The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (2023)

Spoilers ahead paraWeird stuffSeason 4.

Are you also surprised that we left like this? I'll give theWeird stuffmarketing machine is due: after weeks of trailers, trailers, interviews, theories, viral TikToks andtiktok viral songs, it looked like the Netflix thriller might have finally reached its pinnacle, and that the only thing waiting down the slope could be... well, death. (Whether because of the characters or the series itself remains debatable.) And given Gaten Matarazzo's nod toteen fashion this week, in which the actor hinted at several deaths inWeird stuffseason 4 finale, I expected to write this review through tears.

But the ending is, inconceivably, an exercise in restraint. I know, I know, it's ridiculous to say that about a final episode.the length of a feature film.Weird stuffdoesn't know how to moderate! There is a lot of money, a lot of ego at stake!! It's true: Episode 9, "Piggyback," does more to set up the next one,finalfinal battle to truly resolve the one that depended on its season. That dose of Marvel Syndrome might irritate some viewers - even this writer admits he rolled his eyes before the credits - but still, there's something undeniably magnetic about knowing the end is near. The blood continues to boil. The best is yet to come. Like Max, we may not be ready to die yet.

First, we have a lot of action to analyze. The finale kicks off with our Russian team, Hopper, Joyce, Murray, Yuri, and One Dude, whose name I keep forgetting (okay, Dmitri!), still landlocked in Sovietville. As Yuri hugs the buttocks/windshield of his helicopter named Katinka, Joyce and Hopper pull sleeping bags and don Hulk Hogan T-shirts. Immediately, my vision sharpened:Are they... going for the bone?Joyce approaches a shirtless Hopper and expresses dismay at his chest scars. "It's not that bad," he says. "You know, I needed to lose weight anyway." Excuse me, but let's not imbue Daddy Bod Hopper with toxic beauty standards, please and thank you.

Joyce mentions that part of the reason she was willing to take that risk, you know, breaking into a Russian prison and all, is because they still have a date to meet, remember? "To remember?" Hopper responds, stunned. "I've beentoqueabout.” You'll get two orders of baguettes at dinner, which I'm surprised isn't something you normally do. “Have you been dreaming about baguettes and lasagna?” Joyce asks, laughing. Hop straightens up and leans in a little closer. Am I supposed to be dreaming about something else?" Why is this breadstick talk so sexy?

Finally, they lean in for the long-awaited kiss. (Someone call Murray!) But before they can do so, the phone rings, apparently with the KGB listening. Over the phone, Hop learns that his children are in trouble: as we saw in the penultimate episode, Dr. Brenner aka Papa is dead and Eleven is "bad". Joyce's children are also "off the grid". (LookingWinona ryderThe unsurprised yet terrified little tick here is absolutely heartbreaking.) Trapped as they are in Russia, they realize they'll never make it back in time to save the kids, butto dothey have access to the creatures discovered in the last episode of Russian Prison, which means they have access to Vecna's "hive mind". It's back to prison where we're going.

The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (1)

(Video) Vecna was hidden in the very first episode of Stranger Things

Meanwhile, the Surfer Boy Pizza gang (Eleven, Will, Mike, Jonathan and Argyle) try (unsuccessfully) to book a flight via a payphone. Eleven realizes that if Vecna ​​can hijack Max's mind, so can she; he has done this before with his mother and with Max's late brother Billy. But for that you'll need a sensory deprivation tank, or at the very least a salt tub, and Argyle knows exactly where to get a solution. They take the bus to the local Surfer Boy franchise and take over the kitchen, with the help of a hard joint, and discover the 600 pounds of salt that Argyle promised. “The first mental struggle to ever take place in a pizza dough freezer,” says Argyle. Tap on the exact subject.

The remaining Hawkins team (Nancy, Steve, Robin, Lucas, Max, Dustin and Erica) devises a four-phase plan to eliminateEnrique/Vecna/One. They agree not to deviate from the plan, whatever happens. (Guess what I think they're going to do? Deviate from the plan!) Everyone except Max, Lucas, and Erica jumps through the upside-down hole in the roof of Eddie's trailer and ends up back in Vecna's territory . The last trio, still in the "real world", searches for Vecna's location via lamps. Thus begins Phase One.

Now, now, you haven't forgotten about the Jocks, have you? The golden boys at Hawkins High are growing impatient, with Jason in particular looking more and more distraught with each frame. Turns out they have a lead: someone saw Erica running out of the "Morehead murder house". hey. It looks like a showdown is coming, and at the worst possible time for the would-be assassins of Vecna.

At the Upside Down, Eddie finds his electric guitar waiting for him, "as if destined for an alternate dimension". While on his way to the UD version of the Creel house, Steve thanks Nancy for smacking him over the head, metaphorically speaking, and then reveals his Winnebago costume from last episode: the road trips, the six mini Harringtons? . "You are there," he says. You've always been there. By then, Steve was number 1 on my list of people most likely to die.

They find Creel's house and head to Phase Two, which is chasing down Vecna. Max takes off his headphones and turns Kate Bush off, which is more than he's managed to do on TikTok. But things don't go as planned: even when Maxit is notcoming down that hill, Vecna ​​refuses to take the bait. So she sits down and talks to him, as if confiding in a close friend: “I thought about what you said. About how I wanted my brother to die. She admits to praying that something would happen to Billie when he was alive, just so she wouldn't have to live with his abuse anymore. She tried to forgive herself, but she couldn't. “So now,” he says, “now when I lie in bed at night, I pray that something will happen to me… That's why I'm here. Because I just want you to take me away. Inevitably, there is some truth to this monologue, which is exactly why it works so well. Within seconds, Vecna ​​is upside down. Phase Three.

The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (2)

In a delightful twist, easily one of the highlights of the episode, Eddie and Dustin decide to lure Vecna's army of flesh-destroying bats to them with a rendition of Metallica's "Master of Puppets." (I recommend turning on subtitles for this part. Just trust me.) Eddie plays all the chords while Dustin headbutts, but Steve, Nancy, and Robin are too busy fighting off Vecna's tentacles to appreciate the sick Upside Down. new playlist. Lucas has his hands full too: Jason has arrived on the scene and is pointing a gun directly at his teammate's forehead. Fortunately, Lucas has a killer right hook and the two start to fight.

(Video) the Vecna transformation is 🤯 #shorts #strangerthings #netflix

Eleven, now emerging from the salt bath and connected to Max's mind, begins flipping through Max's memories. But she's struggling to get to where Max has been (mentally) hiding from Vecna: Season 2's Hawkins Middle Snow Ball, which is slowly turning into a Vecna-themed murder party with balloons bursting with blood. As Hopper and company orchestrate a method to trap the demonstration creatures in the prison pit and set them on fire, weakening Vecna, Eddie and Dustin team up to control the remaining hellbats. Surprisingly, there are many, so Dustin assumes the only answer is to run back to the real world. But Eddie has been running a lot lately. This time he will fight.

Back in Max's mind palace, Vecna ​​is about to contort her limbs, but Eleven intervenes before she can kill her. When Max questions how Eleven managed to sneak into his head, we get what is sure to become another iconic Eleven quote, plastered across graphics and Reddit T-shirts everywhere: "I hitched a ride on a freezer of pizza dough." But the good mood doesn't last, as Vecna ​​regains her strength and takes Max's unconscious body and Eleven's twisted body with her to her blood-red Creel lair in the Upside Down. “Dad is dead,” Eleven tells him, trying to calm her anger. “He turned you into this. He's the monster, Henry. Not you."

But Vecna ​​has a monologue she wants to perform, and Eleven isruininghe! "Don't you see, Eleven?" he tells her. “He didn't turn me into this. You did it." Classic victim blaming!

We learn, again through a monologue, that Henry/Vecna/One "became an explorer of a realm untouched by mankind" when he was first unknowingly sent to the Upside Down by a young Eleven. There, he discovered "a way to fulfill my potential": the Mind Flayer. But when Eleven and company defeated the Mind Flayer, Vecna ​​looked inside and realized that he would have to open all four gates himself to bring about the apocalypse. He would then "pick up the pieces" of the broken world and turn it "into something beautiful". Relax, Thanos.

The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (3)

In the real world, Max starts to levitate, a sure sign that things aren't going so well. Also, Eleven is working on the salt bath and Mike confesses his love for her in order for her to stay. He begs her to fight, and she does, the tentacles loosening around her neck and joints. But it might be too late. Max's limbs have already started to break and blood is pouring from his eyes. The bats are eating Eddie alive. A demo dog is inches away from chewing on Hopper's face. We're losing?

Of course. That isWeird stuff! Eleven finds his inexhaustible reserve of power and attacks Vecna ​​from behind as Hopper and Joyce flee. With the demonstration beings contained in the pit, Murray rains fire down from above. As Vecna ​​is restrained by Eleven, her tentacles free Nancy, Steve, and Robin (they were, uh, suffocating for a long time in there, huh?), and the bats surrounding Eddie crumble. A demogorgon survives and Hop picks up Excalibur, sorry, a random sword on the ground, to fight him.

(Video) How to Beat THE SLEEP CHALLENGE in Rapid Eye Movement (2019)

Nancy, Steve and Robin find the real Vecna ​​in the Upside Down and have a barbecue. (Phase four!) But he has a warning for Eleven: “This is just the beginning. The beginning of the end. You've already lost. The trio set fire and a now burning Vecna ​​rises to give chase. Robin launches another Molotov as Nancy charges at him, firing a shotgun closer and closer. Steve just stands there looking cute, like it's his prerogative.

Finally, Nancy shoots Vecna ​​through the window of Creel's house, leaving her seemingly dead body in flames in the front yard. But unfortunately. When they go downstairs, the body is gone.

It's now or never: if someone is going to die, the time has come. Eddie is, of course, the first to go; unlike Steve, he cannot take many bites from bats. Despite being a new character for theStranger Things Brigade— and therefore one we've had the least amount of time to become attached to — yet Eddie became a fan favorite, a loyal pseudo-brother to the Hellfire Club, and a misunderstood misfit who kept their spirits up until the very end. . His death is a painful blow, especially when Dustin starts crying next to her. "I didn't run away this time, did I?" Eddy asks. No, puppet master. Does not exist.

Back at Creel's house, Max has woken up but can't see or feel anything. His eyes grew cloudy; his bones are broken. Lucas yells at Erica to call an ambulance while Max sobs, “I don't want to die. I'm not ready." Of all her emotional scenes this season, Sadie Sink's delivery here is the best. She's absolutely awful to watch. Lucas and Eleven scream in pain as four chimes erupt from Vecna's grandfather clock, signaling that Max has passed away, and the curtain between Hawkins and the Upside Down has fallen.

Red-hot slimy cracks rip through the floor, ripping Jason in two as they carve a path of carnage. (Was it really necessary, after all we've been through?) Buildings crumble into the UD lava trail as the earth shudders and groans. Mike tries to wake up the real Eleven, but she's still in Max's head, where she simply whispers, “No. You are not going." Wait, does Eleven have resurrection powers that I don't know about? Before we can figure it out, the screen cuts to black and a “Two days later” card alerts us to a time jump.

The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (4)

While the Surfer Boy Pizza Bros. return to the city, they are faced with a long line of crowded cars leaving Hawkins. Finally home, they all share tender and bittersweet reunions, some more upbeat than others: Robin sees Vickie at a makeshift relief camp and the two hit it off; A tearful Dustin gives Mr. Munson Eddie and a brave keepsake to remember your son; Nancy and Jonathan try to figure out if their relationship is "okay" (it's not); and Lucas reveals that Max is in a coma, from which he may never wake up. At Hopper's cabin, father and daughter are together again, with Eleven even thinking that Hop's slightly thin appearance is "bitchy". But Will knows, perhaps better than anyone else, that the day is not won: Vecna ​​is still alive, and Will can sense it, "that he's hurt, he's hurt, but he's still alive".

(Video) max being sassy for 5 minutes straight

The hairs on the back of Will's neck stand on end and everyone looks up at the sky: a storm is approaching. Snow: Upside down snow, norealsnow - starts to fall. Together they walk to a clearing and find that the flowers have withered and died. Upside Down and Hawkins merge. The final battle has arrived.

And that's it: a setup for next season worthy of a Marvel post-credits scene. "Only" one main character has died, unless we're also counting Max, whose fate remains to be seen. In some ways, "Piggyback" wasn't the dumb hit I was hoping for, though it does deliver the action and the horror.Weird stuffis loved by My first instinct was a strange disappointment. All this buildup and I don't even have a panic attack at the end?

Admittedly, not all fans will find "Piggyback" a particularly satisfying conclusion, especially given its runtime and the way previous episodes were split into parts. There's not much we learn here that we didn't already know: Vecna ​​is Henry/Um, he's on a mission to end the world, and he's going to be very hard to stop. All of those same things are still true, except now Eddie is dead, Max is in a coma, and Vecna ​​is likely pulling Voldemort and healing while the Hawkins-Upside Down fusion marinates.

And still. Maybe I show a tendency to fall for basic fan bullying, but the "Piggyback" moments wanted to be epic.those onesfeel epic. By the time the credits rolled, I had enough adrenaline pumping through my system to replay this story well into the wee hours of the morning. I don't want to give too much credit to the Netflix series.Weird stuffgets a lot more praise than it honestly deserves, but the show could be on the right track with its slow but mighty approach. Forgive the crude analogy here, but it's a bit like the edge: we're getting closer and closer to what we know is inevitable (a massive emotional release that defies gravity), but refuses, in this case, to twist the knife. Eddie's death was the harbinger of what is sure to be an even more controversial loss next season. It could be the best. Or eleven. Or, God forbid, Dustin.

next seasonIt will be the last of the program. The battle is near. maybe thenWeird stuffhe wanted to make sure we were ready for the fight.

The end of Stranger Things 4 refuses to turn the knife. Still. (5)

Lauren Puckett-Pope

(Video) I’m inlove with this 💗💗 #shorts #editing #strangerthings #gatenmatarazzo #subscribe #gaten

culture writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television, and books. Previously, she was an associate editor at ELLE.


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