Stranger Things Season 4 seems to be zeroing in on a theme: “time.”
More than two years after the release of Season 3, the series has finished shooting its next installment after pandemic-related delays and is finally set to return next year.
But what will this season have in store for the kids of Hawkins we’ve watched grown up? The answer appears to be more than typical sci-fi, but one key prop could reveal a secret connection between everything we know so far.
In the Season 4 teaser released as part of the Tudum Netflix fan event, the action time-travels beyond the series’ standard 1980s action all the way back to the 60s, following the Creel family as they move into a new house. Unfortunately, they meet a tragic end, and the Stranger Things characters we know and love must investigate this cold case.
For such a solidly science-fiction series, this teaser seems more like a Mike Flanagan joint than a Stephen King novel. But could the cold-case setup be a misdirect? One fan theory suggests this new tone is part of a massive Upside Down conspiracy. Here’s how it breaks down.
Redditor StrangerWill suggests the key to the new teaser is the clock glimpsed multiple times. For hardcore fans, this isn’t a new motif. A clock was seen in the shadowy Season 4 announcement trailer all the way back in 2019. Fans at the time thought this meant time travel would be involved in the new season, and that seems to be at least half-right — there will be at least one flashback to decades prior.
But the real significance of the clock in the announcement and the teaser is that it will serve as a connection between the real world and the Upside Down. Whatever happened to the Creel family may have used this clock as a gateway between the two worlds.
Then, there’s Dustin’s offhand Sherlock Holmes quote claiming “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.” Could this mean an innocuous clock is actually the prop the season revolves around?
Still not convinced? One more piece of evidence is Netflix’s official description of what happens in Season 4:
“Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything.”
“Long buried” is obviously referring to this old murder mystery. Could it — and, with it, the clock — connect everything we’ve seen so far in the series?
Unfortunately, we’ve still got a little longer to wait, but considering how heavily time features into this upcoming season, perhaps that’s fitting.
Stranger Things Season 4 premieres on Netflix in 2022.