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

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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.


Network
Netflix
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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Recap

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.

Highlights

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

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

Nancy

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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[ninja_tables id=”36883″]

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%

86%

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