This review contains some spoilers, but still leaves a lot to look forward to.
The new installment of the hit series from the Duffer Brothers is fast, funny and genuinely scary. stranger things returns with a terrific fourth season, consisting of nine episodes that mark “The beginning of the end” of the adventures in Hawkins, Indiana.
The fourth season of stranger things is the biggest yet, and not just because the show is moving away from Hawkins, but also because of the remarkable investment Netflix has made, budgeting $30 million per episode. The first volume of the season premiered in late May, while the second premiered in early July.
Although stranger things retains its initial charm – retro, youthful, with an air of mystery – the fiction has undergone a remarkable evolution compared to its previous volumes. The fourth season is visually surprising and much more ambitious, dark and disturbing than what has been seen so far.
The cast has become more mature and more powerful, the fights have become much fiercer, and the terror has reached an unexpected level, in the best style of The Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street. Everything is more daring and dangerous. This time military bases, secret experiments, Russian prisons, helicopters, flamethrowers and scary supernatural forces in the Upside down are added to the story.
Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1
The show takes place exactly in 1986, barely six months after the third installment. For the first time, the main characters are separated and still dealing with the aftermath of the terrible events at Starcourt Mall. As teenagers, the Hawkins gang struggles with issues related to high school, teenage romance, and finding their own identity. At the same time, a new threat is brewing for Hawkins, posing the most difficult danger they have ever faced.
This episode is made up of four intertwined storylines. As expected, the first plot takes place in Hawkins, where gruesome and inexplicable murders begin to take place; the violence is explicit. Almost immediately, this season’s villain, the sinister Vecna, is introduced. It is a supernatural entity that hunts down and murders young people with traumatic pasts. There, much of the gang, Nancy, Dustin, Lucas, Robin, Max, and Steve begin to investigate the origin of the new threat and try to figure out how to deal with it.
The second storyline takes place in California and recounts the readjustments the Byers family had to make after the violent Battle of Starcourt. Eleven, Joyce, Jonathan and Will try to adjust to life in California. They all seek to move on and let go of the past, but their hearts and interests remain irretrievably with Hawkins.
The dramatic third line focuses on Jim Hopper, held in a Russian prison and the victim of savagery and atrocities. Despite adversity, Hawkins’ stubborn police chief never gives up. While appearing submissive, he secretly works for his freedom. Soon, an unlikely cavalry arrives. Murray and Joyce, who manage to get inside the prison, are ready for anything.
Somehow, despite the sheer number of characters that have been added to the story, most of them have an appreciable screen moment. Obviously, some storylines stand out more than others. But, you can sense that the Duffer Brothers made an honest effort to give dimension and weight to their characters, although with so many ramifications there can sometimes be certain omissions.
It should be noted that the first volume of the fourth season of stranger things set a new Netflix viewing record. So far, this is the best start in the history of the platform.
Stranger Things 4 Vol. 2
The second batch of the series is made up of two extended chapters. Episode eight is 1 hour and 25 minutes long and episode nine is over 2 hours long. It must be added that stranger things is heading towards its conclusion since its creators have no intention of going beyond a fifth season.
The second volume picks up exactly where the previous one ended and brings the fourth installment worthily closer to fiction. Overall, there are knockout performances, great action sequences, epic musical moments, and some of the most standout scenes since the series launched. stranger things 4 has a fairly satisfying resolution.
In the last episodes, everything is linked at high speed. After Vecna’s true identity is revealed – as Henry Creel/Lab Subject Number One – Eleven realizes the enormous risk involved and prepares for an unprecedented fight.
Meanwhile, Dustin, Max, Lucas, Erica, Nancy, Robin, Steve and Eddie decide to take the law into their own hands and hatch a daring plan to save their loved ones and their town. Divided into strategic groups, they decide to trick Vecna and fight him while he is in a trance state, during which time he becomes more vulnerable. The plan is basically for Lucas, Erica, and Max to cause the monstrous creature to connect with Max and consequently let its guard down. Next, Nancy, Steve and Robin cross the Upside down to attack and eliminate it. However, although each gesture has been coldly calculated, and all the members of the gang are armed and ready, the unexpected is not long in coming.
In the Soviet Union, Hopper, Joyce and Murray, with the help of a smuggler and a soldier, fight a powerful Demogorgon and seek to return home. Although there isn’t much time for romance, Hopper and Joyce engage in a very brief, awkward yet charming rapprochement.
For their part, Mike, Will, Jonathan and Argyle go to Nevada to find Eleven. There are military components, chases and explosions that make it difficult. Eleven, aware of the danger awaiting Hawkins, decides to intervene in the battle, albeit from a distance. The teenager, with the support of her friends, enters Max’s mind to meet her and save her. Then the inevitable, crude clash between Eleven and Vecna occurs. Many uncomfortable truths are revealed.
From any geographical point, the danger persists and the darkness wreaks havoc on the gang members. The feeling that all is lost prevails and that unease bristles the viewer. There’s barely a second to stop and process whatever’s happening on screen.
How does the season end? Almost the entire Hawkins gang emerges alive from the final fight. However, there are deeply poignant losses, and the most alarming and immediate consequence is that the barrier between reality and Upside down is broken for good. In advance, this promises a relentless and even more engaging fifth season.
Actresses Millie Bobby Brown and Sadie Sink give two of their best performances on the show so far. Millie Bobby Brown handles herself with aplomb, allowing herself moments of great vulnerability and also of great strength. Sadie Sink experiences an enviable emotional range, the way she deals with the process of grieving, guilt and isolation is truly impressive. Noah Schnapp projects like never before and provides insight into the tough inner struggle Will goes through on the show. After spending much of the season in the background, Schnapp shows how far he’s come as an actor.
Also of note is one of the new additions to the cast, Joseph Quinn. The actor who plays Eddie Munson gives one of the most electrifying scenes. It’s fair to say that Eddie has become Hawkins’ unexpected hero. The performance of Master of Puppets was simply breathtaking.
It’s clear that this fiction continues to be one of the greatest entertainments on the small screen. The two volumes of the fourth season preserve and exalt all the characteristic elements of the series, among which stand out: an extraordinary villain, a gigantic mystery to solve, a band of rebels learning to grow, and many references and homages to the eighties era.
Although there is still no official date for the release of the fifth and final season of stranger thingsit is possible that it will air in 2024. It will all depend on when the filming process begins.
Image and Gage Skidmore