HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD FOR STRANGER THINGS 3!
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
Well Stranger Things 3 was quite the ride wasn’t it?
My big theory about Daddy Steve didn’t quite pan out the way I expected but we got a heap of gems to make up for it, like the surprisingly well written LGBTQI+ representation moments, and the latest Jim Hopper meme being his fascination with Hawaiian shirts.
But the biggest gut punch of the season wasn’t the many Steve copped when he was captured by the Russians. No, it would be Hopper’s sacrificing himself to shut down the big energy machine thingy that’s opening a portal to the Upside Down in the season finale.
It was a huge moment that we weren’t quite expecting but Hopper’s sacrifice worked well on a thematic and emotional level. The scene during the finale’s epilogue where Eleven breaks down after reading a heartfelt speech her foster father wrote for her but never got to give was one of the highlights of an entertaining if uneven season.
The gate’s closed again, the gang remain tight but get physically separated as the Byers family and Eleven move away from Hawkins, and the future is a little downbeat but cautiously optimistic.
And then the post-credits scene rolled around.
One popular horror trope is no character is out of play until you see them actually dead and it seems like Stranger Things played that card with Hopper since we actually don’t his body after his apparent sacrifice.
During the post-credits scene, we’re taken to some prison facility in the snowy mountains of Russia. Two Russian soldiers walk past a cell door and one decides to open it, only for the other to say, “no, not the American.” The pair open the cell next door instead and drag the Russian prisoner inside to a caged area where he is devoured by a full sized Demogorgon.
This basically confirms two things:
- The Russians and the Upside Down are threats again for future Stranger Things seasons.
- Hopper may actually still be alive.
As tantalising as the tease is for the future of Stranger Things, I can’t help but think it’s a bit of a cop out.
One big theme for Stranger Things 3 is the idea of growing up and moving on from the past no matter how difficult it is. By keeping Hopper around, not only does it undermine that powerful scene where Eleven finds Hopper’s note to her, it sort of goes against the thematic engine of this season.
But while the post-credits scene may be a little cheap, it does set up some important things for Stranger Things to explore in future seasons. The Duffer Brothers have previously said they know where they want the show to end up so perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt with what they’re trying to do with Hopper.
At the very least it means we’ll still be getting funny Jim Hopper memes with each remaining season of Stranger Things still to come.