Some spoilers are ahead!
The wait for the new “Stranger Things” is over. No, really! So much has happened globally in the last three years that it feels like a lifetime ago that I binged the third season in my naive, unbothered pre-pandemic state of mind. After a lengthy hiatus, this past weekend blessed us with a new season of the widely beloved Netflix show. With its Stephen King-like thematics and coming-of-age subplots, this show has always been a worthwhile watch for anyone looking to invest time into consuming some escapist yet gripping content.
I don’t know about anyone else but I can confidently say that I wasn’t disappointed. My opinion could be partly biased because I spent the last few years hoping that my favourite character would somehow be revived after his gory demise. What can I say? I’m just a sucker for tough men who are soft only on their children/partners and Hopper fits that description better than anyone else.
Even though I thought Hopper being alive was my favourite plot twist, I would be lying if I said that he was the most impactful character in the new season. I have to wholeheartedly admit that the women in this show are the torchbearers of the cast’s brilliant performances.
Winona Ryder delivers so effortlessly the grieving but determined girlfriend and switches to the attentive mother without trouble. When the first season came out, it was obvious that her presence as Joyce Byers was the extraordinary element that cinched the show’s status as an elite blockbuster. Years later, she has once again proven that her talents are being utilized in an exceedingly efficient way for this series.
While Winona’s act in ‘Stranger Things‘ is a gift that keeps giving, we cannot ignore Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven even if we tried. The woman (Yes, woman. It’s surreal to me that she is not a child anymore!) has been the buzz of the acting realm for a while now. During the long break between the third season and this new one, she has been featured as the titular character in the “Enola Holmes“ Netflix project which has an upcoming sequel due this year.
The movie definitely tapped into different facets of her skills as an actor but I still believe that her portrayal of Eleven is her most memorable work. This new season showed us a side of Eleven that had barely been scraped at the surface before. It delves deeper into her most ordinarily human struggles while also exploring her emotional relationship with her supernatural abilities. Millie has been able to channel all these feelings into her performance with no unnecessary hyperreactivity or callous emphasis which is a great feat for any actor regardless of their age.
Sadie Sink‘s character Max sparked a lot of mixed reactions when initially introduced in the third season. Many had criticized the writers for trying to pollute the fundamental storyline by adding another female figure that would facilitate the overused and tired woman-to-woman rivalry trope. Of course, these people were all proven wrong when Max and Eleven developed a relationship that seemed like it could take a route totally different than what the audiences hastily assumed it would.
Max eventually grew on everyone and some even declared her to be their favourite over Eleven and this has a lot to do with Sink’s crazy potential. Season 3 was just an appetizer to the flavoursome entrée of what Sink delivered in Season 4. To be frank, I think we still have just caught only a little glimpse of what she can do and I look forward to her future work shining a light on her clearly growing abilities that will surely take her way beyond the ‘Stranger Things’ franchise.
It would be cruel of me to conclude this piece without mentioning Natalia Dyer’s Nancy Wheeler and Maya Hawke’s Robin Buckley portrayals. The two definitely did justice to their roles and played an important part in helping the franchise give us a greatly complex, immersive, and striking new season.
You have to dutifully watch the new Stranger Things season to see these powerhouse performances and realize there is not an ounce of exaggeration in my words. I used my weekend to finish it so I don’t know how I’m going to force myself to be patient as I wait for the next part to release in July. Still, it is a much shorter time than we fans are now used to and I have the utmost faith that we’re in for a horrific but exciting treat.
Stranger Things season 4 is now streaming on Netflix