Stranger Danger

Stranger Things Season 4: new photos solve Season 3’s biggest cliffhanger

The Hawkins gang are all grown up.

It’s been years since we’ve checked in with the Demogorgon, the Upside Down, and that rag-tag group of ‘80s kids defending the world from peril in a shopping mall. But in Stranger Things Season 4, only six months have passed. Netflix released a peek behind the curtain of the two part season, including a promise of something completely different and an image solving a mystery posed in the last few seconds of Season 3. Here’s everything you need to know.

In an interview with Netflix’s Queue, Stranger Things showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer acknowledge that their cast — and their characters — have grown up. “They’re not kids anymore — they really are full-blown teenagers.” Matt Duffer said.

Because of this, the days of kids banding together are long past, and the show needs to mature just as its audience has. Duffer promised a “really dramatic departure” in Season 4, and it looks like that may be more literal than you might think.

Eduardo Franco, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, and Charlie Heaton in Stranger Things Season 4.Netflix

A number of images were released alongside the brief interview, including looks at the Hawkins kids all grown up (don’t worry, Will still has his bowl cut) and two new characters played by Eduardo Franco and Joseph Quinn. There’s also a look at matriarch Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman).

Byers and Bauman are in a snowy tundra with a crashed plane behind them. After Season 3 ended with the Byers clan (plus Eleven) moving to California, it’s pretty clear this is somewhere else entirely. The environment looks a lot like the Russian wilderness Hopper found himself in during the last seconds of Season 3.

Winona Ryder and Brett Gelman in Stranger Things Season 4. Netflix

This means that, unlike previous seasons, Stranger Things will no longer be a show predicated on American nostalgia, but worldwide adventure and Cold War tensions. It looks like Joyce and Murray will try to rescue Hopper, but if that plane crash is any indicator it won’t go the way they planned.

So while the cast, characters, setting, and themes have all grown up, one thing about Stranger Things won’t ever change — the adventure and the retro thrills of the ‘80s setting. And with a split season (and one more final season after that), there’s a lot more adventure to go around.

Stranger Things Season 4 premieres on Netflix with Part 1 on May 27 and Part 2 on July 1.