Episode 4: The Body
Recap:This is a sad one because we fall into the emotions of Will’s body being found in the lake at the bottom of the quarry. Hopper does his best to deal with Joyce and her continued downfall into supposed insanity. She remains convinced she’s talking to Will through the lights. He uses the loss of his daughter as a means to assure her that she’s grieving and should do so. The addition of saying the monster with no face coming through the wall (there’s no evidence of this as it looks like the wall “repaired” itself) does Joyce no good either. Once the cops leave, we see Jonathan dealing with everything in his own way (trapped in music like teens often do) while Joyce is grabbing an axe from the shed, ready to protect herself if the monster returns.
Mike is grieving in his own way down in the basement, pushed further into anger as Eleven sits off in her makeshift tent, messing around with his walkie talkie. Things change rather quickly though when Will’s voice breaks through the static, singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”. Eleven’s nose bleed suggests her powers go beyond just the telekinesis.
Mike stays home yet again (good thing he has such understanding parents) and reaches out to Lucas. After some effort, Lucas agrees to get Dustin and bring him over to Mike’s who knows Will’s alive.
Police Chief Hopper is at the morgue and discovers state police performed the autopsy on Will’s body which doesn’t fit and prods his suspicions. Joyce and Jonathan are there too to identify the body. Jonathan gets sick and leaves while Joyce asks about a birthmark. Hop and Jon talk a bit about Joyce and her strength before she storms out, screaming that that “thing” on the observation table is not her son. We see a heated argument between Jonathan and Joyce out in the street (for all to see!) and they’re at definite odds about the body and what to do next.
The boys are altogether and listening for Will on the walkie talkie as Eleven tries locating him again. Dustin compares Eleven to Professor X (this kid’s the best with his moments of levity) as she tries to connect to Will but as she’s unsuccessful, they form a plan to take her to their school to use Mr. Clarke’s ham radio. Paying homage to E.T. once again, we see Eleven dress up like a “normal” girl with a blonde wig and dress in order to break her in. When Eleven looks in the mirror, you can see the joy in her face as she says she looks pretty, a compliment she gave when first seeing Nancy’s picture.
Things go Poltergeist yet again when the Hawkins Lab folks send one of their own, a guy named Shepherd, into the fungal portal in the basement. Fit with a retractable steel wire get-up, he goes in and things get weird fast as he runs his hand over the portal opening, tearing away the “gunk” only to see it reform on its own. He goes through, loses communication with Dr. Brenner on the other side, only to finally report in, be attacked by something, and we never see him again. All that’s left is the bloody harness at the end of the wire as it retracts. This sequence also kind of reminded me of Dallas going into the venting system of the Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s “Alien”. I think if we could have seen Shepherd in the portal dimension, we could have got some good old fashioned suspense!Nancy tells Stevo about seeing a guy with no face in his yard, to which he’s more concerned about the cops investigating and finding they had booze at the party (way to go with those priorities, Stevo). Nancy leaves him angry and unable to concentrate in class when Hopper’s deputies question her about Barb. Nancy’s mom is there too and tries to get more information out of Nancy afterwards. Full meltdown sees Nancy confess she and Stevo did the deed but the more important matter is Barb. Alone in her room, Nancy puts the torn picture of Barb on the diving board back together and notices something strange behind Barb in the photo.
Copper Hopper puts on his detective garb after talking to the Hawkins mortician about the state police showing up to do Will’s autopsy. He notices a state trooper on tv giving an interview about finding Will’s body. Hopper finds the guy in a bar (not sure how but he’s a small town cop with big city cop skills) and strikes up a conversation, gathering info before going to far and spooking the guy. Outside the bar, Hop uses his fists to get straight answers before noticing a suspicious car nearby and driving off once he goes to confront whoever is in the car.
The boys and Eleven make it to school but can’t get into the ham radio room before Mr. Clarke shows up and promises the boys can use the radio after the school assembly taking place in light of Will’s body being found. Mike is not happy about the bullies making fun of the situation and confronts them afterward, growing a pair and pushing one from behind. Before retribution can be delivered, the bully freezes in mid-stride. Humiliations galore follow when the kid pees himself so the gym full of students can laugh at him. Mike turns to see Eleven wipe blood from her nose (straight up gangsta!).Jonathan is alone picking out a coffin when Nancy shows up. She shows him the picture but he’s not sure what the form is standing behind Barb. She tells him about what she saw at Steve’s place. Jonathan asks what he looked like and as she struggles to explain, Jonathan completes the description by saying he didn’t have a face. Connections happening!
They go to enlarge the picture of Barb in the darkroom at the high school and we get some angsty awkwardness between them. The picture shows the monster and Nancy says that’s what she saw at Steve’s. They think if Will’s alive (based on Joyce’s claims) then so is Barb.
The boys and Eleven are at the ham radio. Cue a flashback and Eleven is being told by Brenner to locate a man and relay what the man is saying. To Brenner’s surprise, the man’s voice comes on over the PA system in the room. Her nose bleeds yet again and the lights start doing weird things. This girl just gets the raw end of a childhood, doesn’t she?
All the while, Joyce is blasting The Clash and calling for Will to talk to her. This is intercut with Eleven doing her thing and Will’s voice coming through the ham radio. The boys call out to him but he doesn’t hear them as he’s talking to Joyce. She tracks Will’s voice to one of the walls in the house, pulls back the wallpaper and tada! Will is there behind some pinkish translucent wall. He says he’s home but its dark and different (different dimension theory coming more and more true). He runs when he hears the monster is coming. Joyce goes full Jack Torrence from “The Shining” and takes the axe to the wall but there’s no Will on the other side. Just daylight. So, Will’s alive and Joyce and the boys know it to be true.Jump back to Hopper and we see him punch his way to the morgue room where Will’s body is. Conflicted and maybe somewhat sickened at the idea of cutting open the body, Hopper touches the body, finding something wrong. He cuts into the chest and finds the body is stuffed with cotton. Conspiracy alert! Can’t stop the Hop goes to Hawkins with bolt cutters and begins to make his way through the fence when the episode ends.
Reaction: There’s a lot happening in these episodes now and you can easily get lost in the craziness. For me, this episode showcased great emotional performances. From Eleven’s seeing herself dressed up to Hopper’s struggle to cut into fake Will’s body. Nothing has to be said in these scenes. Read the characters and you see so much happening internally.
80s Refs: Poltergeist, The Shining, Stand By Me based on Stephen King’s novella, “The Body”, Alien, Professor X.
Call to Action: The title of this episode, “The Body”, is the same title as a short story written by Stephen King. Four friends hear about the body of a kid hit by a train and go out into the wilds to find it. Sound familiar? Well, it would since it’s the amazing film, “Stand By Me”. You can find many similarities in the boys of the movie and those in Stranger Things. There’s this idea of adolescence lost and friendship strengthened that speak volumes. Revisit it if you have a chance!