Today, Netflix dropped the first bit of footage from Stranger Things 4. And not just any footage either, but a revelatory clip that finally confirmed Jim Hopper survived the events of the season 3 finale and is now stuck doing manual labor in Russia. Even when his loved ones grieved over him, with the Byers moving away from Hawkins, fans were not convinced that Hopper had perished in the explosion of the Russian’s portal-opening machine. Now we know we were right, but how did the police chief manage to survive?
Well, ScreenRant’s Thomas Bacon has put all the pieces together and come up with a thorough working theory that sounds like it could be bang on the money. First of all, it hinges on that ladder in the Russian Gate Room. If you’re familiar with all the analysis of Hopper’s “death” you’ll know that a ladder, leading down off the gantry, can be spotted behind him moments before the explosion. This theory offers that the initial shockwave of the machine’s destruction blew Hopper backwards, over the edge of the gantry, thereby protecting him from the vaporizing energy of the blast.
So, that explains how he survived, but how did he end up in Russia? Well, remember that Hopper was wearing a Russian uniform in the finale as he and the others had infiltrated the facility. So, when the Russians searched the room to find any of their comrades in need, they must’ve located the unconscious Hopper and taken him with them. After all, it’s established in the season 3 finale that all Russian operatives managed to flee Hawkins without getting captured.
Clearly, at some point, presumably once they returned to the motherland, Hopper was discovered to be a fraud. With him knowing too much to be let go though, he was then locked up in the Russian bunker – as seen in the post-credits scene of season 3’s finale. Interestingly, Russian officers decided not to feed him to their pet Demogorgon in this same scene, meaning that they might be trying to find a way to make him useful to them. Until then, they seem to be putting him to work on the railroads with other prisoners.
The question remains, though: how will Hopper manage to escape Russia and travel halfway around the world and return to Hawkins? Hurry up, Stranger Things season 4, so we can find out.