As much as I was excited about the second part of Stranger Things Season 4, I was also a bundle of nerves after it was reported that there were going to be multiple character deaths in the finale. When reports like that come out, stakes become higher and with everyone gearing for battle, it wasn’t a good feeling for fans like myself who have invested so much into these characters.
Synopsis: After El remembered what happened in the Hawkins Lab massacre, she recovers her powers just as her friends set a trap for Vecna who is set to open the final gate to the Upside Down with a last kill. In Russia, Joyce, Hopper and Murray discover the extent of the Russians’ stake in the Upside Down and they work remotely to help the kids defeat Vecna.
I must admit, the last two episodes were really intense, but because I was distracted by the idea of multiple deaths, I really could not focus fully on what was happening on screen. I think Netflix hyped the last two episodes too much that it set the bar way up to a ridiculous level.
Still, I am always excited when the Duffer Brothers write and direct episodes of Stranger Things because it means that there’s going to be something special. These special surprises are not always positive but they always make an impact and boy was the bombshell a doozy for the last two episodes of Season 4.
There were many great moments in Stranger Things Season 4 Part 2 — there’s Eddie being a bada*s metalhead, ruling his guitar solo in the Upside Down and taking a heroic stand against the Demobats which completed his epic character arc. There’s Dustin’s heartfelt talk with Eddie’s uncle. There’s the multi-pronged battle plan to eliminate Vecna and unexpected hindrances to their complex strategy. There were many poignant moments in the last two episodes that felt like a very long goodbye leading up to the final season.
The intensity of the episodes were made even more impactful by the music. This show really knows how to pick ’em. Apart from Running Up the Hill, there was also Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo by Rick Derringer and other epic hits of the time that amplified the tone of the scenes, whether it was the Hawkins gang getting ready to gear up for war, El breaking out from Papa, or Vecna and El squaring off in a Carrie inspired set.
Compared to previous seasons, there was one marked difference in Season 4. It was very frustrating to see characters have to stand their ground from different locations and only come together once the battle is over, so to speak. Nobody really knew what the other teams were doing unlike before when at least they were able to coordinate their final attack, thereby increasing their chances of winning.
Also, while there were many great character developments this season, I felt really bad for Will who had to swallow his own suffering to comfort Mike. Seriously, apart from the first season, Mike’s character has been steadily deteriorating and now, he’s resorted to become El’s main cheerleader, period. On the other hand, Jonathan ‘s best scene this season was his heart to heart with his little brother. I wish he would man up to do the same for Nancy because despite the implied rekindling of Nancy and Steve’s feelings, the moment she reunited with Jonathan, it felt right.
There were many surprise MVPs this season for which the party owes their reprieve from Vecna — Eddie Munson whose guitar solo and battle with the bats were as epic as his hair. His relationship with Dustin this season was much like Dustin and Steve’s duo in previous seasons, except the guy was super sweet. I loved how he dedicated his guitar solo to Chrissy which made it all the more impactful. He’s my favorite new character this season for sure.
Erica was just a queen. She always thinks on her feet and manages to outsmart guys who are bigger and tougher than her to come through each and every time. Lady Applejack is deserving of her cred. Murray was low key one of the best assets of the Hawkins gang this season. Without his karate and his Russian, it would have been difficult for Hopper and Joyce to escape the Russian prison intact. And of course, Jamie Campbell Bower as Vecna. Dude was awesome. But then, you really have to be something special to pull off being a young Grindelwald and Jace Wayland in the Mortal Instruments (I still can’t believe there wasn’t a follow up movie). Of course, the Duffer Brothers also managed to create yet another deplorable character in the form of Jason, the preppy basketball captain. He was awful. I hated him more than Vecna.
All in all, the back half of Season 4 was intense and suspenseful but it still felt like it was pulling back from going all out. There was a ton of foreshadowing that did not materialize yet so it felt sixth Harry Potter movie where it was so quiet before the battle, and them there were so much deaths in the final chapter. Stranger Things may be establishing these long goodbyes for the final season so even if the characters managed to survive this season, its not yet safe to say that they’re out of the woods. There’s a lot to unpack before the finale and I get the feeling that El would not win the fight if she doesn’t get everybody on board.