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The latest season of Stranger Things introduces a new character, Eddie (Joseph Quinn), in a scene where he walks across a lunch table delivering a monologue to the whole high school cafeteria. People don’t do this. The scene is symptomatic of an ’80s nostalgia worse than the name-dropping variant this and other shows are infected with. It’s a nostalgia looking not just to reference ’80s teen movies but to replicate them down to their dumbest details. This is in the first episode.
Things boded no better when in another scene the popular girl, Angela (Elodie Grace Orkin), bullies El as she gives a class presentation. Yeah, this is set before nationwide anti-bullying campaigns and yes, mean girls like this exist, but nothing about this scene rings true. In the tradition of high school movie morality, El is the awkward new student and brunette while Angela is the popular girl and blonde. It’s the popular part I don’t get. Mocking a girl because her LEO father died in the line of duty is the type of behavior even jackassy teens find off-putting. I don’t disbelieve an Angela would have a loyal posse, I’m just skeptical that seemingly the entire student body would be at worst egging on and at best apathetic to the twerp’s sadism.
Despite the three-year gap since Season 3, the show picks up not long after that one’s events. Will, his brother Jonathan, his mother Joyce, and El have moved to California. Dustin, Mike, and Lucas remain in Hawkins. Lucas struggles to remain loyal to his old friends while making inroads with the other players on the basketball team. Nancy, Max, Murray, Steve, Robin, Erica, Suzie, really everyone from the previous season you can think of is present and accounted for and their paths will intersect. The conflict of the season kicks off when lead cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien) goes to buy drugs from that guy Eddie. While in his trailer, she’s killed by this season’s monster, Vecna. Eddie goes into hiding knowing he’ll catch the blame.