ENTERTAINMENT

‘Stranger Things’ Season Five Will Have Shorter Episodes, For a Good Reason

As the fifth and final season of Stranger Things approaches, show creators Matt and Ross Duffer are offering fans a run time reprieve. The two final episodes of season four hit Netflix on Friday, clocking in at 85 minutes and 140 minutes each—both as long as a feature film. But the show’s ballooning run times may be a thing of the past, they say—with one major exception.

“The only reason we don’t expect [season five] to be as long [as season four] is because if you look at it, it’s almost a two-hour ramp-up before our kids really get drawn into the supernatural mystery,” Matt said on a recent episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “You get to know them, you get to see them in their lives, what they’re struggling with, adapting to high school and so forth. Steve’s trying to find a date, all of that. None of that obviously is going to be occurring in the first two episodes of [season five].”

The creators do, however, plan on concluding their juggernaut Netflix series at a leisurely pace. “I’m sure the wrap-up will be a lot longer. It’s going to be ‘[Lord of the Rings] Return of the King-ish with, like, eight endings,” Matt told host Josh Horowitz. Ross criticized shows “where the penultimate episode is the strong episode and then they wind down on the last one,” suggesting that a super-sized finale would combat this problem. “We’re more likely to do what we did here, which is to just have a 2.5 hour episode,” he said. Matt added, “The wind-down is just part of a 2.5 hour episode. I would expect the finale to be at least two hours.”

After achieving some of its most ambitious storytelling in the fourth season (including ensuring that Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” never dies), Stranger Things season five will be more earthbound. “We wanna go back to a lot of the things we did in season one,” Matt said. “A lot of the original groupings and pairings that we had in season one—there’s something nice about coming full circle.”

And because nothing can be simple in the Upside Down, the creator then subtly withdrew his own run-time promise. “You know, if you had talked to us at the start of writing season four], I would’ve told you it’s eight episodes and they’re about an hour long each,” Matt said of the 13-hour long installment. “So I wouldn’t trust a word that comes out of my mouth.”


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