Psychic battles and darker narrative

THERE there is very little evidence to suggest that Netflix started a digital “binge-watching” culture when the streaming platform rose in popularity in the mid-2010s and when the first season was released very strange things which premiered on July 16, 2016, everything changed dramatically.

The series’ immediate popularity certainly helped elevate the culture into the universe’s stratosphere, with each successive season becoming a much-anticipated event.

With the release of the fourth season of Matt and Ross Duffer very strange things On July 1, everything changed again.

The duo, better known as the Duffer Brothers, pushed the boundaries of traditional TV series length and the idea of ​​binge-watching, with each episode in the latest season lasting well over an hour each and the last episode being less than an hour. like a modern feature film.

Gone are the days when fans would sit and binge watch an entire season very strange things in one night or a couple of days.

Volume One

Divided into two “volumes” or parts, very strange thingsIn the fourth season, the first batch of seven episodes debuted on May 27, and the last batch of two episodes debuted on July 1.

After watching the season in its entirety, it becomes clear why the season feels overblown; there’s a lot going on and almost nothing can be edited to cut any of the episodes because everything is critical to the story.

Eight months after the last episode of the third season, the main cast was split into three separate storylines that eventually intersect.

The main storyline involves (another) series of supernatural murders that begin to take place in the fictional town of Hawkins as a group consisting of Steve Harrington, Nancy Wheeler, Robin Buckley, Dustin Henderson, Max Mayfield, Lucas and Erica Sinclair try to figure out who is responsible. or the otherworldly “Upside Down”.

While it’s happening in Hawkins, a new addition to the cast, Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), is accused of murders inspired by the real-world “satanic panic” that became prevalent in America in the late ’80s.

At the opposite end of America, the second storyline takes place with Mike Wheeler, Will and Jonathan Byers, and new character Argyle (Eduardo Franco), where the group tries to find Jane Hopper/Eleven, who is elsewhere trying to get her psychic powers back. .

It doesn’t stop there. In the third storyline, Joyce Byers and Murray Bauman are all over Russia trying to rescue Jim Hopper from a Soviet prison.

As great as it was to see all those characters again, there’s just too much going on and some of the plot twists were just dragged out – like almost everything in Russia.

The first volume also introduces the season’s main villain, nicknamed Vecna, a humanoid capable of the same psychic powers as the series’ protagonist, Eleven, due to their shared past.

Volume two

By the end of the final episode of the season in Volume 2, it became easier to digest why the Duffer Brothers had chosen this particular “long-format” television story.

Episodes needed extra time to properly tell their story and flesh out characters who are either fan favorites or never got the writers’ attention in previous seasons, such as Noah Schnapp’s Will, who was always kind of “just there” in other seasons. . seasons get character development that may hint at his sexual orientation as he gets older.

Fan favorite Max also becomes a central figure in the narrative as she is stalked by the main antagonist as the character’s actress Sadie Sink really shows off her acting prowess, with one key scene featuring Max causing singer Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” to explode in popularity. . .

The creative choice to turn the story around Max also paves the way for Caleb McLaughlin to shine as Lucas Sinclair. Because both of these characters have a complicated romance, in a pivotal scene near the end, McLaughlin outdoes everyone else in the cast with a heartbreaking performance.

For new characters like Argyle and Eddie, very strange things does it again, with Eddie in particular, with what is destined to be a classic TV scene featuring Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets”.

While it may seem controversial, the choice to bring other characters and their actors to the forefront instead of the show’s protagonist, “Eleven” Millie Bobby Brown, is a welcome one because this season really proved that Brown just isn’t that great. actresses.

It will be interesting to see how the series progresses towards its final fifth season, especially since the brothers have said that when the fifth season is eventually filmed, there will be a “jump in time” to better match the actual ages of the actors. the age of their characters.

When the dust settles on what’s left of Hawkins, very strange things turns out to be some kind of epic.