Courtesy of Netflix
It has been 1,058 days since new episodes of Stranger Things have been released on Netflix. Finally Stranger Things is back and better than ever. Season 4 Volume I is the best the show has ever been. It ties every story together and explains why the events of Season 1 happened. The newest villain Vecna is the scariest villain the kids from Hawkins have ever faced. The show is the scariest it has ever been, providing more terrifying moments than they ever had before. Let's break it all down.
Stranger Things Season 4 starts with a terrifying opening of kids being killed in the Hawkins Lab. The opening makes us believe Eleven has done this. We'll talk about what really happened later. This terrifying beginning sets the tone for the whole season. The creepiness begins with a student Chrissy having visions. She eventually tries to buy drugs to get rid of the visions but her past trauma catches up to her and dies by the hands of Vecna. Her body is snapped and disfigured. This causes panic throughout Hawkins, including new character Eddie who Chrissy was buying drugs from and saw the whole incident. This starts the chain of events for Season 4.
Season 4 takes place in many locations. The first location is Hawkins. The second location is Russia where Hopper is stuck in a prison. The last location is Lenora, California where the Byers and Eleven moved to. These locations provide for some great cinematography throughout the series. I can even say it's the best cinematography in the whole series.
Every main character in this season has their own arc. Eleven is trying to live a normal life without her powers. Max is dealing with trauma from the death of Billy. Lucas is making new friends on the basketball team. Mike is headed to California to see Eleven for the first time in a year. Will is feeling sad because of his relationship with Mike. Dustin has two older male friends now: Steve and Eddie. Nancy is feeling conflicted about her relationship with Jonathan. Jonathan is also feeling conflicted about his relationship with Nancy. Steve is trying to find a real relationship. Robin is also trying to find a relationship with her crush. Joyce and Murray go to find Hopper and rescue him. Hopper is trying to survive in the Russian prison. Each character has something happening but their focus quickly changes when Vecna starts killing people.
Vecna's first victim is Hawkins high school cheerleader Chrissy. Eddie sees Vecna's killing of Chrissy and runs away terrified. Max sees Eddie running terrified out of his house. News spreads of Chrissy's murder and Max believes Eddie murdered Chrissy. She is not the only one who believes Eddie murdered her. Chrissy's boyfriend Jason believes it too. Jason rallies the basketball team, including Lucas, to go and find Eddie. Max tells Dustin everything she saw but Dustin believes something else killed her. After seeing Chrissy's body, they realize that whatever killed her couldn't be a human.
Vecna kills again, this time it is Nancy's partner Fred Benson. Vecna preys on his victims' trauma. He uses their trauma against them. Dustin and Max set up a base of operations and Steve and Robin's job. Their mission is to find Eddie before the cops do. They eventually find him hiding in an abandoned house. Eddie tells them what happened thinking they won't believe him but they do believe him because they have seen this type of danger before. Dustin, Max, Steve, and Robin reunite with Nancy to try and figure out what's happening and who is murdering these people.
Meanwhile in California, Eleven is pretending she has a great life for Mike. In reality, she's getting bullied and feels lonelier than ever. Mike sees this when Eleven gets bullied at the skating rink. Eleven gets revenge on her bully Angela by hitting her in the face with a roller skate. Eleven gets arrested for her actions. Before she can be transported to the juvenile detention center, Dr. Sam Owens appears and helps Eleven. He says there is a way to get her powers back and that her friends in Hawkins are in trouble. Eleven agrees to go with Dr. Owens. Owens takes Eleven to a secret lab where it is revealed that his partner is Dr. Brenner aka Papa. Eleven tries to leave but soldiers in the lab stop her.
In Russia, Hopper is stuck in a Russian prison but he can get out, thanks to a new friend named Enzo. Enzo is a prison guard at the prison. Joyce needs to bring a man named Yuri $40,000 to get Hopper out of prison. Once Yuri and Enzo have their money, Hopper can escape. Joyce and Murray fly to Alaska to give Yuri the money but he double crosses them and Enzo. Joyce and Murray are now being held at ransom on their way to Russia. But Murray shows of his new karate skills and kicks Yuri's ass and then crashing the plane. Seeing Murray being a badass was one of the highlights of this season. Now it's Joyce and Murray's job to break Hopper out of prison.
Back in Hawkins, the gang figures out that the creature killing these people is related to the Dungeons and Dragons character Vecna. They figure out Vecna's first victim is Victor Creel and his family. Victor Creel is seen as a murderer in the town of Hawkins. Robin and Nancy visit Victor Creel and he tells them his story. His story correlates to what is happening in Hawkins. As this is happening, Vecna has targeted his next victim and it is Max. Vecna shows Max all of her trauma and calls for her to join him. This reaches a boiling point when Max visits Billy's grave. Max is in the upside down as her body in reality starts levitating. Luckily Dustin, Steve, and Lucas find out from Nancy and Robin that music helps fight off Vecna. In the best scene from Season 4 Volume I, we see Max in the upside down running back to her friend as "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush is playing. She makes it back to the real world and is safe. This scene was the most intense in the series. Seeing Max almost give in to Vecna but then realizing she still has something to live for was fantastic writing and execution. Sadie Sink who plays Max did a fantastic job, arguably the best part of Season 4 Volume I.
Eleven is reliving all of her experiences in the Hawkins Lab. The show used deaging to make Millie Bobby Brown look younger and it looks really good unlike Robert De Niro in The Irishman. Eleven meets an orderly in the Hawkins Lab who tries to help her whenever he can. She relives these memories and her powers slowly start to come back. We get more insight into what happened into Hawkins Lab and what Eleven's experiences were like. We find out she was bullied by the other children. This explains why Eleven believes she is different in every environment she is in.
Back in Russia, Joyce and Murray have devised a plan to get Hopper out of prison. Murray pretends he is Yuri and brings Joyce and the real Yuri to the prison. They spot Hopper, Enzo, and the other men about fight the Demogorgon the Russians have locked away in their prison. Hopper and Enzo put up a good fight with a little help from Murray and Joyce opening a door for them. Then we finally get the reunion we've been waiting for. Hopper and Joyce have finally reunited. This was a touching scene especially as they embrace each other and Hopper smiling when they do.
Mike, Will, Jonathan, and new character Argyle go to Utah to see Dustin's girlfriend Suzie to find out where Eleven has been taken to. In a funny scene, they find out she is in Nevada as a part of the Nina Project. Now they are on their way to Nevada to find Eleven.
Nancy, Steve, Eddie, Robin, Dustin, Lucas, and Max go to Lovers Lake to find another gate. This gate opened because Vecna kills Lucas' teammate Patrick while the team was looking for Eddie. They realize Vecna can open gates to the Upside Down. Nancy, Steve, Eddie, and Robin go on a boat to find the gate while the kids stay behind. Steve dives into the water and finds the gate. He gets sucked into the gate by a creature from the Upside Down. Nancy dives in immediately to try and save him. Their chemistry has been building this season. I have a feeling they are going to get back together. Even characters mentioned that possibility to both Steve and Nancy. Robin and Eddie jump in the water as well. I was legitimately scared Steve was going to die here but thank God he is okay. They figure out that the Upside Down is in the past, specifically the date November 6, 1983, the day Will was taken in Season 1.
This all happens while Dustin, Lucas, and Max are questioned by police about Eddie's whereabouts. They figure out that Nancy, Steve, Eddie and Robin are in the Upside Down. They start communicating with each other with lights. Both groups go to Eddie's house to get them out of the Upside Down. This works well except for Nancy. Nancy tries to go back to reality but is now Vecna's new target. Nancy still has unresolved trauma over the death of Barbara. Nancy sees Victor Creel and his family and realizes it was Victor's son who is causing all this.
The friendly orderly helps Eleven break out of Hawkins Lab. Eleven wants to help the orderly so she destroys the chip that is planted into him. This unleashes the friendly orderly. He reveals himself to be 001 and has the same abilities as Eleven. We find out that Eleven didn't kill all of those kids, it was One. One delivers a fantastic monologue about how he couldn't conform to life and the rules. He realized he can make his own rules. He is the one that killed his mom and sister. He killed Chrissy, Fred, and Patrick. He is Vecna. I did not see this coming but when it happened it all made sense. It is a great twist that furthers the whole series. Eleven fights One an sends him to the Upside Down where he becomes Vecna. That is the end of Volume I.
Stranger Things 4 Volume I was fantastic television. The acting was great and the story was great. Ev though it is the darkest season yet, the show does a fantastic job adding comedy to the mix. It felt like I was watching many different movies at once but they all meshed well together. It leaves you wanting to see the last two episodes. July 1st can't come soon enough.
What did you think of Stranger Things Volume I? Leave it in the comments below.