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‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Interviews: Darker Journeys, New Faces, and Vecna of The Upside Down

This season, we will see the gang divided, but when a new threat from the Upside Down surfaces, they must join forces to save Hawkins once more.

Are you ready for the biggest and darkest season yet of Stranger Things?

The third season of the hit Netflix series left us dreadful yet hopeful for our favorite characters. After the Battle of Starcourt which resulted in the deaths of Billy and Hopper, we get to see the gang going on their separate ways as the Byers family and Eleven move out of Hawkins for a fresh start.

But as the trailers for the fourth season rolled out, we learned that Hopper is actually still alive and held captive. Soon, the gang will also have to face a new threat brewing between Hawkins and the Upside Down– a sinister being called Vecna.

Before the return of the hit Netflix horror sci-fi series this May 27, we got to virtually sit with the cast of the show where they shared more details about the growth of their characters this season, their new nemesis Vecna, and more. The show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, also gave some details about the making of the latest season.

A bigger, darker season that dives deep into the Upside Down mythos.

Through a social media post, the Duffer Brothers confirmed that season 4 will be the penultimate season for the entire series and that it is “bigger than ever.” In fact, with its large scope, season 4 has been divided into two volumes, with the first half getting released this May 27, to be followed by the remaining episodes on July 1.

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“We call this our Game of Thrones season,” states Matt Duffer in the press notes provided by Netflix. “Because we have so many different locations. The fact that we’re as spread out as we are this year defines the season more than anything. I think that’s what makes it a very unique and special season of Stranger Things. We have Hawkins, of course, as always, but then on top of that, we have California and Russia. We have storylines in those three major locations, and each has a very distinct feel and look. And all these storylines, disparate as they are, do end up, eventually and inevitably, coming together. It’s a very unique season.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Ross Duffer also shares how dark this season will be: “We had a lot of fun with the fact that season 3 was set in summer, and it was really technicolor and bright and very poppy. We saw it as our summer blockbuster, but it had one of the darker endings with Hopper being gone and our group splitting up. We continue with that darkness this season. It’s about dread, and it’s also about revelations. We have so many ideas that we accumulate over the years, and this season it feels like we’re finally bringing almost all of them to life. We learn more this season than we ever have about our mythology. We learn a lot about the Upside Down and what this evil force that’s been threatening Hawkins all these years really wants. It’s exciting for us because a lot of the story is uncovered this season. Overall, I would say that the tone is certainly darker than it’s been. The goal was to make this the scariest season yet.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Whatever happened to Eleven and the gang?

This season, we find Eleven and Will trying to fit in at their new high school in California. According to Ross Duffer, their new suburban home “has a very different vibe. The goal for California was to have an E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, Valley feel to it.”

But this is also the first time that Eleven is away from Hawkins as a new evil emerges to threaten her friends back home. Not only that but she also lost her powers last season.

“She’s helpless even when she learns about what has happened in Hawkins,” explains Matt Duffer. “She’s unable to help them in the same way that she has before. This season, she has to revisit her entire past, which is very traumatic. She has to go back and re-experience a lot of the things she wished she had forgotten. And that is the drive of this season.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Back at Hawkins, the remaining kids are also navigating the complexities of high school. “We see Lucas as he’s pulled over to the side of the jocks because he’s athletic, and he thinks he has a shot at being popular for once. Dustin and Mike, who are less athletically gifted, drift more naturally to the Hellfire Club, with the nerds and the outsiders. That creates a little bit of a rift between our core characters. Max is completely adrift at the start of the season,” Matt shared.

Meanwhile, the older members of the group are mostly facing some romantic struggles. Nancy and Jonathan are trying to work out their long-distance relationship; Robin is trying to gather some courage to confess to her crush; while Steve Harrington is just lost on how to find a girl he could click with. As for the adults, Joyce and Murray set off on a quest to find and rescue Hopper.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Introducing the Hellfire Club, Eddie Munson, & Argyle.

This season, fans will be introduced to the Hellfire Club, Hawkins High’s Dungeons & Dragons club, which is run by a major new character named Eddie Munson, played by Joseph Quinn.

“Eddie’s not your typical nerd; he’s really into fantasy, but he’s also into heavy metal music,” explains Matt Duffer. “He has a band. He’s an outsider — he’s the ultimate outsider in a lot of ways. He doesn’t fit in at Hawkins High, except among the members of his exclusive club. Eddie is looked down upon and feared in a lot of ways by other Hawkins students. But he offers a place where Dustin and Mike can feel at home.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

The Duffer Brothers also cited how during that time in the ‘80s, there was a concern that D&D’s popularity was leading to a rise in Satanism. Ross Duffer adds: “We were really inspired by that sort of Satanic panic that was happening in and around this time. The documentary series Paradise Lost was an inspiration for both Eddie and the Hellfire Club. We’re really excited about diving into that stuff.”

Another new character that will be introduced this season is Argyle, played by Eduardo Franco. As Ross Duffer put it, Argyle is the “quintessential ‘80s stoner.” A pizza delivery guy, Argyle becomes friends with Jonathan after the Byers moved to California.

Asked about the new characters’ chemistry with the established cast, Joseph Quinn says this about the show’s writing: “They brilliantly take these new energies and throw them into this already very dense broth– character broth– which is working and alive, and there’s something new in there.”

Max and Lucas’ struggles this season.

This season, fans will find Max in a dark place after her stepbrother’s demise during the Battle of Starcourt. Aside from Eleven’s traumas, Max’s struggle to overcome this tragedy will also be highlighted this season. And her being distant will also have an effect on her childhood sweetheart, Lucas, who is also lost in a way this season.

Photo from the Stranger Things Season 4 trailer

“I think we find Max and Lucas just in very different places in their lives,” shares Sadie Sink. “Max is in a lot of pain and in typical Max fashion she doesn’t want anyone to know it. So I think having someone like Lucas who’s extremely caring and was able to see her in a way that a lot of people can’t, I think that’s really scary for her. But Lucas, he just cares too much.”

Caleb McLaughlin adds: “I feel like the distance [between Lucas and Max] has put Lucas in a very vulnerable place […] Max is his happiness, his friend. And when that’s not there, and he sees the things that she’s going through, he’s kind of lost as well. He feels her pain. There’s a lot of stuff going on there. You know in season 3, I forgot how many times Max broke up with him. But at that moment, he gets her back every time. But at this moment, I think he feels like ‘Wait, maybe I won’t be able to, maybe there’s something more than just this relationship.’ It’s bigger than just them, so he’s just trying to figure out what’s happening.”

Vecna and the psychological horror of season 4.

After the Demogorgon, Demodogs, and the Mind Flayer, this season’s big bad comes in the form of Vecna– a terrifying human-like monster that could torture our heroes through their heads.

“The main villain this season is our version of Pinhead or Freddy Krueger. Since season 1, we’ve wanted to include a villain that could actually speak to our characters; that could vocalize their motives and their thoughts, and could also get into our characters’ heads. It’s much more of a psychological horror this year as opposed to just a monster movie,” says Ross Duffer.

The excited fandom of Stranger Things.

The first time we saw the group in season 1, they are just little kids trying to find their friend Will while running away from Eleven’s pursuers. Three seasons later, we are still thrilled to see the next chapter in the lives of our beloved characters, especially now that we’re on its penultimate season.

“A lot of people talk about the nostalgia effect, and how that usually draws people in, especially those who grew up in the 1980s or who were teenagers in the ‘80s,” says Gaten Matarazzo when asked why the show is so popular. “So a lot of people gravitate towards that, but I think young people watch it because it’s pretty cool to see a young cast lead a show like this. And there are a lot of reasons why people show up and stay, because they genuinely start to feel for the show and the characters involved. It’s really wonderful to see how diverse our fanbase is. How many demographics– like older people like it, younger people like it. That’s really cool because that’s not common for shows.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Are you excited to see Eleven and the gang reunite to fight another evil from the Upside Down? Be sure to catch Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1 when it drops on Netflix this May 27!

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Stranger Things
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The Duffer Brothers
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