‘Stranger Things’ lowers the stakes even more.
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4. Like many of you, I spent this weekend watching the final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4. And I have to admit, when I got to the end, I was like, “What the hell just happened?”
Max (Sadie Sink) got caught in the clutches of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). Her bones cracked, her eyes turned white and she began to bleed. When Vecna was finally (albeit temporarily) defeated, they let Max go, but she was alive. She was talking to Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). I thought that maybe she would be seriously broken, maybe she would be blind, but she would be alive. But then she died. And I was sad. I love Max. But I knew someone had to die in Stranger Things, and it couldn’t just be Eddie (Joseph Quinn).
Then Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) walked in and decided she couldn’t let Max die. I don’t know what kind of voodoo she did, but somehow, Eleven managed to bring Max back to life. Even if the poor girl is still in a coma, she’s not dead. And she wishes they had let Max die.
I didn’t want Max to die. But unless they have a damn good reason for her not to die, I don’t see any reason for her to live.
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First, it denies the show’s need for someone to die. The Duffer Brothers seem to have a bad habit of introducing characters at the beginning of a season only to kill them off at the end, while our main characters survive season after season. It takes some of the danger out of things, especially in an age where we’re used to characters dying at any given time. When you have characters facing this level of danger every second of every episode, it seems a bit disingenuous that no one escapes unscathed.
Second, it gives Eleven dangerous new abilities that are unnecessarily powerful. Can he bring anyone back to life? That is such a lazy way of doing things. In a supernatural show, you can keep any character close; just keep them “alive” in another dimension, or as a demon, or a ghost, or whatever. There are a million ways to do it. But to magically bring them back to life takes zero imagination and zero work. Next season, will Max wake up from her coma feeling refreshed?
And what happens when the gang has their next run-in with Vecna/the Mindflayer/whatever comes out of the Upside Down? If Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is “killed” next, will Eleven just resurrect him? Will he keep practicing until he no longer has that annoying “coma” step and can automatically bring them back to life?
Eleven is quite powerful as it is. She can enter people’s minds. She has telekinesis. She’s sassy (this isn’t a superpower; it’s just badass girl power). Does she need to add necromancy to her powers? She feels unnecessary.
Again, I have to repeat this: I love Max and I don’t want him to die. However, his near death and Eleven’s unreasonable new powers made this season feel underwhelming.
Stranger Things Season 4 Vol II is now streaming on Netflix.