By: Nicole Chedraoui
Stop right here! Have you finished watching Stranger Things 3? If your answer is no, just be warned that this is spoiler central, so read at your own risk!
If you’re anything like me, when Stranger Things 3 made it’s long-anticipated arrival, you weren’t out celebrating the Fourth of July with loved ones; you binge-watched eight hours worth of the addictive Netflix original. So obviously, when I logged onto Instagram Saturday morning and saw all the cast posting an ominous Stranger Things 4 trailer, I knew I needed to put my investigation skills to work to really dive into some of the conspiracy theories behind the finale and the potential for Season 4. Season 3 was an emotional rollercoaster to say the absolute least. It brought some incredible new characters, addictive story lines, unexpected friendships, and even the deaths of some of our favorite characters–R.I.P. Alexi, our cherry slushy king, who was ruthlessly killed at the carnival of all places in Chapter 7. However, I’m here to give y’all hope on why some of our favorite characters may or may not be dead and can still make an appearance in Season 4.
In the finale of the heart-wrenching one-hour special of Stranger Things 3, “The Battle of Starcourt,” all hell breaks loose, but you already know that if you’ve seen the finale. So, let’s talk about the most obvious and most popular theory, that being that our favorite over-protective softie sheriff is, indeed, alive and most likely has been chilling at the Russian military base ever since Joyce turned the keys. Our first clue to Jim being alive, is the song choice chosen in the scene where El reads Hopper’s note, post “death.” The song, “Heroes” by David Bowie, played in the background of the [tear jerking] scene, and I never caught the cinematic brilliance of this until I later decided to rewatch the show and came to a conclusion, as many other fans did as well. Did that song sound familiar to you? Like you’ve heard it in the show before? It’s because that exact song by David Bowie was played in Season 1, when Will Byers was found “dead” at the bottom of the quarry. Of course, we know this to be false, for Will Byers and his bowl cut are still very much alive to this day, so why, out of the hundreds of other 80’s songs, did they chose to repeat a song from Season 1? It’s obviously a hint that Hopper could very much still be alive. The biggest hint for Hopper’s death being a hoax is so obvious; I don’t know why more people don’t talk about it. When the camera pans to the machine just seconds before it explodes, Hopper isn’t even on the platform, but what they do show is a ladder right where he was standing that he most likely climbed down to save himself. Of course, this would mean he is still stuck in the military base, because nobody sees him after the machine exploded, and everyone jumped to the conclusion that he had to have been blown into oblivion along with the machine itself. My theory was also proven when, after four long minutes of credits, they show a clip of the Russian military base. In this clip, you can see some soldiers we recognize speaking about a mystery person behind a door, being referred to as “the American.”
While there are many different theories as to who is behind that door, I have to believe that it’s Hopper, solely because, throughout the show, he gets called “The American” several times by different Russian soldiers, it just became what he’s known as to them. Now another really convincing theory to me is that “the American” behind the door is actually El’s toxic Papa, Dr. Brenner. Yes, the one from Season 1 who most of us just kind of assumed died in Season 2. However, myself and many others were proven wrong when Shawn Levy and the Duffer brothers came out and said that Brenner is indeed still alive. Could this be why there was that random demogorgon in that cage at the end? How did the Russians even find out about the Upside Down? The demogorgon? Who knows more about the Upside Down then him? Think of how valuable he could be to the Russians, not to mention his murderous and sociopathic tendencies. He is exactly the type of person who they would need to work for them on the inside. The Russians can’t be working alone; they knew so much in such a short period of time, whether it’s against his will or not, it makes sense that Brenner is working for them. Another potential theory is if Brenner isn’t working for them, then Dr. Owens has to be. People think he could be the potential link between what happened in Russia and the Star Court mall—after all he was always super knowledgeable about the Upside Down, and always have inside information that could be proven valuable to the Russians. Not to mention that his friendship with Hopper and helping out Will Byers in Season 2 never made him less shady—there was always something suspicious about him. Like where was he all season? Why did he just show up at the very end? It’s safe to assume that he may still be in contact with the Russians.
The next theory, I choose to believe only because it makes me feel less sad about the tragic circumstance, being that Billy Hargrove is actually still alive in the Upside Down. I preface this by stating that Shawn Levy and the Duffer Brothers confirmed that one main character does die this season, Billy being alive would mean that Hopper would have to be dead, and the evidence supporting Hopper being alive is much more vast than the evidence supporting Billy is still alive. You may be very confused right now because, yes, the Mind Flayer killed Billy right in front of our eyes, in a very graphic way. However, if you recall, when all the other humans were succumbed by the Mind Flayer, their bodies
turned to goo and they became apart of him. This proves that Billy’s connection to the Mind Flayer was different, he was a host, as was Will Byers if you do recall. Will showed us that it was possible to survive being the host of the Mind Flayer, and a huge theory that many believe is that the Mind Flayer is still alive. It wouldn’t be a ridiculous theory because it’s not the first time the gang thinks they’ve defeated an antagonist when really they are still alive. Billy is the third suspect of the potential spot that holds “the American” behind that door in the Russian facility. Personally, I think killing Billy off makes complete sense, as much as I love him. It needed to happen for his character development. He showed signs of redemption in his last few moments alive; he showed a side of Billy we had never seen before, he had come full circle and showed his humanity, while being in the most inhumane state he’s ever been in. I personally see his death needed for the plot development for the show, as was Bob’s death in Season 2. He died for a purpose, he served his purpose in the show, and came full circle in his character arch.
So what does all of this mean for Season 4? We’ll have to wait to be sure, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait a year for the next nine episodes, so instead I decided to find some of my personal favorite and most realistic Season 4 theories to fill the time until the show makes an appearance on our favorite streaming service, Netflix. The first theory, to me, is the theory that makes the most sense, and that is that Murray uncovers news about Hopper, and tries to contact Joyce. There is almost solid proof this actually happens because David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper, played a game with his fans over Instagram where he would change his profile picture to a different number every day for ten days. Many fans caught on and figured out he was actually giving us a huge clue, a phone number. If you dial the phone number 618-625-8313, you will instantly hear Murray’s voice, he’s trying to contact Joyce, saying it’s urgent, he found news or discovered something. I think with El and the Byers not in Hawkins anymore, they can’t discover the potential threats, especially since there is a huge chance that El may not have even got her powers back yet. This is going to bring back the power duo we all know and love, Murray and Joyce, who are on a mission to find Jim. When the promo for Season 4 came out it eerily stated that “we’re not in Hawkins anymore,” this could be left up for interpretation, but it does make sense that they would all try to get out of that problem town while they had the chance. The Duffer brothers basically confirmed this theory by stating in an interview, “I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plot lines into areas outside of Hawkins. Which could mean more time in Russia, or elsewhere in the United States.” Something I’m personally excited about is the shows’ possible correlation to the technical year their world is set it, 1986, meaning they could incorporate some events that happened that year to real life events, like Cheyrnobl. After all, Season 1’s theme was winter or Christmas, Season 2 was fall and Halloween, and Season 3 was summer/ the Fourth of July. If we follow this pattern this would mean Season 4 would be in spring 1986, the time of Cheyrnobl. The show could totally incorporate this disaster into their plot because they need to use something familiar to convince the public to the strange happenings, devastating but believable. So did a nuclear reactor really explode, or did El and the gang just have the fight of their life?
There is still so much we don’t know about Stranger Things Season 4, and as we approach closer to the release date, hopefully the fans can use their detective skills to figure out what the Duffers have in store for their fourth and rumored, potentially final season. One thing however is guaranteed—it’s only getting stranger.