Where I do an episode-by-episode review of Stranger Things Season 3.
Episode 4, The Sauna Test: In this episode, we have a new character joining Dustin, Steve and Robin’s gang- ‘You can’t spell America without Erica’ Erica, who’s Lucas’s little sister and always looking to grab free ice-cream. As the gang looks at the blueprints of the mall, they realise that there’s only one way to the Russians’ storage facility, and that’s through the air ducts. Not even Dustin is small enough to fit in, so they have to rope in Erica and promise her free ice-cream for life in return. Erica is a colourful character, and she surely spices things up.
When she finally gets there and opens the door from the inside for the rest of them, they find some glass tubes filled with a neon green substance in the boxes stored there. They also find that the room is actually an elevator and that they are trapped in it. Their escape by using that very glass tube to hold up the door while they slid under it was an edge-of-the-seat moment. A thousand things could’ve gone wrong- the bottle could’ve given way and someone (especially Steve) could’ve been crushed under the door or the acid (as we learnt later) could’ve splattered onto somebody. Thankfully, nobody dies.
On the fertilizer front, poor Nancy and Jonathan get fired from the Hawkins Post by their flayed boss, giving us a rare mother-daughter scene between Nancy and Mrs Wheeler which is one of the best emotional/relationship development scenes on the show.
Meanwhile, the ‘main gang’, namely Mike, El and the rest, come up with a plan to test Billy for the Mind Flayer by cooking him in the pool’s sauna, since the Mind Flayer likes it cold. That gives us the first bit of real action from Eleven in the season, who has to throw Billy through a wall when he breaks out of the sauna room. Eleven is back in town, baby. Will essays a convincing role as the beacon for the Mind Flayer.
While Billy’s cooking in the sauna room, Mrs Driscoll is also experiencing fits of her own at the hospital, where Nancy goes to visit her. This confirms the fact that she’s also part of the combined mind of the Mind Flayer who’s possessing multiple bodies, as we see later on in the abandoned steel factory.
Hopper beats up Mayor Kline in his office, Joyce preventing his secretary from calling for help. That was a really fun scene.
Later, they also go to Kline’s house where they solve Joyce’s fridge magnet conundrum. It’s because of the machine the Russians are building at the power plant, and not at the Hawkins Lab where they initially suspected something was up. They find the entrance to a secret Russian lab under a bed at the power plant, giving us another action-packed scene when the same Russian dude who beat up Hopper at the Lab comes following them after being tipped by the mayor. Kline really is a swine.
They also kidnap a Russian scientist, nicknamed ‘Smirnoff’ by Hopper to interrogate him regarding the machine they’re building. But turns out, he only speaks Russian and doesn’t understand English. They’re gonna need to find a translator.