The very first teaser for Stranger Things season 4, released way back in February 2020, revealed exactly what happened to Jim Hopper after his apparent death in the season 3 finale – he’d been captured by the Russians and was currently serving time in a Soviet gulag. If you thought we found out this twist surprisingly early, that’s because there are much bigger revelations to come about Hopper in the next season of the Netflix phenomenon.
While speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Hopper himself David Harbour promised that season 4 would finally provide some answers to a mystery that was teased long ago on the show. Back in season 2, when Eleven was laying low in Hopper’s cabin, she uncovered some boxes buried under the floorboards labelled “Dad”, “New York” and “Vietnam”. Season 3 didn’t return to the question of what was in these boxes, but Harbour says season 4 will at last fill in these gaps in Hopper’s backstory.
“There’s some fun stuff that we’re doing this season, but it’s also the heaviest dramatic stuff I’ve ever had to do,” Harbour explained. “We get to see a lot of Hopper at his most vulnerable, we’re gonna reveal a lot of backstory points that we’ve only hinted at in boxes in his attic. We’re gonna see a lot of these different threads, and also, we get to see a rebirth of him.”
Harbour went on to say that Hopper will “re-emerge as a different human being” in season 4, after the “brutality” he has faced during his incarceration by the Russians.
“In that way, he has this vulnerability to him, and also this brutality that he needs to survive Russia,” Harbour said. “We get to see this whole other side of him and it’s some of my favorite stuff.”
Finally, Harbour teased that season 4 will reveal all about a secret from the Hawkins sheriff’s past that he has known about since before the first season, some part of the character’s origins that he cooked up with creators the Duffer brothers before cameras even started rolling. Five years later, fans are on the verge of finding out what that is
“There’s one thing in it that plays very big in this season that I’ve known since the first frame of the first season. Me and [series creators] the Duffers would sit around and speculate, ‘Oh, wouldn’t this be cool?’ the minute we started shooting,” Harbour teased. “We never thought we’d even get a second season, and then we get to do it in this season. It’s so satisfying to have had an idea five years prior, and to go like, ‘Oh, this is a season when we’re gonna let out this secret that we were using just as a subtle thing to inform something.’ We’re gonna lay it out finally, and it’s really cool.”
Production on Stranger Things season 4 has taken an age thanks to both the pandemic and the hugely busy schedules of its all-star ensemble cast. Filming is almost at the point of wrapping up, though, with the most recent set photos teasing a high-stakes season finale. It’s safe to say it’s not going to debut on Netflix until sometime in 2022. In the meantime, you can catch David Harbour in Marvel’s Black Widow.