To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Stranger Things 4 Vol. II is a sci-fi horror series created by the Duffer Brothers (Wayward Pines). Featuring returning stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Brett Gelman, Matthew Modine, and Paul Reiser alongside newcomers Robert Englund, Jamie Campbell Bower, Eduardo Franco, and Joseph Quinn. Volume II focuses on the gang as they plan to take down Vecna/Henry/One before he kills another teenager and destroys the barrier between Hawkins and the Upside Down.
In the Upside Down, Nancy (Dyer) continues to run from Vecna/Henry/One (Bower). He eventually catches up to her and shows her a vision of the future where Hawkins is destroyed by an earthquake opening portals to the Upside Down. He then tells Nancy to tell Eleven everything she saw before releasing her. After telling the others what she saw they decide to take down Vecna/Henry/One themselves.
In Nevada, Eleven (Brown) has regained her psychic abilities. She decides to return to Hawkins and save her friends from Vecna/Henry/One after listening in on their plan to take him down. Dr. Brenner (Modine) tells her she is not yet ready and after incapacitating Dr. Owens (Reiser), drugs her so she can’t leave. Meanwhile in Russia, Hopper (Harbour), Joyce (Ryder), Murray (Gelman), Yuri (Đuričko), and Enzo (Wlaschiha) escape the prison after discovering several more creatures from the Upside Down locked away inside.
It turns out that splitting Stranger Things 4 into two volumes was a great plan by Netflix. Even if it was only to give them more time to finish up the VFX. Stranger Things 4 Vol. I became the most watched Netflix series of all time and ended up setting a new Nielsen Streaming record for most viewing time for a week with 7.2 billion minutes. This is around 2.2 billion more minutes than any other series. The Vol. II premiere caused Netflix to crash leaving the streamer inaccessible to many of its users for hours. This is a good sign and sets Stranger Things 5 up to be a highly anticipated final season.
While the increased episode length this season was fantastic, the final episode “The Piggyback” was a tad too long, clocking in at around 150 minutes. That’s longer than most theatrically released movies. I found myself wondering why there was so much time being taken during some scenes when they could have kept the action going. Certain plot points that were built up in Vol. I get little attention in Vol. II such as the town creating a mob to hunt down the members of the Hellfire Club and other potential victims who were going to see the school therapist.
In terms of acting, there are some truly emotional moments between the characters. Specifically, Lucas and Max and Dustin and Eddie. Caleb McLaughlin turns on the waterworks in a heartfelt scene with Sadie Sink that is so hard to watch considering all they have been through together this season. Joseph Quinn and Gaten Matarazzo also make for a brotherly duo that rivals his work with Charlie Heaton. Watching these actors grow and get better with each season is part of what makes it so good. Seeing the improvement in their acting ability and range is not something viewers can always notice.
Overall, was the most developed and interesting season of Stranger Things yet. It felt like watching a long-form movie. The villain was great, there were some interesting character arcs and surprising twists throughout. I give Stranger Things 4 Vol. II a Good 4.3/5. Combined with the Superb 5/5 of Vol. I, the overall grade for Stranger Things 4 is a Good 4.65/5! Can’t wait to see how this series finishes things off in Stranger Things 5 and how it will connect to the upcoming spinoff series. If Netflix were smart they’d keep the Duffer Brothers around for as long as possible.