Characters in 'Stranger Things,' season 4
Image via Google Images

‘Stranger Things’ Season 4, Volume 1: Recap & Review

After almost three years, fans are finally able to watch the highly anticipated penultimate season of the show.

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Characters in 'Stranger Things,' season 4
Image via Google Images

After almost three years, fans are finally able to watch the highly anticipated penultimate season of the show.

After a delayed release prompted largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, “Stranger Things” is back and better than ever. When a show enters its fourth season, fans often feel that it’s being dragged out; that is not the case, however, for “Stranger Things.” Fans can’t help but want more episodes of this American science-fiction horror drama series. The ending of Season 3 left fans on the edge of their seats, and the show’s fourth season did not disappoint, with many people calling it the best one by far. With the introduction of new characters and the return of fan favorites, Season 4 is nothing short of exciting. Fans are also praising this season’s soundtrack, especially for its inclusion of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill.” Of course, the soundtrack is only the icing on the cake. The cherry on top is the plot twist and cliffhanger that fans get at the end of Volume 1.

The characters are even more split apart this season than in previous ones, creating multiple plot lines. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) are now living in California after leaving Hawkins at the end of Season 3. Jim Hopper (David Harbour) was captured by the Russians and is now imprisoned in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka. Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer), Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) and Erica Sinclair (Priah Ferguson) are still living in Hawkins.

As the season goes on, the group is divided up even further. Joyce and Murray (Brett Gelman) leave the kids in California and fly to Alaska to save Hopper after receiving word that he is still alive. Mike flies to California for spring break to reunite with Eleven, but their reunion is cut short after Eleven is arrested for assault. Before the feds can find Eleven, Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser), the head doctor of Hawkins Lab, shows up and offers Eleven a chance to regain her powers and save the world. Back in California, Mike, Will, Jonathan and his new best friend, Argyle (Eduardo Franco), escape from the feds after they open fire in the Byers’ home. In hopes of finding Eleven, they set off to Utah to ask Suzie Bingham (Gabriella Pizzolo) to hack into NINA, the experimental structure built by Dr. Owens and Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), also known as “Papa” by Eleven.

Back in Hawkins and unaware of anything happening to the rest of the group, Dustin, Lucas, Max, Steve, Nancy and Robin are trying to determine which creature from the Upside Down killed Chrissy (Grace Van Dein), a popular high school cheerleader; by doing so, they hope to clear the name of their new friend, Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). They soon find out that this creature, whom they refer to as Vecna, has been placing curses on students from Hawkins High School who’ve been seeing the school guidance counselor, Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen). Unfortunately, one of those students is Max, and the Hawkins group spends the season searching for a way to save her from Vecna’s curse. When Nancy and Robin visit Victor Creel (Robert Englund) — the only man known to have survived Vecna’s curse — they discover that they can play Max’s favorite song to snap her out of the creature’s trance and save her from death.

“Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush is now not only Max’s favorite song but also the fan-favorite song of Season 4, much like The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” of Season 1 and Madonna’s “Material Girl” of Season 3. Thanks to “Stranger Things,” “Running Up That Hill” has not only experienced a resurgence 37 years after its release, but it has now become Kate Bush’s first-ever U.S. Top 10 hit. In addition to “Running Up That Hill,” Season 4’s soundtrack has given fans several ’80s classics to listen to this summer. Fans didn’t waste time creating Spotify and Apple Music playlists filled with songs from this season’s soundtrack, including “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & The Papas, “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris, “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth and “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by Ella Fitzgerald.

With plenty of plot lines to follow and an amazing soundtrack to listen to, what more could fans ask for? The Duffer Brothers, creators and executive producers of “Stranger Things,” decided that, to put the cherry on top of the cake, they’d give fans not one, but two plot twists. Throughout the season, as Eleven relives her memories to gain her powers back, she believes that she is the one who killed everyone at Hawkins Lab. However, in the final episode of Volume 1, titled “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab,” Eleven remembers that Peter Ballard (Jamie Campbell Bower), also known as One, is the one actually responsible for their deaths. In her memories, after she realized that One had tricked her, she sent him through a gate to the Upside Down. Nancy also learns Vecna’s true identity, which is unexpected, to say the least. Not only is Vecna actually One, but we find out that he is Victor Creel’s son, Henry Creel.

“Stranger Things” fans were left speechless at these plot twists, and although there are still many questions to be answered, everything is beginning to come together. It’s safe to say that this season lived up to fans’ expectations, if not exceeded them. The second volume of the season will be released on July 1 with the final two episodes of the season, “Chapter 8: Papa” and “Chapter 9: The Piggyback.” The episodes will run for 1 hour, 25 minutes, and 2 hours, 30 minutes, respectively, and, after the first volume, there is no telling what the Duffer Brothers have in store for these four final hours of action.

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Cassandra Jenkins

Temple University
Journalism

Hi! My name is Cassandra and I’m a senior journalism major at Temple University. I love reading, writing and playing video games.

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