Does The Climax Of Stranger Things 4 Bore?

The final two movie length episodes of Stranger Things season four pick up where the last batch left off. The first seven of nine episodes were lacking in Jeri Ryan. How about the Canada Day continuation? SPOILERS for something you’ve probably already binged! This’ll be a good cheat sheet for pretending to be hip at Fourth Of July cocktail parties too. While this season has great posters, these episodes may be too intense for goblin kitties!

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It’s the blogging equivalent of buying a thank you card instead of writing my own!

One of the reasons this season was divided was because not all the VFX were done by Memorial Day. Special effects shots were being uploaded the day before its premiere. You’d think Netflix would’ve waited until July 1 to release them all or premiere episodes weekly to avoid huge gap. It doesn’t really matter since it still broke streaming records.

The Duffer Brothers forgot Will Byers’s birthday. Wouldn’t it make more sense to edit the date on the camera in season four than to ADR earlier seasons? It’s not like those dates are always set right anyway.

Henry/001/Vecna releases Nancy as a messenger of his plans to destroy the dimensional barrier. He only needs to kill one more troubled teen. Despite being a Double-O, Henry Creel doesn’t have a license to kill! Max offers to be bait while her comrades kill the distracted Vecna in The Upside-Down.

That demogorgon survived the hot spear injection! Then it brushes off a hail of point blank AK-47 gunfire! I don’t recall demogorgons being that bulletproof. The next scene Hopper blows the head off a demodog with just a pistol. Joyce, Murray, Hopper, Dimitri, & Yuri all get out of the gulag.

Papa Doc Brenner also wants that Worst Father trophy, but isn’t fit to polish Sir Reggie’s monocle. Eleven stands up to him but foolishly turns her back on Brenner so she can get a syringe to the neck. Then the other black ops army storms to the base to wipe out his black ops army. What bad timing! It’s kind of novel to see different branches of the military industrial complex murder each other. Doc Martin gets ventilated with lead. Is he going to stay dead this time? Luckily Eleven’s powers have been restored so she can crash a helicopter before it snipes her too. Even luckier, her ride instantly shows up. Jonathan, Will, Mike, & Argyle exist merely to be her escort.

On top of the action, the ninth episode services the shippers. Max & Lucas make analog texting adorable. Steve shares his dream of driving cross country with Nancy & an enormous metaphorical brood. Hopper wants to eat all the carbs at Enzo’s with Joyce. Mike confesses his love to Eleven & his fears she’ll ditch him as soon she realizes he sucks. Robin & Vickie connect over being PB&J-making motormouths. (It’s ambiguous if these two will become a couple or just friends, but Vickie definitely wears an Anne Shirley straw hat.) Although Mrs. Wheeler made the right choice not to have an affair with Billy, she remains punished by being married to Mr. Wheeler.

It’s confirmed that Vecna isn’t The Mind Flayer’s top general. The Mind Flayer particles were his means of interacting with The Rightside-Up until he was strong enough to open gates himself. So this explains why Upside-Down attacks on Elle were more strategic & focused on neutralizing her last season. It does remove the eldritch horror aspect by pinning the entire dimension’s malevolence on a human exile. That’s a disappointing retcon.

Flashbacks also imply that Vecna made the barren Upisde-Down into a perfect replica of Hawkins, which makes him even more insanely powerful. I thought it was just a naturally occurring Bizarro version of the whole planet. How’d he get all the interiors & props right? Was he scanning the entire town’s minds for life-size model accuracy? Or did he get sent back to prehistoric times & manage to live long enough for the copycat dimension to catch up?

Eleven telepathically eavesdrops on Team Hawkins & realizes she can help even from Nevada. She’ll psychically piggyback onto Max (hence the last episode’s title) to fight Vecna on the astral plane. To make her something akin to a sensory deprivation tank, Argyle (Eduardo Franco) has the idea to fill the local Surfer Boy Pizza’s freezer with water & sixty pounds of salt. That’s the good kind of fridging. Mike merely makes Elle pizza sunglasses blinders. Their driver even makes them pineapple pizza while they wait. This rookie is definitely pulling his weight on the team! He even has an upbeat disposition to distinguish himself from the mopes he got stuck with. Keep him; ditch the boring boys!

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Snow White & The Four Pizza Boys

While that’s happening, the brooding Byers brothers have a heart to heart. Subtext confirms that Will is in love with Mike, which is something subtext can still do in this instance. Will hasn’t officially come out, but that’s authentic to the period for Midwestern teens. (Even now doesn’t feel like a particularly safe environment for that.) Supportive Jonathan gets the gist anyway. Some fans are chagrined that the writers & cast haven’t outright verified Will’s orientation, but at this point they don’t need to. It’s refreshing that they weren’t trying to score Pride points by over-hyping this.

When Team Kamchatka hears there’s more spooky shenanigans happening in Hawkins, they also decide to help from where they are. Realizing The Upside-Down beasties all operate on a hivemind, they figure they should kill the monsters they just fled from. So they break back into the gulag, which is much easier now that all the guards are dead. This plan has the least direct connection to the others based on non-psychic geography, but it’s possible that it still distracts Vecna somewhat. Murray roasting demodogs & a demogorgon with a flamethrower is still fun to watch regardless.

The teens’ plans are clever, but I’m glad they don’t go off without a hitch. Lucas guarding Max, who admits to successfully wishing Billy to death, is interrupted by a gun toting basketball captain. Lucas realizes he never should’ve tried to be a popular jock & fisticuffs ensue. Max’s headphones get smashed so the “RUTH” failsafe fails. The Vecna Assassination Trio of Nancy, Robin, & Steve is foiled by strangling vines in his home. (There’s plenty of hentai bondage in the finale, if that’s your kink.) Still feeling guilty over Chrissy, metalhead Eddie foolhardily scarifies himself as a distraction. He finally graduated … TO DEATH! Eleven overestimates her skills in her rematch against 001. Even with her superpowers restored, she’s unable to save the day by piggybacking through a pizza dough freezer.

Vecna’s prosthetics were so disgusting that they upset Millie Bobby Brown. Although he’s a method actor, Jamie Campbell Bower still tried to put his co-star at ease. (The current concept of method acting is probably not what its pioneers envisioned.) See, Dr. Michael Morbius, it’s possible to go method & not be a colossal dick!

The teams still manage to get their licks in. Eleven & 001 have a telekinetic battle (Does levitating imaginary objects count?) inside Max’s memories. Just like their opening scenes, this also mirrors a climactic duel in Obi-Wan Kenobi. When the VAT is freed, they light up Vecna’s physically body with Molotov cocktails. Not only was she instrumental in strategy & leadership, Nancy unloads her sawed off shotgun into the creep. This is how you make a non-powered reporter relevant to action scenes, writers of Superman & Lois & The Flash! Unfortunately she doesn’t get a headshot in, so he escapes via defenestration.

Eleven doesn’t mentally pop Vecna’s head like a zit either. The dastard is able to kill Max just enough to open the fourth gate without mangling her to a completely cartoonish degree. This traumatizes Lucas as she dies in his arms. “Running Up That Hill” becomes the perfect song for them. They’ve been sonically foreshadowing this tragedy! (Caleb McLaughlin & Sadie Sink deserve acclaim for nailing this heartbreak.) Eleven psychically resuscitates her broken body, but Max remains comatose. I was expecting Lucas to fully revive Max by singing to her.

Vecna actually succeeds despite announcing his plan in advance! On the plus-side, The Upside-Down rupturing into their reality bisects the bad basketballer. Townsfolk write it off as an earthquake. This excuses Max’s condition, Lucas’s bruises, & Jason’s disappearance. Otherwise Lucas would’ve been arrested & unable to clear his name to a community already inflamed over Satanic panic.

It’s anachronistic! Not only was Suzie hacking HTML before it existed, Hopper slices up a demogorgon with a Conan The Barbarian sword. This was decades before prop replicas were officially licensed. While there were bootleg tapes, I doubt the USSR’s black market was that booming back then that such swords would be squandered on doomed prisoners. Even the fonts are too advanced. Not only does Vecna resemble a Biohazard/Resident Evil Tyrant, Robin’s costume is straight up Jill Valentine. I’m upset there aren’t any stills of those two together.

The season’s penultimate episode suffered a bit from having to set up all the characters for the even more oversized finale, which made up for it in action. The extended run time ensured it had a decently sized denouement. Both it & the climax had enough space to breathe. The Byers-Wheeler-Hopper family had a big reunion. Dustin reassured Eddie’s uncle that he died a big damn hero. Steve survives! Nancy doubts she picked the right boyfriend. The Upside-Down putrefying The Rightside-Up is an ominous teaser for the final season.

Thus ends the penultimate season of Stranger Things. It felt much more satisfying than season three. The longer episodes were worthwhile! I’m so relieved it ended well even without a former Borg appearing.

Will its fifth be out at a faster pace now that they’re adapting to post-covid filming? There could be a time skip so the rapidly aging stars won’t have to pretend to be younglings anymore. Whither Mr. Scott Clarke? Kali’s crew needs to return for the final battle!

~

After much hype, my Thor: Love & Thunder collaboreview is up next!

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