Stranger Things: The Piggyback
July 1, 2022 1:19 PM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

With selfless hearts and a clash of metal, heroes fight from every corner of the battlefield to save Hawkins - and the world itself
posted by Navelgazer (124 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ten million points to the Duffer Bros. If S5 starts with Gillian Jacobs as older Max telling the story in a framing device.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:22 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


A god-damn CLIFFHANGER?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:43 PM on July 1 [12 favorites]


It was interesting watching this episode against the Boys episode that dropped today. Both shows had exposition dumps-the Boys managed two dumps in one hour long episode both done in creative ways. As a result they were totally entertaining and didn't feel like "Now I gotta listen for the Villain to ramble." While when this shows hits well it's so delicious, that exposition in a two hour plus "episode" is a bit much. I wish they found more creative ways to reveal who Venca/One/Henry is. It was just a very stark contrast between those approaches.

But overall I was entertained and it continues to deliver a lot of nostalgia. I really appreciated the shout out to the talisman, which is the book Lucas is reading to Max warmed me to the core as I was a huge fan of Peter Straub in the late 80s and obviously the series is deeply influenced by the work of Stephen King.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:02 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


I am mad about Eddie. I'm mad.

Other impressions:

* I mean, I am no city planner, but I am not sure how Hawkins still has running water and power after the massive gate opened. I will buy the use of gennies at the school gymnasium, but the Wheeler house? Really?

* May we never go to Russia again. Please.

* I continue to be here for the Robin/Steve besties arc.

* I got the impression that Jason--the blonde clearly not a teenager jock--was drunk at the gun superstore? He had that weird intensity angry drunk people get.

* Speaking of the gun superstore, I was started to go, "wait, how are they paying for those guns? Actually, how are they BUYING those guns at their ages?" and my husband reminded me that I'm American, and I was like, "oh yeah, nvm, I guess, it is the US."

* Also, I was really hoping Erica would be the one to get the KO shot for the blonde clearly not a teenager jock. I love Erica.

* For those of you who watch with CC on, whoever did them definitely had Thesaurus.com in an open tab since so many of the descriptors for the synth music were rarely the same: "dire," "mournful," "eerie," "plaintive", and "somber" were just a few I caught describing the same musical score.

*....did I mention I'm super mad about Eddie?
posted by Kitteh at 7:28 PM on July 1 [13 favorites]


GOOD GOD, THIS IS BORING.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:56 PM on July 1 [17 favorites]


Sincerely, this is written as though the writers made a list of things they would like to have happened after this season, as opposed to things they would have like to have watched
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:38 PM on July 1 [7 favorites]


How would they pay for the guns? was a big topic in our house.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:39 PM on July 1 [4 favorites]


I think out of everyone I was actually the most worried about Erica when that one jock got to her. After that I was fine. But I was about throw a table over for Erica.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:42 PM on July 1 [8 favorites]


I fast forwarded through a good bit of this episode (and the prior one).

I mean, as much as I loved the first two, maybe even three, seasons how many times can you watch kids battle monsters episode after episode, especially with a monster who will not die?

I like Eleven and some of the other characters, but they are getting older and awkward now.

I groaned aloud when I saw the black clouds and the thunderstorm. Back to cooking shows for me!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:32 PM on July 1 [7 favorites]


A god-damn CLIFFHANGER?

I stayed up extra late tonight to watch both episodes and this sums up my reaction. I thought this was supposed to be the end of the series, I guess?
posted by Fleebnork at 10:43 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


I don't have a problem with the story arc. (Though it was awkward to have everyone fight Vecna from their various geographic locations, like a weird hybrid in-person/Zoom work meeting.) I have a problem with the pacing and the editing.

The upside of streaming over traditional TV is that you don't have to trim episodes to fit in arbitrary time blocks; an episode can be 45 minutes instead of 43 and everything's fine. The downside of streaming is that it's easy for the showrunners to view episode lengths as a completely arbitrary shackle preventing them from telling The Story They Want To Tell.

They tried to shove so much stuff into this one. The Heartfelt Moments™ were the hardest ones to bear, especially the Will scenes, because it's as though they're saying “what do we want this scene to convey,” answering their own question, and then writing their answer up as verbatim dialogue for the characters. That's not how it works! Just have people talk to each other the way normal human beings do!

I don't mind the Steve/Nancy stuff (LDRs are hard, of course there will be temptations and what-ifs). I don't mind that we had some casualties, though in Eddie's case it hurts to know that his death may not have been strictly necessary for victory. I don't mind what they did with Max at the end, manipulative though it may have been; on a show where so many characters are wearing Plot Armor, you've got to mess with people's expectations a bit to remind them that the stakes are high. Giving Eleven the power to revive Max, but not heal her, feels like a good balance and keeps her out of messiah territory.

I mind that, after all the Steve/Nancy stuff, we finally get Jonathan and Nancy in the same place, and he's still an idiot who won't tell her the truth. I mind that Hopper was somehow able to learn the whereabouts of Will/Mike/Jonathan from a phone call with the government lady, because I have no idea how government lady would've known that. I don't mind that Vecna somehow got away (after having been doused in flame and shot point-plank with a shotgun!) but I wish it had played out more elegantly than just having him disappear. (His vulnerabilities should have internal logic to them! If you want him to live to fight another day, earn it!)

I honestly thought Jason was a great character; he allowed the show to wring some great Stephen King–style menace and unease out of ordinary interactions. That said, I have no notes about the matter-of-fact way that he met his demise. I don't even mind that a human didn't do it. He didn't deserve to be vanquished; he was just an annoyance that happened to be in the way of a cataclysmic cross-dimensional force vector. Let the camera linger long enough so that the viewer can confirm, “yup, dudes don’t get much deader than that,” and then let his name never be uttered again.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:19 AM on July 2 [13 favorites]


I agree that pacing was off. There were still some great moments like the most metal moment ever with the bats and so forth, but they were brought down by a lot of unfortunate dialogue. Like Will bursts into tears talking to Mike and Mike takes that as totally normal? It's so painfully obvious that Will is talking about himself and while I can believe teenage boys can be clueless, I have trouble believing Mike is that clueless because he is supposed to be the heart of the group. If anyone should pick up on Will's confession of feelings, it should be him. Even if he doesn't get exactly what Will is confessing it's pretty clear he's very emotional and Mike just seems to be like "thanks for the pep talk. You do you." And all we really get later is the two brothers hugging it out.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:18 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


I think I'm glad I didn't watch it with some of y'all. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

I was more bothered by things like: why did Vecna just let Nancy go to deliver a message to Eleven? That would have been an easy gate #4 right there.

And the lingering over Papa's death, after Eleven finally confronted him and then was willing to kill him. I know her emotions about him were super confused but UGH.

the descriptors for the synth music

I got a chuckle when I saw that track #72 on the score album is literally titled "[delicate, intense music playing…]"

As a synth nerd, there have been a few shows where I've taken screenshots of captions like that. But there have been so many for this show, the novelty wore off.
posted by Foosnark at 1:41 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]


Liked it, didn't love it.

I think the Stephen King backbone of the season is amazingly appropriate, because the mid to late '80s would have been the time when a young Stephen King, riding high on early successes and ripped to the gills on cocaine, shouted I don't need editors, screw editors to the world and went from producing tight, effective little horror novels to turgid, overstuffed, and overlong 'epics'.

I strongly doubt the Duffer Brothers are running the show as a broad metacommentary on the life and work of Stephen King, but what a metacommentary it would be.

Too many characters, too many plots, too many locations, too much stuff -- as I mentioned in an earlier FanFare thread (E7, I think) I really wish they'd left Hopper dead and skipped Russia entirely; that was a very long walk to cover a very short distance.

Eddie was my season MVP, but I was happy to see him go; anything to keep the overall cast down for the next season (and I can't imagine how things would have gone well for him in the Right Side Up even if he'd survived).

I was fully expecting Vecna to be the season's bad guy and the final season to be All Mind Flayer, so the reveal that he's behind it all (per Eleven, who could be wrong) was surprising, as was his miraculous escape.

And I'll cop to not thinking for a minute that the gang would fail and that Vecna's portals would actually rip through Hawkins. But I'm legitimately confused about what exactly happened there. Here's the sequence as I saw it:

1. Max dies, fourth portal opens
2. Four portals tear open paths to each other, making a big X right through Hawkins, extending the portals to giant red glowing maws in the earth, tearing buildings and people in half, like the Middle-Aged Teen leading the Satanic Panic faction
3. Eleven decides to save Max's life and points fiercely at her
4. Two days later
5. Hawkins has definitely experienced an earthquake, but the earthquakes were... not portals to the Upside Down opening? Just regular earthquakes? There are definitely no red glowing maws in the earth. The steady stream of cars leaving town feels like two days after a disaster, not a "gates to hell have opened" hauling-ass like you'd expect to see if extradimensional gates were spawning demonic dogs and fangbats.
6. There are disaster relief centres etc. like you'd see after a big-ass earthquake (with newspaper reporters suggesting that it was caused by Satanic teens, like you do)
7. The gang gets together at the cabin, everyone is happy-ish, Max is in a coma and unfindable in the Black Brain Void
8. The Upside Down starts appearing in... a different place? Outside of town? Like the Corruption in Terraria? In town, everyone is looking out of town at it (and up at the "fallout", not at the giant red Satanic maws in the earth, which would probably draw the eye). But out of town, everyone is looking at it as a giant red X, which... bisected the town?

So my immediate assumption is that Eleven pulling Max back shut the portals down, but too late to have kept the "earthquake" from happening. But then it sort of happens anyway? Outside the town, but still in the same X shape? I'm legit baffled by the geography/timing of the whole deal.

I'll come back for more: these are long, overstuffed, the auteurs are clearly high on their we cannot-have-a-bad-idea supply, and could desperately benefit from an editor with a strong pen and clinical eye. But, again like Stephen King in the '80s, there's enough fun characters, cool concepts, epic moments, moments that feel emotionally true even if they're preposterously contrived. I'll re-up for S5.
posted by Shepherd at 3:16 AM on July 2 [20 favorites]


As others said, BORED. And that pissed me off! I did not want to be bored. I slogged on because, you know. Like a book you've got to finish because everyone else is reading it too. With one exception - the Dustin/Eddie's dad scene gutted me. Well done.

When there's so much time to notice things like "how are they gassing up this van over thousands of miles?" and "how are they paying for these guns and shit?" and "why are El's pants still glaringly white after all that?" - something is off. So much air in the scenes, so much extra crap. WHYYY
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:01 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Good morning! I have had coffee and I have MORE complaints

* the Russian characters-especially Yuri--were the broadest most cliched caricatures of Russians, enough where I was like, "what, Yakov Smirnoff too busy to clearly play a parody?"

* Some fatphobia in there with Joyce and Eleven with Hopper's return, agreeing that it's so good to see you, you were missed, and wow you're not fat anymore!

* Nancy was going full Ripley and I was there for that..but first rule of all horror movies, aim for the head not the body to increase the likelihood you have really killed the baddie.

* I just wanted everyone to take a nice hot shower and put on some clean clothes.

* OMG we get it, Will is gay, and I want us to actually do something with that character beat instead of having him pine for Mike; I want this character to stop suffering and also get a really good haircut.

Stuff I liked that I forgot from last night's comment:

* Eddie's kick ass Metallica solo
* Dustin giving Eddie's uncle closure despite their mutual loss
* I love that Surfer Boy Pizza apparently just exclusively hires amiable stoners
* The clear homage to Molly Ringwald's Pretty in Pink look on Robin's crush when she spots her at the gun store

Was this season a bit patchy and overly long? Sure. But I still want to see how they wrap this up in probably two years. But if we thought episodes were long now, I suspect it will take us forever to finish S5.
posted by Kitteh at 5:48 AM on July 2 [10 favorites]


I agree with a lot of what has already been said about this - great moments surrounded by too much filler. I was also confused about the earthquake.

Was anyone else surprised that Joyce kissed Hopper after he had finished describing his Russian Prison Diet? Were the guards handing out toothbrushes in between beatings?
posted by janepanic at 6:21 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I'm guessing next season might be back towards the mean, bloat-wise. It's been the big complaint about this season, and Netflix has been hemorrhaging money, so any excuse to save some on production would probably be welcome to them.

I think "Government Lady" was relaying to Hopper what she had learned from Owens in the previous episode (Owens and El heading to Nellis to catch a flight to Hawkins, check on Max Mayfield's place because the kids are trying to handle this on their own) combined with what she had picked up since that phone call (tons of shit went down at Project NINA, boys had escaped the raid on the Byers home) and that Hopper was filling in the rest of the blanks himself since they were supposed to be speaking obliquely on the phone call anyway.

I liked most of this but the utter lack of closure (aside from with Eddie's story) left a bad taste in my mouth.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:27 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]


So last night on Joe Bob's The Drive In he hosted a restored version of Nightbreed. Watching it I was hit by how bang on a lot of clothes/aesthetic is. Nancy looks very much like Lori (the female lead played by Anne Bobby) and Craig Sheffer definitely had Steve like hair. Those types of moments, plus the montages of these kids going to fight some unspeakable evil with homemade spears is when the show really does rock. It has some of that Stand By Me energy where the power of friendship and belief can really transcend anything including evil.

That's what the heart of the show was originally for me at least. The power of their belief that they could pull this off. Those moments where that belief is still intact like Nancy injuring Vecna are where the show continues to work. But it's hard to do that drama over and over. Sure you can add new characters, but they forgot we don't really need that much backstory for the evil in Hawkins. The evil was the most powerful when it couldn't really communicate at all. I certainly don't need about 30 minutes of monologuing collectively over 3 episodes. We need more making weapons and Erica telling off her brother affectionately and Eddie yelling in victory and Argyle just casually accepting all this new information as totally normal. I'm not that interested in Vecna and I'm still really not interested in whatever happened in Russia, but I'll stay with it till the end hoping they manage something wonderful for the last season.

Keep in mind a spin off has been teased by the Duffer brothers.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:52 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


Poor Eddie. If he had lived to see later editions, he would have known that melee weapons are ineffective against swarm attacks.
posted by kyrademon at 9:00 AM on July 2 [29 favorites]


This plays like the writing staff from the first part went on vacation and let the interns wrap it up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:00 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]


The only reason these episodes aren't divided into smaller ones is because it would be humiliating to make it that clear that there are 45 minute chunks where basically nothing happens.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 AM on July 2 [16 favorites]


(Though it was awkward to have everyone fight Vecna from their various geographic locations, like a weird hybrid in-person/Zoom work meeting.)

Definitely, feels like they wrote themselves into a massive corner with everyone spread out, and instead of solving it, they just let it ride with One Cool Trick. And then used a two week time jump to skip needing to resolve it altogether. Really sloppy writing, and it made the final battle(s) confusing (where is El? In Max’s head or just watching Max and Lucas psychically or whatever? El’s powers have become like the Force in Star Wars, capable of whatever needs to happen in the moment).

This whole season has felt a bit like the Duffers are high on their own supply, and that was really evident these last two “episodes.” They need some skeptics on the writing and editing teams next season.

(Reminds me of when I asked a work friend in 2001 or so, who’d just left a job at ILM, if the second or third SW prequel movies were going to be any better than the first one, and she immediately replied ‘oh hell no, because George has no one around him to offer real criticism or say no.’)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:50 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine said it was like the story was worked out in negotiations between the producers and the stars' agents, with guarantees required that everyone would get *their* scene.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:55 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


I know the duffers have teased a spin off and Cosmopolitan suspects it'll be focused on Nancy, which...I'm lukewarm about. I would much rather have the spin off focus on the rebuilding of the Hellfire Club with Dustin, Erica, Mike, and Will. I'm not as interested in Nancy's love triangle. One thing that struck me very hard this season is how much they rely on pretty tropey big romantic moments. The profession of love to El, Will's heartfelt car talk, and those those big romantic moments just don't resonate with me as much as the friendships between say Eddie and Dustin playing metal or the bond between Erica and Lucas. Those relationships are more compelling to me and that kind of layering would be great if it was also in the romantic scenes instead of these big awkward professions of love.

But I'm not sure I'm in for more supernatural arcs from the Duffers anyway and also want all these talented young people to get out there and show their range and so forth. I think five season is enough.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:18 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


"Yep," the people of Hawkins, Indiana decided, "it was an earthquake... just one of those earthquakes that covers everything in tentacles, as earthquakes do."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:27 AM on July 2 [16 favorites]


For anyone who did enjoy it, I do not mean to yuck your yum. I am glad if it made you happy.

There were certainly many parts floating around within it that I liked, so if the pacing sat differently for you, I can see how it would work.

I'm gonna keep watching he show and all. So I'm not trying to get all edgelord and ruin a thing for anyone. The last thing I'd want is for ST posts to get like Walking Dead ones got way back in the day.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:40 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]


Tough crowd! I agree it could have used some editing but the Master of Puppets scene was so awesome that I don’t care, I was entertained.

I will say though the production value on this show is off the charts if you compare this to Obi wan.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 11:54 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]


Shepherd: "Eddie was my season MVP, but I was happy to see him go; anything to keep the overall cast down for the next season (and I can't imagine how things would have gone well for him in the Right Side Up even if he'd survived). "

Yeah, that's the other thing — I could never really envision how he could be exonerated in the court of public opinion if he'd survived. Much like how “accidental chemical exposure” is the watered-down story behind Barb's death that the community is prepared to accept, it was much more convenient for them to believe that Eddie was somehow behind the ritualistic killings rather than… a gifted psychokinetic human plotting for revenge after seven years of exile in a shadowy parallel dimension with a big spider that flays minds.

Navelgazer: "I think "Government Lady" was relaying to Hopper what she had learned from Owens in the previous episode (Owens and El heading to Nellis to catch a flight to Hawkins, check on Max Mayfield's place because the kids are trying to handle this on their own) combined with what she had picked up since that phone call (tons of shit went down at Project NINA, boys had escaped the raid on the Byers home)"

Yeah, the big leap is her inference that the escapees from the Byers home had shown up at Project NINA; I don't know what vantage point she would've had to know that.

I should also make clear that I would take Season 4's failings in a heartbeat over just about anything that happened in Season 3. Without much trouble, you could trim 90% of what happened in Season 3 from the grand narrative — leaving only Robin's introduction and Billy's death as major developments. The Byerses could've moved to California after Season 2's events (or, hell, just moved a few towns over instead), and Hopper could've just not been zapped to Russia and saved everyone a bunch of time. Eleven could've lost her powers from the massive effort required to close the gate at the end of S2.

S4 felt like a zoom-out rather than a retread — it added context to the richest parts of the story instead of just trying to repeat stuff that had worked in the past. The fusing of the Henry/Vecna storylines was quite well done; our household had mostly figured it out by the time of the reveal, but that's the sign of an honest twist rather than one that was pulled out of someone's ass. If they'd been able to write this season without having to cash all the ill-advised checks they wrote in S3, I think it would've been much leaner and much more satisfying.
posted by savetheclocktower at 12:01 PM on July 2 [6 favorites]


I have to admit that was one thing I always wondered about Eddie, how were they gonna exonerate him? And it's that gives me the tiniest ember of compassion for Jason because honestly a satanic cult fronting as a dnd group makes more sense than Henry/One/Vecna storyline. I mean I like to think I'm pretty open minded, but I don't know how I would begin to process someone telling me that my girlfriend was murdered by some creature in the Upside Down which is a kind of parallel world to my little tiny town instead of you know that weird kid's place where she died? He killed her. I mean it does seem way more plausible. Of course that's not at all an excuse to bully and threaten other people.

I am very curious about how the satanic panic is going to play out in the next season. There seems to be a hint that people are returning to the churches (who aren't leaving in droves). But I loved the Dad's blasse comment about we live in a hell corridor or whatever. That was very much the kind of parenting latchkey kids can identify with.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:16 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I’ll admit that I straight up clapped when I saw that the solution to this season’s “how are we gonna bring everyone back together for the finale?” was “we’re not.” Then we saw the consequences of that, which were less great. I have a sickening feeling that brain-dead Max is going to become a vessel for Vecna or the Mind Flayer in S5, and that worries me.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:31 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Will is the next big bad. Certain of it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:41 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I would bummed after all of this Will is doomed. I think Max a more likely vessel. We know it likes to mimic those they love and Max is now this perfect vehicle. it can manipulate their desire to save her so they will ignore it if she seems not quite right from time to time. Because who wouldn't after all she's been through? But that lack of trust would be particularly difficult for them after working together on different continents with the faith that they are all somehow "together" in this even when they can't speak to each other.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:49 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Since they love 80's riffs, I was hoping we'd get a Superman II style scene of El back at school with her powers.

"I've been, uh, working out."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:50 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]


I'd like to thank everyone for being patient with me when I was shit talking about this yesterday. Even those of you who liked it were nice and I appreciate that.

Because I have learned today on other parts of the internet that suggesting that maaaaaaybe the final two episodes of 80's Kids Fight the Boogeyman did not need a running time exceeding The Godfather Part II can make a person hated pretty quickly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:31 PM on July 2 [9 favorites]


I thought your comments were totally legit. I don't know what fan subs you were on but they can get pretty intense which is why I generally confine myself to commenting here. I know I may have seemed harsh as well but it genuinely does come from an appreciation of what the show can and has accomplished.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:48 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I'm mainly in the situation where, while I liked the show -- honestly, I thought this was the best season since the first -- I completely agree with many of the criticisms of it as well.

The Russia stuff should have been cut completely. The villain monologues were ridiculously long and a terrible expository choice. And so on.

I thought the show had enough to it to overcome that. But if you didn't, I'm not about to say, "No! You are wrong and bad!" Because I kind of agree, I know how steep those hills were, and everyone differs in which ones they're willing to climb. The Russian base under the mall in Season 3 broke my suspension of disbelief to the point where I wanted to throw things at the screen, but my spouse was like, "Hey, that's appropriate for the 80's."
posted by kyrademon at 3:02 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


The Russian base under the mall in Season 3 broke my suspension of disbelief to the point where I wanted to throw things at the screen, but my spouse was like, "Hey, that's appropriate for the 80's."


Yeah, my SO scoffed at the roller rink bullying scene in volume 1, saying that kind of thing didn’t happen in real life. My response was “This isn’t a show about the ‘80s, this is a show about movies from the ‘80s,” which I think explains almost everything about this show.

Much like the works of Stephen King, I enjoyed this season and also think it could have been cut down to half the length without losing anything.
posted by ejs at 3:19 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


See, the good thing about these eps being bloated is that I was able to get a LOT of emails and online chores done.

Now, For All Mankind… that’s when I put the laptop away…
posted by adrianhon at 3:26 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed it. More than the last couple seasons probably. There are characters I like more than others so some scenes drag when they involve those characters. But it was a good enough use of an afternoon. I still think they could have ended it at season one but some of the new people (Steve/Robin/Murray) that I like wouldn't be there if it had stopped. I just didn't know going in that there would be another season. I thought they were building to a finale and then when they said Vecna was still alive I thought "What? Are they gonna do a movie or something to finish it out?". But whatever flaws it has I'm still invested enough to finish it out. They're all gonna be in their 20s by the time that happens though. That's gonna be weird.
posted by downtohisturtles at 3:40 PM on July 2


Yeah, my SO scoffed at the roller rink bullying scene in volume 1, saying that kind of thing didn’t happen in real life.

It did in some places.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 PM on July 2 [9 favorites]


No worries, DirtyOldTown, you're safe to talk shit here. I liked it, on the whole, but I also totally see where your issues are coming from.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:46 PM on July 2 [3 favorites]


Okay, I've been very negative so things I liked: everything Eddie; the Winnebago heist; Max crying that she did not want to die (very heartfelt and contrary to melodramatic trends of hero speeches); the FX when Vecna ripped the town apart; Dustin's moment with Eddie's uncle; the three inches thing... The fan service was excellent, the character moments were plentiful. I just wish it had more momentum.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:00 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Me and my entire friend cohort at age fifteen could have come up with like $90-120 cash, total. They bought SO MANY things at the gun store.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:02 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


They also had Nancy (responsible and from a rich family) Steve & Robin (jobs at the video store) and Eddie (drug dealing income) with them, so they were probably coming in with a little money.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:56 PM on July 2 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed the season. My pet peeve was the horrible science metaphors. The last episode had Papa explaining how cracks cause pressure. In this episode it was some complete misunderstanding of biology, but an hour and a half later, I have forgotten exactly what it was.
posted by snofoam at 7:03 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


“This isn’t a show about the ‘80s, this is a show about movies from the ‘80s”

yeah -- this show is and always has been just good vibes and pastiche melded with great acting, unreasonably high production values, and mind-bogglingly good child casting. the plot is an engine fueled by pulp alone. logistical clarity of plot details or high-caliber verisimilitude have been deliberately omitted from the toolbox

many of the emotional beats are way too on-the-nose but that also works fine for me, here, in this heightened space built around archetypes and Spielberg/King mood beats. I was initially a little deflated by the Kate Bush redux as the climactic orchestration (maybe moreso because the trailers for vol. 2 had already started to beat that into the ground a bit) but I quickly jived with it, and thought they executed beautifully. likewise the master of puppets sequence.

"overlong, but my favorite season since 1" seems about right, especially in the sense that I don't feel like I understand fundamentally what's "going on" any better than I would have in season 1 and still think that's just fine
posted by Kybard at 7:04 PM on July 2 [11 favorites]


I, too, was taken out of the moment by there being so many "wait, how did that work?" moments. All the ones listed above, plus Eleven being able to hear people talk to her while her ears were underwater in the pizza freezer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:05 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


> I don't feel like I understand fundamentally what's "going on" any better than I would have in season 1 and still think that's just fine

Nice to know I'm not alone! I've watched every episode but I still couldn't actually explain to you exactly what's going on with the supernatural bad guys.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:06 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]


oh and: this came up earlier in the thread but honestly why wasn't this like a 15-to-20-episode season of tight, 30-40 minute episodes? coming to this after binging barry only makes me feel the weird lumpiness of the episodic storytelling going on in this case

as an added bonus, then you could have done the whole russia plot as like one or two standalone episodes and I could have safely skipped them entirely in a rewatch
posted by Kybard at 7:10 PM on July 2


Also, if that freezer was about two cubic meters of water, you could only dissolve around 30 pounds of salt in it, not 600.
posted by snofoam at 7:10 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


(the salt thing, which did not register for me because I am a science dummy but does feel like something any kind of consultant could have easily flagged in a script edit, really just reminds me of how much I enjoyed that the "load up for war" cross-cutting included the deadly-serious preparation of a pineapple pizza

more money for the sound designers and the editors than for script review, I suppose)
posted by Kybard at 7:13 PM on July 2 [11 favorites]


They really should have had Yuri bringing cases of peanut butter to the emergency shelter. There must have been a scene that got cut out just before the sandwich making. As soon as the end credits came up, I was like, “Seriously? What about Yuri!?!?!”
posted by snofoam at 7:21 PM on July 2 [7 favorites]


> mind-bogglingly good child casting

Absolutely! And great accent coaches for those kids, too. There are a handful of British actors, but I only know that from reading about them.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:36 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


That sword that Hopper picks up looks like a replica of the one that Conan (the Barbarian) picks up from the dead king under the hill.
posted by porpoise at 7:47 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Overlong, and a more than a bit too indulgent; too much monologuing and at times, a weird lack of urgency during the fight sequence (particularly with Steve, Robin, and Nancy - once they get their "divine intervention", instead of making the most of it and going in guns blazing, they continue to creep along and then stand in awe of Vecna before finally getting on with it - and then Steve really doesn't do anything). But I still enjoyed it a great deal! Some thoughts:

-I figured Eddie was going to die; the heart to heart with Dustin in the previous episode, plus the total lack of build out towards anything plausible to exonerate him going back to the first part of the Season. Loved Eddie. He will be missed, but it also felt important at this point that someone died to make it clear the stakes are as high as they've been since Barb;
-feels like they dipped into Red Dawn for the guerrilla fighter outfits the kids wore for the multi-pronged assault on Vecna;
-was a little shocked at Max getting killed & brought back - I think the fact that she is alive but an empty shell will be important when they do season 5;
-Steve does not get his face beaten in this time around, that torch seems to have been passed to Lucas;
-despite the run time, I feel like there are several things that didn't get tied off such as: the fate of Owens; why the Murder Death Kill squad hasn't shown up in Hawkins on the heels of all this crap - they blame Eleven, they gotta figure she's there (plus the getaway vehicle is kind of distinctive); the fallout of the van hotboxing.
-they better get the next season in production pronto or the "kids" will all be married and have kids of their own.
posted by nubs at 8:17 PM on July 2 [5 favorites]


I think I'd be more at peace with the big cliffhanger if it wasn't delivered after two and a half hours of everything else. The whole season needed some serious editing, it's so full of puff - the sequence with Max doing her letters, the extended Tigers hangout stuff, the repeated trips to the Rainbow Room after the massacre - there was a lot of non-Russian filler in the season that could have been cut with little to no issues. Including Vecna's big half hour exposition to two different people in two different points in history. Like it's nice they wove it, but it could have gone without a hassle. And much as I loved the Russian stuff, and the payoff at the end, it was an *awful* lot to go to for a "they have a hive mind, let's hurt it and help the kids" bit.

I feel like they were aping a lot of TV series that were aired a week apart and needed a bit of audience reminders here and there, and not a streaming service program likely to be binged in a single week or so. It's an unfortunate overlap - streaming run time with an 80s structure.

I'm 6/10 for this, with the acknowledgement that a good editor could have taken them up to a 7. I really would have been fine with Season 3 being our finish - big ole mind flayer fight under the Mall is an excellent bit of 80s pastiche. That said I'll watch S5
posted by Jilder at 8:39 PM on July 2 [4 favorites]


I’m in for another season, but yeah, I really feel like having your villain be an Upside-Downer who can talk was a huge mistake. It cuts so much of the otherworldly alienness right out.
Adult Henry was way creepier than Strangely Junkless Naked Lich, too.
I prefer the faceless, voiceless giant shapes whose intentions the kids (and the audience) have to infer.
But I like watching the show’s characters do the things they do, so the absurd plot skeleton the character bits hang on is fine with me.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:31 PM on July 2 [16 favorites]


OMG we get it, Will is gay, and I want us to actually do something with that character beat instead of having him pine for Mike; I want this character to stop suffering and also get a really good haircut.

Same here. I want him to get over his crush on Mike, who has been useless since S2 (Dustin is more of a leader now), move to a big city, get a cool haircut and meet someone that the rest of the gang will love too.

Mike is the reason Will survived, and they're still kids really, but geez let him move on.
posted by harriet vane at 1:28 AM on July 3 [8 favorites]


I liked that the seperate groups were all doing what they could, without any guarantee that it would be enough, just trusting that the others would also be doing their best. I just wanted it to have more thematic resonance to the problems of today. But I suppose all of this was filmed months and months ago so that's not a reasonable expectation.

I was so worried for Lucas and Erica, did not expect Max's fate, and am so sad about Eddie. I guess I'll be in for season 5 but I hope they film it soon before the kids start to look like Middle Aged Teen.
posted by harriet vane at 1:32 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]


The long timeouts to agonize over the feels seemed more than a bit much, but otherwise I thought this was really good.

I'm left wondering whether the upside down is Eleven's creation or if it was a preexisting thing. It clearly wasn't bizarro Hawkins at first and seemed more orange than red, so either way it's clear that One had a big hand in shaping it once he was banished there.
posted by wierdo at 3:25 AM on July 3 [4 favorites]


This finale was a lot better than it could have been IMO. But where did that sword come from?

Just have people talk to each other the way normal human beings do!
[...]
“This isn’t a show about the ‘80s, this is a show about movies from the ‘80s”

I haven't seen season 1 in a while but IIRC the thing that really got me into this show was season 1 feeling more realistic, or maybe grounded is a better word. After this season finale, I don't see how this show can ever go back to its typical season-opener everything's-normal-ish resets. On that topic:

Those types of moments, plus the montages of these kids going to fight some unspeakable evil with homemade spears is when the show really does rock. It has some of that Stand By Me energy where the power of friendship and belief can really transcend anything including evil.
That's what the heart of the show was originally for me at least. The power of their belief that they could pull this off. Those moments where that belief is still intact like Nancy injuring Vecna are where the show continues to work. But it's hard to do that drama over and over


And probably impossible for the start of the next season.

Though it was awkward to have everyone fight Vecna from their various geographic locations

When Joyce and Eleven hugged, my riff was "Yay! Covid's over!"
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:54 AM on July 3


I think one of the challenges for the next season will be explaining how most of the characters can still be the main protagonists. It is easier to believe that they have to fight this thing alone when no one else would believe them, but it seems like that would have to change once the town is transformed.
posted by snofoam at 5:41 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]


But where did that sword come from?

The Russian guards had been giving the prisoners weapons to fight the Demogorgon, so presumably it was lying on the ground from their previous fight.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:10 AM on July 3 [5 favorites]


Despite the length, we liked it. We all had a feeling that Eddie was doomed, which is a shame because he turned out to be a fun character. Now that the Upside Down has broken through completely, I'm wondering if the next season's touchstone will be The Stand. I had read (here, somewhere?) that the time jump to the next season will be larger than in the past.

The book Lucas was reading to Max in the hospital room is a small Easter egg - the Duffer Brothers have been tapped to adapt The Talisman for Netflix.
posted by jquinby at 6:10 AM on July 3 [3 favorites]


Like Will bursts into tears talking to Mike and Mike takes that as totally normal? It's so painfully obvious that Will is talking about himself and while I can believe teenage boys can be clueless, I have trouble believing Mike is that clueless because he is supposed to be the heart of the group. If anyone should pick up on Will's confession of feelings, it should be him.

The things is, for most of this season, Mike hasn't been the heart of the group. He's been kind of lost, self-absorbed with that kind of creepy "what if El doesn't need me anymore?" thing. In that conversation it's Will that's the heart of the group, giving the emotional support. (Although obviously he needs support himself even more, and thankfully Jonathan -- who's also been kind of lost -- takes notice.)

So yeah, Mike was super clueless but I don't think that's bad writing or him being out of character, so much as Mike being a little lost.
posted by Foosnark at 6:43 AM on July 3 [6 favorites]


Yeah I've seen an interview with the cast where Finn Wolfhard (who comes across much better as a person than Mike Wheeler comes across as a character) is talking about how wildly oblivious Mike is where Will is concerned, and one thinks it has to be referring to that scene in particular. Like, as if acting Mike's obliviousness was the big challenge for Finn this season.

I've been hearing it mentioned as if it's known that S5 will be set three years after S4 (I guess to catch up with the actors' ages) though damn that's a jump. And I kinda doubt Max's mom had much in the way of health insurance to cover that kind of continued hospital stay.

I will say that, in thinking it over, I think the Russia and California stories work better if you think of them less like long walks to get to helping the Hawkins gang from afar, and more like long walks to get to why they couldn't be in Hawkins with them. This probably would have gone down differently, and better, if the gang were all together. One of the best story arcs of "The Order of the Stick" is called "Don't Split the Party." This is exactly why that's such an age-old admonition in D&D.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 AM on July 3


It’s difficult to think of less appropriate music for Eddie’s final moments than Moby.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:45 AM on July 3 [16 favorites]


It's funny that Eddie finally got into a situation where running away was actually the bravest and most selfless thing he could do, then he suddenly decided he'd rather die pointlessly.

The thing about the gun store that amused me most was that they had like 5 people in there all doing separate shopping w/ like 5 jocks on the prowl for them, and apparently somehow they were all able to get checked out and leave without anyone getting spotted. Mrs fc and I decided they must have Apple Store style checkout.

When Nancy blasted Vecna in slowmo with her shotgun, each shot ushered me into a new stage of grief w/r/t her not shooting him in the head. Masterful manipulation of expectations.

I'm usually an easy mark for people working together to solve problems. Sense8 had me regularly saying "This show is so bad," while wiping tears from my eyes after trying not to audibly sob. Somehow though this show didn't yank that chain of mine despite really going for it.

I have never really thought ST was, like, you know, good, but I thought this season was better than the others; it all kinda fell apart in these last two episodes though.
posted by fleacircus at 11:41 AM on July 3 [4 favorites]


A god-damn CLIFFHANGER?

This was a given once season 5 was announced.
posted by Pendragon at 12:11 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Leaving Eleven in her thermal undershirt from the pizza shop scene onward really emphasized that Millie Bobby Brown is at the end of her teens and no longer the little waif they found in the woods. It was very striking at the end when the whole group was walking into the field - the rest of the gang, including Nancy, looked to still be in high school while Eleven could probably buy beer and not get carded.
posted by jazon at 12:21 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


At eighteen, Millie Bobby Brown is the youngest of The Kids (apart from Priah Ferguson).
posted by Grangousier at 12:52 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


Sorry, I was curious, so I checked - the kids are the same ages as their characters, more or less; the next generation up are much older, in their late twenties, and the adults... are adult age.
posted by Grangousier at 12:56 PM on July 3


I remembered the line that bothered me in this episode, it was about dandelion seed pods blowing in the wind. They aren’t pods, they are individual seeds.
posted by snofoam at 2:00 PM on July 3


I had guessed it would be Steve, not Eddie, mostly because Steve was becoming just too awesome to live. But one of the common destinies for "hey, you remember the new guy - everyone knows him" characters is to show up and die dramatically.

The pacing of this episode (and maybe part of the previous episode) was a bit too much "ah, now we will bring each character in focus for their CLOSE UP AND SUMMARY AND FAREWELL ... WILL THEY BE THE ONE TO DIE?" Like, yes, we get it, you're totally gonna kill someone(s).

Also, how the FUCK does Vecna still have un-monologued villain monologue left to monologue?
posted by rmd1023 at 3:14 PM on July 3 [4 favorites]


I really hope if the Duffers take anything from this season, it's that they need to dial back monologues.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:25 PM on July 3 [5 favorites]


I loved it and am sad for Eddie but at least he got the most metal final hours possible.
We scoffed in my house at the reporter describing the earthquake as a 7.8. We're Chileans, we don't even get out of bed for a 7.8.
posted by signal at 6:15 PM on July 3 [7 favorites]


The Russia stuff is fine but totally superfluous. You could get rid of it and not change a thing.

Quoting myself from the previous episode's thread and it still stands.
posted by octothorpe at 4:38 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Other than the Russian sequences, I liked the season well enough but I do hope they wrap everything up with S5.
posted by octothorpe at 4:50 AM on July 4


but I do hope they wrap everything up with S5.

They better do, it's the final season.
posted by Pendragon at 6:27 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


I had guessed it would be Steve, not Eddie, mostly because Steve was becoming just too awesome to live. But one of the common destinies for "hey, you remember the new guy - everyone knows him" characters is to show up and die dramatically.

The pacing of this episode (and maybe part of the previous episode) was a bit too much "ah, now we will bring each character in focus for their CLOSE UP AND SUMMARY AND FAREWELL ... WILL THEY BE THE ONE TO DIE?" Like, yes, we get it, you're totally gonna kill someone(s).

Also, how the FUCK does Vecna still have un-monologued villain monologue left to monologue?


My gods, this entire comment. YES. The dicking around trying to make us think various people were the one to die.

Steve's moment was particularly heavy-handed as they literally gave him a "You know what I will do when I survive this and get to live a long and happy life?" monologue, which is generally maybe the ultimate 1980's This Character 'Bout to Fucking Die tipoff. (The only more ominous tipoff is if a character had said he was retiring the next day, and since Steve is like 19...)

I have no idea who they thought still needed Vecna's shit explained to them at this point, let alone to that length, let alone... at... that... painfully... painfully... slow... sloooooooowwwwww... rate.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on July 4 [5 favorites]


I agree with most of the criticisms but I liked the Russia stuff, particularly once Murray and Joyce show up. I particularly like Murray as a character so that's partially it, but I also like seeing adults do stuff and try to solve their own problems.
posted by jeoc at 10:50 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


Harber and Rider are always engaging performers but the whole story-line was basically pointless and had a totally different tone than the rest of the narrative.
posted by octothorpe at 11:11 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I wonder how many genre shows are going to go down in flames trying to stack monologues because it worked for Mike Flanagan in Midnight Mass and they want to give it a shot themselves.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:03 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Well, it worked in Midnight Mass because the pacing of that show was a lot slower.
posted by Pendragon at 1:22 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


The pacing of this season was funky, but I don't think there were any problems that couldn't have been solved by making it a regular season of one-hour episodes instead of releasing it as a clump of mega-sodes. The finale in particular felt like it had a couple of natural cliffhangers, places where the closing credits were supposed to roll, but then the story just kept going.

Like Will bursts into tears talking to Mike and Mike takes that as totally normal?

I suspect Mike may have actually had a clue what was going on there. I was watching his response during Will's big speech, and Mike seemed moved by his friend's faith in him but also kind of overwhelmed, like he may have seen the truth but didn't know how to respond in that moment. And really, how was he supposed to respond? The back of a crowded van, in the middle of an apocalyptic adventure, isn't really the best time or place to address your best friend's unrequited crush.

The later scene between Will and Jonathan was so great. We haven't seen them interact much this season and Jonathan kind of got lost in the story sometimes (he's obviously just been kind of lost in general) so it was really touching to see him wake up from his stoner funk and be there for his kid brother. And then, of course, Jonathan deals with Nancy by being all vague and squirrelly again. The boy can face off against the apocalypse but he can't talk honestly with his girlfriend.

It's funny how people hate the Russian stuff but love the Nina lab stuff, or hate the van stuff but love the team Nancy stuff. I feel like one of the few people who thought the season was pretty strong throughout, with no serious weak points. They ditched a lot of the goofy comedy from last season, thank God, and the stuff that was there (like Argyle's one-man Cheech and Chong routine) at least didn't bring the action to a screeching halt. Even Erica seemed a little more grounded and less like a "sassy kid sister" sitcom character transplanted into a horror show.

I haven't heard anybody point out that Eleven wanting to go help her friends while Brenner insists she stay and continue her training is some straight-up Empire Strikes Back shit. He stopped just short of telling her, "Go, and you will destroy all that your friends have fought for..."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:23 PM on July 4 [16 favorites]


Well, it worked in Midnight Mass because the pacing of that show was a lot slower.

That and because Flanagan primarily used monologues during the percolating/tension-building stage then switched to a heavier percentage of action for the finale.

S4 of Stranger Things piled them into the last two episodes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:27 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Some good moments this season, but the last two episodes were a bit of a slog. The huge budget really did show—they put it all up there on the screen.

Agree with the person upthread who said they were disappointed by the unknowable cosmic horror of the Mind Flayer being explained away as the supra-dimensional concoction of a long-winded telekinetic Bad Seed with a score to settle. I’m hoping against hope that in the final season the big reveal is that Vecna was an unreliable narrator all along—he’s not, in fact, the Man Behind the Curtain but rather an unwitting tool being used by the Old Ones (or whatever) to open the doorway between their dimension and ours, and now that he’s served his purpose he’ll be quickly discarded. I personally prefer my Lovecraftian big bads to be a bit less quippy.
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:02 PM on July 4 [15 favorites]


I haven't heard anybody point out that Eleven wanting to go help her friends while Brenner insists she stay and continue her training is some straight-up Empire Strikes Back shit. He stopped just short of telling her, "Go, and you will destroy all that your friends have fought for..."

Noticed it immediately, I’m wondering if they’re saving a « Eleven, I’m your father » from Vecna in S05, ultimate tribute/reference to ESB.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:15 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]


Agree with the person upthread who said they were disappointed by the unknowable cosmic horror of the Mind Flayer being explained away as the supra-dimensional concoction of a long-winded telekinetic Bad Seed with a score to settle.

I don't know if they could have been more explicit the the..creatures..were there before One was banished. It was more softly stated/shown that he took/is able to use their powers and may be directing them now, though I don't get the sense that he fully controls them.
posted by wierdo at 8:04 PM on July 4 [8 favorites]


The boy can face off against the apocalypse but he can't talk honestly with his girlfriend.


To me this so so so understandable. I've dealt with so many health crises and other crises, but having an honest conversation with my partner about my fears regarding our relationship, just send in the Mindflayer. I can more easily deal with that.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:36 PM on July 4 [8 favorites]


This plays like the writing staff from the first part went on vacation and let the interns wrap it up.

If by 'the first part' you mean 'Season 1', yeah... it's been diminishing returns ever since, with increasingly lengthy diversions from the relevant plot every season. The first half of this had so much padding and nonsensical plot elements that the triple-stuf cramming of the finale felt completely on-brand for pacing. The "russian gulag - escape - go back to (different) russian gulag - escape - go back to russian gulag - escape" garbage felt so astoundingly unnecessary, it made me feel like it was initially set up due to covid restrictions that none of the characters could be around most of the other cast. Whenever someone would pop pos on testing and the writers were like 'well, back into the gulag set for another episode you go'

Eddie was the most interesting character and his death was the stupidest goddamn thing in the world

Henry being kept subdued for his entire life by a tictac stuffed under his skin that could be removed by a pen-knife, but he needs El to psychic pimple-pop it for him? what even nonsense was that.. and then the trend continues when Vecna is either a terrifying uber-monster capable of vast powers, or he's just a wet zombie who somehow no-sells being set on fire for five minutes straight but also forgets to do anything about it but slowly walk forward? The power levels of all characters is just random nonsense at this point

So they're like 'if vecna sacrifices and absorbs Max, the fourth portal opens and we're fucked!' but then vecna doesn't finishing absorbing her but she kinda dies anyway after and plot is like 'close enough! portals anyway!' and then she doesn't even die and the plot says 'no backsies! we already paid the animators to destroy the town!' like the resurrection parts were tacked on after a performer decided they'd be around for the next season after all or something

And that shit was the cheapest plot reversal anyway - the classic 'ohhh we get to make the audience sad about a character dying but then say 'not really' so we're not held accountable for senseless death', but then the plot consequences of the character dying happen anyway... PICK A GODDAMN LANE

Also, only 22 deaths from the city getting cut up like pie? There were more than 22 single family homes that got completely obliterated in ten seconds late at night

Also why didn't vecna nab literally anyone else to do his portal biz, he clearly was aware what was going on? The prior victims were basically all randos, some of which seemed to be selected at the drop of a hat

Also why does anyone still hang out with Lucas? His arc in literally every season is 'be a tremendous shitheel 80% of the time and then says oops sorry'

And having a big moment saying Eddie died a hero, sure that's nice for his dad to hear but it just further rubs it in that he died for NO GODDAMN REASON BEING AN IDIOT ACCOMPLISHING NOTHING SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK
posted by FatherDagon at 12:58 PM on July 5 [16 favorites]


The "russian gulag - escape - go back to (different) russian gulag - escape - go back to russian gulag - escape" garbage felt so astoundingly unnecessary

Heh, I forgot about this bit! At that point, it basically became a bad Buñuel parody.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:16 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Lots of butt-numbing fluff, but I did get a kick out of the army surplus gun store scene.

Slick 80s teen villain mansplaining firearms to Nancy, all while he's flopping a gun all around the counter and waving it at her (a major gun safety error, always assume a gun is loaded, never point it at something you don't intend to destroy).

Meanwhile she's trying to nod along even though she'd used a handgun at the Battle of Starcourt, in her informed opinion a shotgun is preferable for monster hunting.
posted by champers at 7:06 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


I am VERY MAD that the impetus for El to get loose from the tentacles and find her power (again) was Mike's declaration of love. I HATE IT. I would have much preferred for El to find her power within herself. The power of love, whatever, blah blah blah. I am ANGRY.

Also, I never thought Will had a crush on Mike. Never got that feeling AT ALL and I will be angry all over again if that's the case because COME ON why have even one more of the gang put Mike on a fucking pedestal when he is SO MEDIOCRE.

Also also, I had no idea that season 5 had been announced so count me among those irritated that this was a dang cliffhanger. I thought we were getting closure.
posted by cooker girl at 9:07 AM on July 6 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I've never considered that Will was interested in Mike. I think he's gay but... Mike? It's very '80s but that doesn't mean we have to do it. Let him just be gay and MAYBE BE HAPPY AND FIND SOMEONE NICE WHO ALSO IS GAY is that too much to ask?
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:38 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it's much better, but they did at least telegraph a sort of Florence Nightengale explanation for why Will is interested in Mike: he sees him as the leader who saved his life twice.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:17 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


My spouse (very, very occasionally on MeFi as Comrade Doll) heard me complaining about the kids being able to afford all of those guns and said, stone-faced, "It was easy. They just dipped into their 401k's. Because they're all like 34."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:18 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]


Or Will just sees Mike as his childhood best friend why can't we leave it at that so Will can find a nice boy in Cali?
posted by cooker girl at 2:39 PM on July 6 [4 favorites]


This felt like they'd worked out a satisfying way to finish off the series and give everyone some closure and a role in the final battle and then when they were mostly finished filming found out they'd been renewed for a fifth season.
posted by straight at 10:45 PM on July 6 [11 favorites]


I've been really getting into the videos of a psychologist named Georgia Dow, who uses pop culture stuff to talk about psychological concepts. She's done a number of videos about Stranger Things, including a kind of fascinating one where she imagines Vecna as a patient and one about Jonathan's relationship with Will. She's really insightful and I love how she subtly cosplays the characters. Her Vecna is a lewk.

Jonathan is an interesting character, because he doesn't just feel like the kind of kid we never see on TV, he also doesn't feel like a character we'd see on this show. Everybody else feels like they might have come from a Steven Spielberg movie or a Stephen King story or an 80s sitcom, but then there's Jonathan who's more like a real, messy '80s misfit kid or a Violent Femmes song come to life. He's a good guy, but he's also kind of scuzzy and fucked up. I can never figure out if he's smart or a little dumb, and I'm not sure if he knows either. He makes lousy choices sometimes, but ugh, they're the kind of lousy choices you actually make when you're that age. I'm still incredulous that the show had him and Argyle driving stoned with the younger kids in the back of the van. Admittedly it feels true to his age and the era, but it was so wildly crappy and irresponsible that I can't believe the show went there and treated it so casually.

I'd strongly suggest that some of you just stop watching this show. I'm getting old now, and I can tell you that life passes by so, so much faster than you think. It's way too short to waste your time hate-watching anything.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:12 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Either most MeFites were WAAAYYY MORE TOGTHER than I was at these kids' ages or I was just an exceptional dingbat - I have been both Will, unrequited awkward/can't express my feelings properly/hooked on the WRONG person and also Mike, clueless/Not expressing myself properly/downright oblivious.

I bet y'all also had perfectly clear skin at that age, too.

Just kidding - love y'all - but I just found the Will/Mike/El stuff both relatable and cringe.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 7:58 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


I wouldn't really call this a cliffhanger. To me, that implies a character (or characters) in immediate peril: cutting away while someone is hanging from a roof or a cliff, showing up at your door with a kinfe in your back, or Riker ordering Worf to fire. Narratively, it's when you cut away from a story before or right at the climax. In this case, the story of the season was complete. There's a sequel hook that's stronger here than in past seasons, sure. But I don't think I would call this a cliffhanger any more than I would call the end of Empire Strikes Back a cliffhanger--or, for that matter, the end of season one in which Will coughs up another demogorgon egg.

Also, from a meta standpoint I feel like the Duffers have been talking about the show being five seasons for years, but it's possible I just gleaned that from other sources and they've never been explicit about it.
posted by thecaddy at 10:41 AM on July 8 [5 favorites]


How is it not a cliffhanger?? The storm, the red lightning, the seams opening up in the ground! El looking for Max's mind in the empty room! Totally left us hanging!
posted by cooker girl at 6:05 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Is this where we can post thoughts on the final season because I have them.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:02 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I really hope if the Duffers take anything from this season, it's that they need to dial back monologues.

Indeed. This is also my biggest complaint about this season: FAR too much telling, not enough showing.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 11:42 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I admit I was kinda hopeful that Vecna's major weakness was going to be a monologue so endless that it allowed the kids to head back to the War Store, purchase a Howitzer, carry it back to the upside down, figure out how to aim and fire it carefully over the course of three months, and then finally blow up the house.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:28 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


FAR too much telling, not enough showing.

You can complain that there was too much telling (I don't agree) but I don't think it's fair to say they didn't show plenty. This was a season that started with a levitating cheerleader getting her limbs napped like twigs, and culminated with an interdimensional battle between bat monsters and a teenage boy playing a Metallica solo. Even during the monologues we were seeing plenty of crazy-ass, epic stuff.

When people say they were bored by the Russian prison storyline, I'm kind of baffled. It was a bunch of Soviet soldiers and terrified prisoners with swords, going up against a rampaging demogorgon! My only real criticism of the Russian stuff was the thing about Hopper seemingly breaking his ankles to get out of the shackles, only for him to then be pretty much fine immediately after. Hopper may be a badass but he doesn't have superhero ankle-regenerating powers!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:36 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]


He didn’t literally break his ankles, he was asking the other prisoner to hammer the shackles so they would bend enough to squeeze his foot through. They weren’t great about showing this, however, so I can understand how viewers might not be clear on what was happening.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:02 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]


That sword that Hopper picks up looks like a replica of the one that Conan (the Barbarian) picks up from the dead king under the hill.

His name is Crom!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 PM on July 10


Overall I stand by previous comments: ST is good, but the Duffers need an editor. Possibly a team of them. But even without them, the story is still very enjoyable, so the Duffers are narratively opulent. ST should not be as long as it was, but damn if they didn't make that length work, overall. Sure, not every bit worked aka the 20 minute villain monologue, but in the grand scheme this season worked out pretty well.

I hope season 5 is tighter plot wise, but I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 PM on July 10


I’m in for another season, but yeah, I really feel like having your villain be an Upside-Downer who can talk was a huge mistake. It cuts so much of the otherworldly alienness right out.

Yes. Vecna was this annoying tryhard wannabe Hellraiser, going on about how "Your Torment will be Such Sweet Delicacy" and whatnot. Like Darth Vader and Freddy Kreuger had a kid. I much prefer eldritch abominations that don't talk.
posted by kurumi at 10:58 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]


OMG that last episode was a slog.
posted by Coaticass at 2:27 AM on July 11 [9 favorites]


I think he's gay but...

In part one, the first moment he's reintroduced on screen with his school project about Alan Turing establishes that he is gay. Yes yes there's plenty of reasons to be interested in Turing in real life but as far as TV cliches are concerned, there is only one reason and that is because Will is gay as the day is long.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:53 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Oh he's totally gay, I will just be angry if he ends up crushing on Mike because COME ON. Anyone but Mike.
posted by cooker girl at 12:29 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


I, too, was taken out of the moment by there being so many "wait, how did that work?" moments.

It’s a nice commentary that occasionally the characters are as baffled as the audience. When Eleven initially rescues Max from Vecna at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance (or whatever) in her mind, there is some great dialogue:

Eleven: “Max, are you okay?”
Max (blinking uncomprehendingly): “Huh?”
Eleven: “Are you okay?”
Max: “Yeah... are you... are you real? Di— did I make you?”
Eleven: “I’m real.”
Max: “How?”
Eleven: “I piggybacked from a pizza dough freezer.”
Max: “What?!?”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:32 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


I love that Surfer Boy Pizza apparently just exclusively hires amiable stoners

I would very much like these guys to open up a shop with the beignet guy from Barry.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:33 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake. I have to sit through another season of Americans vs Personifed Evil?

Honestly I might give season 5 a miss.
posted by flabdablet at 11:10 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


So I was just reading on the ST subreddit that the Duffers spoke in interview recently about how Will is struggling with being a "late bloomer." While others are interested in dating, he has the Vegas fantasy to keep "the gang" together. Obviously he may want to do that so the group doesn't break apart into couples leaving him as an outsider...AGAIN. Add to this that he still, obviously, is connected to whatever the inevitable big bad is which I hope to hell isn't Vecna because shut up already. So yeah Will is struggling with a lot that's taken the backseat this season while characters were having their Big Romantic Gestures. I hope he doesn't get sidelined for another season.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:47 PM on July 13


Next season each episode will be a little longer than the one before and then the series finale will never end.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:07 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


I, too, was taken out of the moment by there being so many "wait, how did that work?" moments.

This felt kind of 80s to me, on the other hand - a lot of the sci-fi/fantasy films and books of the time had a whole lot of hand-wavey "a wizard did it or something" explanations for "how did this work".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Next season each episode will be a little longer than the one before and then the series finale will never end.

Are we 100% sure the season four finale even ended? It could still be going as far as we know.

[clicks back onto Netflix, checks after credits, finds Will still sobbing in Closeted TV Gay.]
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:40 AM on July 16 [7 favorites]


I, too, was taken out of the moment by there being so many "wait, how did that work?" moments.

I think for me, the moment that smells off isn't the implementation of the nonsensical plan, it's the realization just before where they go "But wait, what if... IT'S SO OBVIOUS!" ...and it's not only not so obvious, it doesn't even make sense when explained directly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:36 AM on July 18 [1 favorite]


I much prefer eldritch abominations that don't talk.

Kurumi, I'm totally stealing this line for the climax of my next epic horror novel.
posted by invincible summer at 9:54 AM on July 18 [2 favorites]


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