The official trailer for the Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things 4” just dropped and with it comes that sensation we’re all familiar too familiar with – an endorphin rush of excitement for the return of the Netflix series (we get to see our friends again!), followed closely by antsy anticipation (why isn’t it May 27 now?) There is also, of course, confusion.
“Stranger Things” Season 4 sees the action divided between small town Hawkins (where Mike, Dustin, Lucas and the rest of the gang reside); suburban California (where Joyce, Will and Eleven are now living); and snowy Russia (where Hopper is now a prisoner). The new trailer, which clocks in at three-and-a-half-minutes and is scored to a spooky remix of Journey favorite “Separate Ways,” introduces these concepts and a whole lot more, which led us to puzzle over some of the finer points.
Here are our biggest questions after watching the trailer for “Stranger Things 4.”
Spoiler warning for “Stranger Things 4.” This is a lot of loose speculation but some of it could be right!
Who is that voice?
The trailer opens with a huge mystery. Over footage of the machine that the Russians were using to try to open a door to the Upside Down (located miles below the food court of Hawkins’ hottest new mall) and a ghostly ticking clock (more on that below), we hear ominous voiceover narration: “You’ve broken everything. Your suffering is almost at an end.” The voice sounds gravelly; definitely a creep from the Upside Down. We then see a flash of pale eyes, surrounded by extreme scarring/deformation. But who does this voice belong to?
Our clue comes in the form of the next scene: “Mad” Max (season 3 MVP Sadie Sink) at the grave of her brother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery), who became a kind of physical embodiment of the evil of the Upside Down until he ultimately gave his life attempting to defeat it during the Battle of Starcourt. Take a look at that inscription: “Gone but not forgotten.” Or maybe not gone at all!
We see Billy elsewhere in the trailer (although that could be in the kind of netherworld between here and the Upside Down that we’ve sene in previous season) and you get a much better look at the big bad towards the very end of the spot. Could this be Billy, his soul fully corrupted by the Upside Down? And what is his angle exactly anyway?
The Duffers have previously compared this season to “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Is Billy the show’s Freddy Kruger?
How old are these kids supposed to be?
Early on we see Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) trotting out to the basketball court with a “House Party”-ready flattop and he looks like a grown ass man. Same goes for Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Galen Matarazzo). (Side note: love the new costumes that will undoubtedly be hitting Boxlunch in the coming months, including Mike’s Hellfire Club T-shirt and Dustin’s Thinking Cap cap.) My how time flies!
What’s up with that clock?
Speaking of time, there is a sinister ticking grandfather clock that we see repeatedly in the trailer: first at the very beginning (after the wreckage of the Russian lab is surveyed) and again when Max spots it lodged in the hallway of what we assume is Hawkins High School. (They aren’t still in middle school are they?) The clock in the wall looks like it’s “phased” into it; there are goopy black veins coming out of it which is a clear sign of Upside Down activity. And we’re fairly certainly this clock came from the Creel House, which was revealed in a trailer released back on September 25.
We’ll see the Creel House again and again in the trailer so why not brush up on the lore now?
The spot from September was a minute-and-a-half long and showed a clean-cut American family in the 1950s moving into a spacious home. (With its long and loopy staircase, it immediately gave off “The Conjuring” vibes but maybe that’s just us.) The idyllic tranquility of the home is immediately interrupted – flashing lights, a gutted rabbit and a shot of the Creel patriarch (we’re assuming) next to the dead bodies of his two young children. Then we snap to the 80s and see the gang, led by a perpetually lost Steve (Joe Keery), who asks, “What kind of clues are we supposed to be looking for?” Dustin then quotes Sherlock Holmes in a pretty good English accent (“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes”). And then a close-up of the clock, which is now in the Upside Down.
Elsewhere in the trailer we see shots from the Creel House teaser, including the Hawkins gang standing in a circle with their flashlights pointed upwards (if that isn’t a traditional Conjuring pose, we don’t know what is) inside the Creel House.
Is the house/clock a doorway to the Upside Down? And what happened to that 1950s family? They seemed so happy.
How does Paul Reiser fit into all of this?
In season 2 of “Stranger Things,” we were introduced to Sam Owens (Paul Reiser), the head of the mysterious Hawkins Lab. Given Reiser’s involvement in “Aliens,” everybody assumed that he’d turn out to be a secret villain but has actually been a pretty stand-up guy. He briefly returned at the end of “Stranger Things 3,” and returns here to offer some pivotal exposition: he moved the Byers family to California, “Because I thought you’d be safe.” Guess again Reiser!
Later in the trailer, Reiser gets even more serious. “A war is coming. I’m afraid your friends in Hawkins are very much in the eye of the storm,” Owens tells Eleven (they appear to be in a diner). That’s when she lets loose this bombshell: “I don’t have my powers.” Owens comes back: “I don’t know how to say it other than just to say it: without you, we can’t win this war.” We see government agents standing outside the diner. Not mad about that, to be honest.
Hopper has gulag mail privileges?
One tantalizing image sees Joyce (Winona Ryder) receiving a package in her new California abode. She looks down at it and it’s ratty and covered in roughly five billion Russian stamps. Clearly Hopper (David Harbour) has sent her something. But what? And how did he smuggle contraband out of some Soviet hell hole? More on him in a minute!
Flying Upside Down bats? (This is really the whole question.)
Don’t we have enough problems? We need to add “flying Upside Down bats” to the mix? Or are they more dragons? Flying Demagorgans? Dear lord who knows what’s next.
In a very long shot we see these new creatures rushing towards the Creel House in the Upside Down, zooming through the parallel realm’s particulate matter and dodging the fiery lightning bolts that zip through the hellish sky. Ah, it’s good to be back.
Are Steve and Nancy back together?
At one point we see Steve and Nancy (Natalia Dyer), maybe in the Creel House, about to do some Upside Down business. “See you on the other side,” Steve says. “On the other side,” Nancy says back. Does this suggest that they are romantic again? Or are they more work friends?
We imagine that a love triangle will reform considering that Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) has moved with the rest of the family to California and Nancy and Steve remain in Hawkins. But whether or not it moves past innocuous flirtation into something more lusty remains to be seen.
Did all the kids get zapped to the Upside Down?
Previously, the Upside Down was a place where you didn’t want to spend much time. You know, what with all the monsters and such. When people were transported there, most of the time they didn’t come back (Barb, you live on in our hearts). That made the image of most of the kids (it’s hard to tell who exactly) riding through the Upside Down version of Hawkins that much more striking. Why are they there? And how did they get there? (Creel House anyone?)
We assume that this will be a part of the final showdown with whatever evil is behind the Upside Down, potentially during the second crop of episodes which are scheduled to drop in July. But where are they headed? And how many of them will make it back to the right-side up?
Why are the Russians making Hopper fight Demagorgans?
We didn’t forget about Hopper (how could we). We see him in the Russian prison, looking gaunt (especially compared to his jolly season 3 vibe) and shorn (again: in stark comparison to season 3’s bushy bearded Hopper). Snow gingerly falls to the ground, echoing the particulates in the air of the Upside Down hellscape. “I was convinced I was put here for some other reason,” Hopper says. “Maybe I can still help, even if it’s the last thing I do.” We then see him lighting up a FLAMING SPEAR and getting ready to do battle with a full-sized Demagorgan.
It is, undeniably, very cool. But why is this happening? What kind of messed up stuff are these Russians into? And how, exactly, will he be reunited with the rest of the gang? That last question is potentially answered later in the trailer, when we see a rickety plane crashing into a snowy forest, piloted by none other than Murray (Brett Gelman). It looks like Joyce is in the copilot seat. Our guess is whatever Hopper sent her is a clue that ends with them planning a go-for-broke rescue attempt.
What’s with flying Max?
There’s a brief glimpse of Max flying, a la Eleven, in front of Billy’s grave. Did she inherit some powers from the Upside Down? Is Eleven controlling her? (This last one seems unlikely given her confession of lost powers.) Or is it, yikes, Billy? Or potentially the new Kruger-ish Big Bad Billy?
When will the split happen?
This is more of a logistics question but it still looms large: where will the split in the season’s nine episodes come? How many do you think we’ll be getting in the May bunch versus the July bunch? And where, in terms of the story, do you think the break will happen?
Our guess is that the first batch of episodes will largely be what the Duffers have talked about previously, with the characters scattered to the four winds, out of touch with each other and investigating their own respective mysteries. The last episode of the first batch will be them resolving to get together and fight the ancient evil together and then … cut to black and synth music starts booming. Talk about a cliffhanger! A little over a month later, the action will resume. And we’ll be ready for it.