‘Stranger Things’ season 4: What is the clock?

stranger things 4 creel house
Screengrab via Netflix

The season three finale of Stranger Things left us in a very precarious position. For starters, Hopper’s fate was a big question mark, and not only that but our favorite group of nerds was officially splitting up. Now that the fourth season is fast approaching, we’re closer than ever to getting our questions answered, but in true Duffer Brother fashion, right as we’re about to get some questions answered, an avalanche of more pop up. 

The trailer for season four, which Netflix officially dropped, left us with a severe bout of indigestion, in the best way possible. Six months after the Battle of Starcourt, Hopper is still being held captive by the Russians, Eleven is now navigating high school in California, and the rest of the gang is breaking into haunted houses while an all-out war looms in the distance. 

No wonder the Duffer Brothers announced the fourth season would be split into two volumes. There’s a lot of ground to cover, including a dozen new characters, a new big bad with a nightmarish face, and a murderous psychopath named Victor Creel, who the Duffer Brothers confirmed will play an integral role in the season. Perhaps just as integral as Creel is the mysterious grandfather clock that keeps popping up in trailers, promos, and sneak peeks.

So, what does the clock mean and why do we keep seeing it?

In late 2001 Netflix released a teaser clip titled “Creel House” where we meet the younger version of Stranger Things newcomer, Victor Creel, played by the legendary Robert Englund (aka Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street). The lore surrounding Creel is that he committed the atrocious murder of his family in the 1950s and has since then been locked up in a psychiatric hospital. He is disturbed and intimidating, and in the new trailer for season four we even see a quick clip of him with his eyes sewn shut.

Although the “Creel House” teaser clip doesn’t give us much info about the mysterious grandfather clock, its importance is clearly emphasized by its Upside Down counterpart. In an interview with IGN, Ross, one of the Duffer Brothers, even shed some light on the matter, calling the clock and the Creel House a “core part” of season four’s mystery.

“It’s a really core part of the mystery that our Hawkins group is trying to solve. So I don’t want to give away too much other than to say this clock plays a very, very important role moving forward.”

Elaborating on the subject, Matt Duffer said, “And you don’t want to see the clock! If you see the clock, it’s not great.”

We don’t know much but perhaps we can use the information we’ve been given to speculate a bit. For starters, if you go to 1:06 of the “Creel House” teaser clip you will see Steve Harrington climbing the stairs staring down at something in his hand, using it as a sort of compass. Whatever that thing is, it’s safe to assume it’s leading him to the attic where the grandfather clock is.

Now, if you re-watch the official trailer, at 1:34 you will see the gang of nerds gathered in a circle with flickering flashlights in their hands. Dubbed over the scene is the voice of Doctor Owens from season two saying to Eleven, “I’m afraid your friends at Hawkins are very much in the eye of the storm.”

From the puzzle pieces we are able to assemble it feels very much like the grandfather clock and the Creel House are at the epicenter of the connection to the Upside Down. Perhaps the clock is another portal? Where does the present-day Victor Creel fit into the equation?

Our questions will be addressed soon enough as the first episode of season four, titled “The Hellfire Club” airs on Netflix May 27.