Stranger Things Season 4 Review: The Darkest Season Yet Has One Major Flaw

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Netflix hasn't had a great year.

The streaming service is increasing prices, considering implementing ways to combat password sharing, and losing subscribers in key markets.

Stranger Things Season 4 should represent a beacon of hope for the service because the decision to split the season into two parts might well entice people who have left the service to return for two months.

Searching for Answers - Stranger Things

The good news is that the Duffer brothers deliver another addictive outing with Stranger Things Season 4.

After an almost three-year wait between seasons, a lot is riding on the newest batch of episodes to impress viewers. After watching the first seven episodes, the series forges a new and notably darker path.

Fiery Encounter - Stranger Things

Thematically, Stranger Things has always been dark, complete with glimpses of light.

Stranger Things Season 4 is shrouded in darkness throughout all seven chapters screened for critics as the characters face very different hurdles than before.

We pick up with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) trying to deal with her new life in California. It's been six months, and she desperately wants to make friends.

Unfortunately, it's a challenging endeavor. Eleven formed a bond with her initial group of friends because of the way the world pushed them together.

Joyce Takes Aim - Stranger Things

They were bonded for life. Other students have no ties to her in California, so the teenager faces an uphill battle as she tries to come to terms with the past to solidify her future.

Joyce (Winona Ryder), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Will (Noah Schnapp) are also in California when we pick up, and much like Eleven, there are growing pains to this new life.

The season does kick off with an eight-minute segment that creates more questions than answers, setting the tone for the drama ahead.

The series manages to jump between the storylines in Hawkins and California with ease, giving them the appropriate amount of screentime.

Smiling Kids - Stranger Things

The drama in Hawkins is as crazy as ever, and fans will connect with Max's (Sadie Sink) struggle following Billy's death. The past haunts her, and there's no easy way for her to move on with her life.

Bouncing back following a traumatic incident is difficult, and it's clear everyone on Stranger Things is battling some sort of demon. Whether metaphorical or physical, you'll need to tune in to find out.

This season's other central location is in Russia, and unfortunately, the storyline lasts much longer than it should.

There are many positives to checking back in with Hopper (David Harbour), but he's a changed man after spending so much time away from the people he loves.

Floating Max - Stranger Things

There were plenty of questions at the end of Stranger Things Season 3 surrounding what happened to our favorite Sheriff, and thankfully, the series does deliver answers.

The caveat here is that we spend far too much time on the Russia arc that it starts to feel like it's taking valuable screen time away from the other more exciting plots.

The writers should have taken a less is more approach to Hopper this season to expand upon the mystery of what happened to him.

In hindsight, it's probably one of the worst storylines in the series' history, and I say that as a fan since day one.

Nancy and Robin - Stranger Things

It wouldn't be Stranger Things without '80s nostalgia and horror elements, and plenty of that is on full display throughout the seven episodes.

The strongest aspect of Stranger Things has always been the acting.

The cast consistently delivers strong performances. The series does suffer from pacing issues around the halfway mark, primarily due to Hopper's plot.

Stranger Things Season 4 doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessors, but it is still much better than your typical TV show.

On a Mission - Stranger Things

Stranger Things offers something different to viewers, and it continues to do so throughout its fourth season.

Check out the trailer, and be sure to return to TV Fanatic episodic reviews when the season drops.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.75 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Stranger Things Quotes

Hatch said that music can reach parts of the brain that words can't. So maybe that's the key, a lifeline. A lifeline back to reality. It's worth a shot.

Robin

Dear Billy, I don't know if you can even hear this. Two years ago, I would have said, 'That's ridiculous, impossible.' "But that was before I found out about alternate dimensions and monsters, so... I'm just going to stop assuming that I know anything. So much has happened since you left. Your dad was a total mess. He and my mom started getting into fights. Bad fights. I don't think he could stand being here without you. So he left. And he didn't leave Mom much. She's taken an extra job, and we moved to that lovely trailer park off Kerley. Basically, ever since you left, everything's been... A total disaster. And the worst part is, I can't tell anyone why you're gone. I can't tell them that you saved El's life. That you saved my life. I play that moment back in my head all the time. And sometimes I imagine myself running to you, pulling you away. I imagine that if I had, that you would still be here. And everything would be... ( sobs ) ...everything would be right again. I imagine that we... That we could've become friends. Good friends, like... like a real brother and sister. And I know that's stupid. You hated me.I hated you. But I thought that maybe... Maybe we could try again. But that's not what happened. I just... I stood there and I watched. For a while, I tried to be happy. Normal. But I... I think that maybe a part of me died that day too. And I haven't told anyone this. I... I just can't. But I had to tell you. Before it's too late. If you can even hear this. I really hope that you can. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry, Billy. Love, your shitty little sister, Max.

Max