Stranger Things Season 4 Trailer Breakdown: William Hargrove, Separate Ways, Victor Creel, and Vecna
Our heroes in Hawkins are worlds apart and the Stranger Things season 4 trailer shows how they’ll come back together.
That is the penultimate sentence uttered in the final trailer for Stranger Things season 4 (before the ominous addendum “You have lost”). Rarely have truer words ever been spoken. It is indeed time for more Stranger Things. Netflix’s retro sci-fi horror hit hasn’t produced new episodes since season 3 signed off on July 4, 2019.
Now the show is finally set to return on May 27, 2022, and based on this action-packed new trailer from Netflix, it has spent those three years hard at work at making the grandest season yet. Let’s break down everything we learned about Stranger Things season 4 based on that three-minute epic!
The End of Season 3
The trailer opens with a helpful reminder of how season 3 ended. In the Russian lab deep underneath Starcourt Mall, we see the ruins of the machine that was intended to open a new portal to The Upside Down. Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) destroyed this contraption, but not before Hopper was sucked in and ended up in Siberia of all places.
The Grandfather Clock
We get two glimpses of an enigmatic grandfather clock through this trailer. At one point, the clock is embedded into the wall of a hallway (likely in Hawkins High School) and appears to be bursting forth from the Upside Down itself. A little later on, we see it again in the spooky Creel House (more on that later). Given that this clock already popped up in the previous Stranger Things teaser, it will likely play a major role this season.
R.I.P. Billy Hargrove
The Stranger Things season 4 trailer takes some time out to pay tribute to one of its fallen antiheroes. Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), older stepbrother of Max Mayfield, was a bad, bad dude. First introduced as a devastatingly handsome bully in season 2, Billy became a full-on supervillain in season 3 when the Mind Flayer took over his body. In the final moments of season 3, Billy sacrificed himself to the Mind Flayer to save his sister and her friends. He even had time to whisper out an “I’m sorry.” It’s clear based on this trailer that Max has forgiven her brother.
As one could have reasonably guessed by its main actors’ rapid physical maturation, Strange Things season 4 will find our leads in high school…two high schools at that. Max, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) are all now students at Hawkins High. Meanwhile, Jane Hopper a.k.a. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Will (Noah Schapp) are attending Lenora Hills High School in a new city to help Jane and the Byers build new lives. The trailer reveals that all action will likely return to Hawkins exclusively before long though.
Perhaps now is a good time to mention the song in this trailer is “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey. That’s fitting given the scattered nature of the show’s characters going into the season. Additionally, the song was first released in 1983, which isn’t too far away from season 4’s mid-’80s setting (season 3 took place in the summer of 1985). It’s a great fit but nothing will ever top the thematic fit of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for the season 2 trailer.
Comrade Jim Hopper
The fact that Jim Hopper is not, in fact, dead but rather on the Kamchatka Peninsula is one of Stranger Things season 4’s most poorly kept secrets. The post-credit sequence of season 3 teased that fact and now several trailers have confirmed it. The only question that remains is how long will Hopper be away from Indiana? We see some helicopters land in the Byers’ backyard at some point and it seems like a good bet that Jim Hopper could be on one of them. The narration in this trailer makes it clear that the shadowy powers-that-be in the U.S. need help from the whole Hawkins team, Hopper included, to confront a new threat. Getting an American citizen from deep in the Siberian tundra to the Midwestern USA at the height of the Cold War has to be one hell of a logistical challenge.
Roughly halfway through the season 4 trailer, Stranger Things provides another look at the Creel House. Thanks to some previous marketing material, we know a lot about this spooky abode. The house was purchased by the Creel Family in 1959. Soon after moving in, the family began to experience terrifying supernatural phenomena. Eventually the Creel family patriarch Victor (played by Robert Englund) lost his mind and murdered his whole family in cold blood. He now resides at the Pennhurst Mental Hospital in Kerley County.
If that all sounds like Stranger Things’ version of The Amityville Horror, then that’s probably by design. The show has never been shy about indulging the horror portion of its sci-fi/horror premise. In season 4, the Creel House will likely serve as another portal to the Upside Down.
Dr. Sam Owens
If you’re wondering why ‘80s and ‘90s sitcom star Paul Reiser is talking to Jane Hopper throughout this trailer, you may have simply forgotten that he plays an existing character in the Stranger Things universe. And that’s understandable, as this show really has taken quite a long break. Reiser portrays Dr. Sam Owens, former director of operations at Hawkins Lab, a position he took over from Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) in season 2. In season 3, Owens responded to Hopper’s distress call at Starcourt Mall. As far as MK Ultra mad scientists go, Owens is all-around a decent guy and it seems as though he will continue to be something of an ally in season 4.
The Upside Down
Finally we get our first look at the Upside Down in this trailer. The pocket universe hasn’t undergone many changes since we last saw it but what does seem notable is how much time the trailer spends in it. Aside from some brief glimpses here and there, The Upside Down has largely been a “only on special occasions and in finales” setting for Stranger Things. Based on the fact that the kids have brought their bikes into the strange world and that we see some building interiors, season 4 will likely feature the most Upside Down action yet.
What would a Stranger Things trailer be without our old friend, the Demogorgon? After serving as the big bad in season 1, this flower-headed freak became more of a miniboss in season 2 and 3. In the context of season 4, it would appear that bored Russian soldiers make their Siberian prisoners battle the (or “a”) Demogorgon for their own amusement. The poor guy has no chance against a bald-headed Hopper armed with a flaming spear.
“William Hargrove” and a Superpowered Max
Perhaps the most unexpected moment in this trailer comes when Max is seen floating above her brother’s grave. The kneejerk reaction with a lot of intentionally provocative twists in trailers like this is to just assume “eh, must be a dream sequence.” That is certainly a possibility here but that imagery feels a bit too crisp to be a dream sequence. It even features Lucas, Dustin and Steve (Joe Keeley) reacting in surprise at the moment. Let’s not forget that Jane lost her powers at the end of season 3. And if her powers abide by the laws of energy (i.e. they cannot be created or destroyed) then it would make perfect sense that they just shift over to somebody else.
But there’s another possibility. Look at Billy’s tombstone. It now says “William Hargrove” instead of “Billy Hargrove.” (Can anyone remember a single time Billy was referred to as “William” on this show?) Could the alternate tombstone mean that we’re actually getting a glimpse into a parallel universe, one where Max suddenly has powers? Is the Upside Down not the only alternate Hawkins? Let us know your theories in the comments!
The Doof Warrior?
I have no idea why there is a hair metal guitarist at a bar in the Upside Down. But it kind of reminds me of The Doof Warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road and that’s a nice touch.
Here’s the man Victor Creel, himself! Actor Robert Englund is no stranger to playing monsters, having portrayed the iconic Freddy Krueger for decades. Is Victor Creel a monster though? He’s clawed his own eyes out, suggesting he feels some guilt for murdering his family. But perhaps he was subjected to unimaginable Lovecraftian horrors and it was really those horrors that killed the Creels in the first place. We shall see…
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Big Bad. Stranger Things has never been hurting in the monster department. The Demogorgon was cool and The Mind Flayer even cooler. Those Upside Down ghouls, however, were lacking a certain level of sentience, being more animal than demonic. Enter Vecna. Armed with a horrifying visages, chain-like tentacles, and the ability to speak in English, this guy is really something. We know his name is likely Vecna due the episode titles previously released, with episode 2 being dubbed “Vecna’s Curse.”
Like the Demogorgon and Mind Flayer before him, Vecna gets his name from the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Considered one of the most iconic villains in the game, Vecna was a powerful wizard who became a lich (undead creature). Through many editions of D&D continuity Vecna has appeared as a fearsome foe, even ascending to Godhood at one point. Whether this Vecna is the Vecna of D&D remains to be seen (and is unlikely due to copyright law), but it only makes sense that the Hawkins kids would name this most fearsome threat after him.
Stranger Things season 4 will premiere “Volume 1” on Friday, May 27 on Netflix. “Volume 2” will premiere on July 1.