Here's everything to remember before watching Stranger Things season 4
It's been nearly three years since audiences last visited Hawkins, Indiana, and its perpetually terrorized residents, but on Friday, Netflix will release the first seven episodes of Stranger Things season 4, returning us all once again to the Upside Down. If you need a refresher on all the shenanigans that happened in season 3, EW has you covered. Here are the most important things to remember before diving into the new episodes.
The band is... not back together
The first, and probably most important, thing to know is that the core group of friends that the series is based around have all scattered when we begin season 4. After three seasons of unparalleled horrors befalling her family, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) finally packs up and moves Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Will (Noah Schnapp) out of Hawkins and to sunny California. Because of Hopper's presumed death (more on that in a minute), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has nowhere to go, so she tags along with the Byers family on their move.
Love is in the air
It's safe to say that all of Hawkins' horrors didn't stop anyone from finding a little romance, because by the end of season 3, it seemed like everyone had paired off. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven had finally declared their love for each other, with Mike promising El he'd visit at Thanksgiving, and she'd come see him over Christmas. Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) were still together by season's end. When it seemed like maybe there might be sparks between new-found besties Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery), she came out to him in a surprisingly tender bathroom moment. Thanks to the Byers' move, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan are trying out long distance (they hilariously agreed during their tearful goodbye that they've survived worse), and even Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) surprised everyone when it was revealed that Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo), his suspicious long-distance girlfriend he met at camp, turned out to be a real person.
El doesn't 'got the power'
After an intense battle between Eleven and the Mind Flayer, the evil entity is finally put back behind the gate between this world and the Upside Down (for now). But at the end of season 3, it seemed El's powers had been completely spent. In the trailer for season 4, she tells someone, "I don't have my powers." That doesn't bode well for our little group of friends, who have often relied on El's telekinetic capabilities to get them out of trouble.
Russians are involved, because of course they are
Last season, it wasn't just the Upside Down and its nefarious residents the Hawkins kids were up against. Going out on their own adventure, Hopper (David Harbour), Joyce, and private investigator Bauman (Brett Gelman) learned that the Soviets had been plotting to build a machine that would open the Upside Down underneath Hawkins' Starcourt Mall. The final moments of the season show a prison of some kind in Russia, where it's revealed that the Soviets have their very own demogorgon that they can't possibly be using for anything good. Gulp.
Billy and Hopper's sacrifices
Speaking of Hopper, he appeared to explode himself in an attempt to stop the Russians by blowing up their Upside Down machine when Joyce is forced to detonate their explosive before he can escape. His death was devastating to everyone, but particularly to Joyce (with whom he finally had a date scheduled after three seasons of "will-they-won't-they?") and his makeshift daughter El, who discovers the emotionally devastating letter he left for her after a season of their rocky father-daughter relationship. Don't worry, though — Hopper has been spotted in some of the season 4 promos, so we haven't seen the last of him.
Jim Hopper wasn't the only one to seemingly lose his life last season. During the Battle of Starcourt, the character everyone loves to hate, Billy (Dacre Montgomery), died when he finally remembered who he was after he was possessed by the Mind Flayer all season and was forced to do its dirty work. In a rebellion against the possession, Billy protected El, Max, and the gang by sacrificing himself in a surprising redemption arc. His (too little too late) final words are to his step-sister, Max: "I'm sorry."
Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 debuts on Netflix on Friday, with the final two extra-long episodes of the season releasing July 1.
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Netflix’s hit sci-fi series follows a group of kids in the '80s battling supernatural forces in Hawkins, Ind.