The Duffer brothers were definitely not wrong when they said that season 4 of Stranger Things is one of the darkest they have ever written. With the second half of the season said to be darker still, fans are rightfully worried for their beloved characters.
With season 4’s final episodes out and the wait for season 5 starts, now seems like a great moment to focus on emotional moments from the most recent batch of episodes. Hopefully, while there are more emotional scones yet to come, fan-favorite characters will remain safe.
It’s safe to say that Will has been through a lot throughout the show. His trauma hasn’t been dealt with as it should’ve been and he finds it harder to move on than his friends. He’s slowly become the most sidelined and underappreciated character of the show.
Nowhere is this more visible than in his relationship with Mike, his childhood best friend. Forget about the implied feelings that Will has towards him because what’s more important is the fact that Mike has not been able to reciprocate Will’s friendship ever since he started dating El. Hopefully, Mike will be able to find a balance between his friendships and his relationship in the future.
While this line is not said in an overly emotional manner, the undertone of it is exactly that. Not only has Robin had to keep her sexuality a secret in fear of being alienated by society but, until Steve, she’s had nobody to talk about it with.
Though the show is set in the 1980s, this conversation is still very valid today for a lot of people – which in and of itself is horrifically sad. Situations have obviously become better but the toll this kind of thinking and secrecy takes on a person is immense. Therefore, the emotional weight of this statement is a lot more massive than one would expect.
The always underrated Lucas and his friends have obviously always been a part of the “nerd” group of the school. They have also, unfortunately, been bullied throughout their childhood and this is something that deeply affected Lucas and he tries to change it in this season.
In his attempt to fit in with the popular group, Lucas ends up getting slightly distanced from the others which leads to a rift between him and the rest of the gang. The saddest part about this is that Lucas isn’t just doing this for himself, he’s also doing it with the hope that he will be able to change the status that his friends have in the school.
Hopper’s backstory is one of full tragedy. Not only did he lose his daughter but he also lost his wife in the process and then went on to lose El and Joyce due to him being captured by the Russians.
After spending months in a Russian prison and a failed attempt to escape which put Joyce and Murray in harm’s way, Hopper finally breaks down. This moment is hard for fans to watch because he’s never let the worst of situations get to him until now. Not only does he break down over the hopelessness of the situation but also over the thought that he is the reason everyone around him gets hurt.
Season 4 puts Max front and center in the storyline but not in the way fans expected. After Billy’s death, she’s been having a hard time moving on, as anyone would, and feels guilty about not helping him.
In one of the biggest plot twists of the show, this moment is emotionally driven because the Hawkins gang realizes that Max is in trouble, but also because they realize that she’s been suffering silently for so long and nobody knew about it. Not only has she been dealing with a lot of negative thoughts but she’s also been doing it without any support.
While Eleven moving to California with the Byers family was a good choice, unfortunately, it distanced her from two people she’s very close to, Mike and Max. Due to this – and due to an inhospitable school environment – she’s been having a hard time.
Though Joyce tries her best, El would’ve probably been better off in the company of Max because both of them are going through similar post-traumatic feelings after losing a loved one. This moment also conveys how lost a teenager can feel when it comes to mental health-related issues because it’s something that they aren’t necessarily familiar with and only know what they’ve been told.
After El gets arrested she is quickly found by Dr. Owens. Since having moved to California she’s had no positive experiences despite her best attempts. Without her powers, it’s hard for her to understand her worth and find her place in the world.
This line by Dr. Owens means so much to her because she’s reached a point where she believes that she may be a bad person. For a child who has gone through the circumstances that she has, the positive affirmation that she is, in fact, a good person is something that El desperately needed.
After finding out that she is the next victim of Vecna, Max wrote a letter to everyone who she cared about. One of these letters was written to her deceased brother Billy, whose grave she goes to so that she can read it out to him.
While she didn’t have the best relationship with her brother while he was alive, he ended up sacrificing himself to save her – something nobody expected. Due to this, not only does Max have to deal with the loss of her brother but also the guilt that she feels with it. ‘Dear Billy’ has to be one of the most emotional episodes of the entire show and Max’s character carries it with Sadie Sink giving one of the best performances of season 4.
El’s situation in the first half of season 4 is extremely brutal. While she is still coming to terms with the loss of her father, the loss of her powers, and the loss of proximity with her closest friends, she also has to deal with bullies as brutal as Angela and her gang.
After being bullied in front of Mike, El still tries to resolve the issue by politely asking Angela to make things right. Unfortunately, Angela chooses to make things worse. This is one of the most vulnerable moments that viewers have ever seen El in where she has no powers and is simply a young girl being unnecessarily bullied in a horrific manner.
Lucas and Max have always had a very tumultuous relationship but behind every fight, they have a lot of love for each other. While the season starts with them going their separate ways, it’s obvious that Lucas can see Max is going through stuff even if she doesn’t want him to know.
While the entirety of this episode is extremely emotional, this is a highlight because this is the conversation she remembers when she is on the brink of losing to Vecna. Lucas reaffirming that he is there for her is something that every human being needs from time to time because nothing works as well as knowing that someone cares about you enough to keep trying.
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Author: Ribhhya Singh