“Stranger Things” Season 4 Vol. 2 Is An Explosive Race Against Time
Stranger Things 4: Vol. 2 is an explosive race against time. One that sets up the stage for the series’ inevitable endgame.
“Stranger Things” Season 4 Vol. 2 Review
Picking up right from the events of Episode 7’s The Massacre at Hawkins Lab…
- Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) continues to regain her powers with Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) and Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), all while Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnepp), and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) continue to travel to reunite with her
- Hopper (David Harbour), Joyce (Winona Ryder), Murray (Bret Gelman) among others escape from the Russian gulag.
- Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Erica (Priah Ferguson), and Eddie (Joseph Quinn) all devise a plan to take down Vecna
Written and directed by series creators Matt and Ross Duffer …
Episode 8 ‘Papa’, and episode 9 ‘The Piggyback’, both serve as an epic two-part finale to Season 4, with the Duffers pulling off the stops — including grand action set-pieces, and very high emotional beats.
The Duffers are assisted by cinematographer Caleb Maymann, who echoes the look and feel of films from the 80s. Especially the shot when Eleven looks at the destruction, with her in the forefront.
Of course though, you have to have an army of editors to comb through the footage — which is where editor Dean Zimmerman and his team comes in. Together, they knock it out of the park, making sure each beat lands perfectly. Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein also kills it displaying a haunting, yet tense and foreboding score. And as the season continues, the score becomes more menacing as our protagonists begin to face the Upside Down.
On top of Dixon and Stein’s score, music supervisor Nora Felder’s selection of music tracks this season is just amazing. Whether it’s the now infamous song ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush, a remixed cover of ‘Separate Ways’ by Journey, or freakin’ ‘Masters of Puppets’ by Metallica, Felder chose tracks that match each scene perfectly.
Like with Vol. 1, the entire cast all give great performances …
With every one of them stepping into their role with ease.
However, when it comes to these last two episodes, some performances stand-out a bit more than others. This is in particular with Millie Bobbie Brown (Eleven), Joseph Quinn (Eddie), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), and Sadie Sink (Max). Just to name a few.
Starting off with Millie Bobbie Brown, who at this point, has already proven her chops …
We see Brown push those chops to the extreme, and become a true heroine as Eleven goes into Max’s mind to save her and face off against Vecna. In her scenes with Modine’s Dr. Brenner, the audience see a reluctance from her, which further displays the complicated relationship between the two.
In her final scene with Brenner, we also see Brown display some true raw emotion as she leaves behind that part of her life and runs into a group of character’s arms who love her.
Now, let’s talk about the newest character EVERYONE loves — Eddie Munson, aka Eddie the Banished, played by Joseph Quinn.
When the character was introduced, it seemed like the character was going to be a one-off obstacle that Will and Dustin would have to deal with as they settle into high school.
In those scenes, Quinn played the role quite manically. But, a few scenes later, we see Quinn differently, showing a sympathetic, caring side to the character. From then on, Eddie became a nice addition to the already packed cast. Which leads us to the character’s sacrifice and ultimate death.
Moving on to McLaughlin …
Like Brown, McLaughlin has been here since the beginning, and has already proven his chops.
But, unlike Brown or his co-stars, McLaughlin has never really had a chance to shine as Lucas. That changes this season as Lucas winds up being on the basketball team.
However, he soon goes back to his friends. This leads to him having to face off against Jason Carver (Mason Dye), the Captain of the Hawkins High Basketball Team. In addition, McLaughlin’s chemistry with Sink is amplified, showing the relationship in full.
And speaking of Sink, these last two episodes prove that this is her season.
Sink exhibits a sense of urgency and pathos as she faces against Vecna. But, she’s soon aided by Eleven, which leads into a nice moment between the two. Unfortunately, after that, is where we see Max get trapped by Vecna, leading into one of the most heartbreaking and brutal scenes of the series. Hopefully, by the time the next season is alright, Max has recovered. But, we’ll see!
However, if I had only one complaint, it’s that the season could have just been released in one go-ahead. Now, the reasoning for why Netflix decided to split it is understandable, as the last two episodes still need some post-production work, but still.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, director Shawn Levy said about this:
But then, at the same time, most people would have been okay with just waiting an extra month or two, especially considering the cliffhanger Vol. 1 left for the show. However, in the show’s defense, Vol. 2 does pick up almost immediately after the events of Vol. 1 … so, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It just would have been nice for the show to have a consistent splitting-off point between the volumes.
Another complaint, is the underutilization of Noah Schnepp’s Will. While the scene between him and Jonathan (Heaton) was nice, throughout the season, it felt that Will was more of a supporting character than an actual main character in the show.
This is even harder to come around on, considering that he was the main catalyst for the show to begin with. Hopefully, in the next season, Will gets more to do as it would be nice for the show to end with the character that it started with.
Furthermore, the love triangle between Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan felt unnecessary as all three character have significant moved since their parings in the first season. Moreover, the love triangle even almost regressed Steve and his character arc throughout the series as the main reason why he even he started to change was because of Nancy.
All in all, despite some major nitpicks including the release schedule, the underutilization of Will Byers, and the love triangle between Stevie, Nancy, and Jonathan, Stranger Things 4: Vol. 2 is an explosive race against time, one that sets up the series’ inevitable conclusion.
Alongside cinematographer Caleb Maymann, editor Dean Zimmerman, and composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, Matt and Ross Duffer used these two episodes as a one, two-part film. Ones that are amplified by the performances from Brown, Sink, McLaughlin, and Quinn.
Let’s hope they’re able to give us a smooth landing with the show’s final season.
Score: 4 out of 5
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