With the revelation of Vecna, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is on the verge of regaining her powers and new gates open between Hawkins and The Upside Down. stranger things is nearing the conclusion not only of its fourth season, but of his as well series End.
Of course, a fifth season is on the way (eventually), and Netflix celebrated both volumes of season 4 and the program at large by dedicating the entire Thursday of Geeked Week 2022 to the series. While it was both a retrospective and a preview, there was still a lot of information to analyze, so we’ve compiled a handy list of the day’s events.
And keep checking back every day as we’ll be expanding our knowledge base over the course of Geeked Week.
Steve should die
(Photo by Netflix)
Unlike some shows that work from a detailed master plan, creators Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer announced that they had only really fleshed out the first season.
“[Netflix] asked us to take her through the mythology,” said Ross Duffer. “So we talked to our writers about The Upside Down and that’s most of what we’re talking about now [in season 4]. The big beats were there.”
Some of these beats played out over the seasons and led to Vecna’s connection to Eleven. And some answers that are yet to come in the fifth and final season have been set in season 4.
But an example of how the production of the series changed the story: Steve (Joe Keery) was supposed to die in season 1.
“When he comes back and fights the Demogorgon, that should be Jonathan’s father,” revealed Matt Duffer. None of Duffer could remember exactly if Steve would die, but they credit Keery with changing the character’s trajectory.
“You learn what works and what doesn’t,” he continued. “The cast affects where you take the narrative, the other writers and directors … it’s this living thing.” He added that while they don’t make it all up on the fly at the time — that’s a anytime rough plan – the act of making stranger things always “informed about what we are doing”.
Growing up means getting darker
(Photo by Netflix)
One of those things that affects history is the inevitable passage of time. As the actors age, so do the characters – though not in a 1:1 progression. In Season 4, the kids go to high school and find their place in it. And that growing complexity led to a shift in tone in the series.
“That can not be The Goonies no more, but they can be in a horror movie,” explained Ross Duffer.
Matt Duffer added, “Aging forces the show to evolve. [For us] Middle school was a fun adventure [and] High school was terrible. I have nothing but horrible memories from high school,”
Citing those memories, the Duffers filled the season with a larger exploration of anxiety and depression, represented by Vecna.
“Season 3 [was] our big blockbuster film. Season 4 was Nightmare on Elm Street and light razor,” he said.
Those cinematic touchstones definitely played a role in Max’s (Sadie Sink) story.
“You learn that he’s targeting people who are in a real place, and Max is one of those people,” Sink said. “She’s processing the grief of Billy’s death.”
Although, as viewers have seen, Kate Bush’s music definitely helped in both of those situations.
And while the story reached some of its darkest depths in Hawkins, not every storyline in Season 4 needed to be interpreted so rigorously.
“We did a stoner thriller comedy where they did another, psychological movie,” Finn Wolfhard said of Mike, Will (Noah Schnaps) and Jonathan’s (Charlie Heaton) Journey through the western United States. “It was great fun.”
Brown, meanwhile, said she “appreciated that the Duffers took away [Eleven’s] Skills.” The deep dive into the character’s emotional well-being and the “real” relationship struggles between Mike and Eleven definitely set things apart from the previous season, where her powers had precedents. She also felt it was a great decision to cast to split up and focus on different 1980s locations, but she also noted, “It always ends up on its head.”
Caleb McLaughlin Defends Lucas’ decision
One of the more dramatic breakups early in the season was Lucas’ transformation from nerd to jock.
“I understand where Lucas is in his life,” actor Caleb McLaughlin said of his characters searching for soul through high school sports. “He’s going through this period of ‘Where do I really fit in?'”
Although he is drawn back to his friends throughout the season, McLaughlin argued he needed this time away from them to see how important they were to him. “I understand why they’re upset,” he added. “[But] he just had to get out real quick.”
His decision to rejoin the Hellfire Club was undoubtedly motivated by the actions of Hawkins High basketball team captain Jason Carver (Mason Dye) following the death of his girlfriend. According to the Duffer Brothers, the decision to unravel him was motivated in part by the series’ tendency to feature characters who simply embrace and accept the supernatural.
“We wanted to find out what it would be like for someone who would have lived a good life [had that not occurred]but then it happens and it all comes out,” said Matt Duffer.
Ross Duffer added: “[Jason] sees these supernatural things and he breaks down a bit. How would you react seeing something so out of touch with reality?”
The answer is of course still ambiguous as the ultimate effect of his satanic panic incitement has yet to be revealed.
David Harbor had a World of Warcraft Seeks
(Photo by Tina Rowden/Netflix)
When asked about the actual Satanic Panic, Winona Ryder recalled the album censorship crusade led by Tipper Gore. She and panel host Felicia Day laughed at the silliness afterwards.
But David Harbour’s memories of the panic went deeper: 1982 mazes and monsters.
“That’s the best,” he said. “Tom Hanks is like a jailer with his friends. said D&D is the devil and he will possess you.”
Though the film became something of a camp classic once the panic subsided, Harbor admitted he was addicted to a video game himself. The massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraftto be exact.
“In 2005 I played the s— [WoW] and it ruined my life,” he recalls, laughing. “I was a night elf warrior named Norad. It was the second tank in my entire guild.”
Curiously, another game broke his addiction: “I played too The Sims and my avatar has reached a certain point in his career [in the game’s acting profession]and I wanted him to work on his speech and his body [skills]. All he wanted to do was play video games and I had that woman-woman moment. I came back [to the real world].”
Over a decade later, the real world would include the biting cold of Lithuania, where stranger things shot the outsides of the Russian prison.
“We shot in a real prison outside of Vilnius,” Habour said. “The hardest part was when Hopper left his shoes and I ran barefoot. It’s not very comfortable,” he said. “I’ve found my wolf – my inner Russian bear. It was physically and emotionally brutal.”
Joyce, Ryder’s character, spent most of the season trying to find his way to the same place. When asked what prompted the character to leave her children to find Hopper, she said, “It’s Hopper. You are like family. There’s no way she didn’t go.”
A tease of Season 4 Volume 2 and a Hellfire Club campaign
(Photo by Tina Rowden/Netflix)
The main part of the session ended with a short teaser (posted above) of Season 4 Volume 2. In the final two episodes of the season, Joyce, Hopper and Murray (Brett Gelman) delve further into the Russian mystery as Eleven heads to Vecna to confront. Although, as he claims in the tease, “You set me free…You can’t stop this now.”
After that, Wolfhard, Priah Ferguson (Erica via the series), Gate Matarazzo (Dustin) and Joseph Quinn (new character Eddie Munson) attended one dungeons Campaign by B. Dave Walters. The campaign, set in Hawk’s End, saw the group face the undead, battle with Vecna and save the day. Notably, Ferguson played Erica’s Lady Applejack, while Quinn played a creature named “Joe Kerry.” It was about 80 interesting minutes that proved once again that Walters is one of the best dungeon masters working with video.
Stranger Things: Season 4
returns for Volume 2 on Netflix July 1.
On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.