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I finally finished running up that hill, and I am tired.

Watching Stranger Things is an exercise in torment. The show is good. There are legitimately thrilling sequences and plot ideas rooted in deep character relationships that you cling to along the ride. But did that ride have to take 12 hours?

At one point while watching the final episode of Season 4, I paused and thought that surely this must be the end.

There were over 90 minutes left. (Episode 9 clocked in at 2 hours and 30 minutes.)

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Later, after what seemed like an eternity, there was another point where it felt like surely that had to have been the last scene. A gorgeous, emotional sequence that brought closure to nearly every storyline—save for one that it made sense to keep a cliffhanger until the next season—had just happened, and the screen faded to black. But then it faded back to color again and I looked and saw that there was still 35 minutes to go.

It’s not a logical experience and I don’t understand the goal here: A person shouldn’t think a TV show is good but also spend the entire time watching it hoping for it to end soon, and being annoyed when it doesn’t.

(Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 4 of Stranger Things.)

The splintered storylines and separation of the cast across the globe and alternate dimensions, a creative decision that made the first seven episodes of the season (as in first 8+ hours) such a slog, finally paid off.

    Yes, there were still so many storylines and random character groupings that by the time one of them was revisited you totally forgot those characters were even in the show, let alone what they were doing. Each time we flashed back to the Mike, Will, Jonathan, and Stoned Guy Who Delivers Pizza (if they gave him a name, I missed it) quartet, it was a genuine shock to be reminded that they still existed. Never mind trying to remember why they’re driving across the country.

    But there was finally rousing gratification to what had, over the course of more than 10 hours, seemed like pointless creative larks. Joyce and Murray’s buddy-comedy trip to Russia and Hopper’s whole storyline there—the biggest drag of the season until the finale—delivered a handful of great action scenes and the emotional reunion. Joyce and Hopper kissed! I cheered! I wanted to see them bone! Stranger Things: If you think it is OK for me to watch children be massacred—multiple times!—and random characters have their limbs cracked and twisted, then you can show me Hopper boning Joyce.

    Millie Bobby Brown does the best acting of her career in this episode, and her showdown with Papa made up for how annoying it was to have her cordoned off in her own little show most of the season. The scene where she forces the helicopter that’s shooting at her to crash in the desert is stunning. It’s one of my favorite shots of the year.

    The trio of Steve, Robin, and Nancy really works—the Golden Rule of this show is that Joe Keery as Steve will have chemistry with anybody—which is why it was such a bummer to not be able to see any of their scenes together, which amounts to about an hour and a half of the final two episodes. I get that the Upside Down has to be dark, but does it have to be that dark? I made the foolish mistake of watching these episodes in the daytime and the sun had the audacity to shine light into my apartment, rendering those scenes entirely black on my screen.

    One could argue that the benefit of stretching these episode running times so long and the trade off to so much plot stalling is that you get to spend more time fleshing out characters and deepening their relationships.

    That doesn’t work when the core relationships of the show are separated for 90 percent of a 12-hour season. That doesn’t work when the characters you’ve taken great care to set up in a certain way are treated narratively in a manner that feels like an act of betrayal to the audience. And that doesn’t work when your show isn’t about the characters anymore. As critic Emily St. James wrote on Twitter, the core that originally provided the foundation of Stranger Things was the friendship between the four young boys, but they “are kind of vestigial organs at this point, as the mythology becomes more of the series’ focus.”

    By the 14th monologue a character gives explaining an exhausting new discovery they’ve made about Vecna, the Upside Down, and how the gates are going to open all over Hawkins, it’s clear that setting up this universe so that the final season could feature some grand battle of good versus evil has replaced the human intimacy that initially was the show’s hook.

    What was good about the season, specifically these last episodes, was magnificent—especially the major action set pieces in the finale. When in its sweet spot, what it means to struggle through the emotional trauma of being a teenager while shouldering the burden of saving the world really lands. The ambition, some could argue over-ambition, of Stranger Things wouldn’t work if that didn’t feel so rooted in humanity.

    “By the 14th monologue a character gives explaining an exhausting new discovery they’ve made about Vecna, the Upside Down, and how the gates are going to open all over Hawkins, it’s clear that setting up this universe so that the final season could feature some grand battle of good versus evil has replaced the human intimacy that initially was the show’s hook.”

    But what was frustrating was also hard to shake—and not just the length.

    I don’t quite understand what they’ve done to the character of Will Byers, who used to be the pivotal focal point of the series and now seems to just exist. He’s literally in the back seat of the plot.

    Yes, he had two emotional scenes in the finale, but I feel like they may not have landed in the way that the series expects. If you’re extremely online and know there are internet theories that Will is gay, these scenes are incredibly heartbreaking. If you are a normal person watching this series, which has done very little in the way of character development and has danced around this coming-out arc like Gene Kelly when he sees a street lamp in a rainstorm, you’re likely just wondering why in the hell this guy keeps randomly crying.

    And then there’s the fate that befell Eddie, the new breakout character of the season and, it turns out, its sacrificial lamb. Especially thanks to Joseph Quinn’s performance, the character that at first seemed like he was going to be a cringe-inducing ‘80s pop-culture stereotype, a relic that the show typically avoids leaning into, evolved into something much more.

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    Meghan Ory Faced Pregnancy Complications While Filming Chesapeake Shores

    Crown Media Chesapeake Shores

    Meghan Ory, who plays Abby O’Brien on Hallmark’s “Chesapeake Shores,” was pregnant while they were filming the sixth and final season. She recently revealed that she was dealing with complications while filming.

    She Had Hyperemisis Gravidarum & Then COVID

    In an Instagram post, Ory revealed that she was pregnant and dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum while filming the sixth season of the series. By the time filming was wrapping up, she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

    She wrote: “I started this season with #hyperemesisgravidarum and ended it with #covid -it has been quite the run! thank you so much to our amazing cast and crew for having so much patience with me while I tried not to barf on anyone. Thank you to my amazing hubby @johnny_reardon_ for holding down the fort and being my rock —and our two, yes two Nannie’s for all their support. With mom and dad both on tv shows, two Nannie’s was a must!”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Meghan Ory (@officialmeghanory)

    According to Cleveland Clinic, hyperemesis gravidarum is a condition where pregnant women suffer from severe vomiting and nausea. The site warns, “You might vomit more than four times a day, become dehydrated, feel constantly dizzy and lightheaded and lose ten pounds or more.”

    The condition is not common, and is typically caused by rising hormones during the first trimester. Treatments can include pressure point wristbands, ginger, IV fluids, vitamin B6, or an IV of nutrients for more severe cases.

    Her co-stars, friends, and followers replied to their post saying how proud of her they were.

    Emilie Ullerup wrote, “Love my seester.”

    Robert Buckley replied, “You are unstoppable.”

    On May 2, she shared an on-set picture and wrote, “#acting like I’m not going to barf.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Meghan Ory (@officialmeghanory)

    On April 29, she shared a photo about how happy she was to be back.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Meghan Ory (@officialmeghanory)

    Other ‘Chesapeake Shores’ Stars Also Posted about the Series Ending

    Ullerup shared a photo on Instagram when filming finished and wrote, “For six years I got to play these wonderful, nutty people’s daughter, sister and brother. It is the longest running job of my career. So much happened in our make-believe world and also in our personal lives. It was a wonderful cushion to have a whole second family to share the ups and downs with. I know they will all move onto great things as they are truly talented people. I will forever be grateful for all that #chesapeakeshores gifted me with. What a great run, fam.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Emilie Ullerup (@emilie.ullerup)

    Treat Williams wrote, “It’s a great final season. Join us.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Treat Williams (@treat.williams2)

    Barbara Niven shared some behind-the-scenes photos from filming.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Barbara Niven (@barbaraniven)

    When she wrapped filming, she wrote: “It’s so hard to say goodbye to this character, this family, and to all of you who have watched and made it possible for these past six years of filming. THANK YOU for being part of the O’Brien family… This is by far the best season we’ve had yet, and we hope you will love watching it as much as we loved making it.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Barbara Niven (@barbaraniven)

    “Chesapeake Shores” returns for its sixth season on Sunday, August 14. Deadline previously reported that the sixth season will be 10 episodes long. If a new episode airs each week without a break, then this means the series finale will air on October 16, 2022, just before the Countdown to Christmas season begins.

    READ NEXT: Hallmark Reveals Early Countdown to Christmas Lineup

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