Stranger Things season 4 will melt fans’ brains across the globe when Part One launches on May 27th. For lack of a better term, a season is super-sized and jammed with all the elements fans have adored in the previous three seasons. The Duffer Brothers have given us what amounts to a love letter to the legions of individuals who made Stranger Things a cultural phenomenon. While it’s hard to imagine they held back in previous seasons, they must have based on the first seven episodes of season 4.
The best advice anyone can give a fan of the series is to stay off social media before watching this new season. If this seems like an impossible feat, then be sure and mute every keyword you can think of associated with Stranger Things before watching the new season. There are certainly elements of this season that are left best discovered organically. Netflix even went so far as to provide a list of spoilers that we can’t even hint at it or risk banishment into the Upside Down. Rest assured, this review will be 100% spoiler-free.
This season kicks off starts at around six months after the Battle of Starcourt. Hawkins is reeling still from the terror and destruction that moment brought to their town. For the first time in their lives, our friends are separated. High school is far from becoming any easier for the group. During this time of change, a new supernatural horror has surfaced whose threat reaches far beyond the city limits of Hawkins. A gruesome mystery begins to unfold, which, if solved, could bring a permanent end to the Upside Down.
The best way to describe season 4 is that it centers around trauma. Let us explain; each person in Hawkins has experienced some degree of trauma over the last few years, and they handle it in their way. Some avoid confronting what has occurred while others tackle it head-on. The writers do a masterful job of taking that and weaving it into the show’s supernatural elements. Could our new adversary be feasting on the pain of others? If so, then for what purpose?
There are, of course, different types of traumas, such as losing your father figure. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is still attempting to recover from losing Hopper (David Harbour). When we last saw her, she’d lost all of her powers. Did moving away from Hawkins make things better or even worse? Can Eleven and Mike’s relationship survive? Also, how does moving thousands of miles away from Mike (Finn Wolfhard) impact Will (Noah Schapp)? It’s hard to be anything to someone when you never see each other. Eleven attempts to put on a brave face while adjusting to her new surrounding in California. She even manages to bottle the pain of the past few years. However, early in the new season, it’s clear that Eleven will have to confront years of pain to regain who she once was.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind after last season was if Jim Hopper (David Harbour) was alive. They never did find his body. Well, thanks to a teaser trailer, fans learned that it appears he survived (notice how I used the word appears). Where is he now? Is he being held prisoner by the Russians? Is that even the real Jim Hopper? If the first seven-episode of season 4 has taught me anything, it’s never to assume anything with this show.
In the previous season, the antagonist in Stranger Things was pretty clear cut. This season is quite the opposite. It has been released that the name of the villain is Vecna. For those who play Dungeons and Dragons, that name is highly familiar. There’s, of course, the connection between that game and the show as well. However, there’s much more to this mystery than a simple link to D&D. Robin (Maya Hawke) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) even having to go undercover to learn about their foe.
What stands out this season was how well-written the season was. The writers masterfully weave in the show’s rich past with what’s unfolding presently. That may not seem like a huge deal, but part of this series’s appeal is how everything is connected. This season especially. Chemistry-wise, this cast has never been better. Fans will especially enjoy the many moments between Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Steve (Joe Kerry). Acting-wise, Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown are the standouts this season. Millie’s consistently great as Eleven and seemingly finds new ways to explore her character. Sadie’s performance, though, will leave fans speechless. Max certainly has been through the wringer over the last few months. Sink rises to new heights this season while delivering numerous gut-wrenching moments.
Stranger Things season 4 is one of those rare exceptions where the final product exceeds the hype surrounding it. Fans will ponder what’s to come after watching the first seven episodes (remember that this season is two parts). If Part one is already melting our brains, what will Part two do to us? I guess we will have to wait till July to see.