Stranger Things volume two disappoints long-term fans

Rachel Mackey, Staff Writer

It’s been almost three months since Stranger Things Season 4: Vol. 2 has come out and it’s as relevant as ever. Opinions have been mixed just about everywhere, and yet, a simple truth still remains: Stranger Things is not what it once was, and it’s possible that Vol. 2 was a turn for the worse. (Spoilers, of course, for those who haven’t seen it. But seriously, catch up!)
When the show came out in 2016, it was revered for its “small-town rag-tag gangly group of kids” vibe. Most commonly compared to The Goonies (1985), the plot was world-ending, but the setting was small. These characters were simply regular people who had just happened to stumble into a supernatural mess. However, by the time we hit season four, half of the group is in Indiana, while the other half is split between California and Alaska. This blocks possibilities for interesting character interactions and forces a sort of disconnection from the plot. It doesn’t help that the most interesting plotline was always in Indiana with most of the cast. How is the audience supposed to care about the Alaskan plotline when all it is just Joyce, Hopper, and Murray running around a prison for multiple episodes? A nation-wide plot forced the show to lose its once quiet charm that it had back in Hawkins.
Season four also chose to ignore characters who were once extremely relevant, if not close to being the main characters- Mike, Jonathan, and Will most obviously. Their plotline was reduced to simply finding El, which quickly became very dragged out and boring. The most interesting part of their characters for the whole season was Will and Mike’s dynamic after being separated for so long.
However, it’s easy to admit there were likable parts. Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp all took the gold for acting abilities. Schnapp’s infamous “Van Scene” was personal and mournful and Sink and McLaughlin also provided a somber death scene, which is still heart wrenching to watch. The overall concept and execution of the Indiana plotline with Vecna was, admittedly, really good – it’s just the other plotlines that sort of ruin that.
While Stranger Things Season 4: Volume 2 was not the worst season, it really can’t claim to be the best, either. But things are looking up – the whole cast is already reunited in Indiana for season five. Hopefully the directors will give the audience a wonderful goodbye to a beloved show in 2024.