As the fourth season of Stranger Things debuts on Netflix, I asked myself if I should plough right in or did I need to refresh my memory a bit on season 3. Then I realised I hadn’t ever rewatched a season, so it felt time to go right back to the beginning!
We start on November 6th, 1983. The 80s setting is hugely well done, and fits so well with the story. It’s also a little disturbing that the years of my childhood are now nostalgia-fest, but what can you do? 😉 It also allows for the showrunners to give so many nods to the movies and music of the time. ET, Poltergeist, IT – all things Stephen King – and so much more. It’s subtle, but done ever so well.
We’re also in the town of Hawkins, Indiana. As the series progresses, we’re shown that the Hawkins lab was running experiments on children, aimed at developing psychic powers. So the two main catalysts of the whole piece are the experiment somehow opening a doorway to somewhere… not nice… and one of the ‘experiments’, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) escaping.
Meanwhile, a group of young friends – Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin – are playing D&D in Mike’s basement. The themes of monsters and dungeons seems very appropriate for what’s to come, starting with Will’s disappearance on his way home. We now bring in Will’s mom – a brilliant Winona Ryder – and his big brother, Jonathan, and another set of plot threads that follow the older kids. Will Nancy and Steve ‘the Hair’ Harrington make a good couple – and what led to the #JusticeForBarbara campaign?! It’s well done, as you can root most for the kids, the teens, or the adults, without feeling alienated with the focus too much on one. This time, I did find myself liking police chief Hopper (David Harbour) all the more, perhaps because I know where the story is going, but also maybe just this time I wasn’t so focused on the story from the kids’ view, given they do lead you into it, fully.
I’m really glad I went back for a rewatch. I remembered everything that happened (can be rare for me! ;)), but it’s so well made that the repeat viewing lets you get caught up in the characters, the era, the atmosphere – oh, I had forgotten how creepy it is! The layers of plot threads, the strata of ‘generations’, the special effects, the creepy tone – all builds just so wonderfully into the whole. I loved the characters even more this time, having seen them develop even further in later series, and knowing that it’s ‘okay’ to get invested in pretty much all of them – first watch of an ensemble cast, you’re never quite sure they’re all actually important, but one of the joys of the show is that, yes, it really is about everyone. Oh, and I’m thoroughly impressed with how un-annoying the kids are: usually I’m not a huge fan, but despite a few moments of childish lashing out and extreme reactions (looking at you Mike, but probably Lucas a bit) that flip-flop, they do form the heart of the show. Plus, of course, it’s fun seeing them so young when you can zoom forwards 5+ years 😉
I’m guessing they didn’t know they’d get even a second season, so it ends both wrapping up the storyline fairly satisfactorily, and leaving the door open for more – which obviously we got, hurrah!
Definitely worth a rewatch at any point, and if you haven’t dipped a toe into Hawkins’ Stranger Things, then absolutely go for it!
First broadcast: October 2016
Series: 4 (with a 5th to finish the story due maybe next year?)
Episodes: 8 @ ~50 mins each
My rating: 9/10