Warning: This post contains spoilers for the third season of Stranger Things.
Hands up, everyone who spent their Fourth of July at the Starcourt Mall. Season 3 of the blockbuster Netflix series, Stranger Things, premiered over the holiday weekend and immediately became the talk of Twitter. Picking up one year later after the events of Season 2, the new batch of eight episodes pitted our youthful heroes against a series of enemies ranging from mindflaying monsters and Russian invaders to workplace misogyny and their own hormones. They emerge from their many challenges triumphant… but not without some heavy losses. With the fourth — and possibly final — year looming in 2020, here are the burning questions we’ll be pondering until our return to Hawkins.
Is Hopper six feet under?
It’s the death that had social media crying into their cans of New Coke: Hawkins’s scruff-and-gruff police chief, Jim Hopper (David Harbour), seemingly sacrificed himself in a town-saving, mall-destroying, Upside Down gate-shutting explosion. That action was the one moment of unabashed heroism from a character who otherwise wasn’t all that heroic this year. Hopper’s personality shift from adorably grouchy to unpleasantly angry was noted by many viewers, who pointed out that it made his season-long courtship of Joyce (Winona Ryder) seem the opposite of romantic. One could argue that his passing actually benefits their relationship long term, as it gives her yet another reason to put Hawkins in the rearview, while remembering the better version of him. The same goes for Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who can re-read the heartfelt letter he wrote to her and push aside the thought of how he manipulated her boyfriend, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), into lying his way into a break-up.
But let’s be honest… no one outside of Hawkins actually believes that Hopper is gone for good, right? Besides the lack of a body, a post-credits scene all but confirms that Harbour — whose typically active Twitter account has been quiet of late — will return. Jumping from small-town America to a Soviet Union prison, the clip features a pair of guards escorting an unlucky man to death by Demogorgon. Sharing the same cell block as that walking dinner is an American prisoner, whose name almost certainly rhymes with “bopper.” Since we know that the Duffer Brothers love them some ‘80s movies, Season 4 could go one of two ways. In one scenario, it’s 1985’s Runaway Train, with Hopper breaking out of prison and riding the Trans-Siberian Railway back to Moscow. In another, it’s 1988’s The Rescue where Mike and his pals go on a behind-enemy-lines mission. Or maybe NeverEnding Story super-fan Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) can just summon Falkor the Luckdragon?
if hopper isn't that American on that russian prison, don't even start filming season 4 #StrangerThings— sapphire (@safir_axl) July 7, 2019
listen hopper is “the american” in the russian prison and that’s what i’m going to force myself to believe for the next two years pic.twitter.com/IpTQhYdTpz— nicole rhee; st3 spoilers (@twdhenry) July 5, 2019
can stranger things 4 please be about el getting her powers back, finding her dad, and her mission to help hopper escape from siberian prison— mango bugos (@imafakebrit) July 4, 2019
How will Eleven’s powers return?
Here’s one upside to Eleven losing her telekinetic powers: She’ll save a bundle on Kleenex. Robbed of her abilities by the Mind Flayer, she’s now facing a future as — gasp! — an ordinary teenager. But Mike speaks for all of us when he off-handedly remarks, “They’ll come back.” Sure, he’s technically talking about the Byers family, who are moving, with Eleven, to another town. You don’t need to be psychic to know that he’s really referring to her otherworldly abilities. One likely source of information would be her lost sister, Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), last seen running from the Pittsburgh P.D. in Season 2. That particular plot thread was left dangling in Season 3, but would presumably be part of any final season fabric.
Here's what I think will happen in Stranger Things 4:— Walt (@UberKryptonian) July 5, 2019
Eleven somehow finds out Hopper is still alive in the Upside Down. The problem is that her powers aren't working. She'll probably go see Kali (08), her sister, to get help. Kali leads her to her other 9 psychic "siblings". pic.twitter.com/CtwHkJRij0
so with what happens to Eleven in the last two eps of S3, surely that means she’ll spend the next season tracking Kali down to find more victims of brenner’s experiments and understand where their powers come from?— Lydie (@khrysantemvm) July 7, 2019
Why do I get the feeling that for Season 4 El will reach out to Kali for help to gain her powers back and maybe Kali has been searching for the other children who have been experimented on and they all will team up 👀👀#StrangerThings#StrangerThings4— ¹⁹⁸⁵𝕔𝕣𝕪𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕠𝕧𝕖𝕣 𝕤𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕠𝕟 3🌼 (@mileven_3inches) July 6, 2019
wait if joyce, will, jonathan and eleven move to illinois, that means eleven will be close to chicago. maybe kali will come back in the next season?? #StrangerThings— c (st spoilers) (@C011EENMB) July 6, 2019
Another potential solution to Eleven’s power problem lies closer to home. Like literally in the next room. Many online are convinced that Will (Noah Schnapp) has powers from the extensive amount of time he’s spent in the Upside Down — powers that have yet to come online, perhaps because of the Mind Flayer’s dampening abilities. With that particular enemy defeated, though, Will could become a real-life wizard and cast a spell that restores his friend’s abilities. We’ll roll a D20 to make that happen.
Will being so irrelevant this season, but being able to sense the Mind Flayer... AND the writers always had him dressed up in his wizard costume this season... bruh they’re totally foreshadowing the fact that he has powers and are gonna unlock them next season.#strangerthings— abby buck (@AbbyBuckborough) July 8, 2019
kinda wish someone else had powers besides Eleven in stranger things? I liked that Will had his way of detecting the mind flayer, but it still would've been cool to see someone else with a different ability! #StrangersThings— mel 🐰 (@bubblyybunnie) July 6, 2019
You’d think Eleven would talk to Will for like 5 minutes just to be like “so... you’re the only person in town that has powers” or “so... you and I are the only kids that have been all alone in the upside down”#StrangerThings— Tones (@ElmStreetsLast) July 7, 2019
Have we seen the last of the Upside Down?
It’s been a reliable source of strange things for three seasons now, but maybe the destruction of Starcourt Mall and the death of the Mind Flayer means that the Hawkins-adjacent gate to the Upside Down has been locked for good? With the Byers family relocating to as-yet unspecified new territory, a change of scenery could also mean a change of adversary — and that’s always welcome when a show is getting up there in years. Certainly, we don’t need another season finale that’s all about closing a super-sized portal.
That said, the existence of a Demogorgon in the Russian penal system implies that there’s another access point out there somewhere. And that’s a good thing, too, because it means Hopper has a chance of escape that doesn’t involve tunneling out of prison, Shawshank style. A sizable segment of Twitter is convinced that the police chief jumped into the Upside Down to avoid being blown to bits. And maybe, just maybe, the Hawkins door was left open wide enough — three inches to be exact — for him to pop back through. Our world just turned upside down.
Hopper definitely is alive and in the Upside Down.— MotherToTheMax (@rachelandmaxvsu) July 8, 2019
1) Gate still cracked open.
2) End scene where Byers + 11 are leaving, overlay of Hoppers speech. Also playing "Heroes". Same song they played when they found fake dead Will in season 1. [1/2] #StrangerThings
(Hopper sees the electric cannon about to explode, and sees the Gate about to close)— fillieppines (@fillieppines011) July 7, 2019
Hopper (to the Mind Flayer): KEEP THE DOOR OPEN THREE INCHES!!!
(Runs to gate, jumps into the Upside Down, safe from the explosion.) pic.twitter.com/GSkMnG22Qx
like she said "the american" is supposed to make us think it's hopper but it's not. and hopper actually just got transported to the upside down when the machine exploded ("bc he was facing the gate when it exploded")— robin stan account (@techie_earp) July 8, 2019
SPOILER ALERT: For #StrangerThings— Valerie Adcock (@Dramaqueen8981) July 8, 2019
Turn back now if you haven't finished the series!
I think hopper is in the upside down. "Leave the door open for your dear old dad." The gate wasn't closed all he way when Dr. Owens went and looked! It was open about 3 inches!
Will Steve ever find true love?
Good hair? Don’t care. That’s pretty much where one-time King of Hawkins High, Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), stands these days vis-à-vis the ladies. Since his senior year romance with Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) imploded, the closest thing Steve has had to a rebound relationship is his bromance with Dustin. And it’s Dustin, by the way, who nudges Steve off the bench and in the direction of his totally awesome Scoops Ahoy co-worker, Robin (Maya Hawke), whose wry cynicism is the perfect emotional (and comic) complement to his earnest goofiness.
But that’s why you shouldn’t trust your love life to a 14-year-old. In one of Season 3’s best scenes, Robin comes out to Steve, dashing any hopes that this Westley has found his Buttercup. (Did we mention that Cary Elwes is the Mayor of Hawkins? As we wished.) But don’t worry — Robin isn’t going anywhere. For one thing, Hawke has emerged as Season 3’s breakout star, which means her Season 4 return is a foregone conclusion. More importantly, she and Steve have begun a beautiful friendship where they can swap movie recs and critique each other’s taste in girls. That sure sounds like happily ever after to us.
Steve Harrington is the best character on Stranger Things and you can’t convince me otherwise and WHY WON’T THE WRITERS LET HIM FIND LOVE HE IS THE BEST AND I LOVE YOU STEVE AKA “THE HAIR” AKA “DADDY” HARRINGTON 😩❤️😭 pic.twitter.com/OqaqJnNHnq— Emmy Eschrich (@emmy_the_award) July 8, 2019
WHY CANT STEVE FROM STRANGER THINGS TO FIND LOVE AND BE HAPPY pic.twitter.com/Dws9lwOtOw— Chief Jim Hopper Protection Squad (@Peebins69) July 8, 2019
Robin and Steve’s friendship is so important. Because when she told him she’s gay, he didn’t judge her. Didn’t try to change her, he was there for her and acted the same. I love that they put that in there because some people don’t understand. I hope they do now. #StrangerThings pic.twitter.com/89zHvHfavI— jackie st spoilers (@capsharrington) July 6, 2019
Love that #StrangerThings stays keeping Steve Harrington in the friendzone because that leaves him available for me— Syrah (@SergeantSarah) July 8, 2019
Stranger Things is currently streaming on Netflix.
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