Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer have teased that Season 4 of the show—which will premiere in two parts—will be the biggest yet in terms of both length and scope.

At Deadline’s Contenders Television Panel, the sibling creators and star Winona Ryder spoke about the return of the show next month. “We kind of jokingly call it our Game of Thrones season because it’s so spread out, so I think that’s what’s unique, or most unique about the season,” said Matt. “Joyce and [the] Byers family...left at the end of Season 3. They are in California—we’ve always wanted to have that like E.T.-esque suburb aesthetic, which we finally got to do this year in the desert. And then we have Hopper in Russia, and then of course we have a group remaining in Hawkins.”

The end of Season 3, way back in July 2019, saw the Byers family and Eleven get away from their traumatizing Indiana stomping grounds, while Hopper was missing following the dramatic finale. Teasers have since indicated he’s ended up overseas. “So we have these three storylines, [which] are all connected and kind of interwoven together, but it’s just very different tones,” added Matt Duffer. 

Ross said the creative team knew there would be three distinct locations, but they didn’t realize how big the season was going to be until they were “about halfway through.” He continued, “Game of Thrones is one thing we’ve referenced, but also for us really what it’s about is revelations, in that we really wanted to start giving the audience some answers.”

The season got so big that the Duffer Brothers requested an additional episode from Netflix to fit in all the story they wanted, which the streaming giant quickly approved. 

“I don’t think we have an episode clocking in under an hour—even in Season 1 there were episodes that were like 35 minutes. You kind of forget that,” said Matt of the nine-episode season, which has been split into two volumes. “This season, they’re very long, so I think it’s almost double the length of any season. So that’s one reason it’s taken so long. It does have this sort of epic quality to it. It’s a different feel, for sure.” 

On top of the larger scope, the Duffers also indicated that more of the supernatural mythology will be explored in the season. What they won’t be doing, however, is including any references to Winona Ryder’s ’80s acting career. “That’s the threshold we can’t cross, which is once Winona is a superstar in the world, like the show has to stop, because [the kids’ heads] will spontaneously combust or something,” said Matt. Ross added, “That’s the final scene: the kids go to see Beetlejuice and their heads explode.”

The Duffers’ latest comments come after they teased Season 4 as more horror-heavy than past years. The first volume of Stranger Things 4 will arrive May 27, with the remaining episodes to follow on July 1. 

Meanwhile, a mysterious countdown timer appeared in the form of the following YouTube clip titled “It’s almost time/Creel Clock livestream.” The clock in question was at the center of the “Creel House” teaser that dropped in September. Slashfilm notes that “glitches in time are already occurring” in the stream, further emphasizing the potential time-shifting aspects of the new arc.

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Netflix confirmed that when the countdown hits zero on Tuesday, April 12 at 10 a.m. ET, a Stranger Things Season 4 trailer will hit.