After what seems like a lifetime, Stranger Things has returned to Netflix. Matt and Ross Duffer have been very vocal about their excitement and expectations for this fourth season. After planning out the story they wanted to tell, they returned to Netflix and requested the ninth episode. And then, even that wasn’t enough. Over the last few weeks, we’ve learned that the overall length of the episodes in season four all clock in at over an hour-long, with rumors that the final episode is longer than most movies. But is too much of something a bad thing? In this case, I think that more is definitely better.
Stranger Things season four is broken into two parts, volume one and volume two. The first volume includes episodes one through seven, while volume two features episodes eight and nine. First and foremost, this is probably one of my favorite seasons to date. I was a late bloomer to the Stranger Things craze, jumping in right around the time that season two aired. But like everyone else, I was hooked the moment I slipped into this 80s daydream mixed with more Dungeons and Dragons references than my little heart could take.
But season four of Stranger Things has become something so much more. Where the first three seasons felt more light-hearted and focused on young kids saving the world, season four dives into much darker tones that we saw hinted at the end of season three. Tones that outright scared me at times and left me feeling unsettled in others. The Duffer Brothers weren’t afraid to push the boundaries this season, and that paid off. Tenfold. I haven’t even had the chance to see the final two episodes, and I am ready to crown this season as the best TV I have watched all year.
The horror aspect of this season is what had me hooked. As a self-named horror fanatic and lover of all 80s horror movies, this season was everything to me. We have seen our fair share of blood and gore on Stranger Things, but this takes that and says, “hold my dice.” There were a few episodes I needed to watch with the lights on and scenes I had to pause and take a breath over. But no matter how uncomfortable or scary it got, it was never too much. They really understood how to walk that line without falling too far into either direction.
What makes it even better is that they continue to mix in the true horrors of the time period. Like in season three, we watched them deal with the fear of war with Russia. One thing that impacts this season is the Satanic Panic. The idea that children who played Dungeons and Dragons would go out and summon demons, form cults and sacrifice their friends and enemies to become immortal. We can look back at this now with a few laughs, but the fear they portray and the mob mentality it can grow is showcased perfectly throughout the first half of this season. Again, they walk the delicate balance of providing enough genuine fear to match the science fiction fear within the show.
As always, the cast of Stranger Things wins us over from beginning to end. I won’t lie that seeing Hopper (David Harbour) in the trailers had me screaming at the top of my lungs. It physically hurt to watch Joyce (Winona Ryder) in so much pain at the end of season three. The return of the original cast, plus those they picked up along the way, has been fantastic. Getting to see El (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) grow up over the years has been such a pleasure.
The way they interact with each other and the older castmates, Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke), is terrific as well. The new cast to join Stranger Things have definitely made a name for themselves within the series. Plus, getting to see 80s icon Robert Englund join as Victor Kreel was a true treat for my horror heart. However, the top spot for my new favorite character in the series is tied between Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson and Eduardo Franco as Argyle. It will be exciting to see how they continue to impact the story as it goes forward.
Overall, as I said before, season four of Stranger Things is a high contender for my favorite TV series in 2022. It checks off all the right items on my sci-fi nerd list. The show continues the fantastic story the Duffer Brothers have set out to tell. And it gives us significant character interactions and development, tons of fun and exciting moments and some nearly horrifyingly good ones that kept me on the edge of my seat. I highly suggest taking off Friday and maybe canceling all plans this upcoming weekend.
Stranger Things season four volume one hits Netflix starting on May 27, 2022. What are your favorite theories? Let us know in the comments below and on social media!
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