If you’re like the rest of the world, then you may have heard of a little indie show called Stranger Things which premiered their fourth season this past Friday on Netflix. Volume 1 of the show contained 7 supersized episodes, ranging from an hour to an hour in a half which left this viewer on the edge of her seat through and through. The season takes the story into a much darker and gruesome this time around, especially when compared to the seasons that came before it. With the stakes raised to an all time high, I believe this is the perfect approach for a grand spectacle of a story who’s ending is in sight since it was confirmed that we are getting one more season after this. Of course, you also have all the things Stranger Things fans have come to love of the series. We see the return of our beloved characters, the bitchin’ 80s setting, the awesome team ups, the twists, and the horror. We also get introduced to new characters as well that add a fun mix to the group dynamics that the majority of the audience is a huge fan of. Get ready for a dark adventure, as this season proves to be bigger even though it falters here and there. Mild spoilers from here on out.
With a longer run time this season, there is much more room for us to follow and marinate in the character arcs. We catch up with Mike, Lucas, Dustin, El, Will, and Max, as they all try to navigate through their teenage years and high school life. We also have the older group of Steven, Jonathan, Nancy trying to figure out adulthood, college and relationships while Joyce is figuring out how to find Hopper in a separate story strand. Essentially the beginning of the season catches us up on where each and every character is, both physically and mentally. Lots has happened, and our favorite gang who were once kids are now teens and dealing with a lot. Oh yeah, also, there is a new threat that has emerged from the upside down. It’s name? Vecna, which is by far the scariest and most gruesome villain the show has ever had. Also, this villain is better fleshed out than last seasons Mind Flayer, in that we actually get more dialogue out of him and his motivations are revealed. Also, he is one scary looking dude.
Once again, the best parts of the show from past seasons shine through again in this one. It’s always fun unraveling all the mysteries together along with the group who are trying their best to get to the bottom of things while juggling their own personal journeys. What really makes this work is the natural chemistry everyone seems to have with one another coupled with great acting. Heck, even the new characters also get their due. Eddie Munson and Argyle are some of my favorite new additions to the show. The action scenes and CGI are on point and I can easily see where the big budget went to. Lots of the set pieces were used fantastically and it definitely pays off, especially the ones taking place in the upside down. The backdrops and the colorful 80s locations pop and give off all the Stranger Things charm we’re used top. The detail in everything really adds to the world building in an organic/authentic way, and after having watched the show from the beginning, it feels good seeing it grow. The season presents different and intriguing paths that we haven’t seen before which gives us a fresh new take on the storytelling.
Now, where it starts to falter a little for me is that some of the characters are side lined and not given very much to do. You’d think with these episodes packing so much time, that there’d be enough allotted to each character, but sadly, this isn’t the case. The show juggles so much and sometimes, you can’t help but notice. This is most notable with Mike and Jonathan. Also, there is too much retreading familiar paths from past seasons. We do get presented with new and interesting things to shakeup the status quo, but in other fields, it plays it too “safe”. I also feel that some of these episodes could’ve definitely been shaved down 20 mins, since some of them feel quite lengthy and bogged down. I think with tighter editing, the pacing would definitely improve.
Stranger Things 4 volume 1 makes a long awaited welcome return to our television screens offering the fans some thrills and fun along the way with a promise for an even bigger finale. Volume 2 of this season premieres shortly on July 1st, 2022, and we certainly cannot wait to see the conclusion of this season! In the meantime, you can catch all 4 seasons of Stranger Things streaming now on Netflix.