You win some, you lose some, but love survives.
The final chapter of Stranger Things season 3 is jam-packed with adventure, intrigue, emotion and some humor to boot. The series really hits all the notes as the latest season draws to a close.
We finally get a reunion of all our major characters and some great exposition on what the heck has been going on. Each subgroup of characters has their own unique insights into the events at hand. Bringing them together at Starcourt Mall provides an opportunity for them to fill in the gaps for each other.
Speaking of subgroups, this episode uses some clever names to define a couple of our teams in Stranger Things season 3.
Scoops Troop: originating from activities at Scoops Ahoy – includes Steve, Robin, Dustin and/or Erica
The Griswold Family: a reference to Nancy’s National Lampoon’s Vacation style station wagon – includes Nancy, Jonathan, Max, El, Mike, Lucas and/or Will
Step on it, Joyce
Joyce is in the driver’s seat as she, Hopper and Murray head to the mall. Joyce and Hopper are terrified that their kids are trapped in the mall under the threat of the Russians. Murray tries to ease their minds by suggesting it may be someone else’s kids. Joyce and Hopper emphatically dismiss the notion insisting it is their kids who are in danger.
Something is moving inside El’s leg wound. It is painful and incapacitates her. Jonathan makes a supply run. He sterilizes a large knife using a stove burner and grabs a wooden spoon.
Jonathan makes the gruesome cut into El’s leg as she wails and bites down on the spoon. The elder Byers reaches into the open wound to retrieve the creature growing inside her. He cannot get a good grasp, though. El yells for him to stop and says she will do it herself. She uses her powers to pull the organism out of her leg and flings it across the floor with her mind. The creature wriggles away before being stomped on by a large shoe.
That shoe belongs to Hopper. He squashes the little creature as he stands before the group with Joyce and Murray. Everyone shares their specific knowledge of the threat at hand. Murray meets Erica and Dustin and is surprised by their candor and expertise on the layout and functions of the lab.
The group explains to the newcomers about the Mind Flayer taking control of people’s minds and forcing them to sacrifice their bodies to the monster. The monster grows larger with each victim it consumes. Billy has been instrumental in collecting the victims.
The Scoops Troop knows the layout of the underground lab while the other teens are privy to the creature’s development. The adults have the intel on the machine the Russians are using to keep the gate open. Everyone gets up to speed and they prepare a plan of action.
Exactly 12 hours to go until Stranger Things Season 3 premieres!
The cast was given 30 seconds to tell you why they’re excited about the new episodes pic.twitter.com/Znr8EHQLw5
— Netflix US (@netflix) July 3, 2019
Erica and Dustin will guide Hopper, Murray and Joyce through the vents remotely using Cerebro. Steve and Robin will drive Erica and Dustin to the powerful ham radio. Joyce, Hopper and Murray will turn off the machine. Nancy and Jonathan are tasked with taking the remaining teens to Murray’s house for safekeeping.
Hopper has a heartwarming talk with El before sending her off with Mike. He calls on Mike to be careful. The exchange suggests a gesture of good will from Hop to Mike. Joyce says goodbye to Will assuring him that he will be safe. Will explains that he is worried for his mom, not himself.
Ready, set, go? Well, not exactly.
Steve is excited to be driving the cool convertible and makes the long trek up the hillside to Cerebro. Dustin talks about how awesome Suzie is, but Erica doubts her existence.
Hopper thinks Joyce should go with the kids to Murray’s house. Joyce disagrees. She and Murray tell Hopper they want to destroy the machine, not just turn it off. They make their way to the elevator storage room and begin the descent into the lab.
The rest of the kids pile in the station wagon with Nancy and Jonathan, but the car won’t start. Nancy pops the hood and Jonathan discovers the ignition cable has gone missing. A car’s headlights shine down on them from a distance. It’s Billy. Nancy and Jonathon order everyone to go back inside the mall.
Just as Murray boasts about their ability to complete their mission unnoticed, the elevator door opens to a line-up of Russian guards pointing guns at them. Murray concocts a story in Russian about them being there to deliver some documents. Hopper does not think they are buying it and fires upon them. The three adults steal the fallen guards’ uniforms and pose as Russians themselves.
Murray aka call sign “Bald Eagle” drops into the vent to initiate the alarm.
Grigori arrives through the elevator and finds the fallen guards. He utters “The American”.
Call for help
Back inside the mall, Mike tries to reach the Scoops Troop asking for a ride. Unfortunately, Steve has not yet reached Cerebro and no one hears Mike’s call for help. Nancy arms herself in preparation for a possible confrontation with Billy. Max is concerned that Nancy will kill Billy. Will reminds her that if Billy knows their location, so does the Mind Flayer.
Jonathan suggests they extract the ignition cable from the demo car in the mall. First, they have to be able to access it. El’s powers are not strong enough to turn the car over. Mike enlists the principles of physics and the group returns the car to its upright position. El is worried that she has lost her powers and tests them on a can of New Coke.
Jonathan searches for the ignition cable. Will feels the sensation on his neck. Suddenly, the creature drops through the ceiling. Everyone scatters. Max, E and Mike end up behind a counter. Nancy, Jonathan and Lucas hide behind the demo car.
From a distance
The Scoops Troop have made it to Cerebro. They see the mall lights flickering from their station high on the hill.. They radio to the Griswold Family to confirm their safety. Dustin gets no response except for the screech of the monster as everyone tries to hide and remain quiet. The monster flings the radio across the mall floor. It breaks apart but still gets the signal.
Dustin and Robin decide to take the car and go rescue the Griswold Family from the mall.
El, Max and Mike make a run to The Gap to exit out its back entrance. They do not have enough time. The monster is upon them and grabs a mannequin wearing the same outfit as El.
One of the monster’s tentacles is frighteningly close to Mike’s face. Lucas pulls out his wrist rocket (aka slingshot) and uses it to pop a balloon in the distance. The noise distracts the monster and everyone makes a run for it.
Nancy, Jonathan and Lucas head to the car to replace the ignition cable. Max, El and Mike head toward a back exit.
One rescue, one assault
Jonathan replaces the cable while Nancy stands outside the car armed. Billy’s car remains pointed towards them from a distance. Jonathan struggles to get the car to start. Billy charges towards them. Nancy fires shots at his vehicle.
Just as Billy is about to run them over, Steve rams into Billy from the side disabling Billy’s car and saving Nancy, Jonathan and Lucas. They finally get the car started. Robin and Steve pile in the back and the car peels away with the monster following them.
Billy emerges from his car as flames pour from it. He makes his way to the gate where Max, El, and Mike are attempting to exit. When the kids see Billy, they run back inside. Billy manages to squeeze through the closing gate and follows them inside. As he approaches them, Max pleads with Billy to not hurt them and remember who he really is. It does not phase him. He grabs each one, flinging them across the hall knocking them out. He puts El’s limp body over his shoulder and carries her away.
Fly Bald Eagle
Murray has been given the call sign “Bald Eagle” much to his dismay. He works his way through the underground ventilation system toward the machine room. Erica and Dustin guide him with the latest turn.
Meanwhile, Hopper and Joyce wait impatiently for Murray to get to his location and sound the alarm. They talk about being a good team despite their incessant bickering. Joyce jokingly asks if she gets the promotion to detective. Hopper reminds her that she is planning to move away from Hawkins. Joyce changes the subject and suggests a date at Enzo’s when this is all over. Hopper is concerned when he overhears Dustin telling Murray over the radio that there is a problem at the mall.
Murray makes it to his location to pull the wires triggering the alarm. Joyce and Hopper slip into the vault room to retrieve the keys. Hopper enters the code Murray gave him, twice, to no avail. He radios Murray about the code. Murray realizes his memory of the the code, which is Planck’s Constant, may have failed him.
Dustin overhears the dilemma and radios Suzie for the number. Sure enough, Suzie is real and happily accepts Dustin’s call. We see Dustin’s original red, white and blue trucker hat in Suzie’s room, presumably a token of their love!
Truth be told, Suzie is a little miffed that Dustin has not spoken with her since camp (even though we know he tried!). She insists that they sing their special song together as an expression of Dustin’s commitment to her. They perform a rendition of “The NeverEnding Story”, which goes on for longer than we need at this critical juncture.
The lovebirds finish the song and Suzie speaks the code into the radio. Hopper unlocks the vault and retrieves the two keys to turn off the machine. Whew!
The Griswold Family notices that the monster has turned around and is no longer following them. This must mean a problem back at the mall. Jonathan turns the car around and heads back to the mall.
Billy carries El to the center of the food court as the monster returns to take her. Billy gives El the same speech as he gave to Heather about remaining still.
Max comes to and revives Mike. The carload makes it back to the mall and they all try to ward off the monster with Lucas’ fireworks. They soon run low on firepower and Steve radios to Hopper that they have to close the gate now.
El attempts to reach Billy’s humanity by talking about the scene on the beach with his mother. She touches his face. Billy is affected by the memories El shares. As the monster comes dangerously close to grabbing El, Billy has a change of heart and redeems himself by pushing against the monster to protect El. The monster pierces Billy’s body.
Can they just close the gate?
Murray sabotages some elements of the machine so it will be destroyed when they turn the keys. Hopper and Joyce are about to turn the keys when Grigori approaches Hopper from behind. They fight and end up down on the platform next to the machine.
Joyce uses her belt to hold one key while reaching for the other with her hand. Dustin is screaming on the radio for them to close the gate. Joyce and Hopper understand it’s a matter of life and death. Hopper manages to fling Grigori into the machine, but Hopper remains on the platform and Joyce needs to turn the keys and close the gate now.
Knowing that anyone standing next to the machine will be annihilated, Joyce looks sadly at Hopper who nods for her to turn the keys despite his impending death. Joyce closes her eyes and turns the keys. The gate closes.
Joyce opens her eyes and Hopper is gone.
The monster falls
As soon as the gate closes, the monster is powerless. Max runs to Billy to help him, but it’s too late. He mutters that he is sorry and then dies. Max cries in grief.
Joyce and Murray run from the observation deck.
Dr. Owens and the military arrive to Starcourt and raid the lab. First responders fill the mall parking lot. Will and Joyce hug each other as El looks for Hopper, but he is gone.
3 months later
The time shifts forward three months. There is news footage describing a corrupt mayor, chemical leaks and burned down mall.
We see everyone helping the Byers move their belongings out of the house. They are indeed moving. El will go and live with the Byers. El is still waiting for her powers to return. Jonathan and Nancy pledge their commitment to one another and say their goodbyes, for now. El and Mike talk about seeing each other at Thanksgiving and Christmas. El surprises Mike by telling him she loves him. They kiss goodbye.
Will plans to donate his Dungeons and Dragons materials. Mike fears that Will is giving up the party. Will explains that he will still be in their group and use their materials when he comes back to visit.
Dustin decides to give Will’s Dungeons and Dragons box to secret nerd, Erica. She is pleased.
Joyce folds clothes and comes across Hopper’s police uniform. She feels something in shirt pocket. It is the speech he planned to give to Mike an El, not Joyce’s version, but his own. El walks in and asks to read it.
It is heartfelt letter of love from a proud father to his daughter. The letter talks about Hopper’s love of being El’s dad and how he was afraid of losing special time with her as she grows up. The letter ends with him once again giving the rule about keeping the door open 3 inches. El becomes emotional over the letter and puts it in her own shirt pocket.
Steve and Robin remain friends and attempt to get jobs at Family Video. Robin is a shoe-in but Steve is declined. Robin convinces manager Keith to hire Steve, too, because the ladies will come in just to see him!
The U-Haul drives away from the Byers house and the credits roll.
There is another scene during the credits. We flash to a prison in Kamchatka, Russia. Guards pass some doors to prison cells. One guard stops, but the other says, “Not the American”, and they move to the next door.
They grab the prisoner from that cell and take him to a room where a hatch door opens releasing what looks like a good old-fashioned Demogorgon. What is going on?
While we wipe away tears over losing Billy and Hopper, we cannot help but wonder if Hopper somehow made it out alive?
Revisit Stranger Things Chapter 7 here.
Stay connected with So Many Shows: