On May 27, the first volume of Stranger Things 4 came out. A little over a month later, our screens were blessed with the second volume of Stranger Things 4. After falling in love with the plot of the first volume, I hurried to binge the second volume the second it came out. After watching the whole season, I can full-heartedly say that this season was by far the best one. The new characters and terrifying villains kept me on the edge of my seat as I indulged myself in every minute of the show.
The New Characters
The first time Eddie Munson appeared on my screens, I was a bit surprised. He didn’t have the persona of someone I was used to seeing in the show. Despite his unconventional personality, he quickly became a fan favorite because of his adorable, kind, and brave nature. Eddie’s storyline was heartbreaking yet painted his character perfectly: a courageous man. He died for a town that hated him just because there was a possibility that he could save some lives.
New characters like Eddie helped spice up the show and add some uniqueness to other seasons. Argyle, Jonathan’s new friend from California, added some much-needed comedic relief in tense situations. Meeting Suzie Bingham’s full family added more dimension to her already fascinating life. The introduction of Chrissy Cunningham and her tragic story set the scene for the whole season. Chrissy’s boyfriend Jason Carver served as someone for viewers to hate and root against.
Without these new additions, the show wouldn’t have been nearly as good. The new characters we met this season gave us someone to root for, fall in love with, or even despise.
The Fascinating History
More than ever, we were able to learn more and more about Eleven’s life story. In previous seasons, we were left in the dark about Eleven’s early experiences in the Hawkins Lab with Dr. Brenner. After losing all of her powers in the season three finale, she works throughout the first volume of season four to regain them. A part of the process of regaining her powers involves reliving her repressed memories. Because of that, viewers can watch Eleven’s traumatic childhood spent in the lab play out. From being bullied and abused by other kids, to her learning about her mother, developing a strong relationship with someone who becomes a defining aspect of the rest of her life, to even learning who this season’s antagonist, Vecna, is, learning more about Eleven’s time at the lab was fascinating.
Up until the very end of volume one, I was constantly waiting for what we were going to learn next. After the man, then known as Henry Creel, forms a stronger relationship with Eleven, the storyline picks up with viewers and Eleven learning new things every minute. When his character was first introduced, I never once thought that he might be 001 or let alone Vecna. As Henry slowly started becoming closer to Eleven, it became evident that he held a larger role in the plot. The process of Eleven reliving her childhood memories made her storyline even more captivating. I was always ready to learn more about her life in the lab and that’s what they did.
The Role of Vecna
Vecna was like no villain Hawkins has ever faced. His powers were utterly terrifying, and I don’t even think we got to see everything he is capable of. The way he uses his victims' trauma to torture them and then eventually kill them was unique and unexpected. Vecna first strikes in the first episode with Chrissy Cunningham being his first victim. There, we see how he gets inside the minds of his victims, terrifies them with their fears and trauma, gives them headaches and nosebleeds, and then suspends them in the air while he cracks their bones. While Chrissy was the first victim, she was far from the last. After that first episode, Vecna went on to target many others, including beloved main character Max Mayfield. As the crew in Hawkins begins to learn more about Vecna, so do we.
Vecna was not always this supernatural being who lived in the Upside Down. He was once a young boy who went by the name of Henry Creel. From a young age, Henry was always the black sheep and that eventually pushed him over the edge. Once he discovered his powers, he killed his mother and sister. His father survives through music, and he ends up overexerting himself and passing out. In the hospital he is taken to, he meets Dr. Brenner. Dr. Brenner takes him as a test subject, and he becomes 001. After he is labeled as 001, more children with the potential to have supernatural powers are taken and inducted into the program. As Henry has his powers contained, he begins working at the lab, where the eventually meets Eleven. He then works hard to form a relationship with her and tries to convert her into his viewpoint. When she refuses, he takes her rage out and the two are left to fight. As Eleven defeats 001, he gets thrown into the Upside Down and becomes Vecna.
Vecna’s complex story has many unexpected twists and turns which makes the season so much more interesting. We get to learn more about this villain’s motives and life than any other villain in the past. After all, he was once human. He understands how humans work and how Eleven works which makes him the most complex and tricky villain yet. It was hard to anticipate his next move because of his intelligence and range in power.
The cinematography, character storylines, and the consistency of Stranger Things made season four the very best. There was never a moment in the season where I was bored; there is a reason that I was able to binge hours upon hours worth of episodes so quickly. Throughout this season, I cried, theorized, wondered, and loved. This season kept what makes Stranger Things unique while also exploring new concepts. I am already dreading the long wait for the series finale, Stranger Things 5.