Stranger Things Season 4 Clip Teases Abandoned Plot

The first footage from Stranger Things season 4 features Dr. Brenner and suggests a return to Eleven’s origins.

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in Stranger Things season 2
Photo: Netflix

It’s been awhile since Stranger Things last graced Netflix’s servers with a new season. In fact, it was over a year and precisely one novel coronavirus global pandemic ago. Thankfully the streamer decided to remind us that season 4 of one of its biggest hits is still in the works.

Netflix unveiled a new teaser for Stranger Things season 4 on Thursday and in fittingly Strange fashion, it looks to the franchise’s past rather than to its feature. Give it a look below to see what we mean. 

What we appear to be seeing here is a typical day at the now-destroyed secret CIA laboratory in Hawkins, Indiana that housed Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) for most of her life. Things aren’t too bleak as the test subjects at least have access to chess, Magic 8-Balls, and a Plinko-like game. Still, there’s not a lot of warmth in that very clinical environment. 

The teaser introduces us to around a half-dozen of Eleven’s supernaturally-powered young peers and it also re-introduces a major Stranger Things character from season 1: the mysterious Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), who El only disturbingly knew as “Papa.” Dr. Brenner walks into this bizarre playroom and says “Good morning, children. How are you today? Good, I’m glad to hear it because today I have something very special planned for you. Eleven, are you listening?”

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While this teaser is seemingly short on new plot details for the fourth season (which is still without a confirmed release date), it is rich in atmospheric tension. It also suggests that Stranger Things may be finally returning to a plot that we thought was long abandoned. 

Much of Stranger Things’ mystery and intrigue in its first two seasons surrounded Eleven’s identity and the cruel CIA experiments inflicted upon her. This was undoubtedly interesting stuff but it just happened to culminate in what is widely viewed as the worst episode of the show’s entire run. Season 2 episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Lost Sister” was almost like a bonus episode for the show’s second season, bumping up the episode order to nine rather than the usual eight. Based on the events of that episode, however, Stranger Things would have been better served with eight after all.

“The Lost Sister” was the first and thus far only episode that introduced another character who was the product of the CIA’s Hawkins experiments. After meeting her mom in the previous episode, Eleven travels to Chicago to find Kali, her “sister” who has the ability to project herself into people’s minds. That’s an interesting enough set-up for the continuation of Eleven’s backstory, but what  sounded cool on the page absolutely did not translate to the screen.

Kali was a part of a ridiculous leather-clad Chicago street gang. They were like if Oliver Twist was part of the Lost Boys universe. Ultimately, Eleven decided that one episode spent with her sister was more than enough and she immediately got back to Indiana to help her friends defeat the Mind Flayer.

The show’s third season then opted to just drop the whole “Eleven’s backstory” thing altogether, never so much as mentioning Terry, Kali, or Chicago. Stranger Things season 3 was refreshingly invested in Eleven’s present as a young woman named Jane Hopper and how she was adapting to life as a “normal” teenager. It was a good look for the character and the show. 

Based on this new season 4 trailer, however, Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers have decided that this largely abandoned plotline shall be abandoned no more. Now that it’s been nearly four years since the debut of “The Lost Sister”, perhaps the world is indeed ready for more Dr. Brenner and Eleven’s backstory.

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