After a long wait of three years, the trailer for "Stranger Things" season 4 has dropped, leaving fans scurrying for answers, cause hoo boy, a LOT is happening within those three minutes. Series creators the Duffer brothers previously revealed that the upcoming season will be divided into two parts, and considering the range and scope of the events that are about to unfold, this makes absolute sense. Moving away from the "E.T." meets "A Nightmare on Elm Street" vibes of the first three seasons, season 4 does imbue the "horror movie" vibe promised by the creators, delivering monsters old and new, ominous prophecies, and a mystery that takes over the town of Hawkins and its inhabitants, with the notorious Creel house and the Upside Down taking center stage.
Picking up right after the events of "Stranger Things" season 3, every character in the series seems to be grappling with some kind of loss. Attempting their best to start afresh and move on with their lives, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the Byers' decide to move to Lenora Hills, California while the rest of the gang stay back at Hawkins. However, things are going to take an ever murkier turn with the events of season 4, and keeping the vibe of the trailer in mind, there's a lot to unpack. So, grab a snack and dig in, as we delve deeper into what could potentially happen in the "Stranger Things" universe from here on.
'You've Broken Everything...'
The trailer opens with an ominous voiceover, with the words, "You've broken ... everything. Your suffering is almost over." Despite being in the shadows about who this voice actually belongs to, the recipient is most likely Eleven, as it is her powers to open and close the portal to the Upside Down that were instrumental in kickstarting the experiments that took place in the Hawkins National Laboratory. The shot above is the aftermath of the demolition of the Russian base beneath Starcourt Mall, a feat accomplished by Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Jim Hopper (David Harbor), who were able to close the portal on time, although Hopper was caught in an energy field and presumably died in the process.
However, as glimpsed at the end of season 3, Hopper is alive, having somehow transported to Kamchatka, Russia, where he sees a captured Demogorgon being kept at the base there. As we see in the trailer, Eleven still has not been able to regain her powers, and as Hopper is physically away from the chaos that is currently reigning in Hawkins, the voiceover could be directed at Hopper himself, who finds himself at a different time-space as a result of a rift in the portal.
Time will play a seminal part in the upcoming season, given the constant highlighting of the grandfather clock at the Creel House, which seems like a mystical artifact in its own right. As the trailer countdown was preceded by a livestream featuring the clock, glitches in time, and two men from the Hawkins lab taking notes while studying the clock, it is safe to say that the object will play an important role in propelling the events of the new season. As the Upside Down is an ever-evolving dimension in its own right, while being a mirror to ours, time will definitely function differently there, especially now that things seem to be broken (just like the clock which cracks in one of the teaser trailers for the show). Shots of the clock are glimpsed multiple times in the trailer, once when its intact, and once when it is not.
In the shot below, it is Max inside the Creel House looking at the cracked and dilapidated clock, which might be a great clue as to what is happening to her in the trailer (more on that later):
Time Does Not Heal All Wounds
Billy Hargrove's (Dacre Montgomery) sacrifice at the end of season 3 was a pivotal moment for his character, given the amount of growth in him as a person, although it came at a terrible cost. Controlled by the Mind Flayer for most of season 2, Billy was used by the entity to kidnap Hawkins residents and create The Spider Monster, which he helps destroy by distracting it enough so Eleven and the gang can end it once and for all. However, as seen in the opening shot of the trailer, the crack of the portal seems to be open to a certain extent, and the rift in space-time created by Hopper's disappearance and the events as a whole has most definitely birthed a new abomination of a different breed.
Meanwhile, back in Hawkins, Max (Sadie Sink) is left to deal with the void of her dead breather, and she is seen grieving him, while musing that while everyone tried to move on and be happy, something has changed irrevocably. This scene alone brings elements of foreshadowing, begging the question, is Billy still alive, somehow, somewhere, in a form that is not corporeal and not of this world? Our queries are answered shortly with THIS shot later on:
Yes, that's Billy Hargrove, in the flesh, playing a sick riff on his guitar, as the Upside Down glistens in its telltale shade of blue around him. While a shot preceding this shows a shirtless (?) Steve (Joe Keery) battling a monster in the same dimension, these shots might be spliced up from completely different scenes, as a lot of action seems to be going down in the alternative, ominous dimension. The repercussions of Billy still being alive are huge, as this could mean a reunion with Max (but not in the way we think) and a possible return of the character, although his motivations remain shrouded in mystery for now.
If Billy is to embrace the darkness of the Upside Down, it cheapens the emotional weight of his sacrifice in the previous season. However, if he is somehow instrumental in the events that are able to turn back time and bring him back, things will change forever for him, Max, and everyone involved. Speaking of Max...
El Lost Her Powers ... While Someone Else Gained Their Own
In this edition of what-the-hell-is-going-on, the trailer seems to suggest that Max has gained newfound powers, as seen in this sequence in which she is clearly levitating off the ground. While Eleven's powers were telekinetic in nature, Max's involve levitation, and perhaps more, as we are not aware of the full extent of her abilities as of yet. This could be a result of the rift in the portal, although it is a bit concerning, as we cannot be sure that Max will be able to tackle these abilities well on her own, especially as she is grieving the death of a loved one, while feeling left behind in a town with haunting memories. There's the gang there to help her, sure, but the expressions on Dustin, Steve, and Lucas are similar to when they found out about Eleven's abilities (I don't blame their reaction though), and this could mean that Max is somehow integral to the ushering of a new storm that will grip Hawkins and possibly the world-at-large.
Then there's Eleven, grappling with Hopper's absence and adjusting to her new life at Lenora Hills High School alongside Will and Jonathan, while attempting to make new friends, although she is having trouble fitting in. This is exacerbated by her being bullied at school, as evidenced in the teaser trailer, in which she is hit on her cheek with a spitball inside a classroom. In an extended shot of the County Line Cafe diner shot in the teaser, we see Eleven speaking to Sam Owens (Paul Reiser), who was last seen in season 2, replacing Dr. Brenner's post in Hawkins Lab and helping Hopper adopt Eleven officially. As two security guards are seen outside the diner, this seems like an intervention of sorts, as Owens seems to emphasize that Eleven is integral to ending the chaos, despite her proclamation that she has lost her powers. Here are some shots of the scene in question:
Apart from this, Eleven seems to be captured by bad men again, this time taken away in a vehicle of sorts, as seen below, which could be somehow connected to her traumatic past.
The Past Is Never Past
They say time is a flat circle, and this seems to be a theme in the upcoming season for "Stranger Things," as Eleven is seen captured by authorities in the teaser, and taken off somewhere in a van as a helpless Mike (Finn Wolfhard) looks on.
Despite losing her powers, El seems to be an integral piece of the puzzle, and certain shots from the trailer hints at the fact that we do not know everything about the past, and how her powers might have unlocked something deeply disturbing, causing monsters from another realm to enter our own. A young Eleven is seen bleeding from her nose, eyes, and ears, hinting that her powers were unleashed in a way that spelt catastrophe:
The first shot in particular is preceded by the words "Everything has a beginning," which reaffirms the time travel aspect of the show. Does it simply mean that actual time travel is involved, or does the past require revisiting to handle the present and preserve the future?
Glimpses of her powers are shown, with Eleven blasting two officials with her mind, which is most probably a gut reaction to her being emotionally abused as a child in order for Brenner to harness her abilities. While Brenner could very well make a return, the authorities that capture her could be ones from the Russian base, and Dr. Owens might be offering Eleven with protection in the meanwhile, although that does not seem to have worked in her favor. There is a voiceover by Hopper, which could be a conversation or a letter, that details how he tried to keep her away from Hawkins, hoping that she would be able to lead a peaceful life, away from her past, her traumas, and the attempts of people around her to use her for her abilities.
`Hopper Does Not Seem To Catch A Break
Hopper has already been through the ringer since season 1 of the show, having lost his family and found a daughter in Eleven, while battling a whole host of monsters to protect the kids in Hawkins. Although he is (thankfully) not dead, he does not seem to be doing very well in the new season, being battered and tortured by the Russians who seem to be keeping him alive for some nefarious reason.
The Russians involved with the experiment are building a railroad in the year 1986 (when the events currently take place), using him as forced labor to the extent of putting on a gas mask on him. If the railroad is an underground one, this makes sense, but there still seems to be elements of evil in the facility, as a full-fledged Demogorgon is seen flailing about and jumping on people, and Hopper trying to defeat one single-handedly (poor, brave soul). Shots of the scenes are embedded below:
Needless to say, I do not vibe with this. While being on the topic on monsters, let's address the elephant in the room: the big baddie who's voiceover we wear, bookending the trailer.
Let's Talk About This Tentacled Baddie
While the Mind Flayer, the Demogorgon, and the Spider Monster were terrifying in their own right, the idea of a hybrid beast/human creature with powers of speech and comprehension is the stuff of nightmares. We get a close-up shot of the monster in the first few minutes of the trailer, in which the creature sports wrinkly spin, a full body with human-like features, clawed hands, tentacles, and blue eyes. Here's the full reveal below.
Yeah, no. This seems straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare, aesthetically similar to The Night King in "Game of Thrones," (makes sense in terms of artistic overlap) although it reminded me of Frank Cotton's resurrected monster body in "Hellraiser." The Duffer Brothers were not kidding when they emphasized on the horror element of the new season, as things seem much more darker, intense, and urgent than the previous iterations, and the fact that this creature has a mind of its own is troubling for everyone involved.
With Demogorgons and other creatures running around, the presence of a sentient mastermind is never good news, and those tentacles seem ominous for the central gang, surely, and this shift in tone has been explained in detail by the showrunners themselves (via Netflix TUDUM):
"When we pitched it to Netflix all those years ago, we pitched it as the kids are...The Goonies in E.T. That's their storyline. And the adults are in Jaws and Close Encounters and then the teens are in Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. But, this year, we don't have the kids. We can't do The Goonies anymore. And so, suddenly, we're leaning much harder into that horror movie territory that we love. It was fun to make that change."
There's a shot of bats (?) flying around in the Upside Down, which cannot be a good sign either, given that the residents of the shadow realm seem to be quickly and exponentially growing. However, that's not all...
The Story Of Victor Creel
Robert Englund plays Victor Creel, who will play a key role in the fourth season, as the clock is housed inside the Creel residence, which was also a hotspot for paranormal events, as seen in a teaser released previously. Around the time these events take place, Creel is a patient at Pennhurst Mental Hospital for murdering his family "The Shining" style, a crime he committed on March 26, 1959.
While much is not known about the character and his connection to the central events, he is described as "a disturbed and intimidating man" who went blind after gouging his eyes sometime in his life, which could be due to the fact that he was plagued by horrific visions, which propelled him to murder his family in the first place. As the rest of the gang, barring Jonathan, Will, and Eleven are seen spending a chunk of their time inside the Creel House, things are about to go down, and maybe, the past will repeat itself, as the house seems to be a portal to another world.
As Englund also played Freddy Krueger in the "A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise," this ups the horror ante of the series — what's scarier than the Hawkins kids facing off against one of he ultimate '80s horror icons?
The Gang Must Reunite At Any Cost
There's a host of new characters joining the characters both in Hawkins and Lenora Hills, and it is imperative for everyone to band together in order to save the world. In between Joyce and Murray (Brett Gelman) trying their damndest to locate Hopper, and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Robin (Maya Hawke) contributing to the team effort by showing up with guns, things need to be sorted by showing up as a collective.
There are a ton of bonkers stuff going down, and the shift in tone is clear from the get-go: while the trailer opens with characters doing regular teenager stuff, such as roller-skating, cheerleading, and participating in school activities, it ends with these kids fighting for their lives, going up against monsters from another realm (sometimes one-on-one), and dealing with the madness of the Creel House and the upside down. There still might be a way for Eleven to unleash her powers and Max to utilize hers, while the others can do what they do best and help put an end to the horror of the Upside Down. However, it won't be easy.
Steve seems to be stuck in the worst of situations, being dragged underwater while the red gleam of the Upside Down can be seen from the surface, and the others are doing their best to ward off dangerous mystery men, Demogorgons from Russian facilities, and of course, the central creature who might just be overwhelmingly difficult to defeat.
As the trailer is set to Journey's 1983 classic "Separate Ways," it is high time for them to come together, even if it means danger for everyone involved, as every character will have a part to play in defeating evil, just like old times.
The wait is nearly over, as Part 1 of "Stranger Things 4" makes its debut on Netflix on May 27, 2022, with Part 2 following on July 1, 2022.
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