Hopper’s fate, Eleven in peril, and a new mystery

Stranger Things fans have been languishing too long in an Upside Down limbo state.

Season 3 of the beloved Netflix sci-fi series was released now over two years ago, leaving off on a cliffhanger that fans have been theorizing over since. Thankfully, Season 4 is on the way.

Netflix released an exciting new teaser for the next batch of Stranger Things over the weekend, promising some kind of update to come, albeit in the maybe not-so-near future.

Here’s what we gleaned from the teaser.

Recapping the last five years of Stranger Things and featuring a small glimpse at its future, the new trailer shows Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in her first moments finding her way through Hawkins while teasing what she’s up to now.

There aren’t many earth-shattering reveals in the latest look at Stranger Things Season 4, but the teaser does (rather unceremoniously) reveal a plot twist fans have been expecting since a post-credits scene in the Season 3 finale.

As fans will remember, that climactic episode saw Hopper (David Harbour) sacrificing himself to save Joyce (Winona Ryder) and the children at that giant gate Russians had built beneath Hawkins. But as that post-credits scene in a Russian prison indicated, and a later teaser backed up, Hopper is very much alive — and now toting a flamethrower.

What could this mean?

Fan theories have been circling around the circumstances of Hopper’s return, assuming that he’s “The American” referred to by Russian captors in that post-credits scene. Will his character have changed at all? Will he still be the adoptive father Eleven mourned? It’s a possibility Hopper could have switched allegiances entirely, having spent so much time outside of Hawkins.

Notably, while we get glimpses of most of the teenaged protagonists we’ve gotten to know over the past five years, such as Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke), and Max (Sadie Sink), there’s no sign in that teaser of either Mike (Finn Wolfhard) or Will (Noah Schnapp).

Hopper’s back, and he’s got a flamethrower.Netflix

Considering Mike and Will’s close ties to Eleven — sporting very Joyce-esque bangs in this teaser as men in grey suits hold her back — these absences are concerning, though this teaser is too brief to really indicate whether either character will be missing in action during Season 4.

Still, Will’s absence in Season 1 was the impetus for the series’ initial Upside Down narrative, so perhaps that tactic will be repeated with Mike also AWOL this time. Though she’s off-screen in the teaser too, Lucas’ little sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) is said to play a big role in Season 4; fans can count on more mischief from the youngest member of the Hawkins posse.

Finally, this teaser lets one more detail slip — a release date. Or at least, a release year. After a year plagued by filming delays and production trouble, it’s confirmed Stranger Things will premiere on Netflix in 2022. Considering the past release structure of the series, it will probably be released around either the Fourth of July or Halloween.

While a return trip to Hawkins is definitely coming, we’ll probably have to at least wait until next summer to catch up with these characters. But this teaser at least confirms fans can look forward to more Stranger Things on the horizon.

Stranger Things premieres on Netflix in 2022.

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