When the timing of the episodes of Stranger Things 4 was released, the fans were excited. After all, the series Netflix hadn’t had released chapters since June 2019, and there was a lot of anticipation about dividing the characters into cores. Now Volume 1 delivered, however, was a messy plot, with too many things to explain and a bad distribution of all time.
Following the plot of the season three finale, Stranger Things came back with the Hawkins core, made up of names like Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and with the California core, with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Will (Noah Schnapp) and Joyce (Winona Ryder). At the beginning of the season, there’s a lot of focus on how the fans are feeling out of place in this context. From the beginning, the series held on to the good dynamics among the kids. With distance and growth, there is a general estrangement reflected on and off screen.
Eleven, for example, went from being the powerful girl she used to be, to becoming a teenager who is bullied and doesn’t really know how to deal with it. a new moment for Stranger Things and its supporter. But in their eagerness to create so many things about this universe, the creators seem to have left out several important points.
Proof of this is the creation of the Russian nucleus, which comes later and is not justified in this first wave of episodes. A lot of time was spent on the journey to the location and, although reviewing one of the most beloved names in the series is positive, there is the feeling that several scenes were inserted more to occupy the duration of the episodes, than to really develop a narrative.
This also happens to Eleven, who quickly leaves the context of school bullying and enters a journey of self-discovery that takes her to the past to get her powers back. The big reveal involving the character, made in the last episode, is really interesting. But the way is tortuous and tiring. Eleven comes and goes at various times, to end up exactly where she should have been from the start.
Returning to Hawkins, the characters split into two more cores, with children on one side, and young people like Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery), from another. What bothers the teenagers here, which reminds me of a lost episode of riverdale. In one scene, for example, a character is badly hurt and in need of help, but the series finds a way to put a totally unnecessary (and awkward) romantic context in the middle.
The Terror of Vecna
If all the above points make the Volume 1 in Stranger Things 4 weaker than expected, the new episodes really shine with the arrival of vecna a villain that elevates all traces of terror within the series.
At first, Vecna is presented as a frightening creature, who seems to feed on the traumas and weaknesses of young people. His attacks are aesthetically violent, with blood and bones breaking, making Stranger Things leave the youthful air behind and look more like a horror movie. It also helps that danger draws closer to the main characters, putting a beloved name in the story into one of the season’s strongest and most horrifying sequels.
In a second moment, Vecna gains a well-deserved origin story. This raises the character’s stat from a generic scary creature, for a threat with a name, a face and a motivation, which enters into direct rivalry with Eleven. The conflict between the two delivers another good moment of the new episodes – which could have arrived much earlier, if it weren’t for the winding up of the script.
As the final episodes of Volume 1 there is a feeling that the Duffer brothers did not know how to balance the opening of so many possibilities within the universe of Stranger Things, and delivered everything in a confused and Disorganized way. With two more long episodes this season time to tie up all the loose ends is not missing. It remains to be seen if it will be put to good use.