Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things season 4!
The Stranger Things season 4 finale couldn’t live up to its own hype, especially as the season seemed to make a number of big promises about its ending. Stranger Things has already proven to be more than just a smash hit for Netflix; it’s nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Following a large ensemble cast in a horrifying 1980s-set supernatural sci-fi, Stranger Things‘ gripping drama is matched only by its relentless thrills.
Stranger Things season 4 continues the story of the town of Hawkins, Indiana, and the constant threat it faces from the otherworld known as the Upside Down. The barely-imaginable horrors of the Upside Down continue to plague Hawkins, and season 4 reveals much about the origins of that world and some of the monsters within it. Stranger Things season 4’s ending sees the barrier between Hawkins and the Upside Down broken by Vecna, season 4 on a major cliffhanger leaving ahead of its fifth and final season.
However, Stranger Things’ season 4 finale leaves much to be desired. This is primarily because the ending of season 4 was teased as the most explosive of the series so far in several ways, and it simply didn’t deliver on that promise. Instead, Stranger Things Season 4 ended as little more than a setup for season 5, making it perhaps the least satisfying series finale of the show so far, as failing to live up to its own promises made it subtly disappointing.
Stranger Things Season 4’s 2 Parts Set Up A Huge Finale
One of the key ways that the show teased a particularly exciting finale was in Stranger Things season 4’s split release. This was the first time that Stranger Things had taken the approach to its release. Despite other streaming platforms now beginning to offer exclusive content via a weekly release of episodes, Stranger Things continued to facilitate binge-watching by releasing several hours of content at once. However, instead of dropping season 4 in its entirety, there was a short wait between the first and second half of the season’s release.
Splitting Stranger Things season 4 into two volumes subtly teaed that its ending would be short. As the series had never done so before, separating the finale from the majority of the season built anticipation in a way that previous seasons weren’t able to. The delay, combined with the cliffhanger ending of Stranger Things season 4 volume 1, left questions that volume 2 needed to answer, but that degree of separation hinted at the greater importance of the season finale. However, this tease ultimately rang hollow, as Stranger Things season 4’s ending didn’t deliver anything as epic as the split release seemed to indicate.
Season 4 Teased So Many Character Deaths
Another reason that Stranger Things season 4’s finale was so highly anticipated was the sheer amount of teases that certain characters would die. There were many subtle hints and red herrings that led to speculation about which characters would survive to see season 5, both on the show and in promotional material. This prompted many theories and predictions about which Stranger Things characters would die in volume 2’s finale, and it’s something that the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, also fueled themselves.
The show itself teased throughout volume 2 that Steve, Hopper, Nancy, Lucas, Max, Robin, and even Dustin might die, but ultimately, these characters all survived (some in better shape than others, but every one of them is still alive) . The only character to actually die was the newcomer and fan-favorite Eddie Munson, who sacrificed himself to save Dustin. This continued Stranger Things death trend of killing off newer supporting characters rather than actually committing to the permanent death of a main cast member. Thought Eddie’s Stranger Things death was heartbreaking and heroic, it still felt like a relatively cheap way to pay off so many hours of false build-up and empty teases.
Stranger Things Season 4’s Finale Didn’t Actually Resolve Anything
One of the most significant takeaways from the Stranger Things season 4 finale was just how little was actually resolved. Instead of a genuine conclusion to the season’s narrative arc, everything was left up in the air ahead of the fifth and final season, and this felt as though it structured much of season 4’s story. Vecna is seemingly defeated, although not before he succeeds in killing Max, but it’s later confirmed that both characters survived, and Vecna’s plan worked regardless.
This means that Stranger Things season 4 leaves many unanswered questions, primarily because almost none of its story was properly resolved. There’s very little finality to the way in which season 4 volume 2 wraps up the story, and a few too many threads were left dangling for it to be considered an effective cliffhanger. Instead of reaching a satisfying conclusion, season 4 volume 2 simply sets up Stranger Things season 5. Regardless of how exciting a prospect that may be, it’s still an underwhelming end to what deserved to be a reasonably self-contained story arc.
Why Season 4’s Finale Is Stranger Things’ Worst
Stranger Things Has always been a show of incredibly high quality, but season 4’s ending is objectively the worst so far. Every other season finale has succeeded in wrapping up its respective chapters of Stranger Things‘ story in a satisfying way, and that’s a category that season 4 falls slightly short in. The way in which it suppresses its own finality for the sake of fleshing out its cliffhanger makes sense with regard to season 5, but it detracts from the power of the final itself by making it feel like a conclusion.
For example, Stranger Things season 1 ended with Will being found and Eleven’s apparent death during her battle with the Demogorgon – the season 2 teases are as simple as Hopper placing an Eggo in a box and Will vomiting a slug. Season 2 ends with the gang finally reunited and Eleven’s apparent integration into Hawkins’ society, only for the final shot to reveal the Mind Flayer waiting for them in the Upside Down. Stranger Things season 3’s final ended on a bittersweet note with Billy and Hopper’s own sacrifices, only for a mid-credit scene to reveal Hopper’s survival and imprisonment in Russia. Every previous season finale offered a genuine ending before a brief tease of what was to come, but season 4 put too much time into teasing season 5, and that makes it a far less impactful conclusion. Thought Stranger Things season 4 fixed many of the show’s previous mistakes, its finale simply didn’t live up to the unbelievable amount of hype that it built for itself.
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