Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1 Review: Chapter One: The Hellfire Club


We waited over 1000 days for fresh Stranger Things content, and if  Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1 is the shape of things to come, then the Duffer Brothers have another winning season on their hands.

I wasn’t sold initially on the characters being pulled apart because it felt like a forced development to tell different stories.

After watching “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club,” the writing is as strong as ever, and the characters are evolving in ways I didn’t think possible before.

Eleven's Presentation - Stranger Things

Eleven’s struggle to bounce back following the loss of Hopper makes for good TV. Millie Bobby Brown is a powerhouse, and her range was on full display throughout this emotional premiere.

The high-school bullies were mean, and something tells me Angela will not be grinning from ear-to-ear when Eleven inevitably gets her powers back.

Eddie Munson - Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1

Pushing Eleven to the brink is never a good idea, and I dread to think what sort of crime scene the school would have looked like if she had her powers.

Hopper was a father to her, helping her when she least expected someone to afford her kindness, so he was a historical hero in her eyes.

Max: What is this?
Lucas: A ticket to the game. I know you never want to go to my games, but this one is kind of a big deal.
Max: A big deal? Lucas, you really care about this?
Lucas: Yeah, I… I do. Maybe you should find something you care about too.
Max: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Lucas: You’re just… It’s… It’s like you’re not even here anymore. It’s… It’s like you’re a ghost or something.
Max: A ghost? Really?
Lucas: Max, I know something’s wrong.
Max: Yeah, right.

The flashback to the facility with what looked like Eleven killing the other test subjects and staff members was concerning.

We’ve been told bits and pieces of Eleven’s past, and the series seems intent on making viewers think she could either be the biggest hero or the biggest villain.

Making a Face - Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 1

It’s hard to imagine Eleven embracing a mean streak, but maybe if these California teenagers push her hard enough, she will have revenge on her mind.

Joyce will not tell her about the message from Russia initially because it might be false hope.

Joyce was understandably looking for a sign after the horror everyone endured. Who can blame her?

A clean break was needed for everyone, but I reckon she’ll take this investigation too far because she’ll be so invested.

Joyce Takes Aim - Stranger Things

Could the potential return of Hopper help everyone move back to Hawkins?

It’s possible, and given the sudden uprising of evil in the town, it might be the case that all roads lead back there.

The only person that moved to California that appears to have moved on is Will.

He’s obviously happy about not having to look over his shoulder every two seconds, but it might be the case that he’s too busy trying to keep Eleven and his mother looking to the future instead of the past.

Searching for Answers - Stranger Things

Will lost a lot with the move, but he also gained a fresh start, and maybe that’s exactly what he needs to put the past behind him.

Eleven opening up about Hopper saving people, the barn, and other things, is also a big no-no.

All right. Hold on to your butts, brochachos.


The Byers family are supposed to be living a low-key life, but sketchy individuals are never far away on this show. 

 What if someone against Eleven and her powers is working at the school undercover?

Stranger Things has always been a series about the bigger picture, and the bigger picture here is that Eleven and the family will not be undetected for very long.

New Friends, Same Old Drama - Stranger Things

Max’s struggle was another heartbreaking plot. There was such a fraught relationship between her and Billy that it’s easy to see the youngster is still very much processing.

How is she supposed to just move on?

Lucas comparing her to a ghost was a shocker, but it highlights that a lot has happened in the 180-odd days since Stranger Things Season 3 concluded.

Max is essentially taking on a mother role for her parent, something she shouldn’t have to do.

Stranger Things Season 4 Part Two

Max’s journey is one of the most intriguing because she’s mostly cut herself off from everyone else as she tries to make sense of the events of the Starcourt Mall.

Max witnessing Chrissy going into Eddie’s trailer before her death will not end well.

My theory is that Eddie will try to hide the body, fully knowing he can’t call the cops and say that some invisible creature murdered her.

Max will then probably reach out to the police. Eddie’s not looking good if he’s the last person to see Chrissy alive.

Stranger Things Key Art 3

Then again, we’ve witnessed several bonkers twists on this show, so he may be able to escape from this horrifying encounter unscathed.

It’s a shame Chrissy died so soon because she really fit into the world of the show very well.

Dear Mike, Today is day 185. Feels more like ten years. Joyce says time is funny like that. Emotions can make it speed up or slow down. We are all time travelers if you think about it. For example, this week is going very fast. I think because I am so busy. I have to make something called a visual aid. I hope Mrs. Gracey will give me an A.


Many of these characters are scarred by the past because of developments outwith their control.

The Demogorgon has been such a pivotal villain in the series, but this new creature is freakier than before.

Eleven and Will in California

It’s clearly alive in some other realm (likely the good old Upside Down) if it can lift the veil and harm people in Hawkins.

The kids will undoubtedly investigate the truth about what happened, especially if Eddie can get through to everyone that he’s innocent.

The Hellfire club plot was interesting because it highlighted the fractured relationships between the core friends, but it was also set up to make Eddie this pivotal player.

The series returned in winning fashion with an episode that felt like a movie. That is no small feat, and I hope the rest of the season also holds up.

Stranger Things Season 4 Key Art 1

What are your thoughts on that Eleven flashback?

Do you think this creature is in the Upside Down?

Do you think Joyce will tell everyone about the message, or will she keep it quiet for now?

What’s your take on what happened with Max and Lucas?

Key Art 2 for Stranger Things

Hit the comments.

Stranger Things Season 4’s first seven episodes are on Netflix now. The series returns in July with the final two episodes.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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