While the finale sets up a season 4, it makes clear that things won’t be the same. Either because of what happens during the fight with the Mind Flayer or the decisions made after.
The Duffer Brothers
The Duffer Brothers
Introduced This Episode
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A Battle To End All Battles: Murray, Dustin, Lucas, Will, Jonathan, Nancy, Mike, Max, Billy, El, Hopper, Joyce, Robin, Steve
Multiple groups, with subgroups, are formed for the Battle of Starcourt. Joyce, Murray, and Hopper go underground and then split up with Murray taking the vents as Joyce and Hopper wait for a signal. In the mall, Will, Max, Lucas, Mike, El, Nancy, and Jonathan are a separate team. Outside, Dustin, Erica, Robin, and Steve are another group.
For those still in the mall, they find themselves battling it out inside, trying to deal with the Mind Flayer, as well as Billy who is outside keeping watch. This leads to a split in the group since El is the one the Mind Flayer wants, and with Max and Mike staying by her side, it allows the others to escape. Perhaps even lead the Mind Flayer away. However, that plan doesn’t last long, and if it weren’t for Robin and Steve, when Nancy and her crew try to escape, Billy would have crashed into them.
But, despite Billy’s car accident, he is alive and well and thus he goes after El on foot. As this happens, Nancy and her crew, who thought they were leading the Mind Flayer away, realize they aren’t succeeding and head back to the Starcourt. However, they will be too late.
This Is The End: Billy, Hopper, Max, Joyce, Suzie, Murray, Dustin, Mike, El, Grigori
As you can imagine, the Mind Flayer seemingly is unstoppable. Especially since El has drained her powers to the point of nearly being normal and with Billy strong enough to knock out Max and Mike, it makes it seem the Mind Flayer may finally do what it set out to. However, using what she knows of Billy’s memories, she slows things down and convinces him to die a hero. One which slows down the Mind Flayer enough for the others to do their part.
Of which includes us learning Suzie is real, Dustin and her having a duet, and afterwards her revealing the Planck’s Constant that Murray remembered wrong. Thus giving Joyce and Hopper the keys needed to, in combination with Murray destroying the fail-safes, creating a instability with the laser which could lead it to being destroyed. However, just as the keys were to be turned from a safe distance, Grigori shows up, fights Hopper out near the laser, and with Grigori’s body being shredder by the lazy causes a field of electricity Hopper can’t get past. Thus forcing Joyce to destroy the laser while Hopper is within the blast radius and assumingly killing him in the process.
Though we don’t, unlike the Russians down there, explicitly see Hopper die.
3 Months Later: Hopper, El, Mike, Joyce, Max
However, going by news reports, it is assumed he is dead. Which, with him being the only thing keeping Joyce in Hawkins, she takes her family, and El, out of town. To where exactly? Who knows? All that is known is that El will now be under Joyce’s care, and while there are plans made to see one another on holidays, there are no guarantees. That is beyond Hopper’s last note which explains how happy El made him and El revealing to Mike she overheard him and Max arguing, and she loves him too.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
Who is the American mentioned at the end of the episode? Could that be Hopper? Within 3 months, who is to say, like El in season 1 going into season 2, he didn’t disappear but end up rematerializing in the Upside Down? Then, since the Russians won’t quit, finding a way back over and ending up in Russia? After all, Demogorgons can’t exist in our world unless the gate is open and if the gate is open, it means people can come in and out of the Upside Down.
Anyone else surprised the news didn’t cover the disappearance/ death of 20+ people more?
What happened to the Russians that were still around as Joyce and Murray were leaving?
Was the main thing Dr. Owens did was cover everything up or something beyond that?
Where is Joyce moving to and how was it decided she’d take El?
Where is Murray after the time jump?
So will season 4 just be about El getting her powers back?
How did Erica and Dustin’s parents react to them being gone as long as they were?
Did Dr. Owens interrogate the kids, and Joyce, since they not only experienced something supernatural but also fought Russians?
What is the likelihood Grigori had superiors who know of Hopper and his associates?
Will the Starcourt be rebuilt or will locals refocus on main street stores? If there is a recovery of either at all.
How does Will feel about El basically becoming his adopted sister? Much less, how does El feel about Joyce becoming her adopted mom? It isn’t like any of the combinations with El have been that close.
Who bought Joyce’s house?
How was Billy’s death explained to Max’s parents?
Considering the lack of security on “The Lab” the government used to operate, will there be more considering all that was under the Starcourt right under everyone’s noses?
Was there a funeral for Hopper and who said what?
Is It Wrong To Have Hoped & Expected Kali and The Others To Show Up?
Dustin & Suzie Are Cute
In the end, Dustin was the only one who truly had a cute romantic relationship. As pointed out when Nancy said her goodbyes to Jonathan, their bond was based in trauma, and arguably that applies to nearly every couple we see. However, there is an innocence to Suzie and Dustin the others don’t have. One which makes it so you don’t see some kind of dependency and, taking note of Lucas and Max, a need to question if they are even together or not. With those two, it is just two weirdos made for one another who, unfortunately, live states apart.
Notable Characters Died & It Was Emotional
I’m not going to lie, I get teary-eyed when Billy uttered “I’m sorry” to Max. For while he hasn’t been the same jerk of a big brother this season as he was in season 2, if you watched the second season, you could tell Max did love him even if he wasn’t the best big brother. On top of not being her biological brother. Making not only his death scene but Max’s devastation towards the end of the episode a gut punch.
Hopper’s death too stirred up some emotions, but it really didn’t hit until El was reading that letter about how she opened something up in him. Feelings he shut off, and it really pushes you to understand El is the reason Hopper came alive. Maybe even decided to pursue Joyce since El made anything seem possible. Much less, that Hopper was worthy of being happy again.
On The Fence
The Possibility of Hopper Being Alive
One which gives the slightest possibility of Hopper being alive, and the Russians possibly figuring out another location they could open the gate from. Especially considering the Demogorgon was alive, hungry, and well. But, if Hopper is alive, it’ll definitely lead to season 4 beginning on a crappy note due to an emotional bait and switch.