Listing all the things that are wrong stranger thingsSeason 4 would probably last as long as you watch it – in other words, forever.
But even more than its clumsy performances (aside from the consistently charismatic Joe Keery), its appalling haircuts, its disappointing mythological reconnection, its bleak romances, and its all-encompassing narrative expanse – culminating in a finale where the suspense dies by a thousand cuts – there’s a rock bottom for this oversized take on the Duffer Brothers’ Netflix hit, and it includes an insufferable new character, an ’80s rock classic, and a scene that will forever live in the infamy of heavy metal poseurdom.
I’m talking, of course, about Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), season four’s most prominent addition, and his upside-down take on Metallica’s Master of Puppets. By the time he straps on his guitar and does his best Hetfield Hammett impersonation, Eddie is already established as the epitome of ’80s headbanging, a long-haired outcast in a denim jacket emblazoned with a giant Ronnie James Dio backpatch, serving as president of the Hellfire Club and emcee for his rollicking games of Dungeons & Dragons.
Eddie is eventually nailed for the murders of various Hawkins, Indiana classmates committed by Upside Down villain Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), and is therefore framed as a devil-worshipping cult leader in a plot that explores the hysterical “Satanic Panic.” “ of the decade touched.
After fleeing and/or hiding from sporting bullies and law enforcement for much of his nine episodes, he finally plucks up some courage and shreds Metallica’s 8.5-minute opus on his Upside Down trailer while almost literally blasting the Flash rides through a storm to lure the alternate realm’s hungry demon bats away from his comrades.
Resembling something out of an Ozzy Osbourne post-Black Sabbath music video, it’s a moment destined to be shredded. However, while the concept may be awesome, the execution is sheer agonizing falsehood.
A big part of it is Eddie himself, a cartoon troublemaker who’s far too cheesy to register as a legitimate metalhead. Eddie, played by Quinn, comes across as a narc posing as a thrash fiend, and his non-stop cheesy demeanor – whether he’s going idiot master of D&D ceremonies or freaking out moron about being wanted for murder – undermines his supposed badass Nature.
Even a die-hard member of the Slayer Nation would easily lose their nerve under such doomsday pressures. Still during stranger things‘ fourth round, only Will is on the verge of tears more often, and he’s blamed a closet of pent-up emotions for his sob. All wild laughter and even wilder teasing and yelling, Eddie’s caricatured disposition makes his teen-delinquent routine so very pretty – a notion made even more snazzy by his cute and snuggly relationship with Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and ultimate, moaning respect for Keery’s heroic preppy is tightened Steve.
It all culminates in Eddie’s cover of “Master of Puppets,” which has currently propelled the track to the top of the iTunes rock chart and has been (embarrassingly, if predictably) hailed as an “incredible honor” by Metallica. Aside from that, it’s unlikely that Eddie would have perfected Metallica’s opus in a matter of months Master of the Dolls‘ was released in March 1986, and if you ignore Dustin’s smirking idiot reaction to this showmanship (which adds an extra layer of Velveeta to the spectacle), Eddie’s over-the-top ax work is the kind of circling performance befitting an air guitar competition.
This impression is reinforced by the fact that he’s whining alone in the Upside Down and you can still hear the rest of the band’s instruments as well as Hetfield’s voice – meaning he’s either just playing along with the pre-recorded album cut or, um , he does it magic? While the Duffer Brothers obviously use a formal abbreviation to maximize the scene’s impact, their call for suspension of disbelief is thwarted by logistical insanity. In other words, if Eddie is performing alone, why not let’s hear it? And if not, why not just spin the record at maximum volume and avoid putting himself in danger?
In the grand scheme of this bloated and anticlimactic time of year—and in light of it stranger things hinges largely on nostalgia—this lonely narrative device isn’t entirely disastrous. Still, it’s part of a fourth chapter marked by excessive sloppiness. If Eddie were the type of real ’80s metalhead who got held back in high school and was more interested in Iron Maiden and Motorhead than math and social studies, he’d see this pantomime as the height of absurdity—and a sham that it should be Not be.