It’s Stranger Things Day!

This post contains some of my season four theories, which – if I turn out to be correct – could constitute spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Today is the fourth annual Stranger Things Day, and Netflix gave me ALMOST everything I was hoping for.

Why do we celebrate Stranger Things Day on November 6th? Because November 6, 1983 is the date Will goes missing in the series opener, “The Vanishing of Will Byers”. The first Stranger Things Day was observed in 2018; the show’s social media accounts shared a clip from the set of then-filming season three, with cast members wishing everyone a happy Stranger Things Day. Each year, Netflix gives us goodies to commemorate the event; this year, we hit the goody jackpot.

We kicked things off with the fourth (and final) teaser, released at 10 AM (all times listed are EDT).

The voiceover is Eleven writing a letter to Mike. El, living in California with the Byers family and making things sound much cheerier than they actually are, has plans to spend her spring break with Mike. But since this is Stranger Things, we already know this will *not* be the best spring break ever.

At noon, we got a peek at the first season four poster (all of the show’s art work has been done – brilliantly – by Kyle Lambert). This poster depicts locations and events from the three previous seasons, and front and center – adjacent to the junkyard, the pool and Starcourt Mall – is the Creel house. More on this in a minute.

At 2 PM, Netflix dropped the episode titles:

  1. The Hellfire Club
  2. Vecna’s Curse
  3. The Monster and the Superhero
  4. Dear Billy
  5. The Nina Project
  6. The Dive
  7. The Massacre at Hawkins Lab
  8. Papa
  9. The Piggyback

Disappointingly, this trailer doesn’t contain an actual release date (like I said, I got ALMOST everything I wanted). Summer 2021 is all we have – for now. Hopefully, we’ll see a full trailer in the spring with the release date.

A few notes/questions on the episode titles:

  • “The Hellfire Club”, a reference to the exclusive, high-society gentlemen’s clubs of 18th-century Great Britain, is the name of Hawkins High School’s Dungeons & Dragons club.
  • “Dear Billy” clearly refers to Billy Hargrove, Max’s late step-brother who sacrificed himself to the Mind Flayer at the end of season three in order to save Eleven’s life. Billy’s portrayer, Dacre Montgomery, was seen on the season four set, but how will Billy appear? Did he somehow survive? Is he a doppelgänger? Is it a flashback? Or perhaps some sort of alternate timeline?
  • “Papa” is obviously Matthew Modine’s Dr. Brenner. We already knew that Brenner was “Papa” to at least ten other children besides Eleven (we met Eight/Kali in season two). Based on a teaser released in May, it looks like we’ll meet at least some of those other children in season four. The creep factor of the children saying “Good morning, Papa” in unison is off the charts.
  • “The Piggyback” is the title I’m most intrigued by. Back in season two, I entertained a hypothesis that only the powers of all the children (Eleven, Eight and at least nine others) combined would be enough to take down the Mind Flayer. So I’m wondering if “The Piggyback” refers to their powers piggybacking on each other. The title could also be a reference to time travel, which the show has strongly hinted at, particularly with all the season three references to Back to the Future (nothing on Stranger Things is accidental). Or, it could obviously be something else entirely. I guess we’ll find out next summer.

Here’s what we know so far – for sure – about season four:

  • The Byers family, including Eleven, are living in California. The Wheeler family, Steve, Dustin, Lucas, Max and Robin are all still living in Hawkins. Steve and Robin are working at the video store.
  • Hopper is being held at a Russian prison (he is conspicuously absent in the teaser that dropped today, but we know this from the first teaser – released all the way back in February 2020, before production on season four shut down due to the pandemic).
  • Pennhurst Mental Hospital, mentioned briefly in season one, will be a major location.
  • Guest starring this season is horror legend Robert England, who will play Victor Creel, a patient at Pennhurst.
  • Another new location for season four is the aforementioned Creel house. From what I’ve pieced together, Victor is most likely the father seen in the third teaser that was released on September 25. My guess? The demogorgon kills Victor’s family; he is accused of the crime and offers up a story too fantastical to be believed. Convicted and ruled criminally insane, Creel is sent to Pennhurst. In 1986, Dustin and the gang seem to be trying to find evidence in the abandoned house, perhaps to help exonerate Creel? Speaking of Dustin, Gaten Matarazzo’s Sherlock Holmes impression gives me all the feels.
  • Brett Gelman, who plays Murray Bauman, has been promoted to series regular.
  • There are three more new series regulars: Jamie Campbell Bower will play Peter Ballard, an orderly at Pennhurst who will presumably interact with Victor Creel; Eduardo Franco will portray Argyle, a Spicoli-esque stoner who is Jonathan Byers’ best friend (I adore the idea of introverted Jonathan being friends with a dude like this); and Joseph Quinn will play Eddie Munson, the leader of Hawkins’ Hellfire Club.

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