6 Things We Loved (and 5 We Didn't) About Stranger Things Volume 4 Part 2

6 Things We Loved (and 5 We Didn't) About Stranger Things Volume 4 Part 2

With season five on the horizon... someday... we've got plenty of time to let the Netflix series' most recent installment sink in.

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We did it, my dudes. We got through Stranger Things season four, which took almost as long to arrive as it did to watch. io9 already had a lively roundtable discussing the ins and outs of season four’s second installment, but we also wanted to break down our favorite (and least-favorite) parts of volume two.

Do you agree? Share your own highlights and lowlights in the comments! (And check out our similar slideshow for season four’s first volume.) If you haven’t watched yet, be warned: spoilers incoming.

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Loved: Eddie

Loved: Eddie

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He spent most of volume one in hiding, but “Eddie the Banished” kicked serious ass in volume two. Whether he’s donning a Michael Myers mask to hot-wire an RV, defending Iron Maiden as truly great music, being the coolest older brother figure Dustin will ever know (sorry, Steve), or shredding “Master of Puppets” to distract the Upside Down’s prodigious bat population—Eddie was the best. RIP to the MVP.

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Loved: The Killer Production Values

Loved: The Killer Production Values

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Volume one was gory and gorgeous—particularly episode seven, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab”—and volume two kept that cinematic feel going, packing in enough eye candy (the cinematography! The sets and settings! The jaw-dropping special effects!) to make us understand why season five, which will presumably be bigger in every way, secured a $30 million-per-episode price tag.

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Loved: Joyce and Hopper

Loved: Joyce and Hopper

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We know they’ve been sweet on each other for some time, but in volume two they finally, finally locked lips at last. Hopefully Enzo’s survived the apocalyptic events of episode nine so they can finally have their damn dinner date.

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Loved: Will’s Confession

Loved: Will’s Confession

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Will’s big speech about how he perceives Eleven’s feelings for Mike (which were also rather obviously about Will’s feelings for Mike) was as subtle, emotionally nuanced, and beautifully acted as Stranger Things has ever been. “Without heart we’d all fall apart,” indeed.

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Loved: Steve and Robin’s Friendship

Loved: Steve and Robin’s Friendship

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They didn’t quite have a moment that topped season three’s coming-out scene, but the Steve-Robin friendship continues to be a reliable source of Stranger Things joy. They both just want the best for each other, particularly when it comes to their frustrating love lives. (That said, Steve’s renewed pursuit of Nancy felt a little heavy-handed and a bit ill-timed, perhaps?)

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Loved: The Big Team Energy of the Big Plan

Loved: The Big Team Energy of the Big Plan

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There were some obvious screenwriting mechanics at play in the way that everyone—the kids in Hawkins, Eleven and her crew, and the adults in Russia—all came up with plans that ended up working in concert in the fight against Vecna. But the “mind fight” was still a clever (and mostly satisfying) way to bring together characters who were so geographically spread out throughout the season.

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Didn’t Love: Jason

Didn’t Love: Jason

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Clearly, we were supposed to hate this witch hunt-leading jock douchebag. But—unlike season two and three’s Billy, a baddie who actually evolved a bit—Stranger Things never found the time to make Jason an interesting villain; he was introduced as an asshole in volume one and only served to monkey-wrench the anti-Vecna plan in volume two. And he was one-note until the end.

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Didn’t Love: Wasting Argyle

Didn’t Love: Wasting Argyle

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He supplied the getaway van in volume one; in volume two he tapped into his Surfer Boy connection to hook Eleven up with a makeshift sensory deprivation tank. That’s pretty much it! Sure, there was little bit of stoner-adjacent comic relief sprinkled around the edges, but this (otherwise extremely likable) character appears to have been created almost entirely so that the plot could make use of his pizza perks.

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Didn’t Love: Vecna Didn’t Have Any New Tricks

Didn’t Love: Vecna Didn’t Have Any New Tricks

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You’d think the big bad introduced in volume one would whip out some new horrors for the big battle, but he kind of just growled threats, guilt-tripped Eleven, and violently tentacled his way through volume two, too. Hopefully in season five (because you know he’ll be back) he’ll have some fresh moves.

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Didn’t Love: Russia

Didn’t Love: Russia

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This was the least interesting, least propulsive subplot across season four by far, even including Joyce and Hopper’s tender reunion (Hopper with a flamethrower was also very sweet, but in a different way). They break out of prison. They break back into prison. They argue with Yuri. They take forever tinkering with the helicopter. And by the time they get to their monster fight, the kids have already been fighting other monsters for like 45 minutes elsewhere in the story. Shrug.

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Didn’t Love: The Length

Didn’t Love: The Length

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Considering that there’s a fifth and final season on the way, it was difficult to get hyped for a two-and-a-half hour season finale, knowing that the stakes weren’t quite as high as they will be next time we see these characters. (Stranger Things is not going to kill off Eleven, probably ever, but you know she’s gonna make it through season four.) Of course there’s no rule that you had to watch episodes eight and nine in one sitting. But we felt entirely obligated to power through... and also felt entirely exhausted, much like the battered Hawkins survivors, when it was all over. Didn’t you?


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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