Netflix hit it big a few years ago when the Duffer Brothers brought them an idea for a sci-fi show set in the ’80s. It became a cultural phenomenon. The populace as a whole found they could relate to this small town feeling the show was set in. Kids on bikes and families were the main plot structure, and we all had lives like this growing up. Films such as E.T. or The Goonies were obvious inspirations for these brothers. Four seasons later, this show is still one of the most anticipated shows in streaming.
Season 3 of Stranger Things ended on an ominous yet hopeful note. The Russians captured Hopper, and members of the Byers family and Eleven moved to Lenora, California, to escape all the craziness of Hawkins, Indiana. The fire at the Starcourt Mall left this community traumatized and scarred. The Byers’ departure left many kids and families behind to move forward with their lives. That’s where season 4 picks up a year later.
With some mysteries still to be uncovered, the new season of Stranger Things, split into two segments, left a lot to be imagined by the writers and directors of the show. They decided to go in a bit of a different direction this season but still tie everything from the past together to not leave any loose ends. This ended up being a great idea. It still kept the show’s feel but also let the creators delve more into some of the characters yet to be explored. The kids are getting older, so they have different things in their lives that they have to deal with. That is quite effective moving forward in Stranger Things Season 4.
The show likes to split the kids into different groups, which is one of the fun aspects of why this show works. Who is going to be paired up together is always intriguing. The pairings always seem to work in the context of the show. The show also brings in new characters each season. They usually fit in with our gang pretty well or become villains in the show. The cast, new or old, is part of why I love the show so much.
Each season focuses on a few characters. Season 4 focuses mainly on Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers, Sadie Sink’s Max Mayfield, Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, and Natalia Dyer’s Nancy Wheeler. The showrunners and writers made a conscious effort to show that the women in the show are strong and deserve the spotlight. Their storylines are very powerful and work terrifically well in this season specifically.
The show had always been dark, but this season seems to double down on the darkness. One of the main focuses is the upside-down and how people are being killed very brutally by a demon. These scenes are pretty graphic and can be very tough to digest for the faint of heart, so beware. There is also a lot of physical abuse and gore in those scenes. This season is very violent in more than one way.
The visuals of the show are very striking to behold. The makeup and creature designs are first-rate for a show like this. They’ve always been good, but they went the extra level this season. The showrunners and writers go a little more in-depth with the storytelling this season. There’s no joking around singing Neverending Story theme songs or Dusty Bun or Susie Q this season. This season it’s pretty serious for everybody involved in the show. It’s also rather far-reaching, going from Alaska to Nevada, California, and back to Hawkins, Indiana. The budget reflects that.
Season 4 of Stranger Things is sprawling and very extensive regarding all the different character stories that are taking place. This season the show focused mainly on the women of the series and did a great job showing how strong and powerful they can be in their own way. This show continues to get better each season. It takes what is built on the previous season, runs with it, and expands on those themes. The episode lengths show how much more the Duffers try to infuse into each episode within the season. This is the best season yet, and it’s only partially over.
4 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media
Reviewed 7 of 9 episodes