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Vecna, Victor, and Vanquished? Stranger Things Episode Five

BETH NETHERCOTT reviews Stranger Things Chapter Five: The Nina Project, in an ever-expanding and mind-bending plot!

Distressed Hopper

Could things get any worse for Hopper now that he has been left in a Russian cell, seemingly to die? Yuri’s double crossing leaves Hopper exasperated, throwing a mighty punch at “Enzo” with whom he shares a cell. Hopper appears to have given up and is vulnerable, signified by an intense conversation with cellmate [no relation!] Enzo. He feels responsible for loved ones getting hurt in the past – the tragic loss of his daughter a major factor in his behaviour - and history is repeating itself with Joyce. At his lowest, he not only believes he is cursed, but exclaims “I am the curse!”. If only he knew that Joyce and Murray are coming for him!

Is anyone flying the plane?

One of my favourite scenes is Murray and Joyce attempting to escape from the dodgy double-crossing pilot, Yuri. Joyce proposes Murray should knock Yuri out. But who is going to fly the plane?! Murray has a black belt, but has never been in a real-life fight, only having sparred with students aged 16 and under! Murray seems like a joke figure, exclaiming “My fingers are like arrows. My arms like iron. My feet, like spears!” But somehow he gets the job done.

Eleven the superhero?

Unfortunately, Eleven reunites with her “papa” and screams! Dr Brenner (papa) experiments on Eleven by her repeating the same event over and over again (like Groundhog Day). It appears that she cannot escape and they are waiting for her to figure it out. I am confused as Eleven why she is repeating the same event. Out of desperation, Eleven chooses to stay to reignite her powers. She probably does not trust Dr Brenner, but she has no other option. I expect Brenner secretly aims to use Eleven’s powers for sinister reasons…..if, that is, Eleven does get her powers back.

In Hawkins

Everyone is still apprehensive that Vecna could try and take Max again. This raises the interesting question of whether Vecna can return to the same victim after they've already escaped his clutches. Victor is still alive, but didn't mention anything about Vecna coming back for more.

Still listening to Kate Bush for comfort and protection, Max artistically recreates her memories of Vecna’s world. Clever Nancy arranges Max’s drawings to produce a collage of Victor’s house. An extremely cool scene, with exceptionally accurate renditions of the house.

More light relief is provided when the gang, Scooby-Doo-like, split up into three pairs and explore Victor’s house, looking for clues!.

The mystery of the grandfather clock - which clearly originates in Victor’s house - deepens and leads to an inevitable Dustin and Steve comedy exchange.

Steve: “Why is this guy obsessed with clocks and is he a clock maker?”

Dustin: “I think you cracked the case, Steve!”

Lucas and Max

If you read my review of Episode Four, you will know I’m really rooting for Lucas and Max to be together. Lucas tells Max that he likes Kate Bush now because she saved her life. A rare chuckle from the traumatised Max indicates romance may be back on the cards?

Jancy or Stancy?

I’ve also previously mentioned my fondness for Jonathan and Nancy’s Season Three relationship. But the jury is out for Season Four so far. A creepy house is not the best place to rekindle a relationship but Steve and Nancy did share a moment in Victor’s house. Is this a hint of a reawakening of their romance?

Previous season callbacks

Stranger Things has taken us on an incredible journey, and it is thrilling when the writers slip in titbits which call back to previous seasons. For instance, when the lights flicker in Victor’s house and the Hawkins gang work out their connection to Vecna’s presence,. Nancy reminds us of the Christmas lights in Season One which Will used to communicate from the upside down. It is immensely satisfying that there is consistency in the storytelling!

Comedy with Argyle

Mike, Will, Jonathan, and Argyle manage to escape from California while trying to save a mortally injured cop. The scene where they have to bury the body may be stretching our suspension of disbelief, but somehow also makes for light relief. A stressed Argyle exclaims that “there’s an open grave right in front of me!” But once Jonathan’s weed kicks in he starts to make a headstone for the dead cop and wants to sign it with all their names!

Vecna strikes again

Unlucky Eddie witnesses another Vecna attack, this time in a rowing boat on a dark lake! Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, it looks like things are going to become worse for Eddie when Jason also turns up at the scene. What will Eddie’s enemy do with this information?

Guess we will find out in Chapter Six!

Written by Beth Nethercott

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