Stranger Things Season 4: KnigaWorm Review


This is a quite a polarizing season for me… I watched the whole thing without taking notes (though not in one sitting, I’m too old for marathons, lol), which is very unusual for me since I like to make my notes, but here I wanted to force myself to get immersed in a show, though my note-taking hand was itching. And surprisingly, I remember quite a lot which won’t last long, so let’s just get into it.

Before watching Season 4 I rewatched all the previous seasons (thank you, vacation time!) since my memory sucks and I always need a refresher. And I didn’t even comment much as I was watching – Stranger Things is not a show that I like to make commentary on, apparently. Although I yelled at the screen quite a bit, but since I don’t make video commentary only my neighbors heard it. Anyway, maybe when I rewatch four seasons before Season 5 (which comes out in 2024 so you know I’m gonna need another refresher) I might make a commentary. Just overall, I do love this show even if Season 3 was getting on my nerves with the abundance of storylines and characters, some of which have sadly transitioned into Season 4, so we can start with the most annoying recurring storyline…

THE SOVIET STORYLINE – yes, surprising as it may be, the Soviet storyline is my least favorite. Although it does give me strange pleasure (especially in the current political climate) to watch non-Russian actors torture themselves with our mighty Russian language, and it’s a genuine pleasure to see so many actual Russian actors onscreen. And Murray remains a delight with his impressively good Russian and great comedic timing. But… this is as far as the delight goes. I just don’t get the point of this storyline apart from making a too on the nose commentary on the Soviets vs Americans rivalry. At least if the Soviets had made a startling discovery during their Demogorgon experiments, or contributed to the plot in any other meaningful way. But as it stands, all this storyline did was give Hopper a makeover. And this storyline further pulled the characters apart (again, I don’t get the point of this either, we know how well the characters work together, so why this insistence on pulling them into different storylines all the time?!). Sure, we got a long-awaited Hopper-Joyce kiss but it was not even worth it. Especially since this whole thing made Joyce act completely irrationally, picking this suicide mission over her kids. Which is so not Joyce! Speaking of Joyce…

BYERS IN CALIFORNIA – Without mentioning Elle (I know that’s not how you spell her name, but I like it better this way, so bear with me) there’s not much left to say about this particular storyline. Jonathan and Will don’t have much to do this season and the so-called heart of the operation, Mike (only a hopelessly in love Will could have called Mike that) was also pretty useless. I mean sure, technically they did some stuff – they hung out with Elle, they watched Elle get in trouble, they lost Elle, they went looking for Elle, they found Elle, they helped Elle with the salt bath… you see what I’m getting at here? Without Elle there is no reason for them to exist on the show. I will add bonus points for Jonathan’s permanently stoned friend but that’s about it.

THE ORIGINAL PARTY – in the very first episode we see that not only Will has left the party for California, but also Lucas has left the party for a chance to become a popular jock. And once Mike goes to visit Elle in California Dustin is the only one of the party remaining in Hawkins. Sure, we also get introduced to Hellfire Club and its fearless leader Eddie… yeah, about Eddie. I don’t like him. Wait, before you throw pitchforks at me, think about it – Eddie is such a character character, you know? Like, he’s specifically designed to be a fan favorite and I hate that. Sure, people like him exist, but not so much like him. It’s especially obvious with his final Hero’s Guitar Solo and Hero’s Death. We do get a similar scene for Hopper fighting the Demogorgon with a D&D sword (btw, if Demogorgons are so easy to kill, how come Elle almost died killing just one of them in Season 1?) but at least we’ve known and loved Hopper since Season 1 so he gets a pass. Anyway, the remaining member of the part, Dustin, also doesn’t have very much to do this season, but you know who does get a lot to do?…

OLDER TEENS I’ve been calling them that since Season 1 so just go with it. I have three favorite storylines in Season 4 and the Older Teens are one of them. And here by Older Teens I mean Nancy, Steve, and Robin. Nancy’s character evolution is my favorite of the whole show. She is a real girl-boss and not in a forced, obnoxious way, but in an actually earned way. Her final battle is the culmination of her character arc and it’s so bad-ass, and no, not because FIRE! EXPLOSIONS! GUNS! Steve has also come a long way from his bratty self of Season 1 and I love that he hasn’t regressed to that old self – Lucas should learn from Steve about the uselessness of that high school popularity. I’ve enjoyed Robin from her first appearance but she was a bit two-dimensional in Season 3, so I’m glad that we got much more complexity from her this season. All in all, the best trio of Hawkins! They have single-handedly (almost) saved Max and Hawkins from termination. Speaking of which, we move on to my favorite storyline number two…

MAX – oh my red-haired love! It killed me that Max was the one who was sacrificed at the altar of Vecna, but I also know why it had to be Max – to make us suffer more (and the Duffer brothers love to make us suffer!). Billy’s death was such a huge tragedy for her that it nearly destroyed her, which is what made Vecna grab on to her with his disgusting tentacles of doom. And even though I’ve seen those images of Max levitating I had no idea why she was doing that. I thought the Season 3 storyline of demon possession was continuing but boy, I was wrong. I was very wrong. You know what else is very wrong? The way that Vecna kills people. It’s definitely the most gruesome way of killing that we’ve seen on this show, and we’ve seen a bunch of sick shit. But this particular way is so painful, sadistic, horrible… I wish they had just let Max die, honestly, despite how much I love her. Cause keeping her alive with these injuries is inhumane. I hope that she will have a significant role to play in Season 5 and not just that Elle couldn’t let her best friend die. Speaking of the one and only…

ELLE And of course Papa and Vecna, don’t worry. Oh Elle… the Duffers like to make you suffer the most. You can’t have a normal teenage life at the new school – the fucking disgusting bully Angela should be lucky that Elle didn’t have her powers and she only has to live with the scar from that roller blade. Elle can take care of herself even without her powers. And she was so adorable with her Mormon clothes, and her diorama of Hopper’s cabin, and her love for Mike. But of course nothing good lasts forever, and she was quickly returned to her buzz cut (impressive wig, btw), hospital gowns… and Papa. Oh how I loathe him. I am quite disappointed in Good Doctor whose last name I forgot for reaching out to Papa, although in Good Doctor’s defense that was the last resort and he genuinely wanted to help Elle and he was worried that they were doing more harm to her than good, and he did try to take her out of the facility… So, Good Doctor is kind of forgiven. But the ugly disgusting monster that is Papa will never be forgiven for all the horrors that he had inflicted on Elle, on the other special kids, on Hawkins and by extension on humanity itself. Elle hit him good with the speech about how his obsession with One and relentless pursuit of his sadistic goals had caused all the deaths and devastation. And sure, physically it was Elle who created Vecna, but the true mastermind and driving force was Papa. In fact, I am disappointed that it wasn’t Vecna who got the honor of killing Papa, but at least Papa is finally dead and that’s all that matters.

And now to the man of the hour – Vecna. Yes, that is his real name since he had always been the demon that he ended up becoming. I was quite surprised at the unveiling of this whole storyline. Sadly, since the casting of Vecna was not a secret, I knew that the kind nurse was not to be trusted. But I thought that Vecna was an ancient demon who took the form of a human to try and lure Elle to the dark side. I was not expecting the Creel child to end up becoming Vecna by Elle’s hand. That was so impressive and scary! And we saw the emergence of the Upside Down, or at least the emergence of Vecna’s version of the Upside Down, as it is really an ethereal plain that can be molded by particular demons (at least that’s how I understood it).

I love that we finally have an actual concrete villain for the show (apart from Papa) and not some goo or dust. Vecna is… cool. Yes, I said it, I love villains, give me a break. I especially love unapologetic villains who don’t need redeeming arcs and who are just bad because they’re bad. And I love that despite everyone’s best efforts Vecna still won this round and opened a portal to hell and we’re all living in the Upside Down now!

Seriously, how are we gonna get out of this one? And how are we supposed to wait two more years to see Season 5?! I know, I know, they need time to film their masterpiece but still… Let’s just hope an actual apocalypse doesn’t happen and we all live to see Season 5. And there better be some heart-wrenching deaths in Season 5! No more messing around, bringing people back from the dead. At least Will has got to go – he’s been living on borrowed time since Season 2. And maybe even Elle, if it gets to the “one cannot live while the other survives” type of confrontation with Vecna. We shall see…

And this is exactly why I need to write stuff down and talk stuff out! Now I know that this season was not polarizing for me, it was just a lot to take in, but really it was awesome, definitely better than Season 3 and possibly my favorite?… Nah, the favorite is still Season 1, but this is a close second.

4 thoughts on “Stranger Things Season 4: KnigaWorm Review

  1. I feel like Season 4 has grown more ‘adult’, and they’ve done away with the kiddy vibes from Season 1. I like the series anyway though. You bring up some great points, and I found myself not liking the the Soviet storyline either. To me, most of the quests this time around felt a little random. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I agree that the show and the characters have grown so much, the vibe is almost completely different. Still, it feels like the same show, just evolving. And that’s not easy to do on shows which rely on a certain formula to keep the fans happy. I’m so glad that the creators of Stranger Things are not afraid of changing!

      1. Can’t wait for Season 5!

        Also, as a Malaysian, I’m proud to understand the meaning of your domain name at first glance. Used to listen to those ‘Learn Russian’ audiotapes for fun. Couldn’t learn much as it’s a hard language, but I definitely know the word for book! Lol.

      2. Wow, that’s impressive! Russian really is a difficult language so we appreciate it when people from different countries try to learn it!

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