Stranger Things 4 Episode 1 Sets up its Darkest Season Yet

Stranger Things 4 is just around the corner, with Volume 1 airing exclusively on Netflix on May 27. It’s been a long wait thanks to the raging pandemic, but we’re finally here! Well, almost.

We were fortunate enough to catch the first episode during a special screening last week courtesy of Netflix and of course, we’re trying hard to keep our mouths shut, but we can share indeed share a few notes here and there about what happens during the episode!

If you want to approach Season 4 as a blank slate, we suggest clicking that X button on the top right of your screens, we won’t blame you for wanting a clean viewing experience after waiting for nearly 3 years.

Mild Spoilers Ahead!

Watch – Stranger Things 4 Official Trailer

6 Months After

Coming from the epic battle that consumed Starcourt Mall, Stranger Things 4 takes place 6 months after that fateful day. As you may remember, some members of the gang have gone their separate ways at the end of Season 3. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will (Noah Schnapp), along with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Joyce (Winona Ryder), pack up their bags and move to another town for a fresh start, while the rest continue on with their lives as high schoolers.

The theme of Episode 1 can be summed up in 2 words – moving on. The episode doesn’t quite focus on one character but instead shifts perspectives throughout its 1-hour and 15-minute runtime. Yes, the episodes in Stranger Things 4 are supersized, so get ready to binge-watch your weekend away!

The kids are all grown up but at the same time, are also struggling with their lives as high school students. As you can guess, not everyone is having a good time. El and Will are trying to fit in a new community but, as with all high school experiences, are at the receiving end of the bullying stick. Max (Sadie Sink), who has broken up with Lucas, is struggling to move on from the traumatic events of Starcourt. Despite everything that happened, they are still teenagers after all!

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Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) continue their D&D adventures as part of The Hellfire Club, a new group of nerds with an ongoing campaign against Vecna, who is suspected to be the big bad of the season. Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is dealing with his newfound popularity as a benchwarmer for the local basketball team and is at odds with Dustin and Mike because of a typical high school “them or me” squabble.

Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) continue with their weird dynamic with each other while Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan are dealing with the perils of a somewhat long-distance relationship.

Despite the seemingly mundane events happening throughout the episode, Stranger Things 4 continues its own brand of storytelling, infusing nostalgia and showing continuous character growth that keeps audiences glued. Humor and drama are in strong effect here, and even in an episode that is more grounded in reality, the show remains entertaining from start to finish.

Stranger Things 4 Episode 1 cleanly lays out each character and shows their motivations and struggles, which will likely be a recurring theme throughout the latest season. The world-building continues and once again, successfully draws us back to the ongoing events like it was yesterday.

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Related – Watch the first 8 minutes of Stranger Things 4

Throughout Stranger Things 4 Episode 1, there’s very little that will push the story forward in terms of the Upside Down because of its focus on portraying the cast as they try to move on from the events of the past. That’s not to say there isn’t, though!

Joyce receives a mysterious package that gives a glimmer of hope for Hopper’s (David Harbour) whereabouts. Coming from the events of last season, Hopper’s “death” was a big talking point leading up to Stranger Things 4, so we’ll leave things about that in the dark for now. Also, we get to see a glimpse of the horrors that await the gang in the next few episodes, but we’ll leave that for your viewing to further hype the mystery.

One thing that Stranger Things 4 Episode 1 does, and does successfully, is pace the events well enough to not leave a boring moment. Coming from the battle of Starcourt, which ended Season 3 with a bang, starting out the latest season is going to be a tall task. Despite the lack of fireworks, the latest episode is an entertaining and charming good time that sets up the events of the season on a high note.

In case you’re itching to rewatch everything over again to get hyped for the latest season, why not check out this special Season 1-3 recap from the cast themselves!

Stranger Things 4 premieres exclusively on Netflix on May 27 for Volume 1 and July 1 for Volume 2.

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