I watched the first episode of Stranger Things Season 4, and I am so happy. The feels are intense, everyone. My heart warmed, I felt cold, I wanted to cry. The first episode was awesome. All of my favorite characters are back and (sometimes) better than ever, and I am all here for it. We also get to see new characters like Chrissy and Eddie and a return of old, irritating ones like Dr. Brenner. It is great. The first episode drew me back into this world that I haven’t seen in the past year.
All of my feelings inspired me to write a blog post giving my reaction, a detailed analysis, and a few of my predictions for future episodes. The show is pretty good at storytelling, and the characters are just likable people. So, why not.
As of today, I have only watched the first three seasons of the show and this episode. I have been watching Stranger Things since the release; I adore this show and all of the characters, and I am super excited for what comes next.
Let’s Get Into the Review
One of the first shots is of the spokes of a bicycle. A paper boy drives down the street on a green, spring day. Classic Stranger Things aesthetic. I am hype already.
The next shots are of a hot tea kettle and a crossword puzzle–sounds like a wonderful morning. Wow, he is timing the crossword puzzle; this is impressive. Oh this is Brenner, I know him by the tie and the hair. I have the creeps already. Oh! We’re back in the lab. I am looking forward to learning more about the other kids with powers. I see number 10! I wonder if this is a flashback, he looks younger than El.
Brenner is doing the brain scan again and drawing shapes. Brenner draws a cow that looks like a dog. He introduces a little humor here. It is kind of a sweet moment; it almost makes me sympathize with Brenner. Almost.
10 doesn’t look okay. Neither do the other kids. What happened here? This kid can’t be El. It can’t be her, can it? I can’t tell. This scene was hard to watch.
The title is the “Hellfire Club,”–which sounds dark already. El starts writing a letter. I like the background music.
El’s Letter to Mike
“Dear Mike. Today is Day 185–feels more like ten years. Joyce says time is funny like that. Emotions can make it speed up or slow down. We are all time travelers if you think about it.”
I feel like the writers are nodding to us. It feels like we have been waiting forever for the next season of Stranger Things. I’m not sure if I’d say it feels like ten years, but it has been a long time. Especially after the pandemic. Time seemed like it was going so slow then, but now I can’t believe how much time has passed. I agree with El here. I feel like time goes slower when I am bored or unhappy.
When I was in school, the school year always felt so slow before summer vacation. In college, the times when I was having fun with friends and enjoying classes, time went so quickly. The semesters felt very short. I like being busy, but I wish that time would slow down a little.
I am not sure I ever felt like a time traveler. People cannot go back in time in real life as far as I know. Although sometimes when I am with friends or family; life resumes to a sort of normal. It feels like I’m going back in time or going back to a comfortable place. People have changed and so have I, but the comfort remains. Maybe that is what El means.
Joyce is in Sales
In the next scene, we learn Joyce works in sales. She works at home. I feel like this is a nod to how so many people have worked from home during the pandemic. Working independently has its perks–Joyce says she likes the freedom. But it can be stressful for sure–especially talking to people on the phone all day. I feel like you are not as free as you think when you are answering calls. You might think you have a free moment when you get another call from a customer.
My dad works in a field where he calls people often, and it can be stressful a times. My friend, P. A. Wilson, works in customer service, and she has told me some funny stories about the calls she receives. I feel like it wouldn’t be too bad if you only had to answer calls during a window of time. With sales jobs, sometimes it is like that, but sometimes you have to be on call lot. I am guessing that Joyce does not have set hours, so she probably has to deal with calls at all times of the day. Poor Joyce.
Does Will Like Mike?
I like listening to El reading her letter in her head. She sounds slightly awkward, but she has improved quite a bit. She has become better at expressing herself in writing and verbally, and she is thinking about other people’s perspectives, but she misses some of the social cues that her peers have already picked up.
She notes that Will is painting and that he seems different. He will not show El his painting. It might be because he likes a girl. She thinks that he likes someone. El had a crush on Mike, so she recognizes how someone acts when they have a crush. Could Will like a boy? Maybe he has a crush on Mike. This is a possibility, especially since he’s hiding his feelings from El.
Will Jonathan and Nancy Stay Together?
Jonathan is smoking weed with his friends. I laughed at El’s narration. I can picture Jonathan as a stoner based on his general demeanor, so I am not entirely surprised. I guess the writers are trying to show all the high school groups. This scene is funny, but it has me worried for Jonathan. He seems nervous about the future, and he attempting to numb those feelings.
I can’t blame him for feeling anxious. I remember my senior year of high school was stressful–applying for colleges and hoping that I could get into the places I wanted to attend. Deciding on a college was stressful too. Life is kind of like that now, I’m applying for jobs and hoping for a response. It is a lot, especially when finances are involved.
I remember in the last season Jonathan was worried about whether or not he could pay for college. That is very understandable. I am a bit worried for him. He might not be my favorite character, but he seemed to be doing well in the last season. He had that job with the paper as a high schooler. We will see.
I like how El says her grammar is “getting good now also.” The phrase sounds awkward, but she is trying her best. After all El has been through, it is nice to see her living a fairly normal life.
El Faces a Bully and School Life
Will seems nervous walking through the halls. Oh poor El. It looks like her and Will are outsiders. She’s excited for Spring Break mostly because she gets to see Mike. . . awww. El is so sweet. I bet she misses him a lot and vice versa. These two are sweet.
Hellfire is the replacement for DnD club. Okay. I’m not sure I like this change.
Omg. Susie is helping Dustin change his grades. I am glad these two are still together. But no!
Next, I get to see Steve and Robin. I love these two and how we dive into a normal conversation between them. No warning, no awkwardness, just friends making fun of each other. Robin has a crush on a girl named Vickie. I love this. Steve is rambling about his dating experiences. Apparently he is working at the video store. And Robin is putting on makeup to impress a girl she likes. Watching Steve tell her to go for her crush is so sweet. Robin says asking out a girl isn’t as easy as it is for Steve. I can only imagine, especially in the 1980s.
“People who like boobies, Robin.”
Lol. I love how they bond over both liking girls.
Dustin and Mike are arguing about who has the best gf. Love this.
Lucas plays basketball and it looks like there is some tension between him and Max.
The football guy is giving a speech.
“We need something to believe in” and that is basketball? Oh, they’re talking about the kids they lost. This is sad to watch. This school has lost a lot of kids to the Upside Down.
The Hellfire Club vs the Basketball Team
Oh man, there is drama with Lucas. He wants to be popular. Honestly, I cannot blame him. The popular kids seem nice, and not being unpopular sounds nice. He likes playing basketball and seems to get along with these guys, so of course he wants to hang out with the team after the game. Lucas has been through a lot.
He is being reasonable here. He can hang out with the basketball team and go to the championship game and still be friends with Mike, Dustin, Will, and Max. I have never liked how on these shows they make it seem like you have to choose. DnD does not need to be on the same night. Switching time seems like a no-brainer.
The answer to any question that sounds amazing. . . Joyce is good at sales. I love how she’s worried about her son’s college acceptance letters.
El Presents Her Diorama and Drama Ensues
Okay, so the way this girl, Angela apparently, says “disabilities” makes me uncomfortable. She sounds patronizing. She reminds me of one of those people who look down and make fun of people with disabilities, but then say they’re “inspiring” for going through life and accomplishing things. When Jane goes up to speak, Angela looks so judgmental already. I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well. A girl plays footsie with Will in the middle of a presentation, he looks so awkward. Poor Will.
Oh El. This girl is awful. “Clarity on the rules of the assignment” that is total BS. I get that a diorama isn’t a typical school project, but can you just not? Her teacher approved the project ,and El isn’t doing a bad job speaking in front of a bunch of her high schoolers. Public speaking terrified me when I was her age, and I struggled with it in college too. I got better over time though. She’s doing fine. And she cares more about Hopper and put more effort into that diorama than you did with your PowerPoint, Angela. Ugh.
Max visits the School Therapist
I like the music that plays in the hallway. Looks like Max is struggling. She is trying to be honest with the school therapist. Her home life is slightly better without her father, but she still processing a a lot. Her therapist is asking questions, and it isn’t easy for her to just open up.
Max has a hard life. Her stepfather was abusive from what we’ve seen, and the Upside Down and her brother’s death made life a lot messier. It is harder for her to connect with her friends, especially since they seem pretty unscathed. They are able to move on easily, but they also haven’t gone through loss the way she has. I can only imagine what she is going through. I am glad that the writers decided to acknowledge that she went through is not easy; it messes with her mental health in pretty much every area of life.
I like how Lucas is trying. He wants to help her find something that she cares about like he does with basketball. Lucas knows something is up. Max isn’t herself. She broke up with him, oh. She thinks he’s trying to get back together. I feel like no matter what he says, Max isn’t up to talk to him.
Now, back to the Hellfire
The leader of the Hellfire Club is pure chaos. He is kind of charming. I am not sure if he is controlling or sympathetic or both.
“You want to postpone the Cult of Vecna.”
Um, it is a club. I would run, personally. I have no interest in joining any cults, thank you. Maybe Mike and Justin should not do this club, but I like that Mike and Dustin are in a new club with new friends. It is good to branch out and meet new people outside of your circle; I feel like we’ve been dropped into their new lives, and it feels natural. I’m happy for them.
Next, Murray, the weird dude, calls Joyce. Murray does Karate. That is so awesome. And he is pouring vodka. So many of the things he is doing I do not need to see. Watching Murray undress for a bath as he undresses the doll is so awkward. . .for the audience. Joyce doesn’t see this.
Jonathan and Nancy Appreciate Each Other’s Differences
Jonathan does not look okay. “Who the hell works over spring break, man?” His friend asks. I held a few seasonal jobs throughout high school and college. I worked during the summer and winter breaks and rarely worked during spring break, mostly because it was so short and I usually had homework and papers to work one over break anyway. Not that those always got done, but still. There isn’t much time to work over spring break.
I like how they switch back and forth between Nancy and Jonathan talking with other people about their relationship. It would be more accurate to say other people are questioning them. I like how they understand each other and appreciate each other’s passions even though they are in different places in life.
The boys are asking everyone about DnD. I feel like Nancy would be awesome at hellfire.
“You’re just jealous that you have another older male friend”
I love Dustin and Steve. And watching Max mess with Dustin. I love this scene too.
“My mom says that game promotes Satanism and animal cruelty”
“That’s just media propaganda.”
“60 minutes begs to differ.”
Oh they’re recruiting middle schoolers. Let’s go.
The Kids Are Not Alright
Here’s Chrissy. She sees spiders come out of a clock. But they’re imaginary. Wow! Is she connected to the Upside Down or the Russian project to recreate the upside down? I hope so. That’d be dope. Poor Chrissy. She’s going to the DnD leader for drugs, and he is trying to be sweet. She’s so lost and scared.
This guy, Eddie is his name, is so charming and nice. The best drug dealer I’ve seen on TV. Chrissy is cute and sweet. She is pretty quiet, and a little shy or maybe just scared of the monsters. She laughs at him though, when he reminisces about the middle school talent show. She scared of the things she sees, but she trusts Eddie. Okay, I low-key ship this.
“You’re not what I thought what you’d be like”Chrissy
“You’re not what I thought what you’d be like”
And she wants something stronger. Oh man, she’s going through a lot of deep shit.
Aww, El. That would be tough. This is her first time in school ever; she has to adjust and learn academically and socially. Oh good, her teacher realizes Angela is being a bully. Will being there for her is aww; he’s a good brother.
Why is this man still shirtless? I like Joyce’s gloves, they have cows on them. I know this isn’t entirely relevant, but they’re cute. The doll has a serial-killer letters and looks like it is from Hopper.
The Big Game TM (Hellfire and Basketball)
Why is Steve taking his date to a high school football game? Fair enough I guess. I have a feeling these two are not a match. I’m not jealous. . . well, maybe a little.
Tammy Thompson omg!! I love the look Steve and Robin give each other. Her performance was so cringe. I love Steve Harrington so much. He’s got great hair. And it looks like the girl next to Robin is her crush. She has short red hair. She is cute.
Aww, she seemed so hopeful when Robin mentioned that she used to have a crush on Tammy. But Robin switches her words immediately. I can’t blame her, but it is a bit sad to see. If her old crush was a guy, she wouldn’t have to worry about what someone would think about it.
But aww, it seems like this girl might like Robin too. I ship these two already.
It looks like Steve’s date isn’t going to work out. He needs a girl who can recognize off-key performances. Or maybe she is just being nice? Still, I get the feeling this date will be their last.
Okay, Erica wearing the American flag is so random, but it is so iconic. I love this so much. I like the juxtaposition between the Hellfire Club’s game and the basketball game; both groups experience the same amount of tension and uncertainty. Erica is hilarious. I wish I had her confidence in middle schooler, this girl isn’t messing around.
Dustin’s “Never tell me the odds” lines up so well with “just get me the ball.”
I like the camera angle on Lucas’ foot swerving and watching Erica roll the dice. I remember going to high school football games with my college band and watching basketball games. When the game is close, and it feels like everyone is in this together. It is a unique feeling. I like feeling connected to everyone like that.
Max is listening to the game on her radio, aww. She’s cleaning up after her mom, looks like her mom was drinking. Poor Max. I don’t remember her having a dog, he looks like a sweet dog.
The Final Ten Minutes
*I paused the scene and missed out on a big part. I watched it later that day and. . .oh man.*
Chrissy going into the D&D leader’s house looks so ominous. I am not sure I trust him or not. Okay, he’s being sweet. Giving her drugs, but he is sweet. I like this guy more than I thought I would. He strums his guitar and calls it beautiful; why is this adorable?
Chrissy looks so scared, on edge. I wonder if she has always been this quiet or if it is just the situation. It could be cool to have a shy cheerleader character. D&D guy is Eddie. Oh her mother has a monster face. Watching her sewing freaked me out. I wish I could sew better. Chrissy! No way should she open the door. When Eddie says gotcha it got me.
“Peaceful bliss just moments away.”Eddie
Why is this guy so sweet and strange? Her Dad’s closed mouth is so scary. This dinner feast looks familiar, like the scene with Billy at dinner in season 3. Oh, this is all in her mind. It seems so real. I’m confused and scared for her. Geez. This monster is so dark. I have goosebumps. He looks like he is from Pirates of the Caribbean a little bit. He’s got those scars and that gushy face.
“It is time for your suffering to end.”Monster-Thing
Oh, but not like this. No. No. Her jaw breaking makes me cringe. She is so dead. The screen goes to credits. Dang. I did not expect them to kill a character in the first episode. You’re killing me, Stranger Things. Chrissy was cool.
Final Thoughts and Theories
Well, we’re going on a trip here. But to quote Melanie Martinez’s Carnival, “You’ve already bought a ticket and there’s no turning back now.”
I am going to keep watching this show, because I adore these characters. I hope the writers don’t hurt them too much. I’ll see. I have a feeling that we won’t see Hopper anytime soon. I hope that all the kids will reunite soon, but Spring Break might not be for another episode or so.
I’m not sure how the kids will react to hearing about Chrissy’s death. They’ll definitely hear about it from Eddie, but will they suspect that it is from the Upside Down or Russia? I’m not sure. I wonder what will happen with Jonathan and Nancy. I don’t ship them that much, so I don’t care if they break up. Yep, I said that. I am looking forward to seeing the group reunite again.
I’m guessing that the writers will keep them fairly separate, and then group up in the end. I liked seeing Will and El bond in this episode. It would be nice to have another Jonathan and Will scene, or another scene with Will, Jonathan, and El and Joyce. I like Joyce’s relationship with El so far, even though she is mostly on the phone for work.
Have you seen Stranger Things? What did you think of the first episode of the new season?
I had a lot of fun writing this analysis, and I am thinking of writing more. Let me know if this was something you liked–and if so, if you’d be interested in seeing more reactions to other shows, books, or poems.