*Spoiler Warning for – Stranger Things Season 4, Breaking Bad and Avengers: Endgame*
So, I finished watching Stranger Things season 4 last night and it was great. It was tense, exciting, I started crying when Eddie, brave Eddie, perished at the jaws of the ‘demobats’ and I sobbed, actually sobbed, when Max, blind and paralysed, died in Lucas’ arms. It was heart-breaking but felt narratively right. There had been build up to a main character perishing in pervious episodes, I had been guessing who it might be. Steve had already died once and come back from the dead, Nancy had already had a brush with Vecna and Robin gave a speech in episode 7, whilst making Molotov cocktails, that made me think it might be her. But it was Max, haunted and hunted by Vecna throughout the show. Learning about her tragic circumstances, watching her fight, made it all the more heart wrenching when she finally died at Vecna’shand.
Until she didn’t.
After a scene jump 2 days into the future, we Max in a coma but alive because Eleven started her heart again by piggy backing her mind from a pizza dough freezer. And I have to admit, I was disappointed.
It felt like a cop out.
Killing Eddie seemed less consequential as he was only introduced this season. Its not as bad as the 2016 Suicide Squad film bringing the character Slipknot solely to blow him up in the same scene. But it felt like the easy option. But Max, in my opinion, after all the build-up and foreshadowing, Max should have perished.
Do writers not believe in killing their darlings anymore? Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want every show to go all Game of Thrones and kill characters so often you stop caring.But stakes shouldn’t be raised and then lowered slightlybecause writers don’t want to upset the audience too much. Itsfrustrating and leaves the viewer/reader deflated.
Remember when Hank died in Breaking Bad? Or Tony Stark in Endgame? Yes it was sad, so sad, but it fit the defined stakes and added to the surviving characters stories. That’s what we need.
Now, I don’t know what is going to happen to Max in the next season of Stranger Things, but wouldn’t her dying give the characters more motivation, wouldn’t it have allowed for the story to play out in a different way if she had died?
So come on writers, don’t be afraid, kill more darlings!!
Inspired by the weirdness of a Drama and Theatre degree, Jennifer Kennet has been writing speculative fiction since graduating. She has previously had work published in Mad Scientist Journal, Astounding Outpost and Ab Terra Flash. Find her on Twitter @Jen_Kennett attempting witty commentary on film/tv amongst other things.