Stranger Things Season 4- We Know Who the American Is

One of the problems with owning a website is a very public written record of times where you were wrong. I suppose you can open up a wing in the I Am Geek archives covering the few (more than a few?) times where I just didn’t get it right. Now, I don’t mind being wrong. It happens quite frequently if I’m being honest but when your wrongness is written down it truly eliminates any deniability. You can’t back tread as much as you would like. Things like “no, you misunderstood me” or “I didn’t say that” don’t hold much weight with written proclamations. I choose to believe that being wrong isn’t a negative, at least in the realm of this website. If I’m wrong it means that I’m still being surprised by things and that’s what we want out of our stories. If you know everything then what’s the point? Stories lose their magic that way and I don’t want to live in a world where stories lose their magic.

Back in October I came here breaking down the Stranger Things season four announcement teaser. It wasn’t much besides some major clock imagery and the Upside Down but any new Stranger Things content is good content to yours truly. This could very easily turn from a pop culture page to a Stranger Things page in a heartbeat. Within this announcement though, I very boldly predicted that our beloved Jim Hopper was not only alive but currently trapped within the Upside Down. As emotional as his farewell was, I never really believed Hop was gone. Come on, it’s Hopper. He needs to go on that date with Joyce, raise Eleven, not kill Mike, and dance to all the Jim Croce music to a very ripe age… or until the cigarettes get him at least.

The teaser at the end of season three seemed to imply that Hopper was alive and in Russia of all places. It seemed verrrrrrryyyyy obvious that the American that the guards on demogorgon feeding duty were talking about was Hopper. A little too obvious to yours truly who still believes that Doctor Brenner is alive. Leaving the identity of the American ambiguous gave viewers the hope that Hopper had somehow made it after closing the gate to the Upside Down. It raises a number of questions, mainly how, but sometimes as a viewer, all you need is hope. At the very least it kept people talking about Stranger Things beyond the conclusion of season three. And as a storyteller that’s the goal. Bring people back for more.

The other day, a buddy of mine sent me an image of the Stranger Things Twitter handle’s profile picture. The Four, representing season four, had turned clockwise for no real reason He caught it, sent it to me, and strongly believed that it meant something. I agreed with him instantly and thus began some theory-making. The following day, Valentine’s Day, Stranger Things dropped this season four teaser out of nowhere blindsiding the fandom. But this one minute video wasn’t promising a Black Widow crossover but rather answering one of the show’s biggest looming questions. Who is the American?

As far as teasers go, this is incredibly important for the upcoming fourth season. In fact, it may be listed as a teaser but it certainly feels like a tag. Something added as an addendum to Russian prison scene that closed out the season. Sure, we’re being teased but we’re also getting some straight-up huge answers. And some other questions to be discussed. Like what exactly is this Russian chain gang doing to this railroad track? Are they taking it apart? Chipping the ice off it? Is this just some form of nonsensical torture by the Russians? Is that Jaqen H’ghar walking around with a rifle? Is this why we didn’t see him in the final season of Game of Thrones? And what do we make of that demogorgon noise at the very end? Is this just reminding us that Russia has access to demogorgons, implying that this is a demogorgon train or something else entirely?! It certainly serves as a reminder that this fourth season of Stranger Things will be living up to the tag line. We are not in Hawkins anymore.

More importantly than that, we know that Jim Hopper is in fact, alive. And that reveal is gigantic! I for one appreciate that we get this information now opposed to during the fourth season. I’m willing to believe that not many of us think Hopper actually died at the end of season three and instead of going into season four just waiting for him to show back up the Duffer Brothers have already given us that reveal. From a storytelling standpoint, it allows the fourth season to move organically. To tell the story that it wants opposed to taking the first half of an eight or nine-episode season to set up the return of Hopper. We know he’s alive. We know he’s in Russia. We know he has lost his majestic mustache and hair. Now we can get down to how we’re going to bring him home. If we even can.

Of course, only we know that Hopper is alive. Our crew back in Hawkins has no clue. Joyce has taken her family with Eleven and moved out of Hawkins. The party has been broken up. Eleven no longer has any powers. The Mind Flayer is still alive. The Upside Down is still lurking in the shadows. And now we have a season ahead of us that will presumably lead the group to Russia. When they said that this season would take us out of Hawkins it was natural to assume that we’d be in the Upside Down instead. Another thing I was wrong about even though I still believe that the Upside Down will be the key to getting Hopper home. Now that we know Hopper is alive we can imagine a season that splits time between Hawkins, the Upside Down, and Russia thus expanding the landscape of this show tremendously.

Things are changing for Stranger Things and I’m excited to see where we go from here. The Hopper reveal brings with it a sigh of relief. The Duffer Brothers respect us enough as an audience not to toy with us concerning this reveal. Now let’s get to it. Let’s bring him home. Let’s see him punch a demogorgon in the face. Let’s start crafting new theories on what to expect in season four so in a couple of months, I can come back here excitedly to tell you I was wrong.

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