Stranger Things Season 4 Is Already Taking Major Character Risks

After implying the entirety of Stranger Things season 4 would release in the summer of 2022, the Netflix series announced the first volume of episodes would drop in May, but the teasers prove the new installment is already taking a big risk. Consisting of nine episodes, Stranger Things season 4 will officially be split into two parts, with volume 1 (episodes 1-5) releasing May 27th and volume 2 (episodes 6-9) releasing July 1st, arriving nearly three years since the previous season. The show's creators Matt and Ross Duffer have acknowledged this extended waiting period, explaining it was a factor in splitting the season for an earlier than planned release.

Though the wait time was longer than expected, Netflix has dropped teasers for the upcoming season since 2020. After confirming Jim Hopper's survival and the fact that the story will extend beyond Hawkins, a few teasers were released in late 2021 to reveal the fates of a few other characters. Set six months following the Battle of Starcourt, Eleven is living with the Byers family in California, where fitting in is more difficult than ever. Meanwhile, those back home in Hawkins will be forced to deal with another supernatural threat linked to the Upside Down, which seems to have consequences across the globe.

More: Stranger Things Spinoffs Could Repeat A Game Of Thrones Mystery Mistake

While the teasers for Stranger Things season 4 already insinuated that multiple settings will come into play this season, the newly released posters suggest that the release method might lead to risks in storytelling by splitting up the characters for an extended period. With Hopper imprisoned in Russia and Eleven in California, it's a given that multiple subplots will come into play. Despite Mike apparently following Eleven and Will to California, the posters suggest Eleven will get swept back into a storyline driven by the mysterious Hawkins Lab and possibly Dr. Martin Brenner. With these settings added to the remaining major characters of Steve Harrington, Nancy Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, Max Mayfield, Erica Sinclair, and Robin Buckley still in Hawkins, there could very well be four key subplots in focus in season 4's volume 1. Unfortunately, that also means the core group will likely be separated for a good portion of the season, which doesn't bode well when looking at the show's past.

Following the stellar debut season, Stranger Things followed up with an intriguing second installment. Granted, keeping Eleven isolated away from the rest of the group got old very fast. It was inevitable that she would reunite with the others, and the time the show kept her away became a distraction until she finally returned to the main storyline shortly before the season 2 finale. Though Stranger Things season 3 had similar issues, they were on a smaller scale as characters broke off into groups like the "Scoops Troop." Still, it was always proven that the best moments of the series happened when the characters came together, scheming or fighting off threats from the Upside Down. The Stranger Things season 4 posters seem to indicate that the show is repeating its past mistakes by keeping characters away from each other for the long term, going against the proven fact that the series works better when the cast stays together.

It's understandable why The Duffer Brothers want to expand the narrative in different directions, especially if they have plans to continue the franchise beyond the original Stranger Things series. However, with a conclusion in sight now that it's confirmed Stranger Things is ending with season 5, it's important to give the characters as much time together as possible if their arcs are truly coming to a close. Like the situation with Eleven in season 2, the separation of characters will eventually lead to some type of reunion. Rather than stretch out the separation, Stranger Things is better off embracing the group as a unit, so the series doesn't lose sight with a broader scope. As of now, it seems as though viewers may need extra patience to see the group come back together in season 4 volume 2 or possibly even season 5.

More: How The Scope Of Stranger Things Changed From Season 1-4

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