The following Stranger Things season 4 teaser article contains spoilers.
A lot of Stranger Things fans around the world are shouting, “I knew it!” after Netflix unveiled the first season 4 teaser online, which confirms that Chief Jim Hopper is alive and in the Soviet Union. Although the season three finale made it clear that the series would be visiting the USSR in the next run, there had been rampant speculation about the identity of “the American” briefly mentioned by one of the guards as they prepared to feed the demogorgon being held in captivity. Could it be Hopper?
Perhaps out of a desire to deny the death of a beloved character, fans wondered if Hopper could have escaped the deadly explosion of the Russian device that was being used to open the recently closed portal to the Upside Down. His sacrifice was a key moment of the Stranger Things season three finale, and there didn’t seem to be any way he could have avoided the conflagration. But in the teaser below, we see a snow-laden prison camp where laborers are working on constructing railroad tracks, and there’s a familiar face in the mix.
It’s ironic that Hopper appears in this Stranger Things season 4 teaser with a shaved head since many fans spotted David Harbour in an Architectural Digest video with a slimmed-down look and long hair and took that as a sign that his character was being kept prisoner with little food or grooming. While some may still consider Hopper’s survival to be one of the worst kept secrets on the Internet, this small detail prevents the gloaters from being too smug.
So how did Hopper make it out of the portal chamber alive? When Joyce turned those keys to overload the system, she knew exactly what the consequences were for doing so. How was the police chief spirited away, and why would the Russians go through the trouble of taking him? If they thought Hopper’s experience with the other-dimensional creatures and the Upside Down in general would be helpful to their own efforts, they would be sadly mistaken.
The change of venue also brings forth another question: how will Hopper be rescued? Assuming the kids of Hawkins Middle School (or perhaps high school by this point) will still be involved, surely the story will have to span continents. Perhaps with the reappearance of Paul Reiser’s Dr. Sam Owens, the government conspiracy aspect of Stranger Things will come to the forefront in season 4, allowing for the spooks to organize an exfiltration for Hopper.
Whatever the case may be, Stranger Things fans will no doubt be overjoyed by the reveal of this first teaser for season 4. Since the series will be ending after a fifth season (billed mostly as a second part to season 4), this darker, more international tone is quite believable, and the grander scale is appreciated for a final run. There’s still no exact date for the series’ return, but with the confirmation of Hopper’s return, fan speculation can continue in earnest on a new track altogether.
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