Stranger Things 4: Volume 1 is an Eleven out of Ten


Stranger Things (S4) | Netflix Newsroom

Samantha Sollitto

The long-awaited fourth season of the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” has arrived, and it did not disappoint. Similar to its predecessors, this season immerses the audience in the ‘80s while following Eleven and her friends through some truly terrifying experiences. However, unlike the previous seasons, show creators Matt and Russ Duffer amped the horror up to a new scare level.

With episodes over an hour and a half long, “Stranger Things” had a lot of ground to cover from last season:Hopper’s disappearance, the fate of beloved friends Mike, Lucas, Will and Dustin after Will’s big move and El’s loss of powers. Unanswered questions surrounding these topics have plagued viewers for almost three years, as the COVID-19 pandemic put production on hold.

While the wait was definitely long, it has proven itself worthy. The season, only partially complete with two more episodes dropping in July, is gearing up to be its best one yet. Even though the show always had a foot in the horror genre door, Season 4 has completely changed course with the Duffer Brothers diving headfirst into some gruesome stuff.

Starting the first episode with a graphic death, intense jump scares and a new villain terrorizing Hawkins, it’s clear that the Upside Down’s creatures are preparing for a massive battle — one that can only be fought with the help of Eleven, played by actress Millie Bobby Brown. In an interview with Variety, the creators noted that the reason for this sudden change in pace was due to the kid’s growing up and, therefore, the show maturing  with them.

Drawing inspiration from films such as “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Hellraiser,” the Hawkins crew must face a much bigger threat than before: Vecna. Worse than anything they’ve ever suffered, Vecna, played by Jamie Campbell Bower, is possibly one of the most well-fleshed out and horrifying villains in television history.

Delving into the villain’s backstory and his motives, the Duffers do an excellent job at making the audience feel sympathy for someone who might not deserve it. Not to mention, they also create a beautifully shocking plot twist that will leave the audience questioning everything they’ve watched.

The downside to this action-packed season is the number of storylines that the show is covering in the span of eight episodes. While the length of the episodes should be plenty of time to adequately address multiple plots, the Duffer Brothers appeared to have trouble distributing an equal amount of time for each story, making some less enjoyable than others.

However, the actors certainly make up for moments where the story is lacking. The chemistry between characters such as Robin, played by actress Maya Hawke, and Steve, played by Joe Keery, allows the audience to forget about the subplot overload and simply enjoy their witty banter.

In a more specific character moment this season, the audience finally gets a glimpse of what Will has been dealing with. Noah Schnapp does a wonderful job at portraying the angst and heartache that comes with harboring an unrequited crush and after years of speculation over Will’s sexuality, this season seems to confirm what everyone has assumed: Will is gay and possibly has feelings for his best friend, Mike, played by actor Finn Wolfhard.

While this confirmation is not concrete and is technically still speculation, the Duffer Brothers and some of the actors themselves have opened up about Will’s identity. In another interview with Variety, the creators let us know that Will’s story is far from over, along with many of the other characters.

With the final episodes available for streaming on July 1, “Stranger Things” has, once again, taken over pop culture with its penultimate season.  This show is definitely a must-watch for those not easily scared and looking to delve into the world of Dungeons and Dragons, teen life in the 80s and the fascinating ways a villain can become a villain.