Stranger Things Season 4 Review

A welcome return to Hawkins and the Upside Down.

Season 4 is the first season of Stranger Things to be released in two parts, and it quickly becomes pretty obvious why. This season is big – not just in terms of its episode runtimes, but in what co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer are trying to accomplish by spreading the story out across various locations and characters and even introducing an effective new villain. It’s incredibly ambitious – and are there a few moments where you can feel it struggling under the weight of that ambition? Sure. But for the most part, it very much works by leaning on a lot of what’s paid off in previous seasons while also taking some exciting new swings that prevent it from feeling like a greatest-hits rehash.

The Duffers have called Season 4 their “Game of Thrones season,” and while that’s led to some unflattering jokes regarding the way the HBO hit fumbled the ball in the endzone, it’s an apt comparison in the way the entire season bounces across various storylines. The Byers and a still-powerless Eleven are in California, poor Hopper’s in a Russian prison, and the Hawkins crew is, well, still dealing with Upside Down shenanigans in Indiana. In a lot of ways, that tri-pronged structure gives Stranger Things a needed shake-up, and each storyline successfully brings its own intrigue.

 

The Hawkins arc feels like classic Stranger Things, but with an added level of maturity. Look, the kiddos aren’t exactly kiddos anymore, and these high schoolers are now seasoned in the art of supernatural investigating. The way they unravel the mystery of Hawkins’ new threat is consistently satisfying, and is a credit to something Stranger Things has always done well: it’s never felt like it’s being coy or withholding for the sake of it. There’s a mystery to solve, yes – there always is – but the storytelling is far from lazy in regards to how that mystery unfolds.

The Hawkins crew is smart, and as they pull on the various threads of what’s unfolding in their traumatized town, it’s always fast-paced and incredibly satisfying to watch. Plus, it’s got some team-ups that we’ve already grown to love – Dustin and Steve, lookin’ at you – while introducing some surprising new ones, like Robin and Nancy. Oh, and new character Eddie, played charismatically by Joe Quinn, is a welcome addition who fits seamlessly into the group.

Hopper’s storyline, though, is something else entirely – in fact, there are moments where it feels like a different show altogether, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s no doubt the bleakest portion of the season, but it’s also beautifully shot and refreshingly action-heavy. Plus, it gives David Harbour some emotional moments to shine as Hopper goes through his most difficult journey yet. The best part of the California arc, meanwhile, is Millie Bobby Brown’s continually great performance as a very-much struggling Eleven and the much-awaited revelations about her past. The other parts of the California storyline, like an attempted buddy-comedy in a couple of the later episodes of Part 1, mostly feel pretty out of place in the larger scheme of things, despite their attempts at comedic relief.

So, yeah, it’s a lot! And the episodes’ runtimes accommodate; five of them clock in around an hour and 15 minutes, the seventh is a whopping hour and 40 minutes long, and the shortest episode among them is still an hour. But, surprisingly, the scripts are incredibly tight. Never once do they feel over-indulgent, or like the story’s jogging in place. In fact – and bear with me here, because I can’t believe I’m saying this either – it feels like some of the earlier episodes could’ve been longer. Every scene in each storyline does something to move the needle forward, and on one hand, that’s exciting. On the other hand, none of the more emotional developments (and there are quite a few) are given much of a chance to breathe.

 

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For more Information, please visit:
Netflix Official Site
Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1 Review

 

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Source: IGN

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