When Netflix chose to split Stranger Things Season 4 into two parts, I had my concerns, but it turned out to be a great idea. The two episodes that make up Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 2 are all the more significant now that we’ve had a few weeks to delve into fan plot, speculation on who will stay alive, and listening to a lot of “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. The series had its strongest ending yet while brilliantly preparing for its upcoming final season.
While Stranger Things has always had excellent writing, it has also tended to follow a formula that involves dividing apart its large ensemble of people before bringing them back together for a compelling climactic conflict. The gang doesn’t reunite in Hawkins to take on the situation as a group in Season 4 Volume 2, saving that kind of full-team effort for the final season, which is brilliantly setup throughout these final two episodes. Vecna, who swiftly emerged as the series’ biggest villain as it progressed beyond horrifying animals to fully realized villains with depth and personality, is being sought after by the three major organizations, who are all working toward the same goal of unsettling the Upside Down and removing her.
The latter two episodes are especially excellent in concluding loose ends and resolving some issues. Like many fans, I was disappointed by the lack of significant storyline development for Mike, Will, and Jonathan in the first seven episodes of the fourth season. However, this trio features some of the most touching and heartfelt scenes in the whole series thus far. These are heartfelt moments that ultimately register and heighten the stakes of Season 4’s final act, from friends reminding each other of their importance to brothers recognizing they need to assist each other through their challenges rather than attempting to bear the weight alone. Oh, and Argyle is there too, even though he mostly only contributes to jokes about drugs and pineapple on pizza (though he’s not that horrible).
It’s also entertaining to start having nostalgic feelings for a show that has always capitalized on fans’ love of other media and popular culture. It’s exhilarating to see Eleven utilize her talents fully once more, and it’s electrifying to watch the sparks ignite between the recently reunited Joyce and Hopper. Essentially playing its own greatest hits in the process, Season 4 Volume 2 manages to effectively explore new territory while still providing us with enough character moments to remind us why we love this ensemble in the first place.
Numerous seeds are sown for the future even though the massive, two-and-a-half-hour episode “Chapter Nine: The Piggyback” concentrates on wrapping up the conflict with Vecna. Additional plot beats are deftly set up to make Season 5 even bigger and better, from Steve admitting his desires to one day have a large family to heartbreaking deaths that will have significant effects going ahead. The Duffer brothers should be applauded for maintaining a constant tone while consistently ratcheting up the emotional drama and the excellent action. This series has never struggled to surpass itself.
The encounter with Vecna lives up to the expectations, bringing the psychological horror to the fore as Max is once more forced to confront her most sinister ideas as Vecna makes an effort to eat her. Sadie Sink has incredible acting skills and shows that she is a genuine talent. Caleb McLaughlin‘s Lucas, who challenges the well-intentioned but aggressive jock Jason Carver and his wants to be popular in school, is another highlight in the show’s last two episodes. While every character—well, maybe save Argyle—has their moments, it’s Millie Bobby Brown‘s Eleven who truly impresses in the action scenes, as her battle with Vecna ends up being the series’ most visually stunning moment to far.
Additionally, Murray eventually acquires a flamethrower, and the effects are magnificent, as the preview photographs have revealed. This is some of the most gratifying, fist-clenching action ever seen; it’s not simply Stranger Things at its best.
Stranger Things is still some of the greatest streaming entertainment available because to its fantastic action and even more endearing characters. Netflix goes over and above to provide the most thrilling and rewarding climax to Season 4 Volume 2.