[SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 2 — last chance to turn back!]
With a body count, devastation in Hawkins, and far more questions than answers, the finale of Stranger Things 4 has been nothing short of bleak. It’s not an unexpected shift — and some might even welcome the angst — but for fans of Max and Eddie (which is all of us), the journey was harsh, unforgiving, and filled with pain.
According to series creators Matt and Ross Duffer, the emotional roller coaster was all part of the plan that found inspiration in an apt 1980s source: Star Wars. The duo tapped into the cliffhanger ending at the midpoint of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and attempted to recreate that effect with the final stretch of the series.
“We always have wanted to do an Empire Strikes Back ending which we tried to do with [Season 4]. Where it’s the sense of loss,” said Matt. With the demise of Dr. Owens (Paul Resier) and Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), alongside the new fan-favourite Eddie (Joseph Quinn), there was indeed plenty of that to go around in the finale of Stranger Things 4. Max’s comatose state is also reminiscent of Han Solo’s carbonite-frozen state in The Empire Strikes Back.
As for Hawkins, the town bears some resemblance to the shattered state of the Rebel Alliance at the end of the Star Wars movie. “We knew we wanted to end with spores falling in Hawkins,” Matt shared. “I don’t remember how early in the process [we wanted that], but pretty early in the process. Like I said, we were very much inspired by Empire Strikes Back, that ending where they’re looking out the window.
“We knew we wanted to end on the backs of our characters as they’re looking out towards this dark supernatural plume that was spitting out these spores all over their town as they’re facing this evil, that has not retreated, but very much coming in an aggressive way into their town. We wanted to hand at the notion of war, and a supernatural war coming to Hawkins.”
While the story of Season 5 of Stranger Things is still being worked out, the high-stakes, all-out final battle will most definitely be one of the most-anticipated developments. The good news is that each episode won’t be as long as those in Season 4, barring the finale.