'Stranger Things' recap: What happened in Season 3?

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The Stranger Things cast will be back for a fourth series. (Netflix)

Season 4 of Stranger Things is about to hit Netflix on 27 May, almost three years after we last saw the mysterious, 80s set horror show.

This penultimate season will be split into two, with anticipation rising for the latest from creators The Duffer Brothers.

Read more: 10 things you might not know about Stranger Things

In case your foggy on where we left off, here’s our guide to what happened last time…

What happened in Stranger Things S3

Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo in Stranger Things S3 (Netflix)

Season 3 took place in the summer of 1985, with the town of Hawkins, Indiana, buzzing at the arrival of Starcourt Mall, the first mall in the town and a bit of a threat to its local businesses.

This doesn’t bother our heroes, the group of young friends who are entering their teenage years and have begun to couple up. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is head over heels with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) is with Max (Sadie Sink), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) with his long-distance girlfriend Suzie, who no-one believes exists.

High school graduates Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) are also together after two seasons of bonding, and working together at the local paper, The Hawkins Post, with Nancy fending off office sexism to pursue a story about rats eating fertiliser. Steve (Joe Keery) is working in Starcourt Mall in an ice cream parlour, Scoops Ahoy, belittled by his co-worker Robin (Maya Hawke).

Hawkins Police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) has adopted Eleven, but resents her spending so much time with Mike. He intimidates the boy and slowly wedges them apart, resulting in Eleven dumping Mike and becoming friends with Max, who also eventually splits with Lucas. As for Jim, he works up the courage to ask out single mum Joyce (Winona Ryder), but any romance is derailed by her pre-occupation with the loss of magnetism in objects around her.

The mystery of Stranger Things S3

David Harbour and Winona Ryder are back (Credit: Netflix)
David Harbour and Winona Ryder are back (Credit: Netflix)

The phenomena, and a strange transmission Dustin hears on his HAM radio, are no accidents. The arrival of Starcourt is connected to suspicious goings on related to The Upside Down, a dark alternate universe filled with demons. It emerges that Soviet companies are buying up property all over Hawkins, which is welcomed by the local authorities. It emerges that they are trying to open a portal to The Upside Down right underneath the mall.

Dustin coaxes Steve, Robin, and Lucas’ precocious younger sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) to help him find a way underground. Around the same time, Jim and Joyce investigate Hawkins Lab from previous seasons, only to be chased by a Russian soldier named Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko).

Read more: Everything new on Netflix in May

The duo manages to kidnap Russian scientist, Alexei (Alec Utgoff), and enlist Russian speaker Murray (Brett Gelman) to translate. The group go on the run from the relentless Grigori, getting an information where they can from their captive. Alexei proves to be quite innocent and entranced by American life, but his fledgling friendship with Murray is cut short when he is murdered at a carnival.

The truth beneath Starcourt Mall

Dacre Montgomery as Billy in Stranger Things S3. (Netflix)
Dacre Montgomery as Billy in Stranger Things S3. (Netflix)

Back at the mall, Dustin, Steve, Robin and Erica find a way into the laboratories beneath their workplace, Steve and Robin are captured, only to be injected with truth serum and questioned, before being rescued by Dustin and Erica.

The pair have an honest conversation while waiting for the serum to wear off, where Steve admits he has feelings for Robin. In response, Robin comes out to him as lesbian, but despite the misunderstanding the two become closer as friends.

Among the other friends, Eleven’s friendship with Max leads to her sensing that a demon named a Mind Flayer has taken over Max’s sister Billy, a handsome but troubled young man who flirts with Hawkins’ housewives.

Bringing their friends into the investigation along with Jonathan and Nancy, they learn that Billy has been keeping possessed Hawkins citizens (named The Flayed) in a local steel mill captive to feed to the Mind Flayer, and as Eleven manages to get into Billy’s mind, she learns that the Mind Flayer wants to kill her as revenge for closing the gateway to The Upside Down in previous seasons.

As this revelation arises, the Mind Flayer attacks and wounds Eleven, and all three groups head for the mall as they learn in various ways what the others are doing.

The Battle of Starcourt

Millie Bobby Brown in the third series of Stranger Things (Netflix)
Millie Bobby Brown in the third series of Stranger Things. (Netflix)

The season ends with the spectacular finale, titled The Battle of Starcourt. All the groups converge, with Eleven taking out the piece of Mind Flayer that wounded her, which in turn takes away her powers. Hopper makes a plan to get the younger group, including Eleven, to safety while he, Joyce, and Murray find a way to destroy the machine the Soviets are building to open the portal. Dustin is enlisted to help navigate, enlisting Suzie in an adorable (and musical) moment from his radio.

Read more: Stranger Things S4 is the 'most cinematically ambitious season' yet

Billy and the Mind Flayer trap the kids, Nancy and Jonathan in the mall carpark as Jim’s group go underground. Steve and Robin arrive, having been called back by Dustin, to save the group as the fight goes inside. Learning that the Mind Flayer fears heat, fireworks are used to combat it while Eleven severs the connection between it and Billy. Coming to his senses, Billy sacrifices himself to the Mind Flayer in order to save Max and the others.

Stranger Things (Credit: Netflix)
Stranger Things (Credit: Netflix)

Underground, Jim, Murray, and Joyce are guided to the machine that is opening the portal, being chased by Grigori who has one last fight Jim as Joyce tries to destroy the machine. Jim kills his foe, but is trapped next to the machine with Joyce in the control room, with the key to destroying it. Jim nods, and Joyce tearfully turns the key to destruct the machine, vaporising Hopper.

Three months later...

Stranger Things season three trailer drops (credit: Netflix)
Stranger Things season three trailer drops (credit: Netflix)

Three months later, the Battle of Starcourt is covered up, as are the deaths of Hopper and The Flayed. Steve and Robin are still fast friends, with a new job at a video store. Joyce, along with Eleven, Jonathan and his little brother Will, are moving to California.

The move means Jonathan and Nancy tearfully separate, while Eleven and Mike declare their love for each other and agree to meet at Thanksgiving. The friendship group is separated, and Hawkins is without its Chief of Police… or are they?

Read more: Stranger Things S4 teaser reveals Hopper's fate

In a post-credits scene in a Russian prison, a guard looks to feed a prisoner to a captive Demogorgon demon in their facility.

The guard is stopped in his action by a colleague, who tells him to choose another by saying “not the American”, implying Hopper survived.

Stranger Things S1-3 are streaming on Netflix now, with S4 launching on 27 May.

Watch a trailer below.