‘Stranger Issues’ Season 4 Finale, Defined and Reviewed: The Finish Is Coming
Spoilers forward for Stranger Issues season 4.
Are you, too, stunned we made it out like this? I’ll give the Stranger Issues advertising and marketing machine its due: After weeks of teasers, trailers, interviews, theories, viral TikToks, and viral TikTok songs, it appeared the Netflix thriller would possibly lastly have reached its apex, and that the one factor ready on the downhill slide could possibly be…properly, loss of life. (Whether or not for the characters or the collection itself remained debatable.) And given Gaten Matarazzo’s winking tease for Teen Vogue this week, through which the actor hinted at a number of deaths within the Stranger Issues season 4 finale, I totally anticipated to be scripting this evaluation by means of my tears.
However the finale is, inconceivably, an train in restraint. I do know, I do know—that’s a ridiculous factor to say a couple of finale episode the size of a function movie. Stranger Issues doesn’t know how you can do restraint! There’s an excessive amount of cash, an excessive amount of ego on the road!! However, it’s true: Episode 9, “Piggyback,” does extra to arrange the subsequent, remaining remaining battle than to actually resolve the one its season hinged upon. That dose of Marvel Syndrome would possibly irritate some viewers—even this author admits to an eye-roll earlier than the credit—however, nonetheless, there’s one thing undeniably magnetic about realizing the top stays nigh. The blood continues to be boiling. One of the best is but to come back. Like Max, maybe we aren’t but able to die.
First, we’ve acquired a number of motion to parse by means of. The finale opens with our Russian crew—Hopper, Joyce, Murray, Yuri, and the One Dude Whose Title I Preserve Forgetting (proper, Dmitri!)—nonetheless landlocked in Sovietville. Whereas Yuri hugs the buttocks/windshield of his helicopter named Katinka, Joyce and Hopper pull out sleeping luggage and alter into Hulk Hogan T-shirts. Instantly, my imaginative and prescient sharpened: Are they…gonna bone? Joyce approaches a shirtless Hopper and expresses dismay at his scarred chest. “It’s not that unhealthy,” he says. “You understand, I wanted to shed some pounds anyway.” Excuse me, however let’s not imbue Dad Bod Hopper with poisonous magnificence requirements, please and thanks.
Joyce mentions that a part of why she was prepared to take this danger—you realize, breaking right into a Russian jail and all—is as a result of they nonetheless have a date to get to, keep in mind? “Keep in mind?” Hopper replies, dumbstruck. “I’ve been dreaming about it.” He’s gonna get two orders of breadsticks at dinner, which I’m stunned isn’t one thing he usually does. “You’ve been dreaming about breadsticks and lasagna?” Joyce asks, laughing. Hop stands up straighter and sidles slightly nearer. “Ought to I’ve been dreaming about one thing else?” Why is that this dialog about breadsticks so horny?!
Lastly, they lean in for the long-awaited kiss. (Someone call Murray!) However earlier than they’ll get it on, the telephone rings, ostensibly with the KGB listening. On the telephone, Hop learns their children are in bother: As we noticed within the penultimate episode, Dr. Brenner, a.okay.a Papa, is useless, and Eleven is “indisposed.” Joyce’s children are “off the grid,” too. (Watching Winona Ryder’s not-surprised-but-nevertheless-terrified little twitch right here is completely heartbreaking.) Trapped as they’re in Russia, they understand they’ll by no means make it again in time to avoid wasting the children—however they do have entry to the creatures found within the Russian jail final episode, which suggests they’ve entry to Vecna’s “hive thoughts.” It’s again to the jail we go.
In the meantime, the Surfer Boy Pizza gang—Eleven, Will, Mike, Jonathan, and Argyle—are attempting (unsuccessfully) to e-book a flight through pay telephone. Eleven realizes that, if Vecna can hijack Max’s thoughts, so can she; she’s accomplished it along with her mom and with Max’s late brother, Billy, earlier than. However for that she’ll want a sensory deprivation tank—or no less than a tub with a number of salt in it—and Argyle is aware of simply the place to get a repair. They bus over to the native Surfer Boy franchise and take over the kitchen, with the assistance of a stiff joint, and uncover the 600 kilos of salt Argyle promised. “First-ever thoughts combat held in a pizza dough freezer,” Argyle says. Proper on.
The remaining Hawkins group—Nancy, Steve, Robin, Lucas, Max, Dustin, and Erica—devise a four-phase plan to take out Henry/Vecna/One. They agree to not deviate from the plan, it doesn’t matter what. (Guess what I believe they’re gonna do? Deviate from the plan!) Everybody however Max, Lucas, and Erica all hop by means of the Upside-Down gap in Eddie’s trailer ceiling and wind up again in Vecna territory. The latter trio, nonetheless within the “actual world,” search out Vecna’s location utilizing lamps. Thus begins Section One.
Now, now, you didn’t neglect in regards to the Jocks, did you? Hawkins Excessive’s golden boys are rising more and more impatient, with Jason, particularly, trying an increasing number of deranged in each body. Seems, they’ve acquired a lead: Somebody noticed Erica working out of the “homicide home on Morehead.” Uh oh. Appears to be like like a showdown’s coming, and on the worst doable time for Vecna’s would-be assassins.
Within the Upside Down, Eddie finds his electrical guitar ready for him, “like she was destined for an alternate dimension.” Whereas en path to the UD model of the Creel home, Steve thanks Nancy for giving him a thump on the top, metaphorically talking, after which reveals his Winnebago fantasy from final episode—the street journeys, the six mini Harringtons?—consists of her. “You’re there,” he says. “You’ve all the time been there.” At this level, Steve was No. 1 on my Most More likely to Die record.
They discover the Creel home and transfer into Section Two, which entails baiting Vecna. Max removes her headphones and shuts off Kate Bush, which is greater than I’ve been capable of do on TikTok. However issues don’t fairly go in keeping with plan: Even when Max isn’t working up that hill, Vecna refuses to take the bait. So she sits down and talks to him, like she’s confiding in a detailed buddy: “I considered what you stated. About how I wished my brother to die.” She admits to praying that one thing would possibly occur to Billie, again when he was alive, simply so she wouldn’t must dwell together with his abuse anymore. She’s tried to forgive herself however can’t. “So now,” she says, “now after I lie in mattress at night time, I pray that one thing will occur to me…In order that’s why I’m right here. As a result of I simply need you to take me away.” There’s inevitably some reality to this monologue, which is precisely why it really works so properly. Inside seconds, Vecna’s in her head. Section Three.
In a pleasant flip of occasions—simply one of many episode’s excessive factors—Eddie and Dustin determine to lure Vecna’s military of flesh-ripping bats to them with a rendition of Metallica’s “Grasp of Puppets.” (I extremely suggest turning on subtitles for this half. Simply take my phrase for it.) Eddie nails each chord whereas Dustin head-bangs alongside, however Steve, Nancy, and Robin are too busy combating off Vecna tentacles to understand the Upside Down’s sick new playlist. Lucas has his fingers full, too: Jason has arrived on the scene, and he’s pointing a gun proper at his teammate’s brow. Fortunately, Lucas has a killer proper hook, and the 2 take to rumbling.
Eleven, now emerged within the salt tub and related to Max’s thoughts, begins flipping by means of Max’s recollections. However she’s struggling to succeed in the one the place Max is (mentally) hiding from Vecna: season 2’s Hawkins Center Snow Ball, which is slowly turning right into a Vecna-themed homicide celebration with bursting balloons of blood. As Hopper and Co. orchestrate a technique for trapping the demo-creatures within the jail pit and lighting them on fireplace, thereby weakening Vecna, Eddie and Dustin rally to wield off the remaining hell-bats. Shockingly, there’s too a lot of them, so Dustin surmises the one reply is to run again to the actual world. However Eddie’s accomplished sufficient working these days. This time, he’s going to combat.
Again in Max’s thoughts palace, Vecna is about to contort her limbs, however Eleven intervenes earlier than he can kill her. When Max asks how Eleven managed to sneak into her head, we get what is going to certainly develop into one other iconic Eleven quote, emblazoned on Reddit graphics and T-shirts in every single place: “I piggybacked by means of a pizza dough freezer.” However the good humor doesn’t final, as Vecna regains his energy and takes each Max’s unconscious physique and Eleven’s writhing one to his blood-red Creel lair within the Upside Down. “Papa is useless,” Eleven tells him, attempting to calm his wrath. “He made you into this. He’s the monster, Henry. Not you.”
However Vecna’s acquired a monologue he needs to carry out, and Eleven is ru-in-ing it! “Do you not see, Eleven?” he tells her. “He didn’t make me into this. You probably did.” Basic victim-blaming!
We study—once more through monologue—that Henry/Vecna/One “grew to become an explorer of a realm unspoiled by mankind” when a youthful Eleven first despatched him unwittingly to the Upside Down. There, he found “a way to understand my potential”: the Thoughts Flayer. However when Eleven and Co. defeated the Thoughts Flayer, Vecna regarded inward, realizing he’d must open the 4 gates himself with the intention to spur the apocalypse. He would then “decide up the items” of the damaged world and remake it “into one thing stunning.” Loosen up, Thanos.
In the actual world, Max begins to levitate, a certain signal issues aren’t going so scorching. Additionally, Eleven is coding within the salt tub, and Mike confesses his love with the intention to get her to stay round. He pleads along with her to combat, and so she does: The tentacles launch from round her neck and joints. Nevertheless it could be too late. Max’s limbs have already began snapping, and blood is streaming from her eyes. Eddie is getting eaten alive by bats. A demodog is inches away from chewing by means of Hopper’s face. Are we…shedding?
After all not. That is Stranger Issues! Eleven finds her bottomless reserve of energy and bursts Vecna backward as Hopper and Joyce make a run for it. With the demo-beings contained within the pit, Murray rains fireplace from above. As Vecna’s restrained by Eleven, his tentacles launch Nancy, Steve, and Robin (they have been, uh, suffocating for a very long time there, huh?), and the bats surrounding Eddie collapse. One demogorgon survives, and Hop takes up Excalibur—sorry, some random sword on the bottom—to combat it.
Nancy, Steve, and Robin discover the actual Vecna within the Upside Down and put together a roast. (Section 4!) However he has a warning for Eleven: “That is solely the start. The start of the top. You could have already misplaced.” The trio set him ablaze, and a now-flaming Vecna rises to stalk them. Robin throws one other Molotov whereas Nancy advances on him, shotgun-blasting at nearer and nearer vary. Steve simply stands there lookin’ cute, as is his prerogative.
Lastly, Nancy shoots Vecna by means of a window of the Creel home, leaving his ostensibly useless physique smoldering on the entrance yard. However alas. After they race downstairs, the physique is gone.
It’s now or by no means: If anybody goes to die, the time has arrived. Eddie is, after all, the primary to go; not like Steve, he’s unable to resist quite a few bat bites. Though a brand new character to the Stranger Issues brigade—and thus one we’ve had much less time to develop hooked up to—Eddie has nonetheless develop into a fan favourite, a loyal psuedo-brother to the Hellfire Membership and a misunderstood misfit who maintained his spirit ‘til the very finish. His loss of life is a gut-wrenching blow, significantly when Dustin begins to sob by his facet. “I didn’t run away this time, proper?” Eddie asks. No, Grasp of Puppets. You didn’t.
Again within the Creel home, Max has woke up, however she will’t see or really feel something. Her eyes have turned foggy; her bones are shattered. Lucas screams to Erica to get an ambulance as Max blubbers, “I don’t wanna die. I’m not prepared.” Of all her emotional scenes this season, Sadie Sink’s supply right here is her finest. It’s completely horrid to observe. Lucas and Eleven each shriek with agony as 4 chimes erupt from Vecna’s grandfather clock, signaling Max has handed on—and the curtain between Hawkins and the Upside Down has fallen.
Viscous, red-hot cracks tear by means of the ground, splitting Jason in two as they carve a path of carnage. (Was that basically obligatory, after all the things we’ve been by means of?) Buildings collapse into the monitor of UD lava because the earth rumbles and moans. Mike tries to get up the actual Eleven, however she’s nonetheless in Max’s head, the place she whispers, merely, “No. You’re not going.” Wait—does Eleven have resurrection powers I don’t find out about? Earlier than we will discover out, the display cuts to black, and a “Two Days Later” card alerts us to a time bounce.
Because the Surfer Boy Pizza Bros. drive again into city, they arrive up in opposition to a protracted line of totally packed vehicles hightailing it out of Hawkins. Lastly dwelling, everybody shares tender, bittersweet reunions, some extra optimistic than others: Robin sees Vickie at a makeshift aid camp and the 2 hit it off; Dustin, weeping, provides Mr. Munson Eddie’s guitar decide and a courageous reminiscence to recollect his son by; Nancy and Jonathan attempt to suss out if their relationship is “okay” (it’s not); and Lucas reveals Max is in a coma, one from which she would possibly by no means get up. At Hopper’s cabin, father and daughter are collectively once more, and Eleven even thinks Hop’s barely emaciated look is “bitchin’.” However Will is aware of, maybe higher than anybody, that the day shouldn’t be gained: Vecna continues to be alive, and Will can really feel him, “that he’s damage, he’s hurting, however he’s nonetheless alive.”
The hairs on the again of Will’s neck get up, and so they all look into the sky: A storm is approaching. Snow—Upside Down snow, not actual snow—begins to fall. Collectively, they stroll to a clearing and discover the flowers have withered and died. The Upside Down and Hawkins are merging. The ultimate battle has come.
And that’s the top: A next-season set-up worthy of a Marvel post-credits scene. “Solely” one foremost character died—except we’re additionally counting Max, whose destiny stays to be seen. In some methods, “Piggyback” was not the sucker-punch I used to be anticipating, although it delivers on the motion and the horror Stranger Issues is beloved for. My first intuition was a weird disappointment. All this construct up, and I didn’t also have a panic assault by the top?
It’s true that not all followers will discover “Piggyback” a very satisfying conclusion, particularly given its run time and the best way its previous episodes have been cut up into chunks. There’s not a lot we study right here that we didn’t already know: Vecna is Henry/One, he’s on a mission to finish the world, and it’s going to be actually laborious to cease him. All those self same issues are nonetheless true, besides now Eddie is useless, Max is in a coma, and Vecna is probably going pulling a Voldemort and therapeutic whereas the Hawkins-Upside Down merge marinates.
And but. Perhaps I showcase a bent to fall for fundamental fan-baiting, however the moments “Piggyback” wished to really feel epic did really feel epic. By the point the credit rolled, I had sufficient adrenaline pumping by means of my system to crank out this story properly into the wee hours of the morning. I don’t need to give the Netflix collection an excessive amount of credit score—Stranger Issues will get way more accolades than it actually deserves—however the present could be on to one thing with its sluggish however highly effective strategy. Forgive the crude analogy right here, however it’s a bit like edging—bringing us nearer and nearer to what we all know is inevitable (an enormous, gravity-defying emotional launch) however refusing to, on this case, truly twist the knife. Eddie’s loss of life was a precursor to what, virtually actually, can be an much more controversial loss subsequent season. That could possibly be Max. Or Eleven. Or—God forbid—Dustin.
Subsequent season would be the present’s final. The battle is close to. Maybe, then, Stranger Issues wished to verify we have been prepared for the combat.
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