Major spoilers for the fourth season of Stranger Things follow.
Stranger Things season 5 will contain shorter episodes than its predecessor – and I’m glad the show’s final season isn’t another lengthy affair.
Speaking of the last episode of Podcast happy sad confused (opens in new tab)the Duffer brothers – co-creators of Stranger Things – have confirmed that season 5 won’t be as long as the latest entry in the hit Netflix show.
“The only reason we don’t wait [Season 5] being so long is because this season, if you look at it, it’s almost two hours of prep before our kids are really drawn into the supernatural mystery,” explained Matt Duffer. End of [season] 4. So he’ll be moving, I don’t know if he’ll be moving at 100 mph at the start of Season 5, but he’ll be moving pretty fast.”
That, dear reader, is music to my ears. I enjoyed Season 4 of Stranger Things – in our review, we said Season 4 was a “terror-fueled triumphant return” for the series. For the most part, Season 4’s lengthy episodes didn’t bother me either, as they were necessary for its multi-narrative approach and extensive character development, particularly for newcomers like Joe Quinn’s Eddie Munson (RIP, you wonderful metalhead).
Even so, I’m glad Stranger Things 5 is returning to the show’s roots with its shorter episodes. And there are several reasons for this.
For one, after spending the entire fourth season apart, the show’s main actors have reunited in Hawkins. If the fictional town of Indiana is the only location where Season 5 takes place, we won’t have to follow our heroes across multiple stories across multiple locations. Without a plethora of narratives to follow, Season 5’s episodic runtimes are sure to be significantly shortened.
With Season 5 set to be the final entry in the main Stranger Things show – the Duffer brothers have plans for a spin-off or two – Eleven and company (and us by proxy) are really at the endgame. The show’s fifth season will comprise the Hawkins gang’s latest stand against Vecna and other gruesome creatures from the Upside Down, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the introduction of new characters or too much in the way of character development.
And that’s okay. Season 5 of Stranger Things should be completely focused on the protagonists of the series and their fight against the Upside Down. We want to see our heroes’ stories wrapped up at the end of Season 5 in a satisfying way, with no outstanding plot when the credits roll for the last time.
Of course, Stranger Things season five needs to answer some fundamental questions from season four and even further back. Is Max still alive? Where did Vecna go? What is The Shadow exactly? How did the Upside Down become such a dark and gloomy dimension when it was a stormy wasteland when Henry Creel (i.e. Vecna) first arrived in this realm? Why is the Upside Down apparently stuck in the year 1984? Will the number eight – also known as Kali Prasad – make an appearance?
Ultimately, though, Season 5 needs an action-packed entry – namely, Hawkins’ team taking the fight to the Upside Down in an attempt to save the world – while simultaneously focusing on the core group of heroes we’ve followed since the Netflix show premiered in July 2016. Focus on this lighthearted band and Stranger Things 5 won’t need episodes that last longer than an hour. You know, aside from the long finale to Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King that the Duffer brothers are already planning for the show’s final season, according to the Happy Sad Confused podcast discussion.
By focusing on one location and following the main characters of Stranger Things, Season 5’s overarching storyline will also be tighter and more cohesive than Seasons 2, 3, and 4. This will keep the gang together and ensure they collaborate more closely. than the previous ones. seasons and allow Season 5 to evoke the tone, aesthetic, and togetherness of the show’s first season.
Yes, Stranger Things needed to evolve as a TV show to simultaneously remain relevant and fulfill the Duffer brothers’ ambitions for the story they wanted to tell. That’s why the series has become more and more expansive and creative with each passing season.
But there’s a reason why the first season of Stranger Things holds a special place in fans’ hearts. Okay, it was the right show released at the right time, but its potent blend of 80s nostalgia, original story, and talented cast (remember how good the young actors of Stranger Things were even in 2016?) wasn’t cheesy by any means, but it became a global phenomenon nonetheless. Season 5 is set to follow Season 1’s model of a smaller-scale narrative, focusing on a core group of characters as they fight to save the world from a supernatural threat and complete the series cycle. By doing so, your episodic durations will be compared to Season 1’s 45-55 minute installments rather than the longer Season 4 offerings.
Of course, the Duffer brothers may decide to write another oversized season for the show’s fifth and final entry, with the route they take being determined by the story they want to tell. Still, I can’t help but feel that a season comprised of shorter episodes would be a fitting and satisfying way to end the show’s main narrative. If that’s the choice the Duffers make, you won’t hear me complain.
For more Stranger Things-based content, check out our season 4 volume 2 final explainer. Alternatively, find out why a fan-favorite character might not be back for Season 5.