Stranger Things Season Four, Volume 2 Review: Epic Prelude to the Final Season.

In my review for the first volume for Stranger Things’ Fourth Season, I called it “one hell of a return,” and even stated that it “may be the best season of the show so far.”
Well, after watching Volume 2, I can now state that Season Four is definitely the best season of the show so far, at least in my opinion.
The final two episodes of the season, “Papa” and “The Piggyback”, made for an intense first-time watch, with “The Piggyback” making me grip the chair arm I was sitting by tightly for the entirety of its two and a half-hour runtime.

“Papa” and “The Piggyback” are both nerve wracking episodes with plenty of highlights.

Picking up from Episode Seven’s cliffhanger, Volume Two sees our various groups of characters preparing to take the fight to Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower).
In California, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) decides to engage in this fight prematuely to save her friends, which Dr Brenner (Mathew Modine) is against, unaware that Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) are on their way to rescue her.
Back in Hawkins, Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), Eddie (Joseph Quinn), Dustin (Gaten Mazzaro), Max (Sadie Sink), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Erica (Priah Ferguson) prepare for their own fight with Vecna, initiating a complicated plan in the hopes of killing the monster.
Meanwhile, Hopper (David Harbour), Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) attempt to escape Russia, before realizing they may have to deal with the Demogorgons connected to the Mind Flayer’s Hive Mind. 

Almost every character has a part to play in Season Four’s epic conclusion.

These three storylines intersect as the plan to kill Vecna is put into action, with various excellent cases of editing connecting the characters in different locations together.
Speaking of these characters, there are so many standout moments from all of them, from Eleven confronting Brenner for his horrific actions, to Will’s confession to Mike through taking about Eleven, and Eddie and Dustin’s epic distraction that was teased so often in trailers.
The best scene by far, however, is the one I’ll call the  “Running UpThat Hill” scene and leave it at that.
Just as Volume One’s best scene centered around the Kate Bush song, so does Volume 2’s. 

It’s crazy how Stranger Things revitalized the song through using it in epic scenes twice for Season Four.

The aftermath of this scene even has some of the best acting of the entire series, with Caleb McLaughlin’s performance being so gut wrenching it brought me to tears.
This was not the only moment in Volume 2 to do this because there is another scene with Dustin that also had a similar effect on me.

There are a few scenes in the final episode that are tear inducing but McLaughlin’s scene takes the cake.

However, this is where my my one criticism of Volume 2 comes in and that is the character fates, some of them anyway.
A few of the saves characters get do feel a little too deus ex machina, though I do understand the Duffer Brother’s reasoning for making the saves happen.
I just think such moments could have been written a little better.
Otherwise, I would say that Volume 2 is excellently written, with so many scenes that made me feel tense, fearful, gut punched, overjoyed and extremely excited for what is to come in Season Five, which I think it has been said is the final season.
If it is indeed the last we get of Stranger Things, then I’m looking forward to it even more than I was previously because Iam now pretty confident that the Duffer Brothers can end this story right, after the greatness that was Season Four.       

Stranger Things Season Four Volume One Review: A Dark Return.

After almost three years, Stranger Things has finally returned to Netflix for its Fourth Season and, wow, was this one hell of a return.
Created by the Duffer Brothers, this may be the best season of the show so far, delivering stellar story telling, character development, scares, comedy, you name it and it’s probably there.
Season Four picks up with the main characters divided, Joyce (Winona Ryder) having taken Eleven (Mille Bobby Brown), Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) to California, leaving Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) in Hawkins.
It is with the latter group that the story is most engaging, as they investigate a series of gruesomely horrific murders in Hawkins that somehow involves the mysterious monster in the Upside Down known as Vecna.
Meanwhile, in California, Joyce and Murray (Brett Gelman) begin their own mission, when they learn that Hopper (David Harbour) may just be alive but a captive in Russia.
At the same time, Eleven dealing with some over-the-top bullies at school sets her down the path of confronting her horrific past, eventually learning the horrible truth about what happened to the other numbers. 

The exploration of Eleven confronting her past is thankfully done much better than Season Two’s “The Lost Sister.”

So, as you can gather, there are a lot of moving parts to the Fourth Season of Stranger Things but the Duffer Brothers and their team juggle it all seamlessly with some excellent pacing.
They even somehow find enough time to bring in new characters like Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) and make them just as interesting as the older characters.
All of this results in some truly brilliant episodes like the fourth, “Dear Billy,” and the seventh, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab”, which has a mind blowing ending.     
“Dear Billy” is especially amazing, potentially being the best episode of the entire series with plenty of spectacular action, horror and character development, especially for Max, who Sadie Sink plays excellently.

Max is definitley the best character in this season so far, with Sadie Sink delivering by far her best performance as the character.

As for my criticisms of the season, I did find the California storyline, with the exception of Eleven’s sections, to be not as interesting as the rest of the storylines.
Sure, there are some great moments, one action scene in particular but, for the most part, I was just wanting to get back to the other storylines whenever the focus went back to the California group.
Another problem I have is characters constantly receiving injuries that should leave them unable to walk, yet they are running with no problem in the next episode. 
It stretched believability a little bit. 
Finally, and this is a minor nitpick, but it was especially apparent this season that some of the actors cast as teenage side characters are way into their twenties and maybe even thirties.
Some of them did not look like high-schoolers at all and this could be quite off putting at times.
Thankfully, these were only side characters so it was not a massive issue.
Otherwise, this season is absolutely fantastic.

The issues this season has are far outweighed by its many, many positives.

What’s even better is that this is only Volume One.
We still have Volume Two to come, where the final episode will be two and half hours long.
The only downside is that we have to wait until July 1st to see these final two episodes of Season Four and, with how incredible this season has been so far, that is going to make the wait even longer.   

I cannot wait to see how Volume Two will conclude this season.

If you somehow have not checked our the Fourth Season of Stranger Things yet, then I would highly recommend you drop everything and go watch it.
Although, now that I think about it, maybe you should wait for Volume Two to come out to watch the whole thing.
It would certainly make your wait to see Season Four’s conclusion a lot shorter. 

Back to the 80’s for Stranger Things season two

stranger things season 2
4 and a half stars
Stranger Things is back and kicking in season two of the hit Netflix series.
I was pretty late getting on the Stranger Things band wagon as I only watched the first season six months ago but when I did I was instantly hooked.
So, naturally, I was excited to see what season two would have to offer and, I have got to say, I was impressed. (WARNING!!! Minor spoilers ahead.)
Season two not only continues the story from Season one but expands on it, introducing new characters and interesting plot points that keeps the story fresh and thrilling.
The story telling here is just excellent, with so many twists and turns that I could not stop watching.
I binged watched the entirety of season two in just two days and I am so thankful this is a Netflix series because, if it aired weekly, then I would not be able to handle it.
Season two starts a year after Will was rescued from the Upside Down and a lot has changed since then.
Mike is still mourning Eleven’s disappearance, There is a new girl in town named Max, Joyce now has a boyfriend Bob and Will is experiencing PTSD from his time in the Upside Down… well, as we all know, it is not PTSD but it suits the story for everyone to think it is.
The season starts off great, introducing us to a bunch of new characters like Bob, Max and her step-brother Billy.
These characters are all very interesting and I cannot wait to see what they do with them in the future, Max especially because she is a very likable character and a welcome addition to the show.
max
Speaking of characters, I liked how a lot of the old characters from the first season were expanded upon like Dustin, Lucas and Steve.
Steve was especially good this season.
In the previous season I thought he would turn out to be a stereotypical, one dimensional bully but he actually surprised me by growing as a character and redeemeing himself.
The surprises with Steve continue this season, as he continues to grow into a likable, yet flawed character.
One thing this season definitely did better than its predecessor was present a feeling of danger throughout.
Although I loved the first season of Stranger Things, it was pretty obvious which characters would live and which ones would die (with a few exceptions, like Steve for example).
Not this season however.
Every time a character is in danger you feel like this might be the last time you see them and it has you on the edge of your seat with panic every time, unlike the previous season.
shadow monste
But just like last season, 80’s throwbacks abound!
There are so many callbacks to the 80’s and movies of the time.
I saw references to Alien, E.T and even one incredibly hilarious Indiana Jones homage.
This season is filled with twist after twist, all of which are thrilling.
The opening sequence of the first episode had my jaw on the floor.
Most of the episodes end on a cliffhanger, which has you begging for more and makes this almost the perfect show to binge watch.
I say almost because I do have some issues with it.
My biggest one being Max.
Now, as I said, I really liked her character but my problem lies with how the other characters react to her, more specifically Mike.
Mike does not like Max and it is for the stupidest reason.
He is a complete jerk to her, which makes him really unlikable.
Since Mike is supposed to be one of the main characters of the show, the fact that I did not like him this season is a really bad thing.
It does not help that this minor plot point is never resolved.
We never get a scene of Mike apologizing to Max about how he treated her, it is acted like it never happened.
This season also displays, once again, how incompetent the government forces are.
In season one, I found it highly unrealistic how Hopper was able to break into a top secret laboratory, guarded by trained soldiers, with relative ease and this season once again portrays how incompetent these people are.
While interrogating Nancy about keeping quiet about Barb’s death the scientists are stupid enough not to check for a recording device.
As a result, I found these government forces to be unrealistically incompetent but this is only a minor problem.
The final problem I had with this season was episode seven.
This episode felt very different in tone and just felt out of place in comparison to the rest of the season.
What is worse is the episode prior to this ended on a massive cliffhanger and this episode does not address the it, that is saved for the next episode.
Thank god this is a Netflix series because if the episodes had been released weekly I would not have been able to wait to see how the cliffhanger played out.
eleven
Other than those three problems however, I loved this season and I cannot wait for season three.
The story telling was brilliant, the characters were lovable and fun to watch, (both the old and the new) and the various twists and turns kept you engaged.
If you have not watched Stranger Things season 2 or any episodes of Stranger Things I would highly suggest you you go and watch it,
You will love it just like I did.