Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 is a masterpiece of storytelling that weaves together everything we know about this series in a way that feels like the payoff for the time we have invested in this series. At the same time, it feels like we’re learning about this story and this world we’ve invested years in for the first time. The ideas presented in season 4 volume 1 of Stranger Things are fresh, yet timeless and relatable. And by the time you’re done with the first 7 episodes, things start clicking in a way that makes you want to do a rewatch ASAP.
A lot of that is due to the cast of characters. From Eleven to Nancy, Joyce, Steve, Max, and Hopper, everyone gets the time and patience their character deserves to grow in new and fascinating ways. The Party in particular, the children that we’ve watched growing up that include Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, and Max, are facing some of the toughest challenges of their lives. But they’re not alone. They have each other, their parents, and the older teenagers aka Steve, Robin, and Nancy. And it’s this support that these characters have for each other that keeps them surviving everything that comes their way in Stranger Things and the evil that is Vecna.
The dynamic between Max, Dustin, and Lucas and Steve, Nancy, and Robin is by far our favorite thing of this entire volume. They aren’t just friends. They’re family. And when things get tough, because they do in a way we’ve never experienced in three seasons of Stranger Things, it’s not just one group taking care of their own. Both groups support each other and know that they can call on the other when things hit the fan. That shows an emotional maturity that we didn’t know that we needed on our screens. But it’s one that really resonated with us and made us look back at the series as a whole and how these people go to bat for one another despite Demogorgons, demodogs, and demobats nipping at their ankles.
Eleven, played by the talented Millie Bobby Brown, is going through a different kind of journey. Ever since meeting The Party and Hopper, she has been surrounded by so much love, hope, and kindness. With Hopper gone and her being separated from her friends, even with Will, Jonathan, and Joyce by her side, it’s a hard transition for her — one where she needs to find what kind of person she is on her own. It’s difficult to watch, makes you want to punch a hole through your TV and come to her rescue when she faces the true evil of high school bullies, but all along you know that she needs to do this herself to come to terms with her humanity and all its facets.
Her dad, because he is her father through and through, Hopper is also going through some tough times that are shaping how he sees the world in Stranger Things. And if we really think about it, what would you do if you were trapped in a place like where Hopper is? Would you be able to survive? Would you give up? Would you think anyone would come for you? Those are the questions that Hopper asks himself, and his journey runs parallel to Eleven’s in a way where you can’t wait for the payoff of their journeys separately, but also as one. Because like everyone else on this show, they’re family, and all we want to do when it comes to family is keep them safe and be there for them.
That concept of family rears its head over and over in Stranger Things, but never to a point where you get tired of it. If anything, you embrace it. Family is the reason why Joyce is doing everything that she’s doing. Family is the reason why Eleven decides to do the things she does in season 4 volume 1, especially when told she’s the only hope for her friends back in Hawkins. Family is why Steve babysits those kids like they were his own brothers and sisters. And family is what leads to unexpected team-ups that you side-eye at first but then go, “Ok, maybe I’m ok with it.” *looks over at Steve Harrington and his unexpected romantic journey this season because dear lord*
We’d be doing a disservice to ourselves if we didn’t spare a paragraph about Steve Harrington. Our boy…he’s a little disillusioned and stuck; not being able to figure out what comes next in life. He’s got Robin, who continues to be the ball of sarcastic fun that shines like a beacon, but he wants something more than just being the babysitter. He loves his kids, but he’s like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. He wants more. That more comes when faced with an Upside Down that wants to destroy his home, his family, and then him when he enters it (you already saw it in the trailer — and if you haven’t, watch it). Also shirtless Steve and chest hair.
This advance review for season 4 volume 1 of Stranger Things also wouldn’t be complete without talking about our favorite part of all the episodes combined: Max’s journey. We’ve always enjoyed Max’s character (and just the female characters in general). There’s no denying that. But these 7 episodes tore something open for us when it came to Max and made it so we’ll protect her from everything cruel and unkind in this world if it meant keeping her safe. In fact, her journey had such a hold on our hearts, minds, and mental health that there is a sequence that made us ugly cry. And we watched it over and over. So watch out, Sadie Sink is coming for your heart.
Ultimately, season 4 volume 1 of Stranger Things is an amazing journey that sets the stage for this show’s send-off, mixes things up cast-wise, and feels right at place in the mythos and journey that we’ve come to know and love. The family aspect will make you tear up. And mental health issues, like guilt, pain, anger, etc. that we hold inside of us all, will be explored as our favorites continue to grow. And don’t even get us started on the women and how they are making moves that save the day and change the world, one badass action at a time. Basically, it’s the best season yet, and if you’re craving to do a rewatch, do it now. You’re going to need it.
Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 will premiere on May 27th on Netflix.