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Stranger Things 4 returns in the summer of 2022, but the three-year content drought since season 3 has fans desperate for new information to tide them over until the release. So far, most theories about Stranger Things 4 have revolved around Chief Jim Hopper’s disappearance in the season 3 finale. However, a new idea regarding the Nina Project is gaining some traction among hardcore fans.

Members of a military group hold up guns in what appears to be an underground bunker in 'Stranger Things 4'
‘Stranger Things 4’ | Netflix

The mysterious door in the desert in the ‘Welcome to California’ teaser for ‘Stranger Things 4’

In the “Welcome to California” teaser trailer released on Stranger Things Day, some images flashed across the screen that showed a door in the middle of the desert. Another photo showed military vehicles and helicopters swarming to a similar-looking spot. It’s easy to assume this is the same area as the mysterious door in the middle of nowhere. Fans now think that door leads to an underground military base that houses the Nina Project. 

Two separate Redditors joined forces to create the following theory: “I had already figured they were in an underground facility and recalled the VSF [Video Store Fridays] movie The Cell, where the bad guy has a secret underground torture chamber hidden on a farm beneath. Further, this facility appears to be, to some degree, converted to a lab like Hawkins.”

They also mention they believe there’s a conflict between the Military Police (which appeared in Stranger Things Season 1) and the U.S. Army. The “Welcome to California” teaser shows the U.S. Army invading an underground bunker. Some fans believe this place houses the Nina Project.

‘Stranger Things 4’ episode titles included one named ‘The Nina Project’

Past seasons’ episode titles have held clues for the plots of each season, and it’s safe to assume the titles for Stranger Things 4 do as well. Stranger Things 4 Episode 5, titled “The Nina Project,” instantly caught the attention of fans. A recent post in the Hawkins AV Club subreddit went into detail about the relevance of the project itself.

“So what is Nina, or rather, what does it appear to be? Well, as some of you have guessed, it’s some sort of sensory deprivation tank… Seeing the whole tank in detail very strongly suggests the interior ceiling of the tank is actually that weird arrangement of display monitors we saw in the 003 teaser (with the “HNL Control Room” title serving as a clever diversion), which was of course accompanied by the song “Quand le Bien-Aime Reviendra“ from the opera Nina.

So, the thinking is that someone lies down in there (think of Eleven floating around in the inflatable pool during S1E8), watches the screens (they, in turn, are watched by a camera too of course) and… well, we‘re not exactly sure what happens. With all things considered though, this seems to fit in with the brainwashing program idea we have floated around… gaslighting, just like the opera itself suggests. This device is located in the missile silo base or, more specifically, the launch chamber itself, and therefore must be/is likely related to Brenner, hence all the speculation on what that plot seems to be about. For evidence as to what such a plot may be, one could refer to the Video Store Friday movies that line up with it – Minority Report, for instance.”

What does all of this mean? For now, it’s pure speculation, but it’s enough to make audiences wonder.


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Does Dr. Brenner capture Eleven again?

The Duffer Brothers remain tight-lipped about the majority of Stranger Things 4. Fans don’t even know a specific release date yet. However, several quick flashes of images in the “Welcome to California” teaser imply the worst for Eleven in the upcoming season.

In one, a person with a shaved head stands in front of an explosion. Many believe it’s Eleven after Brenner captures her for his own means and shaves her head.

However, until Stranger Things 4 drops, it looks like fans are left to ponder the possibilities. Stranger Things 4 debuts in the summer of 2022.