This review is spoiler-free.
First of all, a little housekeeping – this review is going to be slightly shorter than Volume One, as I have obviously covered most of the performance aspects and overall themes in this first review. With that said, onto the review!
Stranger Things 4 is back for its second volume, and it thrusts us right into the terror and suspense – what a way to return! The action, horror and drama elements are unrelenting, so that void you’ve felt with the show’s month absence? That scratch is well and truly itched – and then some! – in the first 15-20 minutes of Episode 8. With Episode 8 at 1 hour 27 minutes and Episode 9 at 2 hours and 22 minutes, this really is on hell of an epic ending to this series! It is essentially Stranger Things: The Movie ‘Extended Edition’ – as it focuses on delivering all the payoffs from the previous 7 episodes. These final two episodes are non-stop suspense and phenomenal storytelling – with all of the performers leaving everything out on the field.
In terms of characters, once again Eddie (Joseph Quinn) is a huge plus point in this second volume and his inclusion in Stranger Things 4 in general has been one of the real highlights of the series. He really is a key part of the final two episodes and has one of the most incredible ‘metal’ moments in all of Stranger Things! There is also one moment between Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) in Episode 9 that is just so sublime and the swelling on emotion that I felt within myself, from their performance, was palpable. While we didn’t get a full reveal, there was a scene when Noah Schnapp crushes it and it gives me some hope that before the end of the show, there will be some resolution for him on way or the other. Full disclosure, I cried so many times during the final episode, like full on ugly crying, but such is the quality of the writing and performances. My top tip is to have tissues at the ready!
Once again, the music and song choices play a vital role in enhancing the storytelling and visuals, with one moment involving Eddie that is particularly incredible! – Good luck with the copyright strikes for the YouTube reactors on that one! We also have a great song choice from a band I was brought up on, Siouxsie and the Banshees – so be sure to keep your ears out for that!
When it comes to the negatives, as usual, I have a small issue when the cast are split up all the time. It was a problem for me in Stranger Things 3 and it’s the same again here. While I get why they do it, and the three different plots all had their own positives, the show is just show much stronger when the cast are together. I really hope that for Stranger Things 5, the final series, that we have all our characters in one place and interacting more, returning to that simplified formula of the first series. I also have a potential issue that occurs in the final episode of the series, when they looked to commit to something game changing and then reversed the decision. It potentially robbed us of a really powerful and emotional moment. The only hope now is that it might come into the story in the final series – which will save it. But if it doesn’t, it is a huge disservice to not only the moment itself but also the characters involved. But, like I said, if they have a plan for this in Stranger Things 5, which I’m sure they do, then I will hold off on being too harsh on it.
As for how the ending sets up things for Stranger Things 5… wow, there’s not a lot that can be said in a spoiler-free manner, but it safe to say that you really feel that the series is building to an incredible send off. Not only that, but the complaints I’ve listed above? They too look set to be addressed! I trust the Duffer Brothers succeed in ending the show on a high.
Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 is an emotionally charged and intense action-horror epic that easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the first series and is overflowing with incredible performances and jaw dropping and genre defining moments.