Stranger Things season 4 part 1 review

It’s fair to say we have been waiting a while for the latest instalment of Stranger Things. OK, that’s a bit of an understatement – we have been waiting a long time. Season three of the show arrived on Netflix on 4th July 2019, and according to my calculations that makes it a mere 1058 days between seasons, or to express that another way 34 months and 23 days – or if you’re old school, perhaps you’d like to say it’s been 2 years, 10 months and 23 days between seasons!

Now, we know there are lots of mitigating reasons for this – the main one being that when we last said hello to the good folks of Hawkins, Indiana, no one expected a global pandemic to descend upon the world that would shut down and then slow down entertainment production for well over a year. Sci-fi fans will know this isn’t the only long-awaited show that seems to have taken a while to come around – and indeed, just like buses, we have waited for a long time for one and two have come along at once – with the Star Wars TV series Obi-Wan Kenobi released on the very same day on Disney+.

But now we know why we’ve been waiting, I guess the next question to answer is, has it been worth the thousand day plus wait? And the answer is a resounding yes!

You can watch the full spoiler free review of the first part of Stranger Things four below, or read on to get a little more written insight…

I don’t wan’t to spoil things for fans of the show, so I will keep things brief when we talk about plot – but the thing you need to know about the return of this series is that it feels bigger, bolder, darker and better than ever before.

Bigger is in both scope of the story and the character journey’s – but also in literal terms. There are seven episodes in season four part one, and all but one of them are more than 70 minutes in length. And we know that the final two episodes of this season will be launched on Netflix on 1st July 2022, and they are chalked up to be 90 minutes and a whopping two and a half hours. So to say that there is cinematic feel to the new series would be pretty accurate, as the episodes are not far off feature films in each and every case.

STRANGER THINGS. Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The series picks up about six months after the events of season 3 and the bust up at the Starcourt Mall. As we saw at the end of that run, the Byers’ have upped sticks and left Hawkins in search of a better life away from the demons both literal and metaphorical in the town. We see them settled in California in 1986 – Joyce is working in telemarketing and is still mourning the loss of Hopper (of course we know better), Eleven is at high school and dealing with the mundane but at times unpleasant ups and downs along with Will, and Jonathan has got into smoking a lot of weed with a new friend and is still in a long distance relationship with Nancy. Things aren’t exactly blissful, but they are more settled than they were when we last saw them.

Meanwhile back in Hawkins, life has moved on a little and the rest of the gang have also settled into life after Starcourt. They are continuing to grow up and move forward in their lives (in some cases faster than others).

Lucas has joined the school basketball team and is hoping this might be a ticket into a better class of friendship group, while Mike and Dustin are still happily wearing their geekery as a badge of honour, and have upped the ante by joining the Hellfire Club, a Dungeons and Dragons society.

Nancy is still trying to hold together a long distance relationship between Indiana and California with a half baked Jonathan, but in the meantime she has managed to become the editor of the school newspaper, and Steve and Robin, well, they’re as thick as thieves as they work in the video shop and drive about a lot.

STRANGER THINGS. Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Max however is in a bad place. She is still traumatised by the events of the end of season three and her loss. She has become introverted and withdrawn from the rest of the characters.

But as you might expect, things aren’t going to stay ‘normal’ in Hawkins for very long. And as Spring Break approaches, those titular ‘stranger things’ begin to happen again – and as you expect, everyone gets drawn back into the fray.

This is a series where we see everything amped up. The tension, the relationships and the scariness. The Duffers Brothers continue to put us through the wringer with Stranger Things and this series keeps building and building. It feels as if we are beginning to enter end game in the show and that season four will set up the programme for one final epic finale. I for one, can’t wait.

If you are in any doubt about whether you should return to Hawkins after the long wait, let me tell you now – you will not be disappointed.

Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1 is on Netflix now. Season 4 Part 2 is released on Netflix on July 12 2022.

Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of RadioTimes.com, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

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