The theme of confronting your past continues to shine through in episode 6 of Stranger Things season 4 entitled, “The Dive”
The Dive doesn’t just represent the physical dive the crew has to take to the bottom of the lake, but the deep dive into your own soul where our greatest traumas lie. We’ve pushed them down to the bottom of the lake inside us, and eventually, we have to dive to the bottom to open it up and move forward.
In this breakdown of “The Dive,” we’ll do a plot breakdown, explore some themes and observations, and point out some 1980s references. And if you haven’t read the previous reviews, you can check them out here:
“The Dive” Plot Summary
We find out that Patrick is dead, and Jason is losing his mind. Agent Wallace is being tortured as Sullivan continues his hunt for Eleven. Meanwhile, Eleven is beginning the process of remembering her past. She has been clearly pushing it down, and she won’t be able to reclaim her powers until she confronts her past trauma. But maybe this debilitating memory is more than just the carnage she caused in 1979.
The other kids know Vecna is in the Upside Down, but there is no gate to get to him. Eddie is still on the lam and now news reports of Patrick’s death–and Eddie’s involvement–are beginning. This is Hawkins, and they are no strangers to mysterious deaths. At a town hall, this all comes up and Jason–acting like a fire and brimstone preacher–says this is all because of cults, specifically Dungeons and Dragons.
The town is looking for something to place blame on, and, as millions of parents did in the 80s, they point the finger at Dungeons and Dragons as a satanic cult rather than acknowledging their own responsibilities. A scapegoat often takes the place for people’s shortcomings, and this seems to be the case here with the Hellfire Club. instead of taking parental responsibility, it’s easier to blame an outside force.
Back in California, the other boys have tracked down Suzie in a house full of kids, which reminds me of the Lost Boys from Peter pan. We also meet Eden, who has incredible Ally Sheedy vibes. In Russia, Hopper and the other prisoners are getting fattened up to face the Demogorgon, but only Hopper knows what they’ll be going into.
Eleven is still in the underground bunker and is reliving her experience at the lab. She plays Plinko and uncovers those memories that make her angry or sad. A memory comes up involving her mother and that she possibly didn’t die giving birth. Is this the true cause of pain and is this what led to her snapping and taking out the other kids?
Has she dived deep enough and finally found it? It’s the assistant that has helped her discover this and they torture him for doing so. Is he number “1?” The other kids have pushed her to the brink and this–along with the realization of how her mother was taken from her–is what causes her to finally snap.
Suzie is tricked into hacking the computer under the guise it’s for a new 16-bit video game system. This was 1986, and the Super Nintendo wouldn’t be out for four more years. We also see an early form of the internet.
The kids in Hawkins know there is an energy surge when Vecna attacks. They also realize a messed-up compass can be the signal to a new gate. Murray and Joyce are still trying to find Hopper and the cops are on the trail of the kids in Hawkins. They go out on the lake to find the gate, and it all feels very Friday the 13th-like. Steve finds the gate but is pulled into the Upside Down by Vecna. Horror bats attack. Is this the end of Steve?
Themes and Observations
Besides the theme of having to dive deep to uncover our true feelings and issues, this episode also looks at the fear of the unknown. This is no better represented than diving into a lake in the dark of night, not knowing what you’re going to find. But we know that diving deep into our subconscious is just as scary. We don’t know what we’re going to find, and it’s that fear of the unknown that prevents us from doing so.
I feel the biggest theme of this first volume of Stranger Things season 4 is dealing with your past and letting go of those things that hold us down. The dive of episode 5 is not just a physical dive, but a deep dive into our souls.
- When Steve is swimming above the gate, it looks like a giant eye and he’s the pupil. It’s like this is the eye of Vecna and the Upside Down
- Suzy’s house looks a lot like the house from Home Alone
- We see a poster for the Wizard of Oz in Suzy’s room, and the flying hell bats at the end remind me of the flying monkeys from the film.
- The Hopper/Joyce storyline seems a little tacked on. They obviously have to find Hopper but it feels like this is mainly so the two characters have something to do
There’s not a ton in this episode. I feel Stranger Things knows they don’t have to rely on the nostalgia and recognition of the past. The show is a powerful enough entity on its own that it can go in its own direction without having to reference classic 1980s movies, toys, TV shows, etc.
There is still mention of the Lord of the Rings and Mordor, though. We also hear the song “Cutthroat” by Survive and another round of “Pass the Dutchie.”
There’s a Watergate joke, and it’s cool to see kids like Suzy on the early form of the internet when it was more about computer networks and not yet in the HTTP era that Tim Berners Lee would create in 1989.
“The Dive” is not my favorite episode of the season, but it moves at a brisk pace and is setting us up for the volume 1 finale. Eleven is on the road to regaining her powers, but it’s taken a lot of personal anguish to get there.
The other characters have had to bond in new ways and it looks like Steve and Nancy are reconnecting. Many of the characters are having to reconnect with their past, and just like going into a lake at midnight, you just have to dive in headfirst if you’re going to find some answers.