We had to wait three years for the fourth season of Stranger Things, and frustrating as it was, the Duffer Brothers have made it worth our while, and how! As Stranger Things Season 4 crosses the one billion viewing hours mark, the first English language show on Netflix to do so and the second, after Squid Game, across all languages, we take a look at all the things that make it the peak Stranger Things series. We have judged it the best season so far, followed closely by Season 1.
Here are the seven best things from Stranger Things Season 4:
Right from the first season, Stranger Things made the 1980s the most retro-cool decade ever — from the sets and costumes to the music and pop culture references. The latest season just rolls with it and makes it cooler. But the nod to the ’80s is not just about the Freddie Kruger cutout at the video rental store (Nightmare on Elm Street released in 1984), ’80s hits on a roller skating rink or a metal-head with the name of the Iron Maiden mascot (Eddie). The show cues into the ‘satanic panic’ that was at an all-time high in the mid-’80s and is at the core of the storyline, which included paranoia about metal music and games like Dungeons & Dragons.
Then there is the music. While the soundtrack of the show has always been a talking point, Season 4 just takes it one step further and makes the music part of the story. Whether it is Kate Bush’s Running up that hill saving Max’s life or Eddie being “most-metal ever” with Metallica’s Master of Puppets (released in 1986), the music has not just been spot-on but pivotal this season.
Steve and Dustin
One of the best things about Stranger Things has been the jock-nerd pairing that stole our hearts and, thankfully, the Duffer Brothers give us more of it this season. Our favourite Hawkins ‘mom’ Steve Harrington is back to babysitting his brood and it’s epic as usual. Especially when he keeps getting paired with Dustin. From video-rental store interruptions to car etiquette, from arguments in a horror house to quoting Sherlock Holmes, we have loved every moment that Steve and Dustin have been together. Their chemistry is as great as ever and we can without a doubt say that this will alway be our OTP (one true pairing).
Davide Harbour as Jim Hopper. YouTube
Jim Hopper, cynical cop to badass hero
From cynical, disgruntled cop to overprotective dad to badass hero, we have loved Hopper from Day One of Stranger Things and that love has gone from strength to strength each season. This season is no different. If we thought Hopper was badass before, it is nothing compared to the level of badassery this season. From an incredible prisonbreak to fighting off a demogorgon with just a flaming spear to coming back to his personal hell to buy the kids in Hawkins a little more time, Hopper has been unstoppable. His opening up about Vietnam, his daughter, Joyce and Eleven to a stranger in a Russian prison shows us the road he has travelled and what a character arc it has been! Our favourite Hopper moment? When he tastes peanut butter in that church for the first time since he was imprisoned.
Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield
When we first saw Max Mayfield as the cool kid who could take on the nerds at video games and become best friend to Eleven we didn’t know how crucial she would become to the show. And while Sadie Sink has always made the character likeable and believable, she has hit the ball out of the park this season. Grieving, heartbroken, terrified, adamant, hopeful, brave — Sink has made Max our true hero of the season so much so that it doesn’t matter who saved the day. We can’t wait to see what Max does in the series finale. We refuse to believe that it will be anything short of epic.
Erica, queen of sass
Erica, played by Priah Ferguson, was a fan favourite for her sass from the get go and in the previous season established herself as the queen of sass in Hawkins. This season she is even more grown up, even more sassy and can make the impossible possible in D&D. And this time she is a part of the Hawkins team’s adventures not by accident but because she is invaluable.
Eddie. Of course Eddie. The Hellfire Club leader, Dustin’s mentor and metal-head extraordinaire was an incredible addition to the season. Not only did he shred guitar like a badass, he didn’t run when it counted. Oh and he quoted Lord of the Rings (not the movies, the book. How do we know? Because he mentioned the ‘burning of the Shire’); we rest our case.
Then there is stoner dude Argyle, a fan favourite with chill surfer-dude vibes, rad clothes and the best hair on the show. While he mostly provides comic relief and pizzas, both much needed commodities in this intense season, we hope that we can see more of him next season.
Dmitri Antonov, opportunist prison guard-turned-Hopper ally, was another character we thought was a good addition, as was Yuri Ismaylov, the eccentric pilot, who Stephen King wants to see a spin-off series on.
The Vecna reveal
The big baddie of Stranger Things now somehow feels more real and his Eleven connection makes it even more compelling. We would love to say more but wouldn’t want to spoil it for those who still don’t know.
And two things we wish were done differently:
The Eleven storyline
And we don’t mean the one where she goes back to her past to get her powers back. The over-the-top bullying that Eleven faces in school, the lies she tells Mike, and the incident at the roller rink all feel forced and unnecessary. It gives Millie Bobby Brown painfully little to do, especially when she has had enough trauma in the past — losing Hopper, moving from Hawkins, losing her powers, separation from Mike — to make her despair palpable. The show barely touches on that and it makes it difficult to be really invested in El this season.
Team California — Eleven, Will, Mike, Jonathan and Argyle. YouTube
The old characters
From Mike Wheeler who is a douche to his best friend, to Will Byers who gets precious little to do to Jonathan Byers who abandons his brother and El to smoke up with Argyle, to Joyce who leaves her kids unattended to go on a Russian adventure, this season has been really unfair to some of the central characters, mostly those not in Hawkins.
Well, Nancy Wheeler does get a lot to do and on paper kicks some serious ass but no matter how hard she tries we don’t think we will ever end up liking her.