have a good laugh about it, as once enemies and now buddies do.
What happens next is enlightening and tragic. El remembers Brenner torturing Peter at the hands of two orderlies by knocking him out with two cattle-sized stun guns as they drag him away. This brings up an interesting point. Brenner wanted to bring the children along slowly and warned them not to use fear or hate to bring out their powers. In Brenner’s experiments, Peter’s actions were an unintended consequence or uncontrolled factor that led to a massacre. I’m still not convinced Brenner is a good guy, however. It can be an afterthought that Peter is trying to help her.
However, let’s get back to El. She runs back into the rainbow room and is bulled by four of her mates, led by Two. She is pushed, bullied, and terrorized, just like Angela. They leave, and she looks into the two-way mirror and sees herself as a young child. Her hands and eyes are bloody, and the reflection in the mirror shows the aftermath of those first eight minutes. When she wakes up, she tells Owens and Brenner she now remembers what she did.
Finally, the Hawkins group is split as Nancy, Robin, Eddie, and Steve head out into the lake. Steve volunteers to dive down to find the opening, and he locates it. Glowing red, he touches it, and it’s solid. He gets scared when one of those vines knocks against it from the other side. He reaches the boat and tells them what he found. That vine pulls him down to the other side, known as the Upside Down. The episode ends with Steve being attacked by demonic bats that choke him with their long tails and begin to claw at his body.
It doesn’t look good for Steve. At this point, a death by Vecna looks more humane.
What did you think of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 4, episode 6? Let us know in the comments below!