*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Stranger Things 4 (volume 1) is now streaming on Netflix, and it is exceeding expectations in more ways than one. Not only does it pick up where the previous installment left off, but it also introduces a brand-new villain who’s ready to shake up Hawkins, Indiana.

Keep scrolling for an honest review of Stranger Things 4.

stranger things 4 review
Courtesy of Netflix

The first episode begins with a flashback to Dr. Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) laboratory. The first scene is extremely graphic and triggering (given recent events), so viewer discretion is advised. If you want to start the episode after the gore, then fast-forward to the nine-minute mark.

It goes on to feature a voiceover by Jane (Millie Bobby Brown), AKA “Eleven” or “El,” who moved away from Hawkins with the Byers—Joyce (Winona Ryder), Will (Noah Schnapp) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton)—in the previous season finale. Although she still keeps in touch with Mike (Finn Wolfhard), she’s struggling to fit in at her new school. Not only is she picked on by the “cool” crowd, but she’s also adjusting to life as a normal kid. (FYI, she lost her powers in Stranger Things 3.)

Back in Hawkins, Mike and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) are drifting apart from Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), who now plays on the high school basketball team. Luckily, Lucas’s sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson), is happy to fill his spot in the gang’s game of “Dungeons & Dragons.”

Although Will is now distanced from the Upside Down, there’s still supernatural activity in Hawkins. The first episode introduces viewers to a new character named Chrissy (Grace Van Dien). The high school cheerleader seems to have it all—that is, until she starts experiencing scary visions that transport her to the alternate dimension, where she comes face-to-face with the all-new villain, Vecna. As for what comes next, you’ll have to watch to find out.

stranger things 4 review.
Courtesy of Netflix

Based on the first episode, it seems Stranger Things 4 is worth the watch. It’s easy for a multi-season show to fall flat compared to its predecessors—especially since there’s another season coming after this installment. But that wasn’t the case. Here are four ways it has exceeded our expectations (so far):

  1. There’s a new villain. Though scary, the monsters can get old quick on Stranger Things. Introducing Vecna, who claims his first victim in the first episode. This addition is bound to please D&D fans because he’s known as one of the greatest villains in the game’s history. Vecna has a dark history, so prepare for loads of jump scares.
  2. It’s more realistic than previous seasons. Yes, Vecna is going to be a huge story line. But the relatable high school scenes make the kids seem far more normal than when they were battling Demogorgons, Demodogs and Mindflayers. Or using Eleven’s powers to get themselves out of sticky situations. The fact that they look extremely grown-up only adds to the mature vibe of Stranger Things 4.
  3. The first episode teases just enough to keep fans wanting more. The Duffer brothers are producing one more season after Stranger Things 4, so they can’t give too much away if there’s more story to tell. Luckily, the new installment introduces more than enough mystery to make it seem worthwhile (even though the story isn’t finished quite yet).
  4. One word: Hopper. Stranger Things isn’t complete without James “Jim” Hopper (David Harbour), the Police Chief of Hawkins. Although he’s assumed dead after the season 3 finale, Joyce receives a note in the first episode that confirms he’s alive. *Breaks into happy dance*

PureWow Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Based on the first episode, Stranger Things 4 holds a lot of potential. The only reason it didn’t receive a higher rating is because the Dungeons & Dragons theme is starting to feel a tad redundant, so fingers crossed the Duffer brothers switch it up as the season progresses.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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