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The world of Stranger Things keeps getting more vast and complex with every season. Season 4 has definitely been the most expansive yet, divided into two volumes with the first consisting of 7 episodes and the second consisting of only 2 episodes. While 2 episodes may not seem like a lot compared to the first volume but their near 4 hours running time more than makes up for it.
The story this season takes place not only in multiple continents but also in multiple dimensions. Meanwhile, this season offers far more compelling characters and far more moving parts over the course of the story. All of this makes for an even more engaging than the previous three as the stakes have never been higher.
While the second and final volume of Stranger Things Season 4 doesn’t try to break archetypes, the storytelling this season is a victory for the way it continues to carry the characters viewers have come to love forward. That being said, it’s still weird how the series has yet to feature a single death from the main ensemble despite them experiencing some truly terrifying events. However, this season still boasts quite a body count compared to previous seasons with the biggest arguably being Eddie Munson in the Upside down. He might be Vecna’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) new body according to some theories which sounds interesting?
The last volume ended with Vecna capturing Nancy but surprisingly not killing her. Volume 2 picks up where the last left off with Vecna showing her the future and his plans for it to share with Eleven who had regained her powers. With Nancy now aware of Vecna’s plan, the group of friends back in Hawkins plan to end Vecna once and for all. Russia saw Joyce and Murray reunite with Hopper but their ultimate survival meant defeating all the demogorgons and demodogs.
The reveal of Vecna and his backstory near the end of volume one was a highlight and volume 2 expanded this further to great effect, easily cementing him as the best villain of the series so far. He also doesn’t look to be going away any time soon as the ending confirms that he is still very alive, thus likely making him the final big bad for the next and final season too.
In terms of performances, Volume 2 of Stranger Things boasts some standout moments for not only Brown’s Eleven. Sink’s Max, who plays an important role this season, and McLaughlin’s Lucas were the other highlights besides Bower’s Vecna. Ryder and Harbour have had undeniable chemistry as Joyce and Hopper since the beginning but despite some roadblocks along the way, this season saw them continue to draw closer to one another.
In what has been an otherwise fantastic season, there are still some issues. With only one season left, the series has yet to see a major death amongst its main ensemble. Though they shouldn’t die for no reason, it still feels odd. This season overall has been tense and unpredictable overall but the last two episodes of volume 2 were very tropey and predictable. Nevertheless, its great performances and characters save it from being unwatchable. Its pacing and editing are also flawless in that despite being very long, the season doesn’t feel slow. As things keep happening, the series remains engaging.
In the end, with Vecna very much alive and seemingly accomplishing his goals, the gates between Hawkins and the upside down are open once again. The battle against the other dimension will surely be far worse, presumably leading to the end of the story come the upcoming final season.