Stranger Things Season 4 – Volume 2 Review: An explosive and exhausting ending to a long journey
Before stranger things With season 4 debuting on Netflix, audiences knew the adventure would be split into two parts, as the writing team had time during the production delay due to the coronavirus pandemic to write all the stories. scripts of the entire season, which made it the most expansive. season again. With the expanding roster of beloved characters and the increasingly vast and complex mythology, it’s hard to argue that the creators of the Duffer Brothers needed to split the experience into two parts to not be overwhelming. Rather than splitting the season in two, this second volume only includes two episodes, but still lasts four hours of story. While they don’t feel unnecessarily bloated, these extended episodes can be exhausting, although they’re also some of the most explosive encounters the show has seen, which really says a lot about the explosive narrative.
With Nancy (Natalia Dyer) now aware of Vecna’s master plan and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) having spent time rekindling her powers, the Hawkins faction of friends hatches a plan to deal with the threat of the Upside Down as the group tries to save Eleven from having a fateful date. And that’s not to say Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) have reunited with Hopper (David Harbour), only for this trio to uncover even more troubling threats in the Soviet Union.
Volume 1 Season 4 and these last two episodes are “a lot”, to say the least. As if telling a sprawling tale across multiple continents and multiple dimensions wasn’t difficult enough, the story also features several compelling characters, each with their own agendas and motivations. Despite the daunting task of navigating all of these storylines, the Duffers and their writing team somehow manage to nail it all with an engaging, action-packed ending. In some ways, it feels more like an embarrassment of riches in that the viewer is regularly fully engaged in the story unfolding before them, while simultaneously wanting to know what’s going on with all the other characters. Creating so many layered and charming characters is an admirable feat for any series, made even more impressive with the story’s horror and sci-fi mythology additions.
The overall cohesiveness of how these last two episodes play out could come together generally effectively, but some of the actual dialogue and online deliveries don’t flow as well. Since its creation, stranger things was chastised by some viewers for delivering nostalgic references simply to touch the emotional hearts of audiences that have a connection to 80s pop culture. These two episodes of Volume 2 instead offer predictable and melodramatic encounters between characters who feel inauthentic, almost like they’ve been ripped from after-school specials from that bygone era. The performers do their best with the material, but between these tired, forced encounters and the actors themselves who look so much older than their characters are supposed to be (although an inevitable problem due to the pandemic delays), some dramatic encounters border on the parody of nerve-wracking teenage drama. While teenage love for Star Wars or dawn of the dead can feel cliché or predictable, the dialogue can feel downright overdone.
An improvement in the overall writing comes from the dynamic between Joyce and Hopper. The pair have had undeniable chemistry since season one, but Joyce dating and losing Bob (played by the ever-delightful Sean Astin) created a weird dynamic between her and Hopper by season 3. Fans have wanted the two characters to bond. connect for years, only for Season 3 to show Hopper showing an undeserved claim to Joyce’s affection. Their will-they-won’t-they dynamic was entertaining, though it became difficult to root for Hopper when he showed his more toxic traits. Over the months the characters have been separated, not only has that right cooled off, but Joyce has clearly realized how much she really feels about Hopper, resulting in a more balanced and endearing dynamic in these episodes.
More than just being the focal point of one of volume one’s most memorable moments, Sadie Sink as Max continues to be the unsuspecting powerhouse of the whole thing. After previous storylines that struggled a bit to solidify Max’s dynamic in the group, she proved to be just as compelling a figure in the narrative as Eleven, going hand in hand with Vecna physically, mentally, and emotionally. and all without the aid of telekinetic abilities. Maya Hawke’s Robin also manages to grab our attention in every scene, especially when she and Dyer share screen time, while Joe Keery’s Steve is just as charming as ever.
The Duffer Brothers have teased dire consequences for some of the show’s characters with these final two episodes, and, while one particular death is sure to leave some fans heartbroken, the season ends with most of the ensemble intact, to some disappointment. It’s not that we want characters to die for no reason, but as we head into the show’s final season, it’s a shock that so many characters have come out of their fights with Upside characters. Down relatively unscathed. Especially since Season 1 and Season 3 ended with teases about major character deaths, it’s safe to say everyone gets off too lightly with their battles with the forces of darkness.
Much like how we’ve been led to believe that certain characters have been killed off, previous seasons have also ended with major reveals of bigger and bigger threats that are hard to hide from the rest of Hawkins. This season finale, however, could finally bring about a seismic shift in what’s happening in the city, potentially making the ominous situation something the whole city has to reckon with. This finale leaves us with the feeling that there really is no turning back, so with season 5 which will be the last chapter of stranger thingsit may finally be time for cataclysmic events to unfold.
stranger things Season 4 is arguably its biggest and most ambitious season yet, with these final two episodes tasked with sticking the landing of a sprawling narrative. If all nine episodes had started at the same time, the stakes would have been lowered and the audience would have been overwhelmed. To kick off these final two episodes apart from the rest of the season, we’ve had time to catch our breath, but feeling like the final act of a massive movie, the delineation of these episodes and their connection to what’s came before that felt relatively arbitrary. Although Netflix is committed to providing stranger things in a binge-watching model, delivering new episodes on a weekly basis would ultimately have suited the hardware better, especially given the success of Netflix’s release of their street of fear trilogy last summer. Whatever the publication strategy, stranger things Season 4 – Volume 2 delivers the series’ most jaw-dropping action sequences, heartbreaking revelations, and compelling teases about impending darkness yet. The sheer scale of the adventure can be daunting at times, but it’s always a worthwhile journey, as long as you have your friends from Hawkins by your side.
Rating: 4 out of 5
stranger things Season 4 – Volume 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
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