Wednesday, March 22, 2023
HomeGamingCatching up with Stranger Issues S4 (sure, now we have some feels)

Catching up with Stranger Issues S4 (sure, now we have some feels)

Catching up with Stranger Things S4 (yes, we have some feels)


Stranger Issues got here again from a pandemic-driven three-year hiatus stronger than ever with an bold supersized fourth season—a lot in order that Netflix launched it in two components. Half 1 had a couple of minor flaws, explicit within the earlier episodes, however rapidly gained dramatic momentum. The cliffhanger ending deftly set the stage for the epic closing two episodes, which featured a visually beautiful, nail-biting battle towards the denizens of the Upside Down—and among the most emotionally resonant moments within the sequence so far. It has been two weeks since Half 2 dropped—the proper time to speak in regards to the many highs and occasional lows of this newest season.

(WARNING! Some very main spoilers under the galleries within the curiosity of in-depth evaluation.)

Rankings-wise, this was the sequence’ greatest season but, drawing so many viewers when Half 2 dropped over Fourth of July weekend that Netflix really crashed at one level. S4 Half 1 dominated the Nielsen streaming charts for 4 straight weeks, and that dominance is predicted to proceed as soon as Nielsen releases its numbers for the 2 super-sized finale episodes. (There’s often a few month’s delay for streaming platform viewership.) Half 1 additionally acquired 13 Emmy nominations. Seven years after it debuted, Stranger Issues is extra well-liked than ever, even launching two outdated 80s tunes again onto the charts after they had been featured prominently this season.

The season opens eight months after the S3 finale. The complete Byers clan, together with Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown), has relocated to Southern California, the place Will (Noah Schnapp) and Eleven naturally discover themselves highschool outcasts. Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), and Robin (Maya Hawke) remained in Hawkins, the place Lucas’ newfound basketball talents wins him admission to the favored crowd. In the meantime, Hopper (David Harbour) is being saved prisoner by the Russians, however he is plotting a breakout with a Russian guard nicknamed Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha). This includes sending a coded message to Joyce (Winona Ryder), who promptly hops on a aircraft to Alaska with Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman).

The choice to separate everybody up geographically made for a weaker total narrative arc, as a result of not all of the storylines had been equally compelling, The Russia subplot was by far the weakest, regardless of nice performances by the forged, and the oddball pairings of Hopper and Dmitri, Joyce and Murray, labored very effectively. There simply wasn’t sufficient plot to maintain it for your complete season. Additionally, every subplot is supposed to evoke totally different movie genres, which is a intelligent conceit, however the genres (jail breakout film, stoner motion comedy, 80s slasher horror, eg) do not at all times mesh significantly effectively. Frankly, the present works greatest when it stays targeted on Hawkins, which has at all times been the guts and soul of Stranger Issues. This season was no exception.


There are a pair different minor nitpicks, most notably the simplistic depictions of highschool bullies in Hawkins (basketball captain Jason, performed by Mason Dye) and California (Imply Lady Angela, performed by Elodie Grace Orkin) who torment our protagonists. They and their minions are little greater than strolling cliches, made all of the extra noticeable by how effectively different characters have been developed—together with a number of newcomers this season.

After which there’s Eleven’s disproportionate response after being humiliated in entrance of a visiting Mike on the native curler skating rink: she breaks Angela’s nostril with a curler skate in a match of rage. That is very out of character and appears to have been shoe-horned in for functions of the plot. Eleven has solely ever killed in self protection, and prior to now would humiliate however not hurt highschool bullies. Plus, there aren’t any actual penalties or classes discovered. She is briefly arrested, however is quickly whisked off to a different secret authorities lab. There is a world that wants saving, and he or she must get well her powers. Who cares if a highschool bully received her nostril damaged?

Half 1 ended on three cliffhangers. Joyce reunited with Hopper as he escaped from his Russian jail, however they nonetheless needed to discover a manner again to the US. Steve, Nancy, and D&D dungeon grasp Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn)—simply this season’s breakout character—received trapped within the Upside Down. Dustin, Lucas, and Erica (Priah Ferguson) discovered one other gate to rescue them, however Vecna snatched Nancy’s thoughts on the final minute, with Steve torn between making an attempt to save lots of Nancy proper then or searching for the youthful youngsters within the “actual” world. As for Eleven, she discovered the reality about what actually occurred within the laboratory that tragic day—and the true nature of the menace her pals now face again in Hawkins. Naturally, they’re linked.

The latter episodes had been among the many strongest as a result of they served to actually flesh out the mythology, and it is notably wealthy and satisfying. Dustin means that maybe the Upside Down has at all times existed, a hellish dimension inhabited by monsters just like the Demogorgon, maybe created out of human psychological anguish. We discovered these creatures constituted a hive thoughts in S2, and met a seemingly acutely aware entity known as the Thoughts Flayer in S3, who appeared to know Eleven. In S4, we came upon simply who that’s.

This season’s large dangerous hails straight from traditional D&D lore: Vecna, a once-powerful wizard who first grew to become undead after which grew to become a lich. The sequence offers Vecna a distinct backstory that connects the character to every thing that has occurred in Hawkins for the reason that first season. He relatively resembles Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Avenue franchise, besides he preys on individuals’s (particularly teenagers’) destructive ideas and emotions relatively than their desires.

Showdown within the Upside Down

Somebody who falls underneath Vecna’s curse finally will get trapped in a waking nightmare. Within the closing moments, their our bodies rise into the air, each bone breaks, and their eyes are gouged from the within out. Vecna takes three teenagers this manner, after which targets Max. She manages a slim escape when her pals play her favourite music (Kate Bush’s “Working Up That Hill”) on her Walkman, awakening pleased recollections. That total episode (“Expensive Billy”) is stellar, as is Sadie Sink’s efficiency, each representing Stranger Issues at its best possible.

However the place did Vecna come from? Nancy and Robin observe down a psychiatric affected person named Victor Creel (Robert Englund), falsely accused of brutally murdering his spouse, son, and daughter within the Fifties. His description of their deaths matches Vecna’s M.O. In the meantime, Eleven recovers her reminiscence of a brutal bloodbath in Hawkins Lab. The wrongdoer was an orderly named Peter (Jamie Campbell Bower), aka One, Dr. Brenner’s first take a look at topic—aka Henry Creel, Victor’s psychopathic son, who killed his mom and sister along with his telepathic powers all these years in the past.

Peter is about to kill Eleven as effectively, however her nascent powers emerge and he or she sends Peter by way of a portal into the Upside Down. As an alternative of dying, he turns into Vecna, channeling the scale’ darkish powers for his personal ends. The showdown between Eleven and Henry/One/Peter/Vecna began the entire chain of occasions since S1. The newest killings are supposed to open 4 gates, enabling Vecna and the Upside All the way down to take over Hawkins, after which (one presumes) your complete world.

These main twists arrange some critical stakes for the action-packed Half 2 episodes (each characteristic movie size), because the gang prepares to battle Vecna. Max agrees to behave as bait to attract out Vecna, since he is weaker when actively invading a thoughts. Dustin and Eddie create a distraction within the Upside Down to attract away the Demobats, so Steve, Nancy, and Robin can assault Vecna in his Upside Down lair. Hopper and Joyce do their half in Russia, weakening the hive thoughts additional by attacking from that finish. And Eleven regains her powers simply in time to hitch the battle mentally, piggy-backing on Max’s thoughts.

In the long run, they wound Vecna badly sufficient that the monster is pressured to retreat—however not earlier than he briefly succeeds in opening the gates between Hawkins and the Upside Down. (The ultimate shot is the The wrong way up beginning to bleed into the city.) This pyrrhic victory comes at super value: the deaths of Eddie and Max, though El manages to revive Max’s coronary heart remotely within the nick of time. However she’s in a physique forged, blind, and mind useless heading into S5, per the Duffer brothers, which does not bode effectively for her future.

All advised, Half 2 was a robust, gut-wrenching, bittersweet arrange for the ultimate season. Everybody has been reunited, together with Eleven and Hopper, however a closing battle nonetheless looms towards Vecna. Eleven has by no means misplaced earlier than, and the way she responds might decide the destiny of the world. Will she be prepared in time?

We have to discuss Eddie…

In the meantime, Eddie’s demise didn’t go over effectively with the various viewers who got here to like the character this season. (Quinn, a comparatively obscure actor earlier than being forged in Stranger Issues, is dealing with the sudden stardom and fan worship with grace and sophistication. )  Eddie’s broad enchantment lies partly within the writing, and partly with Quinn’s masterfully nuanced efficiency.

When the British actor first learn the script for his introductory scene—the place Eddie is grandstanding and being a bit obnoxious in the highschool cafeteria—his first thought was that the character was going to be actually troublesome to love. Happily, due to the pandemic, the Duffers had a little bit further time to do some rewriting of that first episode to showcase the various layers to the character.

First, there’s Erica’s (Priah Ferguson) introduction to the Hellfire Membership to exchange her older brother Lucas, who skips the conclusion of dungeon grasp Eddie’s epic D&D marketing campaign for the highschool basketball championship sport. Eddie is initially dismissive about taking part in with an 11-year outdated—it is the Hellfire Membership, not the Babysitter’s Membership, in any case. However Erica responds together with her regular daring outspokenness, displaying that she’s well-versed in D&D. An impressed Eddie slowly breaks right into a smile and welcomes her to the sport.

The opposite key moments are Eddie’s interactions with troubled star cheerleader Chrissy (Grace Van Dien), who has fallen underneath Vecna’s curse and is in search of some unlawful substances to chase away her worsening waking nightmares. Eddie’s swaggering confidence fades into real awkward vulnerability with Chrissy, significantly when she admits she fears she’s shedding her thoughts. He even shyly invitations her to listen to his heavy metallic band play on the native dive bar with a winsome self-deprecating attraction, claiming they typically play earlier than crowds of 4 or 5 drunks.

Alas, Eddie is the unlucky witness to Chrissy’s brutal supernatural homicide by Vecna, and runs away in terror. This implies the police assume he killed Chrissy, since her wrecked physique was present in his trailer, forcing Eddie into hiding. Dustin champions his innocence, and Eddie finally ends up becoming a member of the Hawkins contingent as they attempt to clear up the thriller of Vecna and clear Eddie’s title. His hot-wiring abilities turn out to be useful, even when he’s lower than impressed with Nancy’s musical style (“This isn’t music!!”). He will get his large hero second within the Upside Down, standing on high of a trailer along with his guitar and shredding to the tune of Metallica’s “Grasp of Puppets”:

Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) shredding within the Upside Down within the S4 finale of Stranger Issues.

It is concurrently absurd, humorous, scary, and {powerful}—arms down one of the iconic scenes in your complete sequence. Metallica beloved it. They confessed to being “completely blown away” by how the tune was utilized in such a pivotal scene, in addition to Quinn’s head-banging efficiency. (“It’s so extraordinarily effectively finished, a lot so, that some people had been capable of guess the music simply by seeing a couple of seconds of Joseph Quinn’s arms within the trailer.”) The band even posted their very own digital mashup duet with Eddie on Instagram. And sure, Quinn does play the guitar—you may watch him rehearse the scene right here—though Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and Tye Trujillo, son of the band’s bassist Rob, really carried out the music.

Then every thing goes horribly unsuitable. As he and Dustin put together to flee the Upside Down, Eddie decides he will purchase Steve, Robin, and Nancy a bit extra time, hops on a rusty bicycle, and leads the Demobats away from Dustin. Even then, he may need survived, besides he decides he is bored with working away. He turns and faces the horde of Demobats head-on, armed with nothing however a rubbish can lid outfitted with spikes, and finally is overwhelmed. Dustin reaches him simply as he is dying, in a scene that had me blubbering like a child.

A lot digital ink has been spilled over whether or not this demise was actually crucial and/or true to the character. Having now rewatched your complete season, I’ll defend this controversial selection by the Duffer brothers.

Eddie is the Oberyn Martell of Stranger Issues: a colourful, large character with a tragic flaw. He is been advised he is nugatory all his life and compensates with an in-your-face counter-culture defiance. He is additionally wracked with guilt over working away when Chrissy was killed, even dedicating his Upside Down virtuoso efficiency to her reminiscence. Pumped with adrenaline after that, he decides he desires to be a hero in any case.

Eddie is not really a coward—it takes guts to defy cultural norms in a small Eighties Indiana city—however he seems like one. In each situations (Chrissy’s demise and the attacking Demobats), working away is certainly the proper response. However emotional selections aren’t rational. As Dustin stated, Eddie was quintessentially Eddie till the top. That is why all of us beloved him a lot, and why it broke our collective hearts to see him killed by Demobats and (one assumes) his physique left to rot within the Upside Down. Worse, the individuals of Hawkins nonetheless assume he is a serial killer, unaware that he helped save all of them.

Over 70,000 followers have signed a petition for the Duffer brothers to deliver the character again for S5, and there are a couple of speculative theories about how that would presumably occur. As an illustration, per Gizmodo,

A well-liked fan hypothesis primarily based on Eddie’s selection of armor and demise is that he might grow to be a model of Kas, a vampire character who served Vecna through imprisonment in their story arc from Dungeons & Dragons. He’s known to carry a spiked shield, which is what we saw Eddie use against those bats, and a lot of his motifs, like the bat tattoos on his arm, speak to some seeds we hope have been sown for this. So maybe a transformation is in order. Given his popularity, could he be given a new afterlife through an interpretation where Eddie the Banished becomes Eddie the Destroyer, like Kas who turned on Vecna? We would love to see it.

Sure, the gang could use another super-powered ally as they gear up for the final showdown. But while D&D elements certainly infuse the show, the mythology has never been implemented directly. It’s just how the young characters interpret the strange happenings in Hawkins. And having given him such a gloriously tragic death, I hope the Duffer brothers stick to their guns and let Eddie Munson rest in peace. I adored the character as much as anyone, and would have loved to see him survive for the final season. But the Duffer brothers made the right creative call. The best stories will absolutely break your heart at times; it’s part of their enduring power. There’s a reason we’re all still talking about Eddie.

All episodes of Stranger Things S4 are now streaming on Netflix.


Listing image by Netflix



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments