Stranger Things has returned to Netflix with another binge-worthy season full of classic 80’s excitement and terror. The Hawkins Kids, now into teendom, have split up as they begin their adventure into high school: Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), in an attempt to escape the hectic danger in Hawkins, has moved her sons Will and Jonathan (Noah Schnapp and Charlie Heaton) and their psychic friend Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) to California. This separation is detrimental to the kids, but ultimately short-lived, as Eleven is soon called to return to Hawkins to regain her powers and save the world. What ensues is a thrilling, high stakes season, filled with exciting new monsters, emotional moments, and long-awaited explanations about the mythology behind Eleven and the Upside Down.
Millie Bobbie Brown delivers an explosive and raw performance as usual — longtime fans are satisfied, but horrified by the highly anticipated backstory on Eleven’s traumatizing time as a child in the Hawkins Lab. On top of this, viewers empathize as she struggles with the same adolescent awkwardness as the rest of her friends, managing the pains of growing up feeling different from everyone else.
The episodes in this season are long, with the longest clocking in at an hour and forty minutes. The setting, which was contained to the single town of Hawkins, Indiana in previous seasons, now jumps around between places and storylines — it’s certainly a more complicated season than its predecessors. All this effort pays off, however, with an intricate backstory which satisfyingly connects all the odd ends from the previous three seasons.
The new installment in the series is emotional, relatable, and deeply nostalgic. It hinges on two things: the timeless fun of classic 80’s horror, and the universal uncomfortability of adolescence. Nominated for 13 Emmy Awards, It’s a powerful and earnest addition to the series, which will thrill both new and old fans.