Is Stranger Things 4 Worth the Hype?


Photo taken by @Stranger_Things. Retrieved from Twitter.

Archie M (Year 10)

In late 2019, when they Netflix announced Stranger Things would be getting a fourth season, I was worried. Season 3 had concluded the show phenomenally, and I just couldn’t see any justification for having another season other than its popularity. It’s become too familiar seeing a beloved series milked to death with key offenders like the Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and Family Guy, so I went into this season with low expectations… 

Also, heavy spoiler warning. If you haven’t seen it… Why? Stop reading this and go watch it. 

The pilot episode hooks you immediately with a flashback to a massacre taking place at the Hawkins Laboratory that of which we are led to believe was caused by Eleven. Something evident in the first few shots is the improvement in cinematography. The colours and framing make the show look gorgeous, a quality that unfortunately suffers from some questionable CGI (young eleven). 

After an explosive opening, we’re introduced to the refreshing character dynamics. Back at Hawkins, Dustin, Mike and Lucas join a new party: The Hellfire Club led by the mysteriously charming drug dealer Eddie Munson. A character I was weirded out by at first, but he grew on me quickly. Lucas joins the basketball team, led by Jason who’s essentially a cross between Troy Bolton from High School Musical and season 1 Steve Harrington. Lucas is labelled as ‘a popular kid’ and seeing how this impacted his friendship with Dustin and Mike was a highlight and his struggle to balance who he hangs out with and exploring how it impacts his decisions is phenomenal . Max is still depressed over Billy’s death (as expected) and f course, the legend herself, Erica returns and is sassier than ever – though it would’ve been good to see a lot more of her, as we did in season 3. Steve and Robyn are still working in the video store and Nancy as a reporter with her assistant – Fred Benson. Chrissy, Jason’s girlfriend receives a terrifying introduction where we get our first glimpse at this season’s big bad: Vecna (more on him later). 

Halfway across the country in California, Eleven, Will, Johnathan and Joyce are living in California. A new edition to the cast is Eduardo Franco as Argyle. The Californian stoner friend of Johnathan, who I didn’t care for in the first few episodes, but I grew to love the goofiness. Will and Mike (who flies into California) both don’t add much to the story and felt underused, considering how important they were to the story in season 1. Will’s role in this season is the same as last season, to be a third wheel to Mike and Eleven’s relationship, which is a shame because there’s so much that show creators the Duffer Brothers could explore, regarding Will’s trauma, as they did in Season 2. Eleven doesn’t do much early on either, aside from getting bullied by a new character Angela. Who again doesn’t add much beyond episode 2. Although there’s a great scene with a ton of ‘Carrie’ references, where Eleven whacks her with a rollerblade. 

It’s revealed that Hopper is alive, but in a Russian prison and Joyce and Murray set out to rescue him. This subplot is exciting and shot exceptionally, especially when  Hop fights the Demogorgon. We get some of David Harbour (Hopper)’s best acting with an emotional speech where he believes he’s a curse. This subplot is exciting but definitely feels more unrealistic. 

Episode 4 of this season: ‘Dear Billy’ is the best episode from a Netflix show. Period. Sadie Sink’s performance of Max is way beyond her years. The ‘running up that hill’ scene is as powerful as it is memorable. The CGI is incredible, Dacre Montgomery’s cameo as Billy is emotional and there’s further world building on the upside down. The episode also features one of the few exciting moments in California: the shooting. 

By the end of the first episode, Chrissy is brutally murdered, in a Freddy Kruger/The Exorcist style, by Vecna, who is easily my favourite villain so far. He is genuinely terrifying, has a sharp design that’s does almost entirely with prosthetics rather than CGI, he feels like he came straight out of an 80’s slasher film, but what cements him as the greatest Stranger Thing’s monster is his backstory.  

In the last episode, Vecna’s identity is revealed to be not only 001 but also the son of Victor Creel (who is portrayed creepily by Freddy Kruger himself: Robert Englund). It’s a great twist that rivals The Sixth Sense, feels refreshing and adds depth to the character, something we haven’t seen with other Stranger Things monsters. The finale of this volume is riveting, dramatic and horrific… I’m excited to see what the Duffer Brothers have in store for the second volume! 

In conclusion, the fourth season of Stranger Things, as unnecessary as it may be, doesn’t fail to justify its existence with creepier storytelling, phenomenal performances, and a fascinating new villain. Although it is dragged down a tad for underusing characters like Mike and Will. 


8/10 bin chickens