WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3, streaming now on Netflix.
Following the rousing end to Stranger Things' Season 3, series creators the Duffer Brothers have revealed the follow-up will be quite different and see the series expand like never before, even venturing into territories outside Hawkins, Indiana.
This comes as no surprise as the season finale's post-credits scene focused on a Russian scientific base in Kamchatka where a Demodog is being held prisoner, as well as a mysterious American. However, thanks to these teases foreshadowing what's to come, one Reddit theorist may have cracked the code on what Season 4 could entail, and it involves a major real-world catastrophe.
The theory posits that the next season will tie into the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, further stating this disaster will actually come about from a battle featuring Eleven and what we presume will be either Upside Down monsters or Russian soldiers, leading to the nuclear meltdown.
The Reddit user heads in this direction based on the settings of previous seasons: Season 1 dealt with Winter, 1983 (Christmas); Season 2 focused on Fall, 1984 (Halloween) and Season 3 revolved around Summer, 1985 (Independence Day). The theorist believes Season 4 will follow this formula and after extrapolation, it should be centered around Spring, 1986, which is when the disaster occurred in real life.
The thought of Chernobyl being fabricated as a cover-up to mask some big battle focusing on Eleven and who knows what other superpowered humans the Russians might have is indeed a thought-provoking one, and could add an intriguing dynamic to the franchise that's been stuck to the fictional podunk town of Hawkins. But, admittedly, a few problems do arise with this theory.
Firstly, the Kamchatka base is in Eastern Russia whereas the Chernobyl base is west of Russia in the Soviet stronghold of Ukraine at that point in time. This means Eleven wouldn't be in Kamchatka if she's responsible for a firefight in Chernobyl. But, if the Russians are still conducting experiments to open rifts to the Upside Down, it could stand to reason they might be using various reactors at different locations.
If Eleven accesses the Upside Down from America and possibly tracks Hopper (if he is indeed the prisoner), she might be using it as a passageway to other gateways, which could take her to various reactors in the Soviet Union like the one that was blown up at the end of Season 3 under Starcourt Mall. So while there'd be some hopping in terms of logistics, there is a potential means of getting Eleven across to Chernobyl using the dark realm.
Secondly, following the popularity of HBO's Chernobyl miniseries, the accident, and the toll it took, another Chernobyl story might be too fresh in the public's mind for Netflix to use as a plot angle. HBO turned it into a docu-drama of sorts, even having elements of that series being a horror in terms of the deaths that ensued, so one has to wonder if Netflix's approach might even be considered exploitation. It's a very real tragedy that Russia didn't like Americans telling, so using it for the sake of sci-fi entertainment when so many innocent lives were lost could be seen as lacking tact from the streaming service.
Granted, other tragedies have been used in Hollywood movies and TV shows such as 9/11 (just see the end of Robin Pattinson's 2010 romantic drama, Remember Me). But still, this could be a bit touchy as ultimately, it's not an American story to repurpose. It might make a great narrative in terms of entertainment, but again, we live in politically charged times where sensitivity and correctness do matter, so a line may be drawn there.
Either way, it's interesting food for thought, and while it's wishful thinking, it does seem like the kind of out-the-box concept Stranger Things prides itself on and could appropriate for a fantastic plot threat. Still, it's highly unlikely due to the optics involved, because at the end of the day, we're pretty certain the Duffer brothers want to respect their international audience and don't want to harm the brand of their franchise, as well as Netflix itself.
Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Priah Ferguson, Cary Elwes, Jake Busey and Maya Thurman-Hawke.