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Stranger Things: Too Old For This


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I've watched episodes 1 and 2. I enjoyed it, agreed with it being more intense 

Spoiler

Although maybe in a different way this season, it seems more intense psychological horror followed by gore which is particularly unsettling for me 

They've managed to make Eleven look so much like a younger Joyce.

I do not care about Jonathan at all

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1 hour ago, Corvinus85 said:

The end of episode 4 was intense. I like that music seems to play a larger role, as the soundtrack and the song choices have been great.

Yeah, we just finished episode 4 and that was very strong. The soundtrack has been amazing, both the contemporary music choices and also the original score feels like it's particularly great this season. 

11 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I do not care about Jonathan at all

My biggest disappointment is that they have so far just made him into a total stoner. His stoner buddy Argyle is all right, but Jonathan seems completely lost behind a fog of pot. Hoping that as things progress he'll start to get the fumes out of his head.

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It feels like Jonathan's undergone some major character regression. In Season 3 he was the sensible, level-headed one looking out for his mum and younger brother and his girlfriend and had his shit together. In Season 4 he's just a total pothead and has lost the plot. Maybe if they played up the angle that all these kids should really have major, major PTSD, but they're not really doing that beyond Will, Eleven and Max. Will still doesn't have anything interesting going on.

Not feeling the episode lengths, it doesn't feel like any of the eps have warranted being this long. Episode 3 was the tightest, and non-coincidentally was the shortest.

Hopper in Russia with Jaqen H'Ghar is really weird and it feels far too strange to really be associated with the rest of the show. Hopefully when Hopper reunites with the gang in the States he'll have recovered from whatever mental illness he was suffering from in Season 3 that made him unbearable.

Max is probably the MVP this season. Exceptional performance by the actress. The Dustin/Steve bromance feels like it's run its course and is being oversold at this point, but still amusing. Tying in the Satanic Panic over D&D to the main plot is clever, but a little late by this point (it was really over by 1984, let alone 1986, but with minor flare-ups afterwards until AD&D's 2nd Edition removed the more contentious monsters in 1989).

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Spent most of the day on the show and had a pretty good time, though I agree that it's running very long for what it is. The actors for the kids all look way too old but I guess that can't be helped.

4 hours ago, Corvinus85 said:

The end of episode 4 was intense. I like that music seems to play a larger role, as the soundtrack and the song choices have been great.

This leads me in to one of my main takeaways from this binge.... I don't actually know what happened at the end of that episode, or in any particular episode - it's all disappeared into the blur of the binge and honestly that's pretty sad. I really don't like it when shows drop (mostly) all at once like this - I have enough time and little enough impulse control that I will binge but it really takes away from the experience for me. I really like having time to digest each episode and chat about them on boards like this, but instead it's already burned through and I don't have much to say because yeah I just binged through it all.

Spoiler

The horror elements didn't really touch me much, except the scenes where Eleven is being bullied which were far more horrifying in their realism than any CGI eldrich abomination ever could be.

 

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11 hours ago, Poobah said:

Spent most of the day on the show and had a pretty good time, though I agree that it's running very long for what it is. The actors for the kids all look way too old but I guess that can't be helped.

This leads me in to one of my main takeaways from this binge.... I don't actually know what happened at the end of that episode, or in any particular episode - it's all disappeared into the blur of the binge and honestly that's pretty sad. I really don't like it when shows drop (mostly) all at once like this - I have enough time and little enough impulse control that I will binge but it really takes away from the experience for me. I really like having time to digest each episode and chat about them on boards like this, but instead it's already burned through and I don't have much to say because yeah I just binged through it all.

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The horror elements didn't really touch me much, except the scenes where Eleven is being bullied which were far more horrifying in their realism than any CGI eldrich abomination ever could be.

 

Spoiler

Actually yes, those scenes where El was being bullied really bother me a lot more than the rest of it, moreso than in other shows I've watched where that kind of thing happens (and often much worse). I should try to unpack that i guess.

I watched another two episodes last night/this morning (this is a lot more TV than I have consumed in one go for a long time). I definitely agree the episodes are too long and a lot of fat could be cut. A few more general thoughts:

Spoiler

Everything with Hopper in Russia and Joyce in Alaska  bores me to tears.

Once again, why is Jonathan here?

My muscles ache from the mental gymnastics required for this season - Nancy getting onto a secure ward for an interview with an ostensibly murderous and mentally unstable patient? Nancy causally being waved into the scene of an active crime and being allowed to speak openly with the owner of the murder site? Hopper, having been tortured and working in a Labour camp and with a mutilated foot for who knows how long having the strength to overcome not one but two armed guards, one of whom too [i]him[/i] by surprise? A casual shootout, in a seemingly wealthy neighbourhood in Lenora where neighbours were side eyeing Joyce for breaking open a doll in the garden, with zero screaming or people rushing out to see wtf is happening? Causal visits to a school counseler's private address for a quick chat, some light thievery and pointed questions about the young woman ho was just murdered (no follow up).

Honestly they could just focus on Eleven and the Hawkins story for me. I have no interest in the other scenes.

Max as a character and also the actress who portrays her are the highlights of this season so far as I am concerned.

@Poobah, episode 4 ends with Max Running up that Hill to escape Vecna's lair through the magic of Kate Bush.

I don't know how everything will conclude but its still an enjoyable enough show to stick with.

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Posted (edited)

Finished the volume. It was enjoyable, the tension was great as I truly felt this time around that at least one major character could die. I do agree that they could have trimmed some things down. A lot of it is in part because of how they chose to end the previous season, and in part because of adding so many characters to the story which needed their own time.

Spoiler

The Hopper-Joyce plot is the weakest and dumbest. It would have been better served if that's where the government got involved and sent a special forces team to extract Hop, instead of frowny face Joyce & newly made karate master Murray. I feel that much of the rest of the season will still have these characters do their own thing until another teary-eyed reunion at the end.

The other two plots are good, apart from Jonathan's regression as has been mentioned and needing to accept a few silly things. Also, I'm not quite warmed up to Eddie, but if it was just him it would have been fine. Instead we also have the basketball douches and now a vigilante mob. I do hope the parents get involved more, as the show seemed to head that way. At least we wouldn't need to bring in even more unknowns. Mr. Wheeler continues to be funny.

Bringing back Matthew Modine was not bad as we at least got a complete pictures of the Hawkins Lab experiments. I also like the villain, and a good casting choice there. I knew right away that he was One/Vecna. That monologue at the end was kinda long, though, and the only reason why the final episode was much longer than the rest.

Edit: also what the hell did they do to Robin?

Spoiler

They upped the sass and silly blabbering and lowered the intelligence.

 

Edited by Corvinus85
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Finished. I really do feel, with others, that some of the characters like Jonathan and Robin are being made more trope-y and less fully formed than they were in the past. This has already happened to Joyce, as I think others have noted. It kind of seems to be a shorthand for "Lets backseat these characters, so we'll just stick to two or three well-established traits to characterize them when they are present." Shame.

But loved the music, really loved the reveal toward the end as well

Spoiler

That the orderly was 001, I figured. That he was going to go Kid Miracleman on the Hawkins Lab dawned slowly... but that he was Creel's son/Vecna, that one got me by surprise [I should have realized with the coma bit, but got distracted just then and didn't dwell on it]

The way he explained how Brenner set out to find more like him... I got rather creepy vibes that he might well be the biological father of some of the kids, through artificial insemination. We seem to know Eleven isn't his, and Kali was kidnapped from London at 5...

 

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Posted (edited)

Well somehow I binged through this despite what I previously said!

I standby my comments on cutting everything that wasn't El or Hawkins, I have no interest in those plotlines.

Spoiler

I agree with you both that there was a lot of character regression for characters that weren't in the spotlight, it was especially noticeable with Robin and Jonathan but I think it was felt across the board. And where there wasn't regression the characters were just non-entities (which I prefer, tbh).

I liked the ending, and I did wonder when we learned about the family because I caught that he said his son slipped into a coma. I didn't guess he was 001 but I thought it was strange. I think the reveal of who Vecna is was a good place to conclude volume I narratively, however it does leave: 

Nancy in the grips of Vecna's curse, and

Hopper, Joyce and Jaqen h'gar in the middle of a Russian prison with no reasonable way out. I suspect the way out of this will irritate me to no end.

@Corvinus85 the monologue was more than kinda long it was neverending. That was frustrating to watch. And for all the monologue was so long you'd think we might learn something new (what he showed his mother for example) but it was all just things we'd heard already.

Also 001's motives were...poorly thought out and didn't make a lot of sense.

Question, about the final episode

Spoiler

What was the point of Nancy's house/bedroom being stuck in 1983? And why was that weird "we're in the past" even there when we find out not five minutes later actually no, you are in the present because you are interacting with Dustin and the lights in the present. That seemed very strange so anyone got any ideas? Seems like something that should easily have been picked up if it was just an error in the script.

 

Also where did the government agent go that moved Eddie's uncle? Did she see the opening gate and just think yeah, let's leave that unattended, what could go wrong?

There's a lot of complaints above but ultimately I did find this entertaining, clearly, since I've gone through the entire thing already 

Edited by HelenaExMachina
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1 hour ago, HelenaExMachina said:

 

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What was the point of Nancy's house/bedroom being stuck in 1983? And why was that weird "we're in the past" even there when we find out not five minutes later actually no, you are in the present because you are interacting with Dustin and the lights in the present. That seemed very strange so anyone got any ideas? Seems like something that should easily have been picked up if it was just an error in the script

 

Spoiler

I'm not certain but I think it's supposed to be an explanation of why the upside-down looks like a mirror of Hawkins, and/or some clue about a link to Will, since it's apparently an exact copy of how things were the day he disappeared. Was there ever any explanation of how he ended up there back in season 1? It was a long time ago and I don't really remember. 

 

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1 hour ago, HelenaExMachina said:

 

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Question, about the final episode

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What was the point of Nancy's house/bedroom being stuck in 1983? And why was that weird "we're in the past" even there when we find out not five minutes later actually no, you are in the present because you are interacting with Dustin and the lights in the present. That seemed very strange so anyone got any ideas? Seems like something that should easily have been picked up if it was just an error in the script

Yes, I have a theory

Spoiler

I never 100% bought that the Upside Down was a mirror universe of ours. The only way it could have been maybe if it was a dimension operating on a different frequency but it just didn't feel that way what with the physical gates and the creatures that then are fully visible when they cross over. (Even though season 1 strongly hinted at this, but later less so)

So my theory is that the UD was an unformed universe that "mirrored" Hawkins only once it got a permanent connection through the gate opened by El in 1983. I bet that if you walk far enough away from Hawkins, that all you encounter is a wild landscape. If you look at the end, when 001 falls through it, it looks like he's falling through a primordial universe.

 

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I'm up to the end of episode four. This feels like the best season of Stranger Things since the first, and a huge improvement over Season 3. They've done a great job upping the horror factor and the emotional intensity of the series. This last episode (Dear Billy) was especially strong.

Like pretty much everyone, though, I agree that each episode is too long. Some plotlines are also clearly just better than others. I've never been able to stand Jonathan, so it doesn't bother me that he's become a stoner. But Murray is really trying my patience with his overacting, and I'm not excited for

Spoiler

The road trip of the C team to Hawkins.

Also did we really need to add more complications to Hopper's escape from the Soviet Union? Just let him and Joyce go and get him back to the main cast, already. This show goes overboard on its side plots, sometimes, and everything with the Russians has always felt ridiculous. Though thankfully Hopper is a lot less irritating now than he was in Season 3, though that may change once he starts having real dialogue again.

 

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Just read the actress that plays Chrissy, Grace Van Dien, is the daughter of Casper Van Dien, Starship Trooper's Rico.   Maya Hawke is of course the daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.  Are there other actors in the show with actor parents?

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On 5/25/2022 at 7:07 PM, Werthead said:

So they flashed back to when Eleven was eight? I'm guessing some CG/deepfake stuff was used to de-age Millie Bobby Brown (who is now 18), but it looks pretty good.

I think that was actually another young actress which I'm sure you've probably already learned by now. I did enjoy the visual of older El looking into a mirror and seeing young El

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35 minutes ago, HelenaExMachina said:

I think that was actually another young actress which I'm sure you've probably already learned by now. I did enjoy the visual of older El looking into a mirror and seeing young El

IIRC, they had a young actress, yes, but her face/head was replaced with a de-aged Millie Bobbie Brown. Which is why there was a slight uncanny valley effect around it, it wasn't 100% there but most of the way.

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https://www.looper.com/880445/stranger-things-vecna-has-yet-another-pop-culture-inspiration-apparently/

Quote

The Duffer Brothers have been open about the movies and characters that inspired them when they were making "Stranger Things 4." In a trailer breakdown for IGN, for instance, the "Stranger Things" creators revealed that they were inspired by Freddy Krueger, Pinhead, and Pennywise from "It" when they were thinking about the role Vecna would serve in the show's fourth season.

However, it turns out that the character was also inspired by the Night King from HBO's "Game of Thrones." In fact, that's why the Duffer Brothers decided to hire renowned Hollywood make-up artist Barrie Gower and his prosthetics company, BGFX, to create Vecna for "Stranger Things 4." Gower famously won three Primetime Emmy awards for his make-up work on "Game of Thrones" (via IMDb) and was the man responsible for the design of the Night King's prosthetics on that show.

 

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