By Emily-Rose Toohey
After three years of waiting, season four of Netflix’s Stranger Things finally dropped and it did not disappoint.
After Covid-19 hit, the film industry was forced to delay essentially all of its projects, leaving viewers desperate for updates on their favourite shows.
As a result, season four of the hit series was met excitably by fans.
Episode one starts by revealing a time jump, then it picks up where season three left off.
We see Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) has moved away from the town of Hawkins with her sons Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), accompanied by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown, who looks like a mini Joyce in the wardrobe department), who is left alone after her father figure Jim Hopper (David Harbour) dies.
Viewers see Eleven struggling with bullying at her new school and the fall-out of her losing her mind-bending powers.
Back in Hawkins are the friends they left behind, including Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Max (Sadie Sink), Steve (Joe Keery), and Robin (Maya Hawke), and this is where most of the action happens.
The ensemble show is known for splitting its characters into groups with inter-connecting storylines, but this season the Hawkins-based group were the most intriguing to follow.
The evil Vecna from The Upsidedown has started haunting troubled teens in both dreams and reality, which ends with their gruesome deaths.
As a result, the show takes on more horror elements than ever before and ramps up the dramatics, which makes for a captivating, complex season of television.
Despite the extremely bloated episode run times and a one hour and 40-minute finale, the time flies by.
You’d think by season four that the show would have become less interesting, but fortunately, this isn’t the case.
A highlight is just how much viewers have grown to care for the characters and their dynamics, which are the beating heart of the show.
A particular highlight is the dynamic between Steve, Robin and Dustin, who the writers give a lot to do this season.
Unfortunately, the Mike, Will and Jonathon side of the story feels more detached and the actors don’t have much to work with.
The story seems far more interested in the kids at Hawkins, which allows for characters like Max (played by an incredible Sadie Sink) to shine.
Even the writing for Eleven, who Millie Bobby Brown plays to perfection, feels like her story’s being rehashed over and over again.
Nonetheless, there’s still Volume 2 of the season to come, which drops in early July.
Netflix is notorious for the binge release, so dropping the final two episodes separately feels like a move to help re-build their subscriber count, which has suffered a blow.
Overall, season four has been an impressive season of television so far and it is recommended for anyone fascinated with science fiction stories that are rooted in reality with likeable characters.
Stranger Things is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix.