Almost three years have passed since the third season of the acclaimed Netflix retro hit “Stranger Things“ meanwhile back – which sometimes feels twice as long, especially with such a cliffhanger-heavy mystery story. Although the new season was announced early on, the complex production and delays as a result of the corona pandemic have pushed the start further and further – and meanwhile the expectations of the many fans have been driven to dizzying heights.
But now the time has finally come: The fourth and to date largest “Stranger Things’ season makes its way to Netflix. But can the new consequences live up to the expectations that have been built up? We can only answer that with a very loud “Yes – and how!”.
More than half a year after Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and her friends finished off the powerful mind flayer from the dark parallel world of the Upside Down, the gang is separated for the first time in a long time. After the traumatic events of the past few years, Eleven left Hawkins behind with Will (Noah Schnapp) and his family and moved to California, where she struggles to connect.
But the kids who stayed in the small town feel the same after they switch to high school. But that’s the least of her worries. Because it quickly turns out that the threat from the Upside Down has not yet been banned and a new danger is arising that claims the lives of several schoolchildren. Without the help of Eleven, who is still losing her powers, all hope seems lost. Still, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Max (Sadie Sink) and company work together to find a solution – while Will’s mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) investigates a lead that Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) is still alive after all. .
The for “Stranger ThingsThe responsible brothers Matt and Ross Duffer have more or less jokingly referred to the fourth season of “their baby” as their “Game Of Thrones” season – and were already alluding to the epic proportions of the story, effort and cast of characters. In fact, they didn’t exaggerate at all. The nine new episodes are said to have swallowed a total of incredible 270 million dollarsa new series record (but soon to be broken by the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Power Rings).
The (very brief!) synopsis above already indicates how many parallel, but always overlapping and complementary storylines the Duffers are dealing with at different locations this time. This is also reflected in the running time of the episodes, which ultimately even led to the season being split into two, which is intended to prevent the audience from being drawn directly from the concentrated “Stranger Things“-supply is slain.
While the first seven episodes will be released on May 27th, 2022 (which, with a total running time of over nine hours, are already longer than the previous seasons), the last two episodes will follow on July 1st with running times of one and a half (!) and two and a half ( !!) Hours.
But just because you’ve followed the unwritten rules of continuation and everything is (a whole track) bigger, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality will benefit from it, of course. But we can brush aside any concerns here!
With bravura and self-confidence, the Duffer brothers always keep all their plot threads firmly in their hands. and when they then bring together a large part of the strands at the end of episode 7 in an absolutely masterly way (and peppered with a few surprises), the careful structure beforehand finally pays off – from the return to troubled Hawkins, which immediately feels like a homecoming to the circle of good old friends thanks to the usual infectious character dynamic, to the gradually built and decoded new threat.
Despite the impressive length of the episode, hardly a minute is too much. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the stories are told and promoted side by side in good portions all the time, so one episode is not dedicated to one story and the next episode to another story. So there is always something going on and on top of that a lot of variety is provided, even if not all stories are always equally strong (especially the Russia storyline about the Hopper, who was thought dead, has to struggle with some unnecessary silliness like the Soviet subplot in Season 3 and needs it so a bit longer to really ignite).
On the other hand, the additional time is also wisely invested within the respective storylines in great character moments and exciting new facets of the mythology that runs through everything.
Pretty much all characters (including the newcomers) get the necessary fodder for their (further) development and are ultimately embedded in the overall context in a meaningful way – whether it’s Eleven with their repeated bullying experiences, Dustin, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) with her own attempts at fitting in, Max with her trauma after losing her brother or Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery) with their love quarrels. The only thing that initially tears you away from the otherwise thrilling events is that the younger teenagers in particular suddenly look so grown-up because of the long production time.
At the latest when everyone in their own way comes into contact with the Upside Down and the associated government conspiracies, it’s not difficult to keep one’s fingers crossed for each and every one of them (with the possible exception of Jonathan, who remains even paler than usual). Especially since the sound is a whole lot rougher this time and the horror parts are even scarier.
The latter is largely at the hands of the Upside Down’s new evil force, which is far more tangible than the supernatural antagonists of previous seasons and poses a constant threat in its extremely ferocious and seemingly unstoppable actions. But human horror is also taken care of, for example through the dangerous momentum that develops after the murders in Hawkins and is oppressively reminiscent of the effects of populist twisters of the truth in the real world.
Despite all the but the nostalgic 80s adventure feeling that has always characterized the series and the humor fortunately don’t fall by the wayside (the squabbles between Dustin and Steve are once again among the glorious comedy highlights). The fourth “Stranger Things”-Staffel still relies on proven strengths – and adds a few more to them.
Fun, spooky, and downright epic: Bigger is in the case of “Stranger Things“ actually better too! Two episodes are still to come after the brilliant goosebumps interim finale of season 4, but the smartly structured and skilfully told season definitely has that Potential to be the best season of the hit series – or at least to match the grandiose start. In any case, it is already rounder and more captivating than the two previous seasons (which were also successful).