It’s not quite time to bid the Hawkins gang farewell yet but with the second volume of the penultimate season here, it’s safe to say that the board has been set. Over the years we’ve seen the original gang of Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin and El grow to include new members like Nancy, Charlie, Steve, Max and Robin. This season, they’re going need all the help they can get as they face off against a foe from El’s past, the first son of Dr Brenner, Vecna. Meanwhile Hopper, Joyce and Murray attempt a daring escape out of Russia back to Hawkins to reunite with the kids.
While the decision to split the season up into two volumes has definitely been met with some mixed reactions, we’re glad to finally get our hands on the other half. The first volume saw some stellar character moments with Max escaping the Upside-Down and Hopper and the prisoners’ stand against the Demogorgon. Will the second volume conclude the fourth season in satisfying fashion? What awaits the heroes of Hawkins in the final season of the series? Grab your torchlight and electric guitar because we’re going in!
Season 4 Review
If we could sum the second volume in two words it would be: emotionally exhausting. The plot picks up right where “Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” left off. The truth behind El’s past has been revealed, the Hawkins gang are gearing up to take on Vecna in the Upside-Down and Mike, Will, Charlie and Argyle are still looking for El. Unlike the other seasons of “Stranger Things”, the Duffer Brothers have taken a lot of risks here. By splitting the original four to create three separate story arcs, along with an intricate web of character sub-plots included, it could all have easily come falling down. Thankfully, most of the plot threads manage to find satisfying resolutions by the time the credits roll.
The ones that didn’t are being saved for the final season of the series. A major theme of this season has been the power of community to break cycles of trauma and abuse, something that ties Max with our protagonist El. On Max’s end, her journey out of the pit of survivor’s guilt and despair feels fresh with a heavy dose of character growth. For El, though, we found her rehashing her previous trauma with Brenner redundant and a little dull. The whole government-weapon-finding-her-humanity trope isn’t necessarily a terrible one but her Stockholm syndrome episode doesn’t quite align with the healthy trajectory she was on with Hopper. Arguably, her presumption of Hopper’s death could play a role but overall, her arc mostly feels like a door for the Duffers to flesh out Vecna’s past.
“Chapter Nine: The Piggyback” will no doubt prove to be polarising among fans. The first half of the over two hour long season finale proved solid with compelling drama, world-ending and character-shaping moment, and lots of badass showcases for smaller characters to shine through. Seriously, everyone gets their time in the spotlight! The whole Russian plotline with Joyce, Hopper and Murray doesn’t quite hit all the emotional highnotes we would have hoped for but there’s still lots of fun to be had here. The second half, though, begins to wear out its welcome. We applaud the Duffers for ending the season on such a bold note. However, a lot of the epilogue involving the characters coming to grips with the impedding apocalypse could have saved for the beginning of the fifth season.
One thing no one will argue with is that the season finale delivered on some stunning action sequences. From Eddie and Dustin’s stand against the Demobats to El’s psychic battle with Vecna to Nancy, Steven and Robin battling through the Upside-Down. The creature design for Vecna and the inhabitants of the Upside-Down are top-notched. The way the tendrils and creatures sop with slime and move with unnatural grace is always a sight to behold. Safe for Billy, it’s not a stretch to say that the villains of the previous seasons have been lacking some serious personality. Jamie Campbell Bower injects the creature with believable pathos and terrible authority.
Speaking of performances, Sadie Sink’s Max was easily the best one this season. She brings a stunning vulnerability to the ginger-haired spitfire we’ve come to know and love. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of her the final season. Out of all the newcomers this season (and there are a lot), we like Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson the most! He is a classic 80s misfit lifted right out of films like “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The Breakfast Club”.
This second volume of the fourth season of “Stranger Things” shows that there are no shortage of tricks in the Duffer Brother’s bag. Against all odds, they’ve managed to craft a titanic season that propels the series into new scary, uncharted waters while honouring the history of its characters and world. Perhaps if there was a little more restrain, and fewer plot threads, this season could have shone to be the best one thus far. For now, it continues to cement its place within Netflix’s top-tier original properties.
Season 5 Predictions
In spite of our heroes’ valiant efforts, it seems that they’ve won the battle but ultimately lost the war. The whole town of Hawkins has turned into a giant gapping portal for the Mind Flayer and his minions to enter through. Vecna is still alive and is coming for the kids. This truly is the apocalypse for the residents of the cursed town. In the season finale, it was revealed that the Mind Flayer, who possessed Will in the second season and tried to manifest in the third season through Billy, is the being who transformed Vecna from his human form to the demon we now see. The Mind Flayer is able to manifest in multiple forms, whether as a flesh monster, through human hosts like Will and Billy and interestingly…as silver particles that are capable of possessing living organisms.
What do we see at the end of the season? Silver particles raining down on the town from clouds above. We’ve seen exorcisms, shape-shifting monsters and demonic slashers. We predict that in the fifth season, the Mind Flayer is going to bring about a zombie apocalypse by possessing the bodies of the residents of Hawkins, just like how he did with Will. Kind of like the undead seen in 1987’s “Evil Dead II”.
We know that the Mind Flayer is the central intelligence of the Upside-Down and its sole purpose is to breach into the real-world and merge with it. There’s a very strong chance that we could see the Mind Flayer finally enter into the town of Hawkins and wreak havoc upon it in the final season. One of the ways that was used to exorcise the Mind Flayer out of Will was the presence of extreme heat, so we’ll probably be seeing a lot of fire in the final season. We’re calling it now: the military is going to drop a nuke into the Upside Down in an attempt to destroy the Upside Down and the Mind Flayer!
As for Max’s medical state, we predict that she’ll most likely awaken from her coma, though she won’t be the same. Vecna has seriously injured her eyes so she’ll probably not have her sight for a while, if at all. Now comes the most important question: Will Nancy get back together with Steve, or will she stay with Charlie? That one is honestly anyone’s guess.
So what do you guys think of the fourth season of “Stranger Things”? Did you find it epic or was it a little too drawn out? What are your predictions for Season 5? Be sure to let us know in the comments and to catch the second volume of “Stranger Things” on Netflix today!
Netflix's "Stranger Things" Season 4 Vol.2 Review
This second volume of the fourth season of "Stranger Things" shows that there are no shortage of tricks in the Duffer Brother's bag. Against all odds, they've managed to craft a titanic season that propels the series into new scary, uncharted waters while honouring the history of its characters and world. Perhaps if there was a little more restrain, and fewer plot threads, this season could have shone to be the best one thus far.
- Netflix's "Stranger Things" Season 4 Vol.2 Review