A bloody massacre, a terrifying backstory, and a potential Mind Flayer origins story? Sign us up for Stranger Things season four already…
Seemingly, it spins a story about Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and her horrifying past… or does it?
Seemingly set at the Hawkins National Laboratory – as in, yes, the one where Dr Brenner (Matthew Modine) raised, trained and performed experiments on children with psychokinetic abilities – the majority of the teaser takes place in the so-called ‘Rainbow Room’.
Watch the Stranger Things season four trailer below
For all those readers who don’t know already, the Rainbow Room served as a playroom for Dr Brenner’s test subjects – but, despite its name, it’s shown as having plain white walls and hard white flooring. And it’s worth noting that all the toys present are… well, they aren’t so much toys as they are learning devices; think the chess board, the rainbow track on the floor, the Plinko board, and the oversized dice in the corner, to name just a handful.
The child test subjects
There are a few things worth paying attention to in the teaser, the first of which is that the children playing in the Rainbow Room all wear the same hospital gowns as Eleven did during her time in the lab – and their heads have all been shaved, too.
Why is this interesting? Well, because we know from our meeting with Kali/Eight (Linnea Berthelsen) in season three – as well as Stranger Things’ extended universe explored in the comics – that the majority of other child test subjects did not look like this; their hair was unshaven, and they often wore normal clothes.
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Does this mean, then, that these are the children that came after Eleven; the Twelves, the Thirteens, the Fourteens, and so on? Perhaps they are the ones who, like our girl, showed the most psychokinetic promise?
Or, then again, perhaps this isn’t really a flashback to Elle’s past, as we have been led to believe. Perhaps, rather, it’s a flash-sideways to another Rainbow Room in the present day… one set in a lab somewhere in the snowy wastelands of Russia, maybe?
As we’ve learned over the years, nothing happens by coincidence in Stranger Things, which means that the clock shown in the teaser – just ticking over to 3pm – is not random.
Some on social media have suggested that it is a metaphor linking to that traditional “school’s out” vibe; could 3pm be the time that the child test subjects of the Rainbow Room finally break free from their clinical prison?
Or could it be, as some others have darkly hinted, that the 3pm of this trailer links back to the aforementioned teaser? The one which showed seven different elements of the Rainbow Room all covered in blood?
A reminder, for anyone who needs it:
“Due to technical difficulties, Hawkins National Laboratory will be closed until further notice,” the teaser for the trailer announced at the time of its release.
Clearly, something terrible is going to happen in the Rainbow Room… because those oversized dice we mentioned earlier? They’re clearly visible in this video, and doused in blood.
So… does this mean that the children featured in the trailer escape Brenner’s clutches? Does one child snap and kill everyone else in the room? If this is a flashback, as some have suggested, could it be that this hints at the origins of the Mind Flayer itself (some have put forward the theory that the demogorgon is another of Brenner’s child test subjects, driven mad by his experiments and pushed to their absolute darkest upside-downiest point)?
Or could it be, as a few people on YouTube have opined, that the Russians will be seen storming into the Rainbow Room, grabbing the child test subjects, and whisking them away to the Soviet Union for further testing.
And on that note…
The red squares
We see a child test subject building a tower out of red building blocks… or red squares, if you prefer. Once again, this hints at that dark Russian conspiracy we’ve been fed since David Harbour dropped that very first Stranger Things S4 teaser on his Instagram feed last year.
That’s right, Jim Hopper is toiling away in Russia. And, as a result of this, one Reddit user has theorised that Eleven will seek vengeance against Brenner for experimenting on her in the first season. And, when she finds him, she will learn that ‘Papa’ hasn’t just survived their last encounter – he’s thriving, based in Kamchatka, and working with the same Russians we saw at the end of season three.
You know, the Russians who were feeding prisoners – albeit “not the American” (aka not Hopper) – to a captive Demogorgon? Those Russians.
“Are you listening?”
The trailer ends on Door 11 (Eleven’s cell), before Brenner’s voice can be heard asking, “Are you listening?”
Now, this could just be a callback to the days he used to perform tests on Elle and demand that she pay attention. It could, however, be that our teenage dreamer – who seemingly lost her powers at the end of season three – is being contacted by someone (or something) while she’s sleeping.
Who, though? Brenner is a possibility, as is Hopper – but most seem to have their money on it being one of Elle’s fellow test subjects, especially as so many have been fleshed out in the comics but given zero screen time in the TV series.
Either way, we have a feeling that Elle’s powers will be restored at some point in season four… and that she will wind up reuniting with Hopper before too long, too.
“Pray for the American”
Last February, the Duffer brothers teased: “Although it’s not all good news for our ‘American’ (Hopper); he is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human…and other.
“Meanwhile, back in the States, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything. Season four is shaping up to be the biggest and most frightening season yet, and we cannot wait for everyone to see more.
“In the meantime – pray for the American.”
Stranger Things will return to Netflix in 2021.
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.