After a long hiatus, Vol. 1 of the Netflix original series “Stranger Things’” fourth season broke the record for most-viewed series debut on the streaming platform. Premiering May 27, the seven-episode release took nearly three years to follow its predecessor due to COVID-related filming restrictions.
The show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, known collectively as the Duffer Brothers, did not waste the years it took to create this season. The episodes, each surpassing 70 minutes, fleshed out the mysteries of Hawkins and its alternate dimension, “The Upside Down.” With plot lines involving an escape from a Russian prison, scientific experiments gone wrong, a parody of a California stoner-comedy and a “Scooby Doo”-reminiscent group of teens solving the mysteries of a small town, there is truly something in this season that will appeal to everyone.
The new season was the series’ most ambitious installment yet, and the conclusion of this volume of season 4 left fans with high hopes for its final episodes next month. The Duffer Brothers announced last February the fourth season of Stranger Things would be released in two volumes, with the last two episodes of the season premiering July 1.
The substantial amount of content this season — the series’ penultimate installment — could have overwhelmed viewers, but the storylines fed into each other remarkably well. There was enough action and character development to keep the extra-long runtime from feeling unnecessary.
The fourth episode, featuring Sadie Sink’s performance and a beautifully written character arc, stands out as possibly the best “Stranger Things” episode since its debut in 2016.
Sink’s portrayal of Max Mayfield stood out as an undeniably outstanding performance among the ensemble cast. As her character struggles to recover from witnessing her step brother’s death at the end of season three, Sink brilliantly depicts the stages of grief Max endured. Her healing process unfolds while the new evil that plagues Hawkins simultaneously haunts her. Due to both Sink’s The introduction of Joseph Quinn and Jamie Campbell Bower were some of my favorite new elements for this season.
Quinn plays Eddie Munson, the leader of the Hawkins High School Dungeons and Dragons club who becomes a prime suspect for the mysterious crimes occurring throughout the town. Quinn provides an enthusiastic portrayal of this charismatic character and proves he can hold his own while sharing the screen with other iconic and beloved characters of the show, such as Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo).
Bower’s character plays a crucial role in uncovering the secrets of Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) past as an experiment within the Hawkins Lab. His role can’t be fully discussed without giving away too many major plot points, but Bower’s character possesses a fascinating backstory well-portrayed within his eerily complex performance.
The Duffer Brothers’ most impressive accomplishment of the season was masterfully including new elements into the show without deviating too far from the first three seasons fans grew to love.
The central themes of human connection and friendship, coupled with the inclusion of ʼ80s nostalgia and popular elements of the science fiction and horror genres, consistently work to please the show’s large audience.
Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler in the show, said in an Entertainment Weekly interview that this season could be described as “Five different movies rolled into one.” This season contains multiple subplots within a multitude of locations, but despite the separation of the show’s cast, each plot fits into the others in a way that almost makes viewers forget about the physical? separation.
If the constant stream of praise for “Stranger Things” on social media hasn’t convinced you to watch this season, allow me to give you my highest of recommendations for Netflix’s absolute best original series.