Stranger Things has been a smash hit for Netflix ever since it first launched on the streaming platform seven years ago. Set in the mid-eighties, the show follows the supernatural events that take place in Hawkins, Indiana after a young girl turned science experiment for the government rips open an interdimensional doorway to a very dangerous place. On the other side of this doorway, is the Upside Down, a mirror dimension of our world with a toxic environment filled with a monster-like species with a hive mind, set on occupying and destroying our world.
Most recently during Season 3, it’s discovered that the Russians have devised a way to open a small gap between dimensions that had inadvertently activated the Mind Flayer’s remaining consciousness leftover from Will’s exorcism during Season 2. When Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica stumble upon the fact that Star Court Mall was a facade that housed the base of a Russian intelligence operation, Hopper, Joyce, and Murray infiltrated the location to close the gate permanently. Meanwhile, Eleven, Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, Max, and everyone else battled the Mind Flayer’s flesh avatar to stop it from destroying and possessing all of Hawkins and turning them into skin puppets.
Leading into Season 4 Part 1 however, there are still several huge questions left unanswered.
How did Hopper end up in Russia?
In the final moments of Season 3 of Stranger Things during a particularly brutal fight with the Terminator-like Russian Grigori, the machine that powers the doorway became damaged causing the power to erupt outwards. Sensing this was the end, Hopper and Joyce exchanged a knowing and emotional look, as the machine exploded seemingly killing everyone on the lower deck. Hopper’s body was never recovered, nor did we see him die.
Later in the post-credit scene, two Russian prison soldiers discuss which prison to feed to the Demogorgon, to which the one tells the other “Not the American”. We also know through the various teasers, and trailers that Hopper is alive and well but is now held captive in Russia. So how the hell did he get there?
If he escaped through the gap into the Upside Down he’d still be in reverse Hawkins, and to come out the other side in Russia means he’d first have to travel to reverse Russia.
Given he’s held captive now outside the United States, it also begs a much larger question.
How does Russia know so much about the Upside Down?
One particular conversation is still fresh in my mind from Season 3 that takes place between Alexei and Murray in which the Scientist tells our heroes that these experiments have been tested before and failed. We see this evidenced during the opening episode of the season. Alexei goes on to recall that the reason for the failure is due to the location. The Russians need to open a gate in a place where the barrier between dimensions was weaker.
From this we can determine that the Russian Government and the Military know a lot more about this project than we’re led to believe, but to what end?
One theory would be that perhaps this experiment was first formulated on Russian soil only to be stolen by the Americans. Another is that the the lab in Hawkins is not in fact funded by the American Government, and all along it’s been the Russians. Either way, it’s clear the Upside Down is the weapon of choice that both the U.S. and Russia are trying to maintain control over.
Will we learn more about the Upside Down’s connection with our world?
From what we’ve seen so far in Stranger Things, the Upside Down has itself evolved. It started out as a desolate, and dangerous place in which the Demigorgons roamed hunting aimlessly for food. Then during Season 2 the Mind Flayer was revealed as a sentient being with a hive mind of control over the Demi-dogs, and then in turn Will who if was able to possess across dimensions while the gate was open. It also was connected to the vines that spread like a disease through the tunnels of Hawkins as it attempted to secretly terraform the town. In Season 3 though, the Mind Flayer wanted to build an army in order to stop Eleven, who it saw as an obstacle that needed removing in order to properly invade.
This still leads to many questions. Why does the Upside Down mirror Hawkins? It not only mirrors Hawkins at a point in time, it accurately reflects the town as changes happen as if the two realities were simultaneously linked.
If they’re linked, then how did the Mind Flayer come to be, and why is he so powerful? Has it invaded other realities before this one? Based on the trailers it seems we will be getting a much closer look and it seems that Vecna, as it’s been identified could be the puppet master behind all of this.
Will we discover more of Eleven’s background at the lab and see the other children?
During the past three seasons we have definitely gotten more screen time with Jane (Eleven) and her origin than ever before, but it still feels like we’re missing something. After Jane’s last encounter with the Mind Flayer, she’s seemingly lost all of her abilities. Hard to believe she won’t rediscover them again, but in the meantime with the power of the Upside Down amassing will she reach out to her past and call in reinforcements. During Season 2 we already met Kali a.k.a. Eight, who has full agency of her power. So how many other patients are still alive and have control over their powers? Will the discovery of these other patients lead to some spin off series for Stranger Things?
Dr. Brenner was also found to be conducting experiments in other locations for some time. Are there other facilities across the country with other children with gifts we could see?
Are Eleven and Will ever going to catch a break and find some happiness?
Having just re-watched the entire show I was left with one aching question I really wanted to ask the Duffer brothers, and perhaps it’s more of a statement than a question? But for the love of all things mighty can Eleven and Will please find some happiness this season.
Last season we saw Ell like never before as her friendship with Max blooms and she fully embraces her late eighties glam up. Not to mention her relationship with Mike much to Hopper’s dismay. Then each of these relationships is strained and tested, one in which she thinks she’s lost forever in Hopper. Damn that letter scene still chokes me up.
Then there’s Will the wise. This poor kid has been battered and bruised since the word go. He’s evaded capture, been possessed, and when he finally gets home to his friends they’ve all matured and become interested in girls. I’m not sure what Will’s win is this season in Stranger Things, but he is due!!
I’d love to hear your burning questions you’d love to see her answered in Season 4. Check me out on Twitter and let me know.
Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1 premiers exclusively on Netflix on Friday, May 27th.
Aaron is a contributing writer at But Why Tho, serving as a reviewer for TV and Film. He is also the co-host and social media manager of the Nerds Social Club podcast.
Hailing originally from England, and after some lengthy questing, he’s currently set up shop in Pennsylvania. He spends his days reading comics, podcasting, and being attacked by his small offspring.