Stranger Things Season 4: Volume 1 Review - 6 Ups & 4 Downs

2. Characters Are Split Up Far Too Much

Stranger Things Season 4 Winona Ryder

Though it's certainly not a new trick for Stranger Things to split its large cast of characters up into various subplots, it's a narrative technique that's never felt more desperately strained than in season four.

Because the huge ensemble cast has grown to such a near-unmanageable size, they're portioned off into numerous parallel plots: Eleven trying to start over, the Hawkins kids dealing with a new supernatural threat named Vecna, Hopper being imprisoned in the Soviet Union, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) trying to rescue him, and the Byers kids... not doing a whole lot in California.

Even with the episodes being as long as they are, it's shocking just how many major characters feel frequently sidelined by this heavily compartmentalised structure.

With characters siloed away in their own storylines of wildly varying quality, and without the major convergence you might reasonably expect, the Duffers force themselves to continually cross-cut between these plots, as becomes tiresome long before Volume 1's end.

While it's simply not realistic or practical to have every major character together all the time, the excessive fracturing of the cast makes it difficult for any of these individual plots to build a head of dramatic steam.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.