Update: Stranger Things 5 is coming, and Netflix has confirmed it will not be switching to a weekly release model — no matter how much that might be needed
Netflix just taught us to expect the unexpected. Moments ago, it released the first 8 minutes of Stranger Things season 4 online for free. You can watch it above right now. The clip begins with Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) getting ready for work with a bonsai tree, the crossword and more ritual — all self-timed.
It's set in Hawkins, of course, on Sept. 8, 1979. Brenner then goes into work at Hawkins National Laboratories, where he's running tests on a boy we soon know is marked with a '10," highlighting the connection to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).
The two are performing tests, as 10 tries to use his powers to identify drawings he cannot see. Things go horrifically wrong really soon, but there's a playful moment about a poorly-drawn animal. I won't spoil the ending, but it's definitely one way to kick off a new season.
10's role in the new season may be a huge factor, but that's to be seen.
Stranger Things season 4 episodes split and running time
A post on Netflix's Tudum blog (opens in new tab) revealed some big details we've been waiting for. To start, the first half of Stranger Things season 4 (Volume 1, due May 27) is to have seven episodes.
This means fans will be waiting for a pair of episodes when Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 drops on July 1.
But the bigger — and we don't use that word lightly — reveal is that this season's nine episodes add up to "roughly 13 hours" of programming. How does that split up? Oh, three episodes are long enough to be feature films. "Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab" will run 1 hour and 38 minutes, and "Chapter Eight: Papa" is 1 hour and 25 minutes and ... brace yourselves, the finale "Chapter Nine: The Piggyback" is "almost two and a half hours."
If you thought Stranger Things 4 was split into two halves, we now know that's wrong. Vol. 2 is basically a little under 4 hours, which would make it less than a third of the season.
Stay tuned to Tom's Guide for all the big Stranger Things season 4 news, as we can't wait to see how Netflix surprises us next.