Review: Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 Loses No Momentum In Its Pentultimate Season
Not only is Stranger Things an amazing series that brings all the nostalgia, but in many ways, it launched Netflix’s original programming slate into prominence. The worldwide phenomenon that is the Stranger Things franchise is highly successful due to its blending of an original story with incredible nostalgic elements of the 80s. With Stranger Things season 4 volume 1, the series takes things to the next level, all the while retaining what made it such a success in the first place. Read on for my non-spoiler Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 review.
Please note: While this is a totally non-spoiler review of Stranger Things volume 1, I will need to discuss plot points from the previous 3 seasons in order to make this make sense. So if you don’t want spoilers for Stranger Things seasons 1 to 3, please read on at your own risk.
What Is Stranger Things? And Why Aren’t You Watching It?!
Stranger Things is an original Netflix series that is all about a group of kids in a small town who uncover great secrets that leads them on dangerous adventures. When a young boy goes missing in the town of Hawkins, a chain of events leads his friends, their siblings & parents and the local sheriff to discover that their boring little town, is anything but. A mysterious young girl named Eleven opens a gateway to another dimension, and strange things (pun, SO intended!) begin to take to happen in Hawkins. With the kids right in the middle of it all.
The success of Stranger Things can be directly linked to its Amblin-like angle when it comes to the story. The entire thing is Goonies meets E.T. meets Stand By Me. The lovable group of dorks having to rescue their friend from the clutches of otherworldly creatures, while making friends with a misfit with powers, captured the world’s imagination. Its throwback to 80’s nostalgia further cemented the series with audiences of all generations. It launched the carers of its incredibly young cast. Most notably, the very talented Milly Bobby Brown. Stranger Things is from the minds of The Duffer Brothers, along with Shawn Levy of Free Guy fame, and the upcoming Deadpool 3.
Stranger Things Season 3 Recap. (Last Spoiler Warning For Season 3)
When we last saw our rambunctious group of young’uns in Stranger Things season 3 no one was in a good spot. After the first two seasons, the ultimate threat from the Upside Down made its way over to Hawkins. But everyone came together to defeat it. While the threat of the Mind Flayer was over, its defeat came at a huge cost. After spending the season succumbing to being the Flayer’s host, Billy (Dacre Montgomery), in a final moment of redemption, sacrificed himself to save Eleven. While Hopper (David Harbour) sacrifices himself, allowing Joyce (Winona Rider) to close the gateway into the Upside Down. Not to mention the countless townspeople who died at the hands of the Mind Flayer.
In the final moments of Stranger Things season 3, we see the Byers moving away from Hawkins. Going with them is, now orphaned for the second time with the death of Hopper, Eleven herself. So Max (Sadie Sink) has to deal with the loss of her brother, and now her only girlfriend. And Eleven has to not only mourn the only father figure that protected her but also has to leave behind her boyfriend, Mike (Finn Wolfhard). Not to mention she’s also trying to understand why she lost her powers. I would love to say that Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 begins happier for our favourite characters. But unfortunately, it does not.
How Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 Ratchets Up The Torment
They said that Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 was to be more grown-up, both in terms of story and tone. How the season begins is pretty heartbreaking, given where all our characters are. We got a glimpse of this in the trailer for season 4. And the torment keeps on going. With many of our main cast spread out away from one another, not everyone is in a great place. Eleven struggles with her new life in California, with only Will (Noah Schnapp) keeping her company. Eleven’s significance to the story was always juxtaposed wonderfully with her socially naive nature. So when her superpowers are removed, and all she is now is a regular dorky girl in high school, life gets much harder than when fighting the Demogorgon.
Honestly, I could totally see how Eleven’s struggles in high school could trigger some audience members. But it’s all in service of the story. Eleven’s journey this season is very much to discover who she is without her powers, and to accept her role in the world and the relationships she has with others. But she’s not the only one struggling. Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 ages up the story and horror, in accordance with its main cast and audience. Many of the issues of this season deal with the trauma suffered in the last. The Duffers are able to give almost everyone in this ensemble cast an amazing arc. Everyone from Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) to his sister Erica (Priah Ferguson), easily the show stealer of season 3, has an impact on the story in various ways.
Season 4 of Stranger Things Goes Strong For A Series This Long
Usually shows—correction— genre shows that go for this many seasons, have ups and downs. Not every season is perfect, with a lot of left turns and corrections in its direction to reclaim the glory of its heydays. But I’m highly impressed that Strangers Things season 4 gets better with each season. Especially given that the characters don’t really make questionable choices for the sake of the story in this season. Unlike Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Dart from season 2.
Stranger Things season 4 ups the maturity and tone of the show, along with the horror elements. Similar to the Harry Potter franchise, the Duffers realize that they have to progressively make the stakes higher, as the cast and audiences grow up with the show. While the horror aspects aren’t as gory or gratuitous as most in the genre, it’s still enough to invoke a jump scare or two. I’m not ashamed to say they got me a few times.
One Of The Best Genre Series Of All Times Retains Its Place In Pop Culture
With season 4, Stranger Things retains being one of the compelling new shows in this generation’s zeitgeist. The series that spawned countless imitators and parodies, keeps itself in the discussion with a fourth season that excites, intrigues and is highly satisfying from beginning to end. Well, almost the end.
Season 4 is split into 2 separate volumes. Volume 1 is has 7 episodes, while volume 2 will feature two mega sized episodes. But we’ll have to wait until the release of volume 2, to see if it sticks the landing. I don’t doubt it will, but I just feel like being coy.
Stranger Things Season 4 volume 1 releases on Netflix on May 27, 2022.
Are you excited for the fourth and 2nd to last season of Stranger Things? Let me know in the comments below. Or reach out to me on Twitter @theshahshahid to talk about everything related to Stranger Things.
Featured image via Netflix.