Stranger Things 4 is almost here! It’s been a while (in our universe, anyway) since the events at Starcourt Mall led to Hopper going MIA, Eleven and the Byers family moving to California, and the group growing up and apart. There’s certainly room for some theorizing, especially since Stranger Things 4 is coming in two parts with the first one dropping May 27. There nine Stranger Things 4 episodes to look forward to and several of the titles raise curiosity about what to expect.
Let’s take a look at each title and see what’s going on in this universe.
“The Hellfire Club”
We’ve known the Stranger Things 4 premiere title for a while. And, of course, we have an extensive post about the Hellfire Club in X-Men comics, too. But, to recap, The Hellfire Club is a nefarious organization with mutant members during the Phoenix saga. There’s no doubt that Eleven shares some similarities to Jean Grey. And, X-Men comics have played a role in Stranger Things before, specifically the first season where Will refers to X-Men #134, which kicks off the Phoenix saga. It is the name of Hawkins High School’s D&D club. And we see Mike and Dustin proudly sporting their club shirts in the season four trailer. But it’s likely more than that, hinting that there are more people with powers working to do something evil in the world.
Who the hell is Vecna? It’s a name that Dungeons & Dragons players will recognize. He’s one of the game’s biggest villains, a wizard who is now an undead creature (known in that world as a lich). He seeks immortality and is maimed, his remaining hand and left eye becoming magical artifacts. Vecna has connections to secrets and necromancy, which is interesting considering another Stranger Things 4 episode title refers to a deceased character.
And, there’s always some weirdness with Will, someone who did, um, come back from the dead in a sense. A Will and Vecna connection, maybe? Vecna could have something to do with them going to the Creel House. Or the character might provide a piece of knowledge that will help the crew figure things out. In 1986, a lot of Vecna D&D lore didn’t exist yet so we will see how it fits in.
“The Monster and the Superhero”
This Stranger Things 4 episode title is more ambiguous. The superhero is likely Eleven, considering she’s been the proverbial hero in this series. But, we don’t know what’s going on with her powers. It’s possible that she will have them restored in this episode as she goes up against an antagonist. This might happen in California or maybe when she inevitably ends up back in Hawkins. Or the hero in question could be Hopper as he fights his way out of a Russian detention center. It does seem far too early for Hopper to make a great escape, though, so we will assume this hero is his daughter.
Billy died saving Eleven’s life in the season three finale. And we really didn’t get to see a lot of Max processing her loss. Yes, he sucked as a human but he was still her stepbrother who died in a traumatic way. The Stranger Things 4 trailer shows Max speaking to Billy at his grave and discovering a creepy clock in a wall. Oh, and she also levitates which is very not-normal behavior.
We can assume this episode will take a wild turn to prep us for a cliffhanger in the fifth and final episode of part one. We think Stranger Things 4 might have time travel and, if so, perhaps there’s a way that the crew goes back to see Billy again. That is, if he isn’t under the control of Vecna, who might bring him back to life. The real question is… do we want Billy back? If y’all gonna go back, then save my homegirl Barb. Or Bob.
“The Nina Project”
Ahh, now this is where the history nerds among us will thrive. There isn’t a character on Stranger Things named Nina (not yet, anyway) but we can make some connections to a real-life person named Nina Kulagina. We know the Russians are trying to access the Upside Down, so it wouldn’t be shocking if they are also conducting their own Brenner-style experiments on people. And Hopper is obviously being held at some detention center over there.
It’s possible that Hopper will meet Nina, a woman who claimed to have psychokinetic powers like Eleven’s. She was the willing subject of USSR experiments during the 1970s and 1980s, with one test involving her stopping a frog’s heart with her mind. Kulagina died in 1990 but was still participating in experiments in the late ‘80s. She might be a figure that Hopper knows or someone that the show references and uses to uncover deeper, darker secrets.
Ummm, okay. Dive into what? We saw Dad Steve in some water in a previous clip so maybe something is lurking beneath the surface. Perhaps it’s a dive into the Upside Down for more information about whatever evil is lurking next. The Creel House is also a major location this season and we see most of our young crew investigating there. Or maybe this dive isn’t about going physically into anything but digging deep into a new revelation from part one to discover something profound. At this point, the season will be full steam ahead so who knows what will happen?
“The Massacre at Hawkins Lab”
Ahh good ole Hawkins lab, where all this mess began for us and the crew. It’s been shut down since the end of season two, so what kind of massacre is taking place? This could be a flashback to a massacre that took place decades prior when a younger Brenner was around or when Eleven was still there. We do see her looking bloody with her shaved head in the trailer. Or maybe there’s something going on there now that leads to a massacre. Do the Russians break through and cause a ruckus? This is going to be a bloody one.
Yes, we know we will see Brenner again. And, considering the previous episode title, these two episodes might go hand in hand. His status and whereabouts are rather ambiguous at this time so we need answers about him. If he’s alive right now, what is he doing? Did he find a new place to conduct experiments? Did he take his talents to Russia? There might be a final standoff between Eleven and Brenner in this episode.
Who knows what this means? Maybe the test subjects’ powers piggyback off each other? Or Eleven rides piggyback on Mike’s back off into the sunset? It’s too hard to tell what this could mean, especially with it being the finale episode.
Of course, we won’t really know what will happen until it goes down. But, bringing in a powerful villain, possible time travel and necromancy, and connecting to real-life strange things is all we need to be on board.
Originally published on November 8, 2021.