Watched Stranger Things S4 Part 2

Watched Stranger Things Season 4 from

(This is all negative critique but the episodes were fine entertainment. I liked the “most metal concert of all time” and appreciated how they set up the location of El’s final battle.)

🤔 I don’t think acknowledging that something is on the nose excuses it from being on the nose. It also has a feeling of breaking the fourth wall without actually doing so by commenting on the meta of the story. But I guess they needed to pound it into our heads to set up the climax? I wanted a more completion of a character arc from the active protagonist of the climax, without prompting.

Also some really heavy-handed visual metaphor going on for the final scene. (Where’s the line between heavy-handed and effective? Maybe it needed the drama.)

A lot of the dialogue was really predictable because they lean so heavily into the tropes. When does homage descend into generic derivative? The episodes to some extent felt cobbled together of obligatory scenes and moments, trope-fated. Even who lived and died. Maybe I’m being a snob here and this is just effective storytelling 🤷‍♀️ This isn’t a show that needs nuance, it is what it is, a celebration of the 80s and horror.

But I feel like the earlier seasons had more surprises? Perhaps this is inherent to resolving a long-arc story, since you have to stop adding new stuff and work with the pieces you already have, and as viewers get to know the characters there are fewer surprises.

The Papa episode especially made me roll my eyes. I don’t need El to have a complicated relationship with Papa, he’s her abuser. Fuck him. The whole Papa storyline in this season rubs me the wrong way. I feel like there was an opportunity to subvert the heroic / chosen one trope that was lost. But I guess it’s no fun to watch a show about someone who has superpowers when they lose them.

How much is El’s arc the hero’s journey versus the heroine’s journey? This season could be “the search” phase of the heroine’s journey for El: loss of family means risk, disguise, appeal to surrogate family, visit underworld, friends provide aid. If so, the final season could be intriguing. There was a moment I could see setting up this route — but, I expect a more traditional hero’s journey.

Also not happy with who appears to be set up as the central victim for the fifth season. The character will need a lot more screen time for their arc to be clear and meaningful. I’m not a fan of the love triangle they’ve set up and am not sure how they’ll resolve it. My guess is Mr. I-want-you-to-have-my-six-babies will win, which would be a good arc for him but a fuck you to the other guy.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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