Wait, Stranger Things Season 4 Isn’t Over Yet?

Take a deep breath: That Stranger Things episode 7 ending wasn’t, y’know, The End. We promise. Snatching a page from the Ozark playbook, Netflix’s deliriously anticipated thriller Stranger Things is stretching its fourth season into two parts—sorry, volumes—which means fans will have to wait a teensy bit longer for the final, actual, we-mean-it-this-time ending.

Perhaps even more confusingly, the seasonal split is lopsided. Volume 1, out as of May 27, features seven episodes, but volume 2 will feature only two. But each of those two episodes will be, as one Jason Bateman once put it, “super sized”—more like feature films than traditional television. (We can all stick around after the credits roll and argue if “television that’s more like film” is really a good idea.) As Netflix attempts to squeeze some juice out of its cash cow, here’s what we know about the next chapter.

When does season 4 volume 2 come out?

Okay, so don’t shoot the messenger, but it’s gonna be a painful wait. The final two episodes are expected to drop at 12 a.m. PST on July 1, just in time for a Fourth of July weekend binge. Bad news: Those five weeks between May 27 and July 1 are going to pass slowly. Good news: More time for theorizing!

How long will volume 2 be? How many episodes?

Prepare for an, er, extended binge. Volume 2 might consist of only two episodes, but they’re each feature-length: Episode 8 clocks in at 1 hour and 25 minutes, while the grand finale runs 2 hours and 30 minutes. So, not as long as The Batman, but still really long!

Wait, so how does this work again?

Let’s break it down simply. The following episodes premiered at the same time on May 27:

  • Episode 1: “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club” (runs 1 hour and 16 minutes)
  • Episode 2: “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” (runs 1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • Episode 3: “Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” (runs 1 hour and 3 minutes)
  • Episode 4: “Chapter Four: Dear Billy” (runs 1 hour and 17 minutes)
  • Episode 5: “Chapter Five: The Nina Project” (runs 1 hour and 14 minutes)
  • Episode 6: “Chapter Six: The Dive” (runs 1 hour and 13 minutes)
  • Episode 7: “Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” (runs 1 hour and 39 minutes)

And then the remaining episodes premiere at the same time on July 1:

  • Episode 8: “Chapter Eight: Papa” (runs 1 hour and 25 minutes)
  • Episode 9: “Chapter Nine: The Piggyback” (runs 2 hours and 30 minutes)

Why do this to us??

Apparently, the Duffer brothers—the masterminds behind Stranger Things—felt it was warranted. “Episode 7 is as big as any season finale we’ve ever had, so it made sense to everyone involved to split the season there,” they told Variety in a joint email interview. “Episode 7 really serves as the end of the second act—and we feel that our final act had enough meat on the bone to make up Volume 2.”

As for why a split was warranted in the first place: “As we began turning over episodes, everyone began to feel the season was too big to be released in one batch—at nearly 13 hours, it is really more two seasons than one. We discussed various release options with Ted [Sarandos, Netflix’s CEO], and early on he proposed the two volume split, which would allow us to break up the season while also staying true to Netflix’s binge model.”

In other words, blame Ted Sarandos!

This post will be updated.

Associate Editor Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers news and culture.

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