The following contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1.There are a handful of things that every season of Stranger Things has in common: 1980s vibes, Dungeons & Dragons references, and plenty of fighting off supernatural monsters. The residents of Hawkins, Indiana - even those who have moved across the country - cannot seem to catch a break. Just when they think their supernatural troubles are over, there’s more in store for them.
Of course, not every fight scene in Stranger Things involves the supernatural. After all, Eleven, now using the name Jane Hopper, finds herself with her own bully in her new school in California. Angela and Jane’s conflict at the roller skating rink is easily a great fight scene when the supernatural element is stripped away. The conflict is a fantastic highlight of just how much Eleven’s world has changed since the start of the series. Other fight scenes, however, outrank it as the stakes are raised and other characters evolve.
Murray VS The Guards
While Murray has been a fun and interesting character ever since he was introduced in Season 2, Season 4 really allows him to shine on his adventure with Joyce. Surprisingly, he’s not bluffing when he tells people he learned karate, and seeing him in action is a highlight.
When Murray and Joyce are in the custody of Russian soldiers while they try to find Hopper, Murray is forced to use his newly learned skills against them. It’s actually very surprising to see him so quickly take down multiple guards despite the audience seeing him in action against Yuri the smuggler not long before that. It’s a quickly paced scene that only adds to the tension of the two trying to get to Hopper before the Demogorgon can make a meal of him.
One VS Eleven
As Eleven slowly recovers memories surrounding the trauma she experienced under Dr. Brenner’s care, the Stranger Things audience is introduced to One, the first child to be monitored and coached by Brenner. Those memories involve seeing Eleven not having full command of her abilities as she’s bullied by other children in the program and coached by someone she thinks is an orderly into finding a way to control her powers.
That orderly is One aka Henry Creel. When he reveals the truth about who he is to Eleven, she removes the device inhibiting his powers, and his full strength is unleashed on the facility. Eleven takes everything she’s learned from him to try to stop him. The fight scene involves a lot of the duo staring at one another using their psychic abilities, but it feels like one of the highest staked fights in the series as it’s intercut with Nancy learning that Henry Creel and Vecna are the same person as well.
The audience knows, because it’s a flashback sequence, that Eleven survives the fight. Just how she survives, however, is the first huge display of her power as she literally and psychically flings One away from her and into the Upside Down. It’s a great sequence with a fantastic reveal to deepen the mythology of the show.
The Byers House Is Invaded By Agents
This entire sequence is less of a traditional fight scene, and more an instance of Mike, Will, and Jonathan running for their lives. With the Byers (and Jane Hopper) having made the move to California, their lives are very separate from the rest of the Party members. That’s why it’s definitely a surprise when government agents show up at the house to keep an eye on the Byers siblings and don’t even allow Mike to call home.
What’s more surprising is the chaotic shootout that then occurs when other government agents arrive that oppose the first two. With the escape attempt, “chaotic” is really the best way to describe the scene. It looks like pure chaos as the boys and one of the agents flee, with Argyle and his trusty van’s help, but it’s actually a great snapshot of their characters.
Jonathan is in full protective mode, putting himself between Mike and Will and the other agents. Mike is the one paying the most attention to what the agents are saying and doing. Will is the one who is the most fearful. The three of them, however, never end up separated, never end up injured, and work well together as they follow the agent that’s trying to get them out of the house. Everyone remains perfectly in character and perfectly represents their usual roles in the Party’s adventures. It’s also a single shot sequence, which is incredibly impressive consider all the moving pieces.
Steve, Eddie, Nancy, and Robin VS The Upside Down Bats
When the teens in Hawkins realize that there must be a gate to the Upside Down open, they go on a search for it. The older teens end up in the middle of a lake to find it, and when Steve gets dragged through, the others go after him. Just getting into the Upside Down itself is a great, tense, sequence because so few characters have actually been there while the audience can watch their time play out.
Of course, getting there is relatively easy compared to what waits for them once they’re there. Steve is the first through, and he’s attacked by what have been dubbed “demobats.” Unfortunately, Steve is one person and doesn’t have his trusty baseball bat with him, so he’s pretty quickly overpowered until the others come after him. Nancy, Robin, and Eddie all get a chance to knock some bats around. Steve, however, is the one to get the brunt of the damage, getting bitten by bats and taking a bite out of one himself. Much like the scene at the Byers house, it’s a bit chaotic for the audience, but how each character fights off the bats is indicative of just who they’ve become since learning about the Upside Down and the creatures housed there.
Max VS Vecna
Sadie Sink’s performance in the fourth season is getting consistent praise from the audience and critics alike, and her confrontation with Vecna is a big part of that. The “fight” of the scene is brief, but her performance truly sells it.
When Max pays a visit to Billy’s grave as part of her acceptance that Vecna is going to attempt to kill her, she finds her mind in the Upside Down with Vecna, trying to race back to reality while Vecna pursues her. There’s a focus on just how strange the setting looks and Vecna’s sinister approach to Max, but Sink’s performance, alternating between terror, curiosity, and a stubborn resistance to Vecna’s presence, pulls the focus of the audience.
Intercutting her escape from Vecna with significant moments from her life in Hawkins along with the soundtrack of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill" makes it a nearly perfect sequence in the season. Despite everything else going on in Season 4, the moment that Max is able to come to her senses and break Vecna’s hold on her is a standout.
Stranger Things is currently available to stream on Netflix.