Hello? Yeah, I’d like to report the hair department for crimes against Will Byers
The first seven of nine Stranger Things episodes dropped on Netflix on May 27, and successfully built up my expectation for an explosive finale. The instalment aims to be a fan pleaser with a dedication to bringing together 80s nostalgia and references with gruesome science-fiction-horror.
With plot lines occurring acrossing state, national and interdimensional borders, the action is kept at a rapid pace in this first part.
This ramped up pacing is perhaps best exemplified through Joyce Byers. I would not have guessed that her season three falling-magnets arc would escalate to a Soviet-prison-ransom scheme in the season four premiere.
The fourth season is made up of many of the show’s expected classic elements: Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Steve Harrington being a MLF (mom like figure), and most importantly, Will Byers’ bowl cut managing to constantly raise the bar for 80s queer representation.
Oh! And there are a bunch of new characters, too.
The casting of Freddy Krueger actor Robert Enguld as the eternally haunted Victor Creel may be the best 80s movie reference in the entirety of the pop-culture-packed series. Other new characters include a number of Hawkins High students who span the ranks of teenage popularity.
The new high school setting for the series’ younger cast coincides with a darker and less innocent real world setting for its heroes. It is in the horrific setting of a high school cafeteria that we meet Eddie Munson, king of the nerds, who is blamed for the horrifying murders of his peers, which were actually comitted by Vecna. .
Vecna is introduced as a humanoid monster of the upside down who is haunting teens in waking nightmares before killing them.
The costuming and blocking for Vecna were incredibly intricate and took hours of work. In an interview with IGN, Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays the character, recalled beginning the makeup process around 3 and 4 a.m. to be ready for 10 a.m. shoots.
The show masterfully introduces the1980s era of satanic panic, and the hysterical scrutiny of the game of Dungeons and Dragons. The real life 1980s alarm surrounding any and all ‘demonic messages’ led the game to remove any and all references to demonic figures for the second edition in 1989, making the science fiction world of Stranger Things feel like an eerie parallel to our own reality.
The seventh and final episode of the release contains a twist reveal with major implications for the rest of the series. Despite the three-and-a-half-hour run time of the final two episodes of this season, the approval of a fifth and final season implies that many larger plot points are being laid for a fifth and final battle.
Splitting the characters into plot lines makes each character feel all the more isolated easily picked off. Despite this, most likely in the effort to build to the finale, the group has yet to face any close-hitting loss in this season, making them feel at times invincible over the course of this instalment.
While we wait for those final episodes, I will flinch at all clock strikes and blast my comfort music at all hours. I’ve gotta cover all my safety bases.
My biggest takeaways have been that this season is propaganda for Kate Bush, and I’d make any deal with God to get an Eddie Munson/Hellfire spin off.