The main problem with Stranger Things 3 was that most of the episodes felt all too similar to the first two seasons. Despite the structural and narrative likenesses, though, Stranger Things Season Three did end in a more interesting place than seasons one and two. By the time the final episode concluded, Hopper was allegedly dead, Eleven had lost her powers, and somehow the Russians had a mysterious American prisoner and a Demogorgon.
Now, thanks to a brooding teaser released by Netflix Friday morning, we know who that mysterious prisoner is. It's none other than Detective Hopper, back from the dead, apparently. The preview shows a line of rugged workers laboring on who knows what, and turns out one of them is Hopper, who went full 2017 Chris Pine and buzzed his hair off. So, yes—it looks like Stranger Things 4 is going full Rocky IV and setting part of its story in Russia.
All that sets the series up for very interesting things to come. In September, Netflix officially announced Stranger Things would be returning for a fourth season. Though no exact date has been shared just yet, we can likely expect it sometime in 2020. Netflix shared the news with a teaser that also included the tagline "We're Not in Hawkins Anymore," which appears to be a nod to where things left off in Season Three.
To begin Season Four with the Byers and Eleven living outside of Hawkins, with Eleven still missing her powers, and Hopper in Russia makes for a much more interesting premise than the sameness we saw in Season Three.
With the "American" serving as one of the big cliffhangers—we now know this is Hopper, of course—a possible outline for a fourth season begins to take shape. Eleven must figure out how to get her powers back to stop whatever meddling the Russians are still doing with the Upside Down. The gang must reunite to save Hopper from whatever fate befell him at the hands of the Russians. And possibly they even team up with Dr. Brenner, who has the answer to it all.
Before Friday's big teaser, the cast had been cagey about a Season Four. David Harbour told ET that he hoped Hopper somehow returns in another season, but he had no idea what was going on.
"I know as much as you. I've seen the final episode—it’s extraordinary, it’s magnificent. What Hopper does and what happens to him, he acts like the person he is meant to be. And then there is this mystery at the end," he said. 'I don't really know what’s going to happen, but if you find out from the Duffer Brothers, let me know."
Meanwhile, star Gaten Matarazzo explained to Como UK that he was also in the dark about a Season Four.
"We don't even know if there's going to be a season 4," Matarazzo said. "Nothing's ever really confirmed, nothing's for sure just yet. We don't know anything about that - that's on lockdown. It's too close... I think it's too early to call. We know pretty much as much as the fans do right now, which I kind of like."
So, having binged all eight episodes of Season Three, the future of Stranger Things remains a mystery, aside from the brief glimpse we saw of Soviet Hopper. But, we can agree that the stage is set for a very promising Season Four, and even though not much else is confirmed yet, the show returning to answer these questions is as likely as Eleven getting her powers back.
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