What Worked And What Did Not In This Season Of Stranger Things.
- Sunday, 17 Jul, 2022
The fourth season of Stranger Things was spectacular and provided a good spread. In other words, this enjoyable and endearing program is beginning to grow vast and cumbersome and may be running off the rails because of the season's excessive length and content.
"Because of the pandemic and the time-lapse of almost three years between seasons, I fully anticipated the cast of teenagers to exhibit signs of maturation this season. Finn Wolfhard's height and Caleb McLaughlin's resemblance to a professional basketball player allow me to give the show a break."
The Duffer brothers deserve praise for their eagerness to try new things, even if they didn't always succeed. The lengthier episodes were a grind for me, but your mileage may vary. Rather than being dramatic or thrilling, the narrative pattern of building to a climax in one plot and then abruptly flipping to another storyline became irritating and infuriating. In addition, it was impossible to pretend that all of the subplots were equally compelling; for two episodes, Mike, Jonathan, Will, and Argyle were absent because they were travelling across the nation.
Stranger Things' most significant asset is the show's diverse ensemble of likeable, sympathetic, and well-performed characters. In the first episode, Chrissy, the popular but troubled cheerleader, was attempting to get drugs from Eddie, the heavy-metal troublemaker, and the Duffer brothers were nearly showing off. Once again, the stock characters from the 1980s break preconceptions, as Eddie proves to be a kind and sympathetic person, and Chrissy demonstrates to be a friendly and sensitive girl towards the conclusion of the scene. We've grown to care deeply about each of these people. Inevitably, given that they're in Hawkins, bad things happen to them.
Stranger Things' best technique is introducing a fairly clichéd character and then turning everything on its head. Hopper, a booze-addled sheriff in a tiny town, is also a talented investigator and a beloved character. Steve aspires to be a better person, while good-girl-next-door Joyce proves to be more challenging than she seems. When the chips are down, Nancy is a stoic force of nature, while silly geek Dustin is the calmest and most logical voice of reason. I'd watch a program about Hawkins even if a horde of terrifying creatures didn't plague it.
And that may be a contributing factor to the season's issues. While Stranger Things' plots have expanded to include Russia and California, separating it from the normal overcrowded Hollywood movie has become more difficult. Planes are going down! U.S. military outposts that are hidden under the surface of the earth! Secret Russian jails and detention facilities! Overwhelming journeys into the ever-decreasing mysteries of the Upside Down Murray has a fire extinguisher!
Unlike Jaws on land, where a predatory mystery monster may strike at any moment due to cost restraints, we've gone a long way from that first season masterpiece. In the first season, a single Demogorgon appeared like an almost overwhelming danger; now, we've seen a severe threat inflation. Vecna, Demo-Bats, Vines, Soviet experiments, Russian Demogorgons linked to the Mind Flayer, the crazed vigilante basketball team, Brenner, and renegade military units.
This was the first season in which I was convinced that the children acted like spoiled brats in front of their parents. It doesn't make sense that a character like Joyce, who is always stressed out, can be privy to dark secrets about the town, but the Wheelers, Dustin's mother, or even the Sinclairs can't. When our heroes were getting ready to go into combat for the first time, they seemed naive and unaware of the gravity of the situation they were about to face. A shotgun is the only weapon that can stop Vecna, but the squad also believes that the local police or any other armed government authority would just get in the way of their mission to capture him.
The Duffers' "Satanic panic" plot turned out to be the exact opposite of what they had in mind. Dungeon & Dragons, heavy metal music, and other innocent adolescent pastimes were subject to the so-called "Satanic panic" in the real world. Extraterrestrial demon-like monsters are stalking the streets of Hawkins, Indiana, in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. There is a lot of disdain for Jason, the almost lunatic leader of that fanatical vigilante basketball squad, yet he is correct in his observations! Vecna is a viable alternative if the Devil isn't hiding out in Hawkins.
A former Hawkins lab employee said that Brenner was still alive in season two, and the Duffers resolved it well. Even though Brenner escaped a seemingly lethal Demogorgon assault in season one, no one is going to reveal how he did it? Bob Newby was chewed up like a chew toy by Rottweilers, yet the Demogorgon just scratched Brenner? Okay.
The Brenner subplot was the weakest link in the story, perhaps more so than the California lads. While Matthew Modine is an excellent actor, we as viewers will never be able to warm up to Brenner or even tolerate his character despite Modine's efforts. We saw him being cruel, aggressive, and manipulative to Eleven as early as the first few episodes of season one. Because they are forced to put their faith in Brenner, Eleven and Paul Reiser's often-hilarious Dr. Owens seem nave and dumb.
Another problem is that the Duffer Brothers seem like they've written themselves into a corner, much to how Hopper's fate after Season 3 ensured that most of Season 4 would be devoted to his recovery from the Soviet Union. It seemed reasonable to leap forward at least a year or two to give Hawkins a break and check back in on the town's mystery occurrences in 1988 or so, given the odd disparity between the characters' ages and the actors' ages. (I liked the concept that the narrative had to conclude before the release of Beetlejuice in March 1988, since that is the type of movie the characters would see, and they would recognize that young actress Winona Ryder looked so much like a young Joyce Byers.) After this season's cliffhanger finale, it looks like season five will begin as soon as the last scene and foreboding picture of the Upside-Down overflowing into the realm of the Rightside-Up are over.
Even if it seems as though the series finale will be an epic showdown, what if more prominent isn't always better?