Stranger Things 4, the fourth season of the hit Netflix show, has arrived on the streaming platform. It’s been nearly three years since the last season was released but for the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana and our favorite heroes, it’s only been six months. The young characters seemed to have grown up so fast but running away and trying to survive supernatural creatures from The Upside Down can put a toll on your body. (Being sarcastic here, of course).

Three years is a long gap between Stranger Things 4 and season 3. Especially for a show with its timeline that stays pretty close to each season. If you don’t have time to rewatch the previous season, here’s a quick study guide to where Stranger Things last left off.

Timeline and Setting of Stranger Things 3

It’s the summer of 1985. The height of the Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union is at its peak. Thank God Rocky Balboa was able to ease some of that tension. A little Rocky 4 reference there. The Soviets sneaked into Hawkins and deployed a giant laser beam to crack open the same gate to the Upside Down that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) sealed up in season 2. If this supernatural weapon can be harnessed, the Mind Flayer can wreak havoc all over the country.

A lot of time was spent at the new Starcourt Mall where the citizens of Hawkins can buy their favorite jams at a Sam Goody. There’s a theater showing Back to the Future. In downtown Hawkins, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) works as a clerk at a general store. Russians, through their secret collaboration with the corrupt mayor (Cary Elwes) have used up Starcourt and the surrounding properties for their purposes.

What Are the Characters Doing in Season 3

Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Steve (Joe Keery) along with Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve’s co-worker at Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor, uncovered the operation under the mall via decoded messages they intercepted.

Back in town, Nancy Wheeler (Natalie Dyer) and Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), now interns at The Hawkins Post newspaper, are trying to get the scoop on the weird rodent issue.

The Core Characters Are Dealing With Their Own Issues — Adolescence

Our younger heroes are growing up and heading into adolescent life. Their long sessions of Dungeons & Dragons are now replaced with romantic relationships. Something Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is not too happy about. He’d rather have life go back to normal after his near-death experiences in the Upside Down.

Dustin returned from science camp but is focused on Suzie, who he thinks is hotter than Phoebe Cates. His friends doubted her existence until she was revealed towards the end of the season. Queue Never Ending Story song.

Eleven and Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) play kissy-face all summer until from Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour), who’s become Eleven’s aadoptive father since Stranger Things 2, has to use his Dad duties and put a stop to it.

There’s Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), who’s having his little fling with Max (Sadie Sink). That’s sort of an on and off thing between them.

The Band Gets Back Together

Thanks to the Mind Flayer, it forced the kids to come together to once again defend their hometown.. Nancy and Jonathan did their own thing as they continued their investigation of the rat and human possessions. Hopper and Joyce left the viewers wondering if they’ll get together or not even with their obvious feelings for each other.

The Stranger Things season 3 finale, set during the Fourth of July, had our young heroes battling the Mind Flayer inside Starcourt Mall. The kids were overmatched against the giant spider-looking monster. A weakened Eleven harnessed every last drop of energy to fight the monster as her friends used fireworks and blasted away at it.

For a moment, El was able to loosen Billy from the Mind Flayers mind control and with a redeeming act of heroism, Billy sacrifices himself in order to save the children. Stranger Things 4 trailer teased some weird paranormal activity at Billy’s grave when his sister, Max, came to visit.

While that was happening, Dusting and Erica (Priah Ferguson, Lucas’s little sister, used Dustin’s radio to lead Hopper and Joyce through the tunnel system below Starcourt. They posed as Russian agents to gain access to the giant laser. Although Hopper defeated a super-strong agent while inside the laser’s chamber, he was also vaporized when the machine was destroyed. At least that’s what it seemed like.

The Byers and Eleven Move To California

Joyce felt the need to move her family out of Hawkins due to the continuing horrors her and her family have faced. She and her boys moved to California along with Eleven who is now without her adoptive father and her powers.

It’s Time for Stranger Things 4

The trailers for Stranger Things 4 showed how the heroes lives have progressed since last seeing them in season 3. Will and Eleven are dealing with high school issues in California. There was a glimpse of a younger Eleven. The rest of the group that remained in Hawkins discover what seems to a haunted house that may be another gate to the Upside Down. The trailer also revealed the next big bad of the show — a human-Demogorgon hybrid that can speak.

Stranger Things 4 Part One is now streaming Netflix.

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