Home TV Series Stranger Things: Season 3, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: The Sauna Test” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Stranger Things: Season 3, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: The Sauna Test” – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

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Title Card - Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 4 Chapter Four The Sauna Test

We’re halfway through the season and are treated to El’s first fight with the Mind Flayer. Which happens to coincide with a new development when it comes to the Russians.

Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Kate Trefry
Air Date 7/4/2019
Noted This Episode
Mayor Larry Kline Cary Elwes
Mrs. Driscoll Peggy Miley
Karen Wheeler Cara Buono

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A Woman Ahead Of Her Time: Tom, Jonathan, Mrs. Wheeler, Nancy, Mrs. Driscoll

With reports coming into Tom about Jonathan and Nancy’s interaction with Mrs. Driscoll, after a verbal tongue lashing, they are fired. Following that, upset that they got fired, Jonathan and Nancy have an argument which becomes a battle of being a well-off woman vs. being a poor man. A fight which creates a bit of a stalemate.

But, Nancy is focused on and catered to, and the argument is pushed from the classism one Jonathan was arguing to the sexism one Nancy was pushing. Leading to, for a moment, Nancy acknowledging she really didn’t give a damn about Jonathan’s employment and was acting selfishly. But then her mother swoops in and encourages Nancy to be bold and saying she always admired her for it. Particularly since she wasn’t that bold in her own life and has come to regret it.

Thus bringing Nancy back to the case and lying to hospital staff to continue her investigation. Showing she has no issue with ethics if it means getting her story and sticking it to Tom.

Starcourt Mall Controversy: Larry, Joyce, Hopper, Robin, Dustin, Steve, Erica

Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes) being smug.

Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes)

After getting his butt beat, and Joyce mentioning a man on a motorcycle – a rare thing to be seen in Hawkins – Hopper decides to visit Mayor Larry and beat him within an inch of his life. All in an effort to find out who that motorcycle person was and slowly going down the rabbit hole and discovering that said motorcyclist is connected to the owners of the new Starcourt Mall. Now, why buy up Hawkins land and make a mall? Well, for a cover-up so they can tap into the local power supply. Which, while the US government may not be utilizing the power infrastructure, it seems the Russians likely are.

Need more proof? Well, after arranging free ice cream for life, Erica gets into that secret holding facility, and after Steve and Dustin hit a bunch of random buttons, they fly down many flights to who knows where. But, based on how things look, more than likely they will head to a lab similar to the one we saw before. Possibly with a new rift but with no one who has the powers to close it.

Battle 1: Billy, El, Mike, Max, Lucas, Will

Despite the issues between the boys and the girls, they come together after Lucas puts out a red alert due to Will thinking the Mind Flayer is back. Combine that with El’s suspicions and it leads to everyone focusing on Billy and hoping to sweat out the Mind Flayer, hence the episode’s title, since they use a sauna room.

But, while all goes to plan in terms of trapping Billy, the thereafter? Not so much. For one, they aren’t able to keep Billy locked up in the room and two, he nearly kills El – the only weapon the town has against Billy and the Mind Flayer. Luckily though, Mike steps up and keeps El from getting choked out and then she flings Billy through a brick wall. Leading to him retreating but it being made clear, with over 20 followers, the Mind Flayer may have lost the battle, but there remains the rest of the war.


Being A Poor Man v. Being A Rich Woman

Nancy and Jonathan in a car together.

Classism is often a minor player whenever sexism, or racism, is brought into play and one great example is this episode. For while Jonathan is a white male, he is also a poor white male. The kind which are often noted as forgotten and who feel oppressed. On the other side of things are women like Nancy. Those born into privilege through money and class, yet still are woman so they suffer from prejudice.

The show bringing this up isn’t surprising, for being poor is the core of Jonathan’s character, but what also isn’t surprising is that he was used as a step stool for Nancy’s story. One which, as seen, had her definitely dealing with sexism, but not in the way she made it appear. At least, it seemed more like the guys were teasing Nancy more than harassing her simply because she was a woman. Yet, with Nancy being privileged, used to the best, it seems she wanted to skip paying her dues, an industry-wide practice, and head straight into reporting. Something Jonathan calls out and shows further why sexism, like racism, is a very complicated topic when it comes to the workplace.

Expectations & Hopes For The Generation Which Follows

With that said, you have to take note Mrs. Wheeler, and Nancy’s conversation for it helps bridge the oppressive sexism of yore to the gray area Nancy is dealing with. Mrs. Wheeler, due to the time she was brought up, didn’t have the same opportunities as Nancy and while she could have fought to be one of the first or few, she didn’t have it in her. So to have a daughter with such spirit, it’s something to see.

Which we have also seen with Joyce, more so in previous seasons than this one. Her investing in Jonathan so he isn’t stuck in Hawkins and the world could be his oyster. Since, when it comes to both parents, while they may not always support the method their children choose to get to where they wanna go, especially since it puts them in danger, there is no denying they both love the tenacity they don’t necessarily see in themselves.


Erica enjoying her ice cream and showing she is a national treasure.

Erica: You can’t spell “America” without “Erica.”

Stranger Things is by no means a comedy, but Erica brings a realness you can’t help but laugh at or with. Especially her talking about what is being asked of her being child abuse. Since, all things considered, it is. Yet, she also reminds you how much the next generation have to sacrifice, in terms of safety and discomfort, to fix what the adults caused.

The First Battle Against The Mind Flayer

One of the main issues that will likely come from the battle of the Mind Flayer, as shown, is that he has an army. On top of that, the Mind Flayer has chosen someone strong as their host, and that means an actual fight needs to happen. The kind which could possibly kill Billy since, let’s face it, to take him down they had to use an iron pipe and throw him into a brick wall. Two acts which still allowed him to move with some speed. So the extent El and the rest will have to go, as those like Billy play upon their emotions, makes future battles far more dangerous than what we saw in season 1 or 2.

Joyce & Hopper’s Investigation

This team is just so amazing. Hopper is whooping people’s asses, granted ones who can’t fight worth a damn, and Joyce is there as backup and an enabler. Could you ask for more?

On The Fence


Taking note of what is said above, it is so difficult to get into Nancy’s storyline. I get she is meant to be imperfect and naive, thus making a lot of room for growth, but I can’t say there is much presented that makes you want to wait around for said growth. Primarily since there is such a push for her to get your sympathy, yet it isn’t like she is deserving of it.

Nancy talking to her mom.

But, you do have to admire how she is willing to exploit and lie to people to get ahead. Maybe even be kind to them, if she must, to maintain the relationship. Especially if she may need to take advantage of them later. Qualities I can’t name the source of, but I must admit it gives her some edge.

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Season Reviews

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Season/ EpisodeSynopsisEpisode InformationTopics & Focused Characters
Season 3, Episode 8 "Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt" [Season Finale]While the finale sets up a season 4, it makes clear that things won’t be the same. Either because of what happens during the fight with the Mind Flayer or the decisions made after.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Air Date 7/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Suzie Gabriella Pizzolo
  • A Battle To End All Battles: Murray, Dustin, Lucas, Will, Jonathan, Nancy, Mike, Max, Billy, El, Hopper, Joyce, Robin, Steve
  • This Is The End: Billy, Hopper, Max, Joyce, Suzie, Murray, Dustin, Mike, El, Grigori
  • 3 Months Later: Hopper, El, Mike, Joyce, Max
Season 3, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: The Sauna Test”We’re halfway through the season and are treated to El’s first fight with the Mind Flayer. Which happens to coincide with a new development when it comes to the Russians.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Kate Trefry
Air Date 7/4/2019
Noted This Episode
Mayor Larry Kline Cary Elwes
Mrs. Driscoll Peggy Miley
Karen Wheeler Cara Buono
  • A Woman Ahead Of Her Time: Tom, Jonathan, Mrs. Wheeler, Nancy, Mrs. Driscoll
  • Starcourt Mall Controversy: Larry, Joyce, Hopper, Robin, Dustin, Steve, Erica
  • Battle 1: Billy, El, Mike, Max, Lucas, Will
Season 3, Episode 3 “Chapter 3: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”The Russians land in Hawkins, and alongside them, the Mind Flayer’s plans begin to come to fruition.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) William Bridges
Air Date 7/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Tom Michael Park
Heather Francesca Reale
  • The Way Things Used To Be: Will, Lucas, Mike, Hopper, Joyce
  • The Investigation Continues: Robin, Steve, Dustin, Nancy, Jonathan
  • There Is Something Strange About Your Brother: El, Max, Billy, Tom, Heather
Season 3, Episode 5 “Chapter Five: The Flayed”As the Mind Flayer shows both a weakness and strength, Hopper meets up with an old friend and Steve’s crew make a grand discovery
Director(s) Uta Briesewitz
Writer(s) Paul Dichter
Air Date 7/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Grigori Andrey Ivchenko
Alexei Alec Utgoff
  • A Wild Goose Chase To A Crazy Goose: Grigori, Murray, Joyce, Alexei, Hopper
  • Below The Starcourt: Robin, Steve, Dustin, Erica
  • The Contingency Plan: Tom, El, Mike, Lucas, Max, Jonathan, Nancy, Will
Season 3, Episode 6 “Chapter Six: E. Pluribus Unum”On top of learning why the Russians are in Hawkins, El ventures into Billy’s past and discovers why he is the way he is – in more ways than one.
Director(s) Uta Briesewitz
Writer(s) Curtis Gwinn
Air Date 7/4/2019
  • Paging Dr. Owens: Alexei, Murray, Joyce, Hopper
  • Catching Up On Old Times: Erica, Dustin, Robin, Steve
  • A Mind Is A Terrible Place To Visit: El, Billy, Mike, Max, Nancy
Season 3, Episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Bite”Two secrets are revealed, we experience the first notable death of the season, and the gang begins to converge as the Mind Flayer makes its first major move.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Air Date 7/4/2019
  • Goodbye Comrade: Alexei, Murray, Larry, Joyce, Hopper, Grigori
  • A Major Blow To El: El, Mike, Max, Lucas, Nancy
  • The Gang Is, Mostly, All Here: El, Erica, Steve, Robin, Dustin
Season 3, Episode 2 “Chapter 2: The Mall Rats”As Billy becomes a pawn to the Mind Flayer, Dustin helps integrate Robin into the crew. Also, El comes to Max about boy problems.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Air Date 7/4/2019
  • Raving Rabid Rats: Nancy, Jonathan
  • Stupid Boys: Robin, Dustin, Steve, Max, El, Mike, Lucas
  • It’s Something I Needed To Do: Joyce, Hopper, Billy, Mr. Clark
Season 3, Episode 1 “Chapter 1: Suzie, Do You Copy?” [Season Premiere]It’s the summer of love, and for those without someone warm to spend the cold nights with, desperation is sinking in. Also, the rats are starting to explode.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Air Date 7/4/2019
Introduced This Episode
Robin Maya Hawke
  • It’s A Lonely Life: Steve, Robin, Hopper, Joyce
  • To Be Young & In Love: El, Mike, Hopper, Lucas, Max, Dustin
  • Something Is Going On: Nancy, Billy, Will
Season 1/ Episode 2 “Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street”As Eleven begins to freak-out Lucas and Dustin, the search for Will leads to weird situations. All the while, Nancy might lose more than her virginity.
Director(s) Matt and Ross Duffer
Writer(s) Matt and Ross Duffer
Notable Guest Stars
Lonnie Ross Partridge
  • A Family In Tatters: Joyce, Jonathan
  • So, My Parents Won’t Be Home: Steve, Nancy, Barbara, Jonathan
  • The Search Continues: Lucas, Dustin, Mike, Eleven, Sheriff Hopper
Season 1/ Episode 3 “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly”The truth about Eleven lurks about as something is contacting Joyce through lights.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Matt and Ross Duffer

Notable Guest Stars

Nicole Glennellen Anderson
Terry Ives Aimee Mullins
  • Have You Seen Barbara?: Barbara, Nancy, Jonathan
  • What Happens In Hawkins, Stays In Hawkins: Dr. Benner, Eleven, Hopper
  • The Body In The Water: Joyce, Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Hopper
Season 1/ Episode 4 “Chapter Four: The Body”While one missing person we are given some hope for, it doesn’t look good for the other one at all.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Justin Doble
  • A Body Is Found: Mike, Joyce, Eleven
  • Looking for Barbara: Steve, Nancy, Jonathan
  • And The Lie Detector Test Determined, That Is A Lie: Joyce, Hopper, Will, Eleven, Mike
Season 1/ Episode 5 “Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat”It’s the day of Will’s funeral and while the fake body is being put into the ground, the search for the real Will intensifies.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) Alison Tatlock
  • Did You Ever Really Care?: Lonnie, Joyce
  • Don’t Ever Underestimate the Hopper: Sheriff Hopper, Joyce
  • The Upside Down: Eleven, Nancy, Jonathan, Mike, Lucas, Dustin
Season 1/ Episode 6 “Chapter 6: The Monster”As Hopper and Joyce meet Terry Ives, Dustin and Mike go on a search for Eleven. Also, Jonathan and Nancy grow closer.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) Jessie Nickson-Lopez
Newly Introduced Characters
Becky Ives Amy Seimetz
  • Love Makes a Boy do Foolish Things: Nancy, Jonathan, Steve
  • Jane: Hopper, Joyce, Terry, Becky
  • The Search for Eleven: Lucas, Mike, Dustin, Eleven
Season 1/ Episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Bathtub”The penultimate episode of the season brings us one step closer to Will possibly being saved. But, with the way he looks, it seems time is running out.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) Justin Doble
  • The Bad Men Are Coming: Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Karen, Dr. Benner
  • Should I Stay Or Should I Go: Nancy, Jonathan, Hopper, Joyce, Mike, Lucas, Eleven, Dustin, Mr. Clarke, Will
Season 1/ Episode 8 “Chapter 8: The Upside Down” [Season Finale]And so Season 1 comes to an end with a few touching moments but some eyebrow-raising events and a sacrifice.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) (Teleplay) The Duffer Brothers | (Story) Paul Duchter
Characters Introduced
Sarah Elle Graham
  • Sarah & Will: Hopper, Joyce, Dr. Benner
  • The Hunt For The Demogorgon & Eleven: Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Dr. Benner
  • One Month Later: Will, Hopper, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Joyce, Jonathan, Steve
Season 2/ Episode 1 “Chapter 1: MADMAX” [Season Premiere]The boys are back and there is a new girl who may tear them apart. That is, if this thing Will sees doesn’t get to them first.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Characters Introduced
Murray Brett Gelman
Max Sadie Sink
Bob Sean Astin
Dr. Owens Paul Reiser
Kali Linnea Berthelsen
Merril Fenton Lawless
  • Less Than Eleven: Kali
  • What Is Normal?: Dustin, Max, Lucas, Mike, Will, Jonathan, Nancy, Dustin, Joyce
  • Gone But Not Forgotten: Hopper, Joyce, Dr. Owens, Murray, Mike
Season 2/ Episode 2 “Trick or Treat, Freak”As Will confides in Mike, and Nancy gets tired of everyone acting like Barbara isn’t gone, something is afoot with the local plant life.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Characters Introduced
Erica Priah Ferguson
Mrs. Sinclair Karen Ceesay
Billy Dacre Montgomery
Samantha Shea Jones
  • How Eleven & Hopper Met Up: Eleven
  • It’s Like Everyone Forgotten: Nancy, Steve, Jonathan
  • Welcome To The Party: Max, Lucas, Dustin, Will, Mike, Billy
Season 2/ Episode 3 “The Pollywog”As Will continues to deal with his ability to go to the Upside Down, Dustin discovers what came out of Will last year. Alongside that, Eleven meets Max.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Justin Doble
  • I Thought We Had a Deal?: Dr. Owens, Hopper
  • The Truth Has To Be Told: Steve, Nancy, Jonathan
  • You Don’t Even Know What You Did: Will, Dustin, Eleven, Max, Mike
Season 2/ Episode 4 “Chapter Four: Will The Wise”As Eleven shows she cannot be tamed or punished, Will reveals his truth and Nancy seeks to expose Hawkins’ Labs.
Director(s) Shawn Levy
Writer(s) Paul Dichter
  • Raising a Child with Tekekinses & Who Hates Liars: Hopper, Eleven
  • We’re Going To Burn That Place Down: Nancy, Jonathan, Dr. Owens
  • Telling Your Secrets Don’t Always Lead To Answers: Max, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, Joyce, Will, Hopper
Season 2/ Episode 5 “Chapter Five: Dig Dug”As three new people learn the truth of what happened last year and now, there comes the question of who will suffer the consequences.
Director(s) Andrew Stanton
Writer(s) Jessie Nickson-Lopez
Characters Introduced
Mr. Sinclair Arnell Powell
  • The Return of Murray: Nancy, Jonathan, Murray
  • What Happened to Momma?: Becky, Terry, Eleven
  • Gain One, Lose One: Hopper, Joyce, Bob, Will, Mike
Season 2/ Episode 6 “Chapter Six: The Spy”The first major battle goes down against the shadow monster’s babies as new relationships, romantic and platonic, form.
Director(s) Andrew Stanton
Writer(s) Kate Trefry
  • Let’s State The Obvious Here: Murray, Nancy, Jonathan
  • You Got A Friend In Me: Max, Lucas, Dustin, Steve
  • Face-Off: Will, Max, Lucas, Dustin, Steve, Mike, Dr. Owens
Season 2/ Episode 7 “The Lost Sister”It’s a completely Eleven (Jane) focused episode and honestly, it makes you wish they mixed in the other cast members.
Director(s) Rebecca Thomas
Writer(s) Justin Doble
Characters Introduced
Axel James Landry Herbert
Dottie Anna Jacoby-Heron
Ray Pruitt Taylor Vince
Mick Gabrielle Maiden
Funshine Kai L. Greene
  • Sister: Eleven, Kali
  • The Divergent Paths: Kali, Eleven
  • No One Can Save Me, But I Can Save Them: Eleven, Kali
Season 2/ Episode 8 “Chapter Eight: The Mind Flayer”Things get as bad as the last episode would make you think as you find yourself wondering how will the people of Hawkins, not just the cast, survive?
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
Characters Introduced
Susan Jennifer Marshall
Neil Will Chase
  • The Apple & The Tree: Billy
  • Why Can’t Joyce Have Nice Things?: Bob, Dr. Owens, Joyce, Hopper
  • The Mind Flayer: Will, Mike, Jonathan, Hopper, Eleven, Joyce, Nancy
Season 2/ Episode 9 “Chapter Nine: The Gate” [Season Finale]Unlike a lot of shows, Stranger Things: Season 2 ends with giving you something to get hyped about, a bit of fan service, and presenting a calm before the storm.
Director(s) The Duffer Brothers
Writer(s) The Duffer Brothers
  • The Bench Players: Steve, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Max, Billy
  • The Exorcism of Will Byers & Closing of the Gate: Will, Joyce, Jonathan
  • Hawkins Middle School 1984 Snow Ball: Nancy, Dustin, Steve, Joyce, Hopper, Max, Lucas, Eleven, Mike
Season 1/ Episode 1 “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers” [Series Premiere]Stranger Things begins with an odd monster lurking about a small town. One in no way prepared for its otherworldly powers.Creator: The Duffer Brothers
Nancy - 75%
Joyce & Hopper’s Investigation - 80%
The First Battle Against The Mind Flayer - 90%
Erica - 89%
Expectations & Hopes For The Generation Which Follows - 88%
Being Poor v. Being A Rich Woman - 91%


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