If you thought we were just getting two episodes of Stranger Things to finish out the season, you my friend were wrong. Because what we got instead were two feature-length films disguising themselves as television episodes. Chapter Eight, Papa, came in at an hour and a half while Chapter Nine, The Piggyback was well over two hours. And I’ll tell you from the start that not a single moment of that time was wasted.

Let’s discuss. 

Chapter Eight picks up right where the last one left off, with Nancy in the Upside Down as the prisoner of Vecna. 

Jamie Campbell Bower in Stranger Things

Or One.

Or Henry. 

There’s a bit of a debate over what we’re calling this creature at this point. To each their own, and please let me know in the comments which you prefer. I, personally, like Vecna and will be using that for the duration of this post.

Vecna shows Nancy that he plans to break into the real world, and destroy Hawkins. He sends her back to her friends, with instructions to tell Eleven everything she saw.

Instead, she and the whole team in Hawkins decide to go on the offensive. They load up on weapons and make a plan. 

That plan, as I’m sure you can guess, will go horribly awry.

Meanwhile Mike, Will, Johnathan and Argyle are traveling through the desert, trying to find the facility Eleven is held in. They manage to reach her just in time.

In the finale, the team in Hawkins is ready to face Vecna. Eleven and her team are too far away to reach them. Joyce, Hopper, Murry and their new Russian friends are still in, well, Russia. So there’s no chance they’ll be back in time. 

Until both teams get creative. 

Priah Ferguson as Erica in Stranger Things.

Argyle comes through with a place for Eleven to go into a sensory deprivation tank and phase into Max’s head to help her out. 

In Russia, the grown ups use the open gate to attack the hive mind Vecna’s a part of. Hopper’s plan, and it turned out to be a good one, was to weaken everything in the Upside Down enough to give the kids a fighting chance. 

I don’t suppose it’s spoiling anything to tell you that the season ends with a stalemate. It should also not surprise you that not all of our heroes make it out of this one. 

I will say that this season wasn’t as shocking as some others. Most of it was fairly predictable. But it’s predictable in such a way that’s satisfying. Everything I wanted to happen happened. And I’m left with the feeling that season five is going to be explosive.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)