(This is a republished post. You can view the original posting HERE.)
Please Note: The following post was written before the passing of my family dog. This has been a very traumatic experience for myself, as well as my entire family. I had originally intended to do some massive cleanup here, but now I just cannot bring myself to care enough. I had thought about leaving this for a while and seeing if time could help heal some of my pain, and therefore bring more clarity. But in all honestly, I just want this done and out of the way.
So please keep that in mind while reading. Thank you. With that said:
Recently I posted about my thoughts on the fate of a certain character
. Now I figured I may as well give my thoughts on the entirety of Stranger Things Season Four. As I said in that previous post, the internet really is ablaze with a variety of reactions on almost all aspects of this season, its events, and its characters. I don't know how much I'll tackle specifically, simply because so much of it has already been said by so many others, and I don't want to disgustingly regurgitate all of it.
But hopefully, I can have my own take on at least some of the aspects that are lighting up conversations all around? Please keep in mind that I'm not going to go too in-depth here, at least in some details. I'm not going to describe things as if speaking to someone who's never seen this show, or this season. If you are reading this, and have not seen season four, or Stranger Things itself, then what are you doing reading this? Go watch it right now!!
Warning: SPOILERS BELOW.
Overall I really enjoyed this season. The story itself is interesting and compelling on many levels. However, I will say that in my personal opinion, the entirety of the season feels a little over-bloated; I truly believe that some massive editing and tightening could have done wonders. There are many places where scenes and moments just drag on, either for dramatic purposes or just for over-clarification. Sometimes it can work, but many times it seemed without true purpose.
For example, near the end of the very first episode, the shots cut back and forth to and from a D&D game, as well as a sports-ball game. I understand the idea of trying to draw up some tension, but the way it plays out really does feel like needless padding as neither of these moments felt worthy of the build-up. I'm not saying to rush through either of these scenes, it just didn't need to be dragged out quite so long. It's just a roll of the dice and a game-winning shot, the outcome of neither being any surprise, nor legitimately adding anything to the plot as a whole.
Had that been the only moment that went on a little too long, I would not say anything. But this type of situation carries throughout the entire season. And since the runtime of the episodes have been pushed to near movie-length features, anything that could have shaved off a moment or two would have been appreciated.
A few storylines also felt a little over-blown. Hopper and Eleven both have important events to get through, but in both Russia and the underground missile silo, time kept dragging while waiting for them to reach their goals. It feels like a lot of story beats are repeated in one way or another, and in the case of Eleven, dragging out the mystery seems to take too much priority (in my opinion).
This season also really LOVED flashbacks. Like, seriously loved flashbacks. Some were necessary, others were not. And in some cases, the flashbacks from this very season felt like the writers thought very little of their audiences' intelligence. As in the scene where Max is reading the personal files for the other victims; the very second the camera showed the words 'nosebleed' and 'headache', I knew exactly what was going on. But instead of letting the audience get there on their own, they had to show flashbacks of Max having nosebleeds and taking painkillers. Then to add insult to injury (so to speak), she flat out explains that she's been having headaches and nosebleeds, rendering the flashbacks unnecessary no matter how you look at it.
These could all be seen as nitpicks, and perhaps they are. It's just that in my opinion, this entire season could have been so much more enjoyable if the overall experience had been tighter. As it is, I'd say that this is my second favorite season of the series so far, and the only thing that kept it from taking that top spot was its pacing and (what I felt as) padding.
I also feel like some characters didn't have all that much purpose overall. Jonathan, Will, and Mike, for example, really don't have much to do. Yes, they have a few important moments, but these really are just 'moments' out of a massive amount of storytelling. With so many mouths to feed, it's probably inevitable that some will go hungry; it's just a shame in my opinion.
At this point, one might be wondering what I actually DID like about it. Well, buckle up!
Eddie. Just, Eddie. Oh my God, what can I say about this dude? At first, he comes across as a typical over-blown annoying stereotype, and I was immediately thinking: “Please let him die now so that I don't have to sit through this crap for too long!”
But he is quickly shown in a lighter note when he first meets up with Chrissy, and his fear, agony, and confusion at the climax of their second outing show that there is way more to this character than what was first offered. And the rest of his time on screen was just magnificent!
Now, I have seen WAY too much chatter around his demise, and how 'dirty' he was done. While I will say with no doubt that his death was devastating, and his loss will certainly be felt, it was extremely obvious. His arch was very well telegraphed early on, so the fact that he did die came as no surprise; to me at least. And let's face it, what good for the character would have come had he survived? The entire town, including the police force, firmly believed him to be a killer. Had he returned from the upside-down, his future would have been either a lifetime in prison, or at the very least, a lifetime as an outcast in every way, shape, and form following his acquittal due to lack of evidence.
And at least he got a better arch than characters such as Benny, Barb, Bob, Alexei, and Chrissy. If you really want to talk about a character being done dirty, how about the sweet and kind cheerleader who gave us the first on-screen taste of Vecna's wrath? That really was one hell of a horror that first time.
That leads me to another bit of greatness; Vecna aka Henry aka One (or should I simply say 001?). Now, the friendly orderly did seem a bit obvious to me as being the mythical '001', but his ultimate reveal as Vecna and how he became such? Pure gold! Granted, he (Vecna specifically) did come across a little TOO Freddie Kruegerish, which is of course the point in a series that maybe goes too far at times in blurring that line between homage and flat-out plagiarism. And it is maybe a little too on the nose having the OG Krueger as his father/surviving victim. But, I'll go ahead and give it a pass. (That was a joke, son.)
I cannot speak about Vecna without going into the true villain of the season; Jason (and his gang). Words cannot express how much I hated that jackass! I've seen some random people trying to defend him, saying that his actions were justified because he truly believed that Eddie killed his girlfriend. To that, I say, No. Just no. Ignorance and stupidity are NOT justifications for murder, and from the very beginning, that was his goal; to murder Eddie. And he (as well as his gang) was clearly willing, especially towards the end, to maim and murder anyone that got in his way.
His buddy, a high school senior jock, tackled and threatened to break the arms of an eighth-grade girl for crying out loud!
His sole mission was for vengeance, but he did not care if he got the right person, which automatically invalidates his quest from the beginning. When he started, NO ONE said that Eddie actually did it. He was being sought for questioning, but there are a million reasons to want to question someone in any investigation. And let's be real, he jumped to conclusions based solely on a preexisting prejudice and hatred of Eddie. If you truly want justice, or even straight-up vengeance, you should ALSO want to make sure that you are going to seek the correct person. Otherwise, you are just another psychopath.
So, just [expletive] him, and his gang.
One thing I'd like to address, though I will do my best to tread lightly, is Will. I see a lot of irritation in various members of the fanbase that his sexuality isn't being clearly addressed. I do not know if I am the right person to speak on this; I am not from the community that I believe may want this addressed the most, so my opinion on the matter probably isn't that important.
What I will say, however, is that from my perspective, it does feel like they are trying to address it as best that they can, while also remaining somewhat realistic. Again, as I am not a member of that community, I cannot say what is or isn't true or valid. But from what I have seen others go through, the act of 'coming out' - in whatever form that may be - can be excruciatingly difficult. With the pain, anxiety, and fear, the decision to 'come out' is not something that anyone can (at least typically) take lightly. Even today.
I personally think that the bigger problem with Will is that he's not really a character in the first place; he's a prop. He was the focal point of the first season, but he was literally just a prop, a goal if you will. And the way I see it, they never really got out of that mindset with his character.
Anyway, back to topic. In a story set in a rural 80's 'hick' town, I just can't imagine too many people being comfortable taking that step overall. So I honestly don't know. On one hand, I feel that they are handling it decently enough. On
another, maybe it could have been handled better?
On a similar note, however, I do want to say that I really like the way Robin's storyline has been handled in regard to her sexuality. And mostly in one very specific way. She came out to Steve, but possibly only because they had both been drugged. And even though Steve has had plenty of reasons to relay that information to someone else - from Dustin constantly telling him to 'get with her', to trying to assure Nancy that there is nothing between them (though I have to admit I do not care for this love triangle going on) - he has kept her confidence. It's a small detail, but I really like that aspect.
There is something else I'd like to mention; this isn't really a gripe exactly, and it's certainly not praise. It's more along the lines of, huh? It's said at some point that prior to season four, Vecna couldn't open gates himself. I forget the exact wording, but it's something along the lines of how he learned of this ability through watching Eleven, and how for previous seasons he basically waited for someone else to open one up in order to stage any kind of attack (through his minions, aka the mind flayer and the demogorgon). And it's only now, in season four, that he's figured out how to do so through psychic connection formed during his kills (or something along those lines).
The problem with this is that various gates were clearly opening and closing throughout season one. I cannot believe that the demogorgon came through the gate in Hawkins Lab, escaped the lab, captured Will, and then brought him back to the lab and through the gate. I also doubt Eleven had anything to do with whatever gate that was used in that event. We also have Barb and Nancy who go through gates at various times, and it is also implied that others who are not named disappeared in a similar fashion.
So, either I'm confused about how these gates work, or maybe the writers are? Maybe it can be explained away in season five, or just chalked up to a slight discrepancy.
I think that the last thing I'd like to say, in the most generic way possible (simply because to go into detail will bring this to absurd levels of length), I love the characters and the way that they interact with one another. That is actually the entire show's greatest strength in my opinion. There is so much that is amazing about these characters that that alone has - and will - always bring me back to this show and its world. They don't always get it right, but overall, there is something that is just so damned special about these characters, and the actors portraying them do a brilliant job bringing it all to life. Season four carries that on in wonderful ways!
This post is already pushing the limits of a tolerable length, so I'm just going to end here. I never intended to go into extreme depth, at least not in a single post. I just wanted to jot down a few things for no other reason than because I wanted to. I will probably do one more post devoted to Stranger Things, though that one will just be a breakdown of superficial thoughts and opinions on the previous three seasons, as well as ranking them (as I said already, this is my second favorite season). And at that point, I promise you, I'll be done - at least until the fifth and final season comes out!
I hope that you enjoyed these ramblings, and if you disagree, even if in large ways, I hope that you can express them kindly. Please try and remember that we all have different opinions, backgrounds, and experiences, and I know that I myself am never very good at expressing mine.
Thank you for taking the time to read this mess.
Thank you for reading my post! Please consider checking out my debut novel, The Scars of Gaia
, here on my website! The entire novel can be downloaded for free in multiple digital formats.