The final season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things is releasing on Friday, after a long wait of almost three years. Fans are eager for the return of the Upside Down universe in Hawkins, Indiana, but the long wait also means that there might be several subplots and characters that we might have forgotten in this time. We rewatched the series to offer you a quick recap before the fourth season of the Netflix original starts streaming. Also Read| Stranger Things 4 releases first 8 minutes of footage, shows Eleven’s rampage at Hawkins facility. Watch
We are introduced to preteens Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), and Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons, which ends with Will getting defeated by the monster Demogorgon. On the way back to his home from Mike’s house in the crime-free town of Hawkins, Will encounters a real-life Demogorgon, a mean, alien-like monster, and rushes home to call for his mom Joyce (Winona Ryder), and brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), who are not there. Will loads a gun in the garage to fight the mysterious monster, but suddenly disappears. This leads to a series of events that introduces us to the parallel universe of the Upside Down, the Eggos-loving superhero Eleven, and the faceless Demogorgon.
Mysterious portals to a parallel, upside-down world cause a massive power outage. Eleven, a young, scared girl runs away from the Hawkins National Laboratory. She has the power of telekinesis and loves Eggos. Apart from the Demogorgon, Dr. Martin Brenner, from the lab is yet another antagonist. The lab also monitors conversations of Hawkins residents and kills Benny Hammonds for giving El refuge, after which she is rescued by Mike, Lucas, and Dustin during their search for Will. Nancy’s friend Barbara also goes missing from Steve Harrington’s house and is killed by the Demogorgon in the upside-down. #JusticeForBarb
As El recognises Will in a picture, the gang takes her help in searching for their friend. She gets flashbacks of the torture she underwent in the lab by Dr Brenner, whom she calls Papa. She makes a bully pee his pants, saves Mike after he jumps off a cliff to save Dustin, and blows up the Demogorgon in the climax.
Joyce gets a phone call with only static on the other side, but believes it to be Will, and sets up Christmas lights to talk to him. She also catches glimpses of the monster and her son and refuses to believe it’s him when a boy’s body is found in the quarry, even though she held a funeral. The body later turns out to be fake and filled with cotton.
Meanwhile, Hopper does his best to save Will as he gets flashbacks of his own daughter Sarah dying from cancer in front of him. He gets confused between Will and El, and arrives at the laboratory led by El’s clothes, where he gets suspicious of their claims. Him and Joyce find out Terry Inves, El’s mom who allegedly miscarried in the third semester, and later went mad claiming that her daughter has been captured by the lab. Experiments were conducted on Terry by Dr Brenner while she was pregnant which gave El superpowers. They ultimately make a deal with the lab to let them go through the gate and find Will in exchange for El’s location. They manage to rescue Will.
The climax takes place at the school where El and the group had gone to find Will. Dr Brenner and his staff arrive at school to capture El, but most of them are killed by her but she gets trapped in the upside do. The bloodshed excited the Demogorgon, who apparently kills Dr Brenner. Cut to the future, Will is puking worms and getting weird episodes where he is suddenly in Upside Down. Hopper leaves Eggos in a box in the woods, hoping to meet El again.
Highlight- Steve is a bully at first but turns into a better person through the course of the series, helping Jonathan and Nancy kill a Demogorgon. He goes on to become a fan-favourite in the later seasons with an impressive redemption arcs.
The season opens with unarguably the worst storyline in the series- the introduction of El’s ‘sister’ and fellow experiment ‘8’ aka Kali. She is part of a gang in Pennsylvania and can create illusions with her mind. In Hawkins, almost a year has passed since Will was brought back from Upside Down. The lab has new management, led by Dr Owens who tries to control the gate of the upside down which is spreading out. Will is also taken to the facility to help him deal with his PTSD, while he gets visions of a huge shadow monster. We are introduced to Murray Bauman, an investigative journalist who believes El to be a Russian spy. New entry Max arrives from California with her stepbrother Billy, a massive bully who gets abused by his dad and hates Max because he had to move to Hawkins so his dad and Max’s mom could start a new life. Max slowly becomes a part of the D&D gang.
Steve and Nancy are still in a relationship, but soon breakup as she struggles to come to terms with Barb’s death. She gets Jonathan’s help to find out how the lab was responsible for Barb’s death and give closure to her parents who believe her to be missing. Murray helps them in the cause and ultimately gets the laboratory shut down. Joyce has a new boyfriend, her high-school classmate Bob, who turns out to be this season’s hero.
Meanwhile, a curious case of rotting pumpkins and crops spreads through town. Hopper finds the slimy substance from the upside down near the rot and asks the lab to investigate. We find out that El is living with Hopper, but escapes to meet her mom, who leads her to Kali. The plot makes no sense and ultimately El decides to return to her friends to save them. The only thing that came out of the trip was the clue that Brenner is still alive.
We also get introduced to Erica, Lucas’ sassy younger sister, who will be a major character in the next season. Dustin adopts a baby Demogorgon, unaware of what it is, and names him Dart. His friends warn him about the creature but he doesn’t care.
A shadow monster enters Will and starts replacing his memories. Will, who wants everything to be cold for the parasite, draws hundreds of drawings as his thoughts get muddled. Joyce connects the vines together, while Bob solves a puzzle revealing that it’s a map of Hawkins. Hopper has already dug around the field to find a tunnel, where he faints and gets stuck. Joyce and Bob ultimately rescue him with help of Will’s vision. However, as laboratory also realises the infestation by Demogorgons and tries to burn the tunnel, Will suffers the effect and gets burned.
We see the beginning of fan favourite friendship between Steve and Dustin while Steve is going to apologise to Nancy. Steve helps him in capturing Dart, only to realise that there are now hundreds other demogorons similar to Dart, controlled by the shadow monster. They are on the verge of death when the demogorgons leave after being called by shadow monster to fight at the lab.
Employees at the lab get killed after the shadow monster control Will’s mind to send the wrong hint. Bob goes down to restart the system to open gates and saves other, but gets killed in front of Joyce’s eyes. Hopper later returns to the facility with El to close the gate and finds an injured Dr Owen. He convinces her to give El a normal chance at life. El manages to close the gate while her friends distract the other Demogorgons. The kids run into a Demogoron, Dart, but its friendship with Dustin saves them.
At the end, Dr Owen obtains a birth certificate for El, and Hopper allows her to attend the Snow Ball Dance with Mike. Max and Lucas start dating, while Dustin gets a dance with Nancy.
Highlight- The friendship between Dustin and the demodog Dart, and his new-formed bond with babysitter Steve steals the show, Steve also deals with his breakup with Nancy with maturity.
Russians have found out about Hawkins, and are trying to use a massive machine to open the gate to the upside down. For a while, the characters deal with normal problems. Hopper struggles to ask El to maintain distance from Mike, Will seemingly struggles with his friends drifting away, giving all their attention to their new girlfriends, El dumps Mike as he tries to ignore (under pressure from Hopper) her, and Nancy deals with casual-sexism at workplace.
There is a new mall in town, and Steve finds work at an ice cream shop with his former classmate Robin. Dustin comes back to town from a camp and has a new girlfriend Suzie, who can only talk to him over the radio because of her strict Mormon parents. We see more of Steve and Dustin’s friendship with some wisecracks from Robin. There seems to be a romantic angle between Robin and Steve but it ultimately ends after it is revealed that she is into girls. Meanwhile, Dustin accidentally catches a Russian code while trying to connect to Suzie, and forms a team with Robin, Steve, and Erica to crack it. They ultimately find out that the Russians have brought the mall among other properties and are building a huge machine to open a portal to Upside Down.
Meanwhile, Joyce and Hopper, who struggle with their feelings for each other, gets a whiff of the Russian involvement and ultimately catch a scientist. The scientist, Alexie turns out to be a sweet guy and gets a sad death at the end.
However, Nancy and Jonathan, and Mike, El, Will, Max, and Lucas, are dealing with an even bigger problem. They realise that the mind-flayer is back. The mind-flayer controlled rats, then humans, before creating a huge army for him. Billy also becomes a victim of the mind-flayer, and helps turn several others, whose bodies then explode into a gooey substance. The slimy substance together turns into a shadow monster.
The climax is at the mall this time, where Joyce and Hopper are closing the machine that the Russians have been trying to create. El has lost her powers after the mind-flayer’s attack and is helpless. The most heartbreaking scene of the show is in this climax is Hopper’s death (until we found out he didn’t die). Billy also gets a strong redemption arc and saves El by fighting the mind-flayer with all his strength. In the future, El is moving away to Illonis with Will and his family.
Highlight- The end of the series where El reads a letter by Hopper- whom we believe to be dead, remains one of the most emotional scenes on the show. Dustin and Suzie’s singing Never Ending Story continues to be a sweet moment, given that we ignore Hopper’s life could’ve been saved if they didn’t chose that time to romance.