‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Vol. 2 review: Sadie Sink steals the show in anti-climactic flourish

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

Max’s escape from Vecna’s lair that sent Kate Bush to the top of the music charts. The shocking revelation that Henry Creel, Vecna and One are the same person. The Joyce-Hopper reunion we have been forever waiting for. Eleven getting back her powers.

Volume one of season four gave us so much to take in — and cherish — that expectations for the two-episodic finale hardly seem fair, given that so many plot points need epic conclusions. Do the Duffer brothers deliver this time around?

Well, yes and no. 

Yes, as so much of what made Vol. 1 work is present in spades: the gang’s all split up across three different story arcs and locations, but still manage to find a cosmic connection to work together; the coming-of-age themes still resonate during several memorable — and surprisingly emotional — scenes where characters have to usurp their personal demons and rise to the occasion; the long-impending Eleven vs. Vecna face-off does mostly deliver; and several of the show’s stars such as Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo and Natalia Dyer turn in career-best performances.

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

But with so much on the line, it only seems right to point out a few grievances. With some of the newer characters getting more prominence, the likes of Mike, Will and Jonathan are in constant danger of appearing redundant. The raging discourse over Will’s sexuality remains unresolved, despite Noah Schnapp getting a couple of moving moments. The whole Eleven-Papa storyline feels unnecessarily dragged and fails to convince.

And finally, Vecna’s connection with The Upside Down, the Mind Flayer and all their demo-minions really should have set up an ideal finale for the whole show. But with the fifth and final season commissioned already, plots have to be stretched, characters have to be resuscitated, and unfortunately, closure still has to be awaited. 

Still, Matt and Ross Duffer keep us absolutely glued to our screens throughout the nearly-four hour runtime for episodes eight and nine; a true testament to how much we adore these characters — who have grown up with us over the last six years — and resonate with them.

An increase in budget also means that the action pieces and set designs are breathtakingly spectacular, as we get to see the teens embrace Hawkins in its fully-haunted Upside Down glory, even as Hopper, Joyce, Murray, Enzo and Yuri make their way across a grimy Soviet Union prison infested with horrific demogorgons, and Eleven tries to escape from Nevada.

Special credit to the soundtrack choices too; Bush’s Running Up That Hillis still omnipresent from Max’s Walkman, but Metallica and Journey could be hot Spotify favourites this week. On that note, one of the episodes also witnesses the most metal concert ever — played in the Upside Down, no less — from our resident rock god Eddie Munson (Take a bow, Joseph Quinn!)

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

A still from Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things’

But as good as all the actors are — Millie Bobby Brown has become one of the most terrific criers on television — this season belongs to Sadie Sink. As the tormented, relatable Max Mayfield, still grieving over her step-sibling Billy’s death, fighting battles inside her head, and dealing with Vecna’s vision primed at her, Sadie is absolutely phenomenal, stealing the show in pretty much every scene she’s in... not an easy task when there are superheroes and villains flying around.

So then, it all comes down to the endgame next time around, when we will say a final goodbye to this motley crew of geeks and nerds, who have taught us that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be shy, and that it’s perfectly okay to feel like you don’t belong; your tribe will find you. 

Vecna doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

Season 4 Volume 2 of Stranger Things is currently streaming on Netflix

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2022 12:52:00 pm |