The season finale of Stranger Things triumphs by veering towards excess (2023)

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner inStrange things.Netflix hide title

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The season finale of Stranger Things triumphs by veering towards excess (2)

One of the hardest things for an established TV show is to surprise you.

Specifically, to surprise by revealing something new about characters that fans think they know after years of watching episodes and sticking to their favorites.

It's a big reason I've enjoyed this fourth season of the Netflix smash hit so much.Strange things. And that's why the final two episodes, released today, amplify the energy of an already driving season by revealing the full extent of the dangers our heroes (and heroines) face, while also highlighting new complications between them all.

The show has always been based on an unlikely premise: a nerdy gang of young kids, with the help of some bumbling adults, stop hideous creatures from an alternate universe from consuming our world. That core team - teenage friends Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will - have grown with each season and are now an endlessly eccentric gang who, in one animated story, feels like any misfit from any '80s teen movie.

In its fourth season, the show has more than doubled on just about everything: expanding the show's fictional universe, adding compelling new characters, and staging a bombastic showdown for these final two episodes, which deliver their biggest show yet.

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Once quaint, Stranger Things is now insane in every way

The show's new Big Bad, a disgusting assemblage of tentacles and rotting flesh named Vecna, has been killing youths from the alternate dimension known as the Upside Down, and the show's growing cast of young protagonists must bring him down. Eventually, they realize that they must work from multiple locations, including the Upside Down itself, to attempt to defeat him.

Online fans have been feverishly swapping theories about these final two episodes, episodes eight and nine, which feature a huge season finale that lasts over two hours. Questions abound: Is a main character dying (with many fans pouring money into Steve Harrington, Joe Keery's dreamy underachiever, and beautifully coiffed Steve Harrington)? Does a certain boy with a bowl-shaped hairstyle show feelings for his childhood friend that go beyond friendship?

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More importantly, is this season's story really worth a longer final episode than some feature films?

Chill out. I will not reveal the answers to most of these questions. But I will note that they will be answered in the newly released episodes, which also continue the show's unerring ability to end a world-threatening crisis while also revealing the seeds for the next to come in the upcoming fifth and final season of the show will unfold . And yes, this latest oversized installment is well worth watching.

Recent episodes are punctuated by major changes

I'll avoid the obvious spoilers here, but talk about the details of the first seven episodes Netflix released in May. This fractured launch strategy appears to have worked as intended: keeping fans hooked on the series for weeks, anticipating and keeping the season finaleStrange thingshigh rank below10 Most Watched American TV Showsin the service it is also from netflixmost-watched English programme.

The show's creators and showrunners, known as the Duffer Brothers, Ross and Matt, took a major turn early in season four by employing a tactic often used on TV shows where you're a close-knit group of characters that have been together for a long time. while. you separate them

And boy did they break them up? Super-powered psychokinetic telepathic girl Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, lost her powers and moved to California with Winona Ryder's Joyce Byers and their sons Will and Jonathan. Dustin, Lucas and Mike stayed in Hawkins, Indiana, a fictional town that never looked like a real Indiana town to this Hoosier native, along with the other kids who helped thwart an apocalypse last season. Depressed David Harbor Sheriff Jim Hopper was trapped in a Russian prison and presumed dead until Joyce discovered otherwise earlier this season.

David Harbour als Jim Hopper.Tina Rowden/Netflix hide title

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Tina Rowden/Netflix

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The season finale of Stranger Things triumphs by veering towards excess (5)

David Harbour als Jim Hopper.

Tina Rowden/Netflix

To make it all work, the Duffers have balanced a variety of stories taking place in at least four different locations, a situation that only escalates in the final two episodes. At the beginning of Episode 8, Eleven has left California and gone to a secret facility with the doctor who originally raised her and helped her develop her skills, Matthew Modine's ruthless investigator, Martin Brenner.

He's one of the established characters that gets even more compelling here as we learn new details of his backstory with Eleven (she calls him Papa, title of the eighth episode) as she works with him to regain his powers and it with Vecna record.

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These episodes work by embracing all the excesses that would drown out a typical series, from absurd plot twists like Joyce joining forces with a conspiracy theorist friend of Hopper's to rescue him from this Russian prison, to characters who somehow find themselves exactly when they need it. On-the-nose homages to classic horror movies likeNightmare on Elm StreetÖHalloweenand bombastic, spin-heavy action sequences.

There is a lot of chaos this season. The show had to be famousWarning in its first episode, which premiered days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas in May and featured the murder of children raised with Eleven on the grounds.

But with all the deaths, one rarely gets the feeling that the main characters of the series are in serious danger, despite the many threats they face.Strange thingsflirts with that idea in these final episodes in a way that ups the ante without violating the series' core concepts.

Problems with "confessional monologues"

Even with two bloated episodes, the Duffer brothers have plenty of narrative ground to offer in these latest episodes. So they resort to what I'm going to call the "confessed monologue," in which one character turns to another and clearly and emotionally explains the problem in their relationship, admits their part in it, and vows to do better .

This is something that often happens in the last few episodes. And as satisfying as it may be for viewers to see these characters stop acting silly and talking to each other, it also feels like a crutch, allowing the story to gravitate toward emotional resolutions that it doesn't are fully deserved.


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In one case, the confessional monologue takes place between two characters (I won't name names) who promise to be more open with each other. They then move on to the emergency at hand without really talking about the emotional issue that caused the confessional in the first place. Sigh.

Still, there's a lot to like about the character development here. The deepening relationship between Hopper and Joyce. Steve Harrington's efforts to overcome his womanizing. The strange triangle between Will, his friend Mike and Mike's girlfriend Eleven.

And it was surprisingly powerful to see these scattered groups of friends finally coming together in bittersweet determination.

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I have no idea how the Duffer brothers will achieve what they achieved for their fifth and final run this season (they even reintroduced '80s icon Kate Bush).a whole new legion of fans). But I can't wait to be amazed by this clever and bold series again.


What is the twist at the end of Stranger Things? ›

Max did die for long enough to open the gateway, and now the Upside Down – and all its monsters – is coming to the real world. This sets the stage for a truly massive fifth and final season, which may not have the same time jump and reset we've grown used to from Stranger Things.

Is the last episode of Stranger Things good? ›

This finale also gives viewers an “Avengers: Infinity War” style penultimate ending, as Vecna is still alive and Hawkins remains in danger. The result is disappointing and unsatisfying for viewers expecting a grand victory over the season's villain.

Was Stranger Things meant to be more than one season? ›

"Seven years ago, we planned out the complete story arc for Stranger Things," Matt and Ross Duffer wrote. "At the time, we predicted the story would last four to five seasons. It proved too large to tell in four but—as you'll see for yourselves—we are now hurtling toward our finale."

Will Argyle be in season 5? ›

Stranger Things season 5 will primarily take place in Hawkins, leaving Argyle's role in the final installment a mystery.

Is Will In love With Mike? ›

In season four, a new aspect of Will emerged more fully; the teenager from Hawkins appeared to have a crush on his friend Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), and now Noah is confirming that Will is indeed gay and in love with Mike.

Who was Vecna before? ›

Vecna was not always a hideous beast of the Upside Down. He was once a troubled child in the real world named Henry Creel. Henry's “problems” caused his family to move to Hawkins in 1959.

Is Vecna the Mind Flayer? ›

Vecna revealed in season four, he was the one who created the Mind Flayer after Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) banished him to the Upside Down. All this time, the Mind Flayer was Vecna, who was using the entity to carry out his orders and speaking through the creature.

Is Stranger Things 4 boring? ›

In order to garner interest for spinoffs and to cement itself on the Mount Rushmore of Netflix originals, the show must first deliver quality entertainment. Which it does, but… mostly doesn't. Stranger things Season 4 is a competent show that is still somehow astonishingly boring.

Who is the final villain in Stranger Things? ›

Henry Creel, also known as One, Vecna, or the Mind Flayer, is the main antagonist of the Netflix original series Stranger Things.

Who played 003 in Stranger Things? ›

Three, portrayed by Morgan Gao, was a minor character in the fourth season of Stranger Things. He was one of the known test subjects at Hawkins Lab, a different test subject from Ricky who was also designated as Three.

Was Stranger Things story planned from the beginning? ›

Though Stranger Things was initially planned as an anthology, there was enough to build on from the first season's events to warrant more storylines zeroing in on the mysterious Upside Down and Hawkins Lab.

Is Argyle Hispanic Stranger Things? ›

The acclaimed Netflix sci-fi/horror series created by the Duffer brothers welcomed Latino actor Eduardo Franco to co-star as Argyle alongside the characters of Eleven, Mike, and Dustin.

Does Eddie Munson come back? ›

The Return of Eddie

The producer of "Stranger Things," Shawn Levy, discussed with a tabloid how Eddie could contribute to Stranger Things 5 with his imminent return. The fact that fans were obsessed with Eddie just like the writers is evident, as so much has gone into the making of the character.

Who is Argyle's girlfriend in Stranger Things? ›

By 1986, due to having no friends of his own, Argyle developed a friendship with Jonathan Byers after the latter and his family moved to Lenora Hills last year. Argyle would try to help Jonathan with his relationship problems with his girlfriend, Nancy Wheeler and his plans for college.

Why is Will crying in the car? ›

Why was Will Byers crying in the van? “When you're different, sometimes you feel like a mistake,” he says. The tears afterwards suggest he was pouring his heart out, coming closer than ever before to reveal he's gay and has feelings for his friend.

Is Mike in love with el or Will? ›

Noah Schnapp as Will Byers and Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things season 4. Noah confirmed that Will is in love with his best friend Mike Wheeler, played by Finn Wolfhard, but doesn't want to hurt Eleven's feelings by confessing it.

Does Will Byers like Eleven? ›

Now actor Noah Schnapp, who plays Will, revealed to Variety that his character is indeed gay, and secretly has feelings for his best friend, Mike, who's in a relationship with Eleven.

Is Vecna 11's dad? ›

A new season 4 theory suggests 001/Henry Creel/Vecna is actually Eleven's real father – and it low-key makes sense.

How did Vecna choose his victims? ›

Trauma fuels him

Vecna draws power from sad and angry memories and that is the main reason he targets traumatized teens. Those teens are a well of power just there to be absorbed. This is not just a theory, Vecna himself told Eleven about the power that angry and sad memories hold.

Who did Vecna turn out to be? ›

The final scene of Volume 1 shows a shot of Vecna, and a close up of the 001 tattoo on his arm, confirming that Henry Creel, a.k.a. Number One, became Vecna.

Why does Vecna have tentacles? ›

Vecna has human-like arms and legs, referencing the human he was thousands of years ago (although his left hand is missing and is a powerful magical artifact in the game), but his head is a frightening skull, and he's missing his left eye.

Who controls Vecna? ›

We find out in episode 7 that just like how everything in the Upside Down is connected, Vecna is also deeply connected to Hawkins and Eleven. Nancy (who is still in the Upside Down with Steve) ends up under Vecna's control, and she starts seeing visions about Barb's death.

Why does Vecna need 4 kills? ›

Ultimately, it is revealed in Stranger Things season 4's finale that the reason why Vecna was killing Hawkins teenagers was to create a massive gate that merges the Right Side Up with the Upside Down - and he specifically needed four bodies to do so.

Is there an F word in Stranger Things 4? ›

Stranger Things did not introduce the 'f-word' until part-way through its second season, but then used it six times in season 2, and five times in season 3, and nine times in season 4.

Who is the most annoying character in Stranger Things Season 4? ›

Season 4 introduces several new characters to the show, but Vecna takes the cake. He begins as the clear main villain, attacking and tearing apart his many victims.

Did Coke sponsor Stranger Things? ›

Brands including Coca-Cola, Sony, Reebok, and Lacoste generated a combined $27.4m in brand placement value from Netflix's fourth series of Stranger Things so far, new data has revealed. YouGov Stream found Coca-Cola had the highest placement value of any brand in the latest series of Stranger Things with $3.4m.

Does Will know Vecna? ›

He was spared from any possessions or abductions in Stranger Things seasons 3 and 4, but the show has confirmed that Will is still connected to the Upside Down's master, Vecna.

How did Vecna turn into Vecna? ›

In a fit of rage, Henry used his restored powers to brutally murder the other test subjects and workers, and attempted to do the same to Eleven. However, Eleven stood her ground and ultimately overpowered him, sending him through a gate to the Upside Down; there, he gradually transformed into the being known as Vecna.

Is Vecna a girl or a boy? ›

Originally appearing in the Greyhawk campaign setting, Vecna was described as a powerful wizard who became a lich. He was eventually destroyed, and his left hand and left eye were the only parts of his body to survive.
Created byBrian Blume
In-universe information
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What is the scariest Stranger Things episode? ›

The 11 Scariest 'Stranger Things' Moments So Far (Photos)
  • Billy Getting Possessed by the Mind Flayer (Season 3) ...
  • Eleven Closing the Gate (Season 2) ...
  • Will Possessed by the Mind Flayer (Season 2) ...
  • Will's Fake Body (Season 1) ...
  • Barb Getting Eaten by the Demogorgon at Steve's Pool (Season 1) ...
  • Will Getting Kidnapped (Season 1)

Did the demogorgon take Barb? ›

Barb was the best friend of Nancy Wheeler. In late 1983, Barb mysteriously vanishes, which leads Nancy and Jonathan Byers to investigate her disappearance. Eventually, it was revealed that she had been killed by the Demogorgon.

How did 008 escape Hawkins? ›

Given Kali's powers, it seems pretty self-explanatory as to how she was able to escape the lab. She either made herself invisible or was able to escape after manipulating the minds and visions of the guards.

Who is 010 in Stranger Things? ›

Ten, portrayed by Christian Ganiere, was a recurring character in the fourth season of Stranger Things. He was one of several test subjects experimented upon at Hawkins Lab by Dr. Martin Brenner and was among those who were killed by One on September 8, 1979.

What are 006 powers? ›

The character, who was at the center of Stranger Things: SIX, possessed the power of precognition. In 1976, her family moved next door to Ricky and quickly learned that he had the ability to manipulate emotions.

Was Vecna the plan all along? ›

What makes this theory all the more tantalizing is the reveal from Duffer Brothers that Vecna has been part of their plan all along. In an interview with Tudum (opens in new tab), Matt Duffer shared that exploring that character was part of their initial pitch for the show.

Did the Duffer brothers always have Vecna in mind? ›

According to the Duffers, they have wanted to reveal the backstory of the lab and One for a long time but felt they couldn't reveal it right away without hurting their storytelling process. That means Vecna has been on their minds since the outset.

Will Vecna be in season 5? ›

Most people who watched the recent set of episodes loved many things about them, including new fan-favorite character, Eddie Munson, and the latest edition to a very strong collection of terrifying villains, Vecna, who will continue to be played by Jamie Campbell Bower in Stranger Things Season 5 when the series ...

What does Argyle say when he answers the phone? ›

According to those that called, a pre-recorded message is there to greet you. For the call, Argyle says, "Surfer Boy Pizza, this is Argyle speaking. We make everything fresh here at Surfer Boy, except for our pineapple, which comes from a can, but I still recommend slapping some juicy pineapple on."

What race is 008 Stranger Things? ›

Linnea Berthelsen (born 13 July 1993) is a Danish actress of Indian descent, who is best known for her recurring role as Kali, also known as Eight, the sister of Eleven in the second season of the science-fiction horror Netflix original series Stranger Things.

Is Surfer Boy pizza real? ›

MILWAUKEE - Buckle up your taste buds, there's a new frozen pizza making a splash – and it's made in Milwaukee. It is called the Stranger Things Surfer Boy Pizza – and it is the creation of Palermo's Pizza.

Will Eddie be a vampire? ›

The premiere episode of Season 5 is called “The Crawl,” and fans are of the unwavering conviction that the title points to Eddie crawling back to life as Kas, the human vampire who ultimately defeats Vecna, after his apparent death in the last season.

Was Mr Munson Eddies dad? ›

Eddie lives with his paternal uncle, Wayne Munson. Though Wayne doesn't have a central role in the show, we see him searching for his nephew and putting up posters of him after the supposed earthquake in Hawkins.

Will Eddie be alive in season 5? ›

While he could be bluffing, Joseph Quinn says it's “very unlikely” we'll see the return of Eddie Munson in the fifth and final season of Stranger Things.

What happens when you call Argyles pizza Van? ›

The number itself is visible on the side of his van during the show as 805-45-pizza (or 805-457-4992). If you call it in real life, you'll get a recording of Argyle, who gives his opening line before interrupting himself to explain a ridiculously complicated order to a coworker.

Who says brochachos? ›

Argyle drives the Surfer Boy Pizza van, and it appears he's picking up Jonathan, Will, and Eleven for school. We don't get to know him well in the teaser, but we know he's a stoner from the character description Netflix revealed last year. He has a great line in the teaser: “Hold onto your butts, brochachos!”

Is Argyle native? ›

Jonathan's new friend Argyle is stoner culture personified in a sweet package, played by Arizona native Eduardo Franco.

What is up with the ending of Stranger Things Season 4? ›

The final episode of Stranger Things' fourth season turned the whole world of the show upside-down, literally: the Upside Down has officially come to Hawkins. Although Netflix is planning on making spinoffs, the series will come to an end with the upcoming fifth and final season.

What happened at the end of the last episode of Stranger Things? ›

The end of the season four saw Murray torching a whole gaggle of demogorgons and Hopper finishing off the last one with a longsword to the neck in the Soviet prison pit, seemingly closing off that part of the Upside Down hive to give the team back in Hawkins a fighting chance. But is that really it for the Soviets?

What was the monster at the end of stranger things 4? ›

Who is Vecna? The big bad of Stranger Things season 4 is a humanoid monster with black skin and movable vines that protrude from his entire body. While he lives in the Upside Down, Vecna can psychically reach into the human world, kind of like the Mind Flayer's connection with Will.

What happens to 11 at the end of Stranger Things? ›

After the Demogorgon makes its way into their dimension, Eleven seemingly sacrifices herself to destroy the creature and save her friends. One month later, after a Christmas party, Hopper leaves the police station and drives to the woods. There, he leaves waffles in a concealed box.

How did Vecna get through? ›

Luckily, Mike can talk to her through the layers of trances. He finally (finally) tells El he loves her, and she draws deep into her power and pushes Vecna off of Max, holding him off until Steve and Co. can attack his physical body and destroy the mind palace.

What did Vecna find in the upside down? ›

After gaining the upper hand and ensnaring both her and Max in his lair, Vecna recalls becoming an "explorer" in the Upside Down, a world "unspoiled by mankind." He recalls discovering the Mind Flayer, an entity he could use to "realize my potential, to transcend my human form, [and] to become the predator I was always ...

Was Vecna the Mind Flayer? ›

Vecna revealed in season four, he was the one who created the Mind Flayer after Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) banished him to the Upside Down. All this time, the Mind Flayer was Vecna, who was using the entity to carry out his orders and speaking through the creature.


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