‘Stranger Things’ volume 2 is epic ending to show’s fourth season


Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for season 4, volume 2 of “Stranger Things.” Read the review of volume 1 here.

This year, the Duffer Brothers (the directors of “Stranger Things”) decided to release the long-awaited season 4 in two parts. Volume 2 consisted of the two final episodes which were filmed more movie-like, allowing plot lines to become more dynamic, making you laugh, cry and everything in between.

The last episode of volume 1 revealed one of the biggest plot twists, leaving fans waiting until volume 2’s release on July 1 to tie it all together. In the last episode, fans learned that Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) was created by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) as a result of her attempting to kill him back in Hawkins Lab. After losing her powers in season 3 into volume 1 of season 4, Eleven’s powers are now restored after working with Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) and Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser).

Eleven uses her powers to check up on her Hawkins friends, learning they are in danger. Action-packed scenes of Eleven fleeing the facility ensue as the classic “Stranger Things” comedic relief character saves the day. Argyle, played by Eduardo Franco, is joined by Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will (Noah Schnapp) who contribute more to the plot in these episodes. Although, I still don’t quite get how Mike didn’t notice his sobbing friend next to him during a particularly emotional scene. A heartfelt talk between Will and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) in the finale brought tears to Will’s eyes as well as my own. These episodes had a good balance of exploring more aspects of the characters’ relationships with others as well as with themselves.

Back in Hawkins, the other half of the characters uncover that a fourth death is in store before the vision that Nancy (Natalia Dyer) saw becomes a reality. As seen in volume 1, with each death Vecna makes, he slowly breaks the bounds between Hawkins and the Upside Down. Max (Sadie Sink) volunteers to be the bait in the plan to take down Vecna. Unfortunately, this plan in the finale does not unfold quite as they had hoped. Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve (Joe Keery), and Nancy get a little tied up leaving almost all of the final battle up to Eleven along with words of reassurance from Mike.

To bench Robin, Steve, and Nancy during the final scene didn’t entirely make sense as they had been doing most of the heavy lifting by fighting Vecna this season. Maybe next season they will create a battle where every member contributed with their own strengths. Furthermore, the death of Eddie (Joseph Quinn) did not contribute to the battle as much as a sacrificial death had the potential to.

However, tying together Joyce (Wynona Rider), Hopper (David Harbour) and Murray (Brett Gelman) in this battle by weakening the hive mind from Russia was truly amazing. The cinematography alone with a combination of the flickers of romance building between Joyce and Hopper made these episodes worth the wait, and I really hope they build on this duo well in the next season. In addition, the final wholesome scenes with Robin and Steve volunteering gave a good contrast to the dark moments of the episode.

In regards to the other relationships in volume 2, having Eleven’s strength in the final battle come from Mike’s confession of love irked me as it implies that she is only strong enough if she has his validation which didn’t do her character justice, especially because their relationship isn’t the healthiest already and is continuing to isolate Mike from his selfless friend Will, who is rumored to be in love with Mike himself.

The show did do a very good job of portraying the pain of Will to see his best friend, whom he would do anything for, forget about him and be so oblivious to his feelings. In contrast, we see Lucas’ (Caleb McLaughlin) care for Max really shine through, especially after his own fight scene where all he could do was hold her as she pleaded “I don’t wanna die. I’m not ready,” between sobs as he comforted her. That was one of the best scenes of the season, up there with the reuniting of Hopper and Eleven which truly fulfilled a spot in my heart as the three storylines came together to close this season. The exceptional acting really made this season one of the most emotionally dynamic, making you feel with the characters making this season come in a very close tie with fan favorite season one.

Grade: A