We’re on the verge of getting new Stranger Things episodes — part one of season four arrives May 27; the rest on July 1 — and honestly, you’re not alone if your memories of season three have gotten fuzzy. July 2019 does feel like decades ago. With that in mind, we’re here to get our priorities in order for season four.
Of course, Netflix hopes that even the foggiest brains will recall where we left things back in Hawkins, Indiana, circa the summer of 1985: Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) was without her powers after battling the Mind Flayer. Hawkins’ shiny new mall, which had a secret Russian research facility lurking beneath it, was destroyed during that battle, so Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery) got new jobs at the local video store. With Hopper (David Harbour) presumed dead, Eleven moved to California with Joyce (Winona Ryder) and her kids Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), leaving the heartbroken Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Mike behind, along with the rest of the gang: Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Max (Sadie Sink). Caleb’s sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson) got the Dungeons & Dragons books Will left behind. And Hopper — well, he was revealed to be alive but stuck in an isolated Russian prison… where a Demogorgon was also being held captive.
The new season picks up just six months after that fateful Fourth of July weekend. The young’uns are in high school now, and — as we’ve seen in the season four trailer — things in Hawkins, a town distressingly prone to dimensional rifts and the furious monsters that dwell in them, have not settled down one bit. While we don’t know any specific plot points or what to expect from characters old and new this season, here are seven things we’re hoping to see in the episodes ahead.
Make Hopper More Likable (Again)
A fan favourite in the earlier seasons — he had a tragic backstory, he did a dorky dance so adorable it became a meme, he became the literal definition of “Dad Bod” — Hawkins’ former police chief lost some of his shine in season three, generally acting like an arsehole and treating the two most important people in his life, Eleven and Joyce, particularly badly. His last-act daring and that tear-jerking speech he left behind built some goodwill back up at the end, and he’s obviously going to be a changed man once we meet him (he’s been through a lot). But this season, we don’t want to loathe a character we once rooted for and would dearly love to root for again.
Hit the Ground Running
Seasons two and three both took their time setting the plot in motion — and we get it, Stranger Things isn’t just an action-packed supernatural horror series. It’s also about other things, like nostalgia for the 1980s, friendship, and the ups and downs of young love. But considering we’re only getting half a season in this drop (and you know the Duffer Brothers are going to leave us dangling on a cliffhanger between May 27 and July 1), it’d be ideal if season four integrated its world-building into advancing the plot a little faster.
Avoid superfluous side characters and unnecessary subplots
While no mystery series will ever be without its red herrings and dead ends, last season it felt like we spent a lot of time on characters (Cary Elwes’ crooked mayor) and subplots (Nancy facing sexism at her newspaper job) that could have been important… but felt more like the show was just filling time between the more crucial stuff. (Let us never speak of the “Billy and Mrs. Wheeler poolside dance of forbidden love” ever again.) Stranger Things knows how to introduce characters and subplots that bring real meaning to the story — Robin, for instance, who added a welcome dimension to the scope of the show and who also became a crucial, kick-arse part of the action. It also appears that we’re going to be digging more into the history of Hawkins itself in season four, learning why this seemingly ordinary place has become such an epicentre of totally weird shit. More of that, please.
Flesh out the (human) villains more
We have no way of knowing exactly what Hopper’s going to get up to in that creepy prison — he could escape in episode one! — but it wouldn’t hurt Stranger Things to make his captors more than one-dimensional, generic-1980s-issue Russian baddies. Same goes for any sinister scientists Eleven happens to encounter, which seems destined to happen. Why are they so invested in their evil cause — it can’t just be a Cold War thing, can it? The more interesting they all are, the richer the inevitable conflict will be.
Address the elephant in the room
Since we know Stranger Things season four part one picks up just six months after a dripping beast ripped Starcourt Mall apart, this is probably a moot point for now. But here’s hoping season four part two and definitely season five, the final season, acknowledges the fact that its main characters, who started off this adventure as tweens back in 2016, are now lurching close to drinking age. A bigger time gap within the story’s chronology seems like a logical step, and would allow for some much-needed character and story evolution, not just for the kids but for everyone else too.
Remember to have fun
Stranger Things is one of the biggest hits in Netflix history — and it’s building toward an endgame that all involved no doubt dearly hope will cement its legacy as one of the greatest sci-fi horror series ever. But while part of that legacy is wrapped up in its big, epic, impressively special effect-laden moments, one of the show’s enduring delights its how much fun it has in the dorky, nerdy moments too. What would Stranger Things be without its loving attention to stuff like Dungeons & Dragons and The NeverEnding Story? Chug a cherry Slurpee, scarf an Eggo, and cross your fingers.
But also make it scary!
Just kidding — we don’t have to demand this one, because LOOK AT THAT GUY. Season four is definitely gonna be scary as hell, and we can’t wait to make this terrifying fellow’s acquaintance. Now we want to know: what are you hoping to see from Stranger Things’ new season, and what are you hoping it saves for the (maybe) spin-off instead? Share in the comments below!
Stranger Things returns to Netflix on May 27.
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