When the master of horror drama storytelling tells you something is “off”, you immediately take note. Stephen King has recently launched into a Twitter commentary against Netflix’s Stranger Things Season 4. He had quite a few criticisms to rally against the storytelling technique and release structure of the latest season of the series. The reply that comes from the Stranger Things writers’ room makes it look like they too might somewhat agree with the author. However, it has also been said that the uneven release was due to the unfinished storyline of Volume 2. Although this looks like more than a sound reason for a delayed part 2 release, there might be more to the story.
Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 1 Structure
The latest season of the flagship series was released in two parts. This might be chalked up to the runtime of the Season 4 grand finale which is reported to be a whopping 2 hours and 19 minutes. However, the two-part release might infringe upon the whole branding style of Netflix which usually is about binge-watching.
Moreover, Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 1 had an entire storyline mapped out in itself. The season could have ended with episode 7, i.e. “Massacre at the Hawkins Laboratory” if the producers had decided to do so. The season had the new villain Vecna’s horrific and extraordinary introduction, flashbacks into Eleven’s backstory, revelations about Vecna’s origin, his identity, his motive, and finally the battle between 011 and 001. Not to mention, the reunion of Hopper and Joyce. All of it sounds like more than enough to satisfactorily tie up the season in a neat ending.
Is the Two-Part Release of Season 4 a Strategic Move?
As is the case with Hollywood and several streaming juggernauts, they tend to stretch out and bask in the success of a holy grail for longer than necessary. The series should have tied up where it ended with episode 7’s massacre. It was a perfectly good ending with just the right amount of action, build-up, revelations, team-ups, and suspense. With the content that Vol. 1 leaves behind, what is now Vol. 2 of Stranger Things Season 4 could have been made into a whole other season by the Duffer Brothers.
However, the streaming platform took quite a hit in the recent past as it lost a substantial number of subscribers. And logic suggests the launch pattern may have something to do with the loss in viewership. The division of the season into two and release of the second part a whole month later might be a glaringly obvious attempt at gaining and retaining those numbers. With stock prices plummeting beyond recognition, the streaming platform might have resorted to stretching out the release structure of the series to build up anticipation and have fans waiting for a month before a proper grand finale.
Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2 releases on July 1, 2022.