Stranger Things released a new teaser, revealing that Chief Hopper (David Harbour) is alive. While many fans theorized Hopper would be back, the latest trailer confirmed that he is now a Russian prisoner. Stranger Things doesn’t seem too stressed about viewers figuring this out, so what if there’s a secret twist buried in the snow? It’s possible that Hopper surviving isn’t the biggest twist about this character’s return. Maybe Chief Hopper now has Upside-Down powers.
Hopper seemed to pass away in the season 3 finale when the reactor exploded and the rift closed. There’s no indication in this preview about how Hopper survived, but it’s unlikely he survived a reactor explosion and took a flight to Russia. Clearly, Hopper wasn’t disintegrated like the assassin Gregori. Stranger Things season 3 ended in the Russian laboratory-prison, where two guards threw a prisoner to a Demogorgon. If Hopper is the mysterious “American” prisoner, and he’s not on the monster menu, there’s something the Russians think is special about him. Whatever landed him in this Russian prison sets him above and beyond the other prisoners, and it likely has to do with whatever happened with that reactor.
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This theory might sound outlandish, but Hopper could have gotten powers from his exposure to the reactor. If Stranger Things doesn’t mind revealing Chief Hopper is still around, there may be a deeper twist to his survival. Hopper getting psychic powers would be a great twist to the show’s formula. This would be a creative way for the Duffer Brothers to innovate with their cast, beyond adding new characters each season.
Exposure to a reactor accident is a classic comic book superpower origin story. Also, Hopper’s spent the last three years constantly tangling with the Upside-Down, including spending time in it.
Compare Hopper’s current predicament to Eleven’s origin story. Eleven is the child of an MKUltra experiment. As soon as her powers became clear, she was kidnapped and sent off to Hawkins National Laboratory for testing. Now, it seems that Hopper is a test subject too, down to the newly shaved head. Their father-daughter dynamic could change now that their power status is reversed. Eleven created a link to the Upside-Down when she first interacted with the Demogorgon. Maybe Hopper will have a similar awakening when the Russians decide it’s his turn to face the monster. Plus, now that Eleven has no powers, the good guys could use a new psychic powerhouse.
The Duffer Brothers revealing Hopper survived is a tactical choice. This teaser is a sign that Hopper sticking around isn’t the biggest twist for the fourth season of Stranger Things. A staple of the series is exploring how humans interact with this mysterious other dimension and how certain people can get powers from it. Stranger Things now has an opportunity to show how those powers develop, beyond Eleven and a one-off group of hooligans.
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