Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer explain their regrets about one season 4 character death, which all came down to shooting schedule.
WARNING! Major spoilers for Stranger Things season 4 volume 1
Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer admit they regret killing one character at the beginning of season 4. After three seasons of introducing characters like Barbara Holland, Billy Hargrove, and the cherry-slurpee-loving Alexei (all of whom perished), Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 arrived on Netflix on May 27. Following a three-year hiatus, fans were reacquainted with their favorite characters while meeting a plethora of new faces, including the most popular girl in school.
“Chapter One: The Hellfire Club” introduces audiences to Grace Van Dien’s Chrissy Cunningham, Hawkins High’s lead cheerleader and girlfriend of basketball captain Jason Carver. Similar to Joseph Quinn’s Dungeons & Dragons metalhead, Eddie “the Freak” Munson, Chrissy’s character is a bit one-note at first, but a single scene between the two revealed that Stranger Things had once again created multi-layered, charming characters that fans were eager to see end up together. Unfortunately, the cheerleader sought Eddie out for drugs to help with her headaches and hallucinations – which are a symptom of being targeted by Stranger Things season 4 villain Vecna. So, when the Upside Down spellcaster turned her into a grotesque human pretzel at the end of that same episode, fans couldn’t help but mourn what could have been.
As it turns out, even the Duffer brothers were devastated by this plot point. In a recent interview with TVLinethe Stranger Things creators discuss Chrissy’s season 4 episode 1 death. According to the Duffers, by the time they realized the actor and character’s potential, her fate had already been sealed. Read the full quote below:
Matt: We always have those moments [of ‘What have we done?’]. We shot the quote-unquote drug-deal scene in the woods pretty late, actually, into shooting.
Ross: We had already killed Chrissy when we shot that.
Matt: The scene came alive in a way that was just so beautiful. And so much of that was Joe and Grace. It was just one of those fortunate scenes where we were able to have two cameras rolling capturing them simultaneously. Joe was doing a lot of stuff kinda spontaneously, and we were getting these amazing reactions from Grace. […] It’s pretty impressive what Grace was able to do with very, very few scenes to get people to care like she did.
Van Dien and Quinn’s chemistry in episode 1 lends credence to the assumption that both characters would become a crucial part of the Stranger Things season 4 cast. Given the series ‘status as an homage to’ 80s entertainment, the popular-girl-falls-for-outcast trope would’ve fit the pair like a glove. However, that dynamic has already been explored in season 1 with Nancy and Jonathan. On top of that, Chrissy’s likability makes her death all the more impactful and sets the tone for the rest of the season. Although her murder was somewhat expected, it’s because of Chrissy that audiences truly fear for Max in episode 4.
Even if some fans feel like they could do without Jason’s satanic-panic subplot, the season 4 death of Chrissy Cunningham is the launching pad for everything that happens in Hawkins (excluding the relationship between Eleven and Vecna). Though Van Dien’s Stranger Things tenure may have been brief, the Duffers now plan on working with the actor sometime down the road. Similar to how they fell in love with Sean Astin as Bob during season 2, they state in the same interview that they’ll find some way to work with her again. Until then, as shown in the trailer, Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 will see Eddie play guitar to save the lives of his new friends when it drops on Friday, July 1.
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