Stranger Things Season 4 is available on Netflix! If you want to know what the Nina Project is, keep reading! The fifth episode of the fourth season of Stranger Things, appropriately titled The Nina Project, opens with a cryptic message.
When one of Dr. Sam Owens’ agents dies (his name is Harmon, but the kids poignantly call him Agent Man Unknown Hero), he leaves them a desperate plea. “Nina…Nina… here’s the number,” Harmon stammers as he hands Mike Wheeler and Will Byers a pen.
Who exactly is Nina? Harmon is unable to say before sadly expiring. Fortunately, viewers of Stranger Things soon discover that the question isn’t “Who is Nina?” but « What is Nina? ». Let us explain.
WHAT IS THE NINA PROJECT?
Many of Dr. Brenner’s experiments in the Hawkins laboratory were traumatic in themselves. Still, in the case of Project Nina, he seems to have dedicated himself to something that has the potential to help trauma patients.
The brain represses memories that it cannot process in the short term, protecting the person from the emotional pain of reliving specific experiences.
But in the long term, repressed memories can be debilitating. Eleven need to confront these memories in the fourth season of Stranger Things to regain her powers and grow as a person.
According to Owens, the sole purpose of Project Nina is to find a way to restore Eleven’s powers. In the fourth season of Stranger Things, Dr. Brenner suggests that Eleven has lost her powers from her in the same way that some people who have suffered a stroke change their character, lose their abilities, and have difficulty speaking.
She believes that the key to restoring Eleven is forcing her to relive her repressed memory, allowing her to have the experiences that unlocked her potential in the first place.
Interestingly, Dr. Brenner’s Project Nina is an extension of the sensory deprivation tank he used in the Hawkins lab.
Suppressed memories can best be retrieved when the brain is in a similar state to how it was formed, so the sensory deprivation tank is directly linked to Eleven’s origin story.
Eleven, and we experience Project Nina almost as a form of time travel. This is especially true in Stranger Things season 4, episode 7, in which Eleven’s memories of One overlap with Vecna’s revelation to Nancy Wheeler of the truth about her origins.
Of course, in reality, Project Nina isn’t time travel at all; it’s simply a window into Eleven’s repressed memories, experiences so traumatic his mind hid them from her in the act of self-defense. Dr. Brenner is probably right that Eleven must confront these memories to get his powers back in Stranger Things season 4.