Review: ‘Stranger Things 4’ takes the trophy for “Scariest Season”

Viewers will find season four of ‘Stranger Things’ to be wonderfully terrifying


Screenshot courtesy of Netflix

Netflix released volume 1 of Stranger Things season 4 on May 27.

by Maitland Klingberg, Staff Writer

SPOILERS AHEAD: Netflix’s original science fiction series, “Stranger Things,” has returned for a fourth season. This season is split into two volumes, with nine episodes in total.

On May 27, Netflix released volume 1, which was a collection of seven episodes. Each episode was over an hour long and they did not disappoint.

Season four is set in 1986. The events of last year have taken a heavy toll on Hawkins, a fictional town in Indiana believed to be cursed. After defeating the Mind Flayer, the show’s main characters are adjusting to their new lives.

The boys are now high schoolers. Their love for their favorite game Dungeons & Dragons continues with Hellfire, a D&D club. Hellfire is led by Eddie Muson (played by Joseph Quinn), who is short-tempered but fearless. However, Lucas (played by Caleb McLaughlin) is torn between his old friends and new ones since joining the basketball team.

Max (played by Sadie Sink) continues to mourn the death of her stepbrother, Billy. The two never shared a close sibling relationship, but she cannot shake her discomfort. The sight of Billy being impaled by the Mind Flayer haunts her on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown) is laying low in California with the Byers family. Her powers seem to be lost, but she is safe there. That is until Eleven gets an unexpected visit from the government, seeking her cooperation. Hawkins is in grave danger once again.

This season’s antagonist is Vecna, who poses a greater threat to mankind than the Mind Flayer. He is named after one of the most powerful villains in Dungeons & Dragons, and justifiably so.

Vecna conjures people to hallucinate, which he initiates by using a deep clock chime. He targets their past trauma and gives them unsettling flashbacks. These memories inflict different degrees of physical or emotional pain.

Vecna truly embodies evil, ensuring his victims all suffer grisly deaths in the end. Fans were warned that season four was sinister, but certain scenes can be found extremely disturbing.

Despite the horrors in it, volume one leaves “Stranger Things” enthusiasts feeling thrilled.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an incident in episode four caused “Running Up That Hill” to reach No. 1 on iTunes. An article from Billboard reports that it also landed on Spotify’s top 200 global charts.

The song by Kate Bush plays as Max fights to escape from the Upside Down. A slower, instrumental remix of “Running Up That Hill” plays after she succeeds. Both versions of the song show Max grappling with her grief and coming to terms with reality.

Another scene that pulled at the audience’s heartstrings is found in episode seven. Similar to Max, Joyce (played by Winona Ryder) has experience with loss. Season three ended with an explosion underneath Starcourt Mall which Hopper (played by David Harbour) supposedly died in.

Hopper’s body was never found, leaving fans with a massive cliffhanger. Thankfully, season four reveals that he is alive. Although Hopper is being held prisoner in foreign territory, he contacts Joyce, who follows the message’s directions with determination. When the two reunited, tears were shed.

Volume 1 ended with an epic plot twist that other scenes could never top off. During the last 30 minutes of episode seven, we learn that Vecna is Hawkins laboratory’s first test subject, 001. His position as a children’s caretaker protects his identity while hiding his true intentions.

It is safe to say season four has been anything but underwhelming. Variety wrote that volume 1 received 287 million hours of viewing. That number is sure to increase throughout the weeks leading up to volume 2, which will be available on July 1.