“That’s why we play!”
Stranger Things is cool now, and if you wanna be part of the club you gotta be able to stomach the horror. Which is why The Duffer Bros’ open their 270 million dollar new season with a harrowing 8 minute sequence that had to be prefaced with a trigger warning. It’s a rite of passage. As if to say, make it through this bloody trial and be rewarded with the finest hour of the show to date.
The first episode of the California love infused fourth season delivers all the feels, and dazzles the senses with its killer soundtrack, slick cinematography and editing, majestic set designs, and an Effervescent 80s’ color palette befitting this season’s peppy new characters.
Additions include a charismatic basketball team captain, a savage click of California mean girls, a frosty-eyed cheerleader, a Cheech-ian hippie stoner, and the bodily kinesthetic guitarist and Dungeons and Dragons campaign master, Eddie (Van Halen).
The masterclass hour of filmmaking culminates in a jump shot in the final seconds of Hawkins HS’s championship basketball game, which is intercut with an audacious roll of the dice simultaneously happening in the school’s dungeon. It’s a sequence that sends shivers down my spine, reminds us that heroes are not born; rather they are forged in the fiery crucible of pain and suffering that is life. Reminds us that although this town is far from okay, there is hope even now. That it takes a village. It takes the salt of the earth, the upstanding citizens, the popular crowd to keep the town happy and functional, but it takes the demon slayers to keep the Goddamned town sane. This has been the thesis of the Brilliant Netflix series from the beginning. Now it is simply flourishing with context and elaboration.