As a special treat for a ‘Stranger Things’ themed July, I’ve been writing extensive recaps for Stranger Things Season Three, covering every moment you may have missed in full detail. Episodes one and two are right here, and last week, I recapped episodes three through five.
The following is an extensive recap of the final three episodes of Season Three. Along with the second, and only other episode of ‘Confused Things with Stranger Friends’.
You Can Listen to the staff of TheWorkprint Hilariously try and explain Season Three of Stranger Things on a new podcast: ‘Confused Things With Stranger Friends’. Downloadable via TheWorkprint Podcast and available right here and on iTunes and GooglePlay.
Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum
The episode opens on an electromagnetic beam firing a gate open to the upside-down, which Robin comments about and asks Steve and Dustin what the hell is going on. Soon after, the group returns to the communications room where Erica realizes their ‘Russian friend’ whom Steve beat up, has gone missing. An alarm sounds alerting the base. A chase scene ensues, as the group runs door-through-door, passing the main operations room and even past the primary laser. Eventually, Steve and Robin elect to hold the door closed behind them and yell at Dustin to get help. Dustin hilariously says, “I won’t forget you!” as he leaves with Erica through the ventilation shaft, bidding Steve and Robin farewell — just in case. The Russians break-in and capture Steve and Robin at gunpoint.
Back at Hawkin’s Hospital, the lights flicker on-and-off and Will feels a prickling at the back of his neck, stating, “He’s here.” Eleven breathes heavily, preparing for the worst. Back upstairs in the hospital wing hallway, Jonathan yells at Nancy to run as the combined remains of Bruce and Tom form a terrifying creature that approaches her. She can’t initially escape at the staircase behind her as the door is blocked by bags-upon-bags of fertilizer, ironically proving that Bruce (The asshole reporter) and his joke towards Nancy earlier about, “Nancy Drew’s Case of The Missing fertilizer!” proved to be Bruce and the flayed (those controlled by the Mindflayer) as the culprits, all along.
Nancy eventually opens the door just enough to make an opening into the stairwell. Downstairs, the kids (Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Max, Will) ditch the night nurse and her “Two-at-a-time” visitation rule, and go search for the monster they know is there. Nancy runs down the halls and eventually goes into a hospital room and locks a door behind her but the creature melts into a puddle of goo and slips-in underneath.
Just outside the hospital room, Jonathan limps toward the creature but misses attacking it just as it enters. He tries to break open the door, right as the scene cuts away to the kids below, who ditch the non-working elevator and take the stairs.
Back in the room, the creature slams Nancy hard against a wall, as Jonathan grabs an oxygen tank and tries breaking down the door. The creature crawls atop Nancy and roars at her face but seconds before killing her, Eleven breaks down the door and slams the creature across several walls before pushing it outside the window. The monster melts into goo again and enters the sewers, rejoining the larger and ever-growing Mindflayer. Below the large Mindflayer, Billy and Heather stand before the giant mass as Billy exclaims:
After the opening credits, we switch to an establishing shot of Mayor Kline’s ‘Fun Fair’, as denizens happily set-up for the fair, and Possum River’s ‘Stand Up and Meet Your Brother’ plays in the backdrop. We close-in on Mayor Kline reprimanding a hotdog stand vendor before realizing in the distance, that the Terminator-Russian (credited as Grigori, though the character has no actual name) is waiting for him.
Inside the ‘Gravitron’, Mayor Kline speaks with the Terminator-Russian in private. He tells Grigori that he has all his people looking for Hopper, and that when he finds him, if Grigori could bring along some backup this time. This makes Grigori angry and the Terminator-Russian activates the ride strangling Mayor Kline along the ride’s handlebar. He gives the Mayor a one-day ultimatum to find Hopper.
Back at Murray’s (The conspiracy reporter) compound, Hopper arrives with some Burger King whoppers with extra ketchup, large fries, a pack of Marlboro Reds, and a Slurpee — all for, Alexi, the Russian scientist — who is watching Looney Toons and enjoying his freedom (4th of July theme after all). Joyce asks Alexi what the generators are powering, and Hopper emphasizes that Murray (who translates for Russian) tell Alexi not to lie and say it’s only the Starcourt Mall — because they know it’s not. Alexi instead, complains that his Slurpee is Strawberry and not Cherry flavored, which angers Hopper — who tells Murray to say it all tastes the God damn same. Afterwards, Alexi disagrees and refuses to talk unless he gets his cherry Slurpee. Now very pissed off, Hopper roughs up Alexi, pushes him out the door, and throws the keys to both the handcuffs and his car at Alexi’s face.
Hopper shuts the door and prevents Joyce or Murray from pursuing. He deduces that Alexi (whom he keeps calling Smirnoff) could’ve escaped in the woods yesterday but didn’t, because he believes he’s scared of the Russians. At that moment, a very happy Alexi begins to liberate himself and drive off, all while The Pointer Sisters, ‘Neutron Dance’ plays in the backdrop. Joyce eventually scoffs and convinces Jim to move. But as they get outside, they find Alexi stopped in the car just before the gate. Alexi reverses the car and gets out, giving the keys backs to Jim. He says that he likes Strawberry too — effectively proving Jim right: Alexi is scared of his own people.
In the underground lab, Dustin shares the entirety of the ‘Stranger Things’ storyline with Erica as they navigate the airducts of the secret lab. She believes everything except for her brother Lucas’ involvement as she thinks he’s a big coward (they’re siblings after all).
While deactivating a rotating fan together to move further through the vents, Erica surprisingly shows significant prowess in estimating numbers, all while constructing a plan of attack of how to escape the lab with Dustin. He then confirms that Erica is a nerd: she’s a math junkie, a political junkie, and loves ‘My Little Pony’. She hates this but we know it’s true.
Elsewhere in the lab, Steve is getting beaten by the Russians who ask for whom does he works for. Steve tells the truth: Scoops Ahoy. They beat him more. He lies and fabricates a story that the store’s delivery didn’t arrive, and he went into the docks to check, he accidentally went down the elevator. When it seems to not be working, Steve bribes them with ice cream, particularly asking if they’ve tried the USS butterscotch, which makes the Russians laugh. Then they continue beating him until he’s unconscious.
As they drag Steve into a room with Robin, she tries to wake him up but is slapped in the face by the Russian in charge. They tie to two together back-to-back on a pair of metal chairs. The officer in charge then says that he thinks Steve needs a doctor. Creepily suggests that they have a very best. Robin spits in the officer’s face. He promises she’ll regret that.
Back in Hawkins, Eleven walks through her blackened mind space searching for Heather who has gone missing for a long time. We see hints through the amount of tissues with nosebleed blood on it that the girl has been at this for a while. Mike is worried Eleven has been using her powers too much. Next to them, Nancy follows up with a lead on the phone, seeing if anything else had gone missing recently. For some reason, the chemicals have stopped going missing and it seems whatever the Mindflayer was doing, stopped. Though we as the audience know it’s because the Mindflayer has corrupted several members of the town already who all are covering it up.
Max and Mike argue over Eleven and the abuse of her powers. Nancy agrees with Max that Eleven is her own person. Mike admits that he’s scared as he “Loves her (Eleven) and can’t lose her again.” At that moment, El arrives. Mike gets quiet. She says she found him.
Back at Murray’s, Alexi has drawn elegant blueprints and finally gives them information. That the key built by the Russians draws on their town’s power in order to break through a barrier and open a doorway between worlds. However, the key itself was only half the equation. The lock/location (Hawkins) was the other part. Alexi tells them the Russians know that the door was open once in Hawkins but is still healing, and the goal was to open the door again. Joyce goes to call her kids. Alexi asks to watch Looney tunes. Hopper asks for whiskey, but Murray offers vodka instead (nod to season two with Jonathan and Nancy).
Hopper asks Murray to ask Alexi if they can turn off the machine and promises that he will get him to his key. Alexi has a big laugh telling Hopper that he reminds him of a ‘Fat Rambo’. He then sadly says impossible, even for real Rambo, as the key was designed by the greatest Russian minds and guarded by the best Russian warriors — breaking in is impossible.
We brilliantly cut to Dustin breaking into this impossible key (the base) with Erica. They find a bunch of the green vials used to power the laser from earlier, as Dustin tries to jumpstart a car. Next to them, lies a gigantic cage meant to hold a creature the size of a Demogorgon, and Erica finds a powerful cattle-prod they take with them as a weapon. Dustin finds some keys and they two drive on.
Back in the interrogation room in the lab, Robin yells for help in their cell, which finally wakes up a very beaten Steve. Robin tells them they’re calling him a doctor. She deduces that there’s some scissors to their side and so she wants to hop over and kick the scissors to Steve, so that he can cut their binds. Together, they laugh and call the Russians morons, as they begin hopping over in synch. But on attempt three, they fall and collapse on their tied chair together. Robin giggles, as she never thought she’d die with Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington, at a secret Russian base.
In an intimate moment, Robin mentions that she sat behind Steve two days a week for a year, remembering what he ate for breakfast every day. She calls him an asshole. Says that she was obsessed with him and that deep down, every loser just wants to be popular — though more than anything really, just accepted. Steve relents that none of that mattered in the end, that it was all bullshit. That maybe in life, you must mess things up in order to figure things out. Steve wishes he’d known Robin back then. That if he did, maybe he’d be in college. Robin agrees and says she’d then be happily ignorant and slinging ice cream upstairs with some other schmuck. Steve confesses he was happy being her shmuck.
Suddenly, the doctor arrives and props them up. He pulls out a long needle injector and penetrates Steve’s neck with it, as Harrington screams.
Eleven finds Billy in her mind, sitting on his room on the fourth of July. The group thinks it’s an obvious trap. As eleven eats Lucky Charms, the rainbow on the box reminds her of her mother and her experiences last year exploring her mother’s memories. Eleven comes up with an idea…
Eleven props in front of a TV and a concerned Mike warns her that she’s only done this before once. Eleven says that he can’t hurt her in there. She asks Mike to trust her. He says he does and for her to be careful. Eleven blindfolds herself in front of the television. She enters her darkened mind place where she finds Billy, sitting in his bedroom, waiting. Eleven touches his hand and reaches saying she wants to, “See what happened.”
Aggressively, Billy grabs her by he forearm and won’t let go. Eleven tries pulling away. Falls. Then sees a series of flashback images: everything that happened to Billy…
She crash lands on a beach. Mike asks if she’s okay and she responds that she is. Eleven sees Billy, as a child with a surfboard, interacting with his mother — whom she says is pretty. This is Billy surfing with his mother. It is his happiest memory. Eleven sees the source in the distance, as a red lightning storm appears over the sky.
Back at Murray’s, Jim calls the scientists from last year under the codename ‘Antique Chariot’. He tells the operator:
“Tell Owen’s the ruskies are entering the Gate. Entrance at Starcourt Mall. Send backup. I know how to get in.”
When he hangs up, he conveys that now the three just have to wait. Murray is upset as Jim just compromised who he is to the powers that be. Joyce, likewise, gets very upset as they can’t wait: all the kids are attending the fair which is right next to the suspected gate.
This drives Joyce mad and she calls the operator back, telling him her codename is “Wheelbarrow (Made up on the spot. Also, a befitting upgrade to a chariot)” and that she stresses the urgency to get off his ass, find Owens, and get to Hawkins and bring his men right now! The group then decides to leave and return to Hawkins.
Back at the underground laboratory cell, Steve and Robin call them morons saying they messed up the drug because they feel… very good. The Russian director returns and begins interrogating the two along with the newly arrived doctor who takes out some torturing tools.
Now under truth serum, Steve admits they work for Scoops Ahoy and that they stumbled here by accident — which still upsets the Russians. As the doctor begins the process of removing Steve’s nails, Robin talks and admits that they caught wind of the stupid Russian code. That they broadcasted all throughout town and how they cracked the code in a day. She admits that people know they’re there. When the director asks, Steve slips that Dustin Henderson knows they’re there. When they ask where he is, Steve admits he’s long gone, probably calling Hopper, who is calling the US cavalry, who’re going to arrive and kick their asses… Threats which the Russians don’t take kindly.
Suddenly, the torture is interrupted by an alarm. When the commanding officer departs and arrives at the scene, he finds a giant hole on the floor, as Dustin obviously dropped some of the green vials which melted part of the complex. Dustin then infiltrates the holding cell and uses the cattle prod to take out the doctor, effectively liberating Steve and Robin — though Erica was there too.
Back in Steve’s memories, Eleven sees a series of flashbacks. Billy is abused by his father, who calls his son a pussy. After, Billy’s father calling his wife a whore as he smacks her across the face. Next, we see Billy crying and begging his mom to come home over the phone (she left the family). After, we see Billy bully a child and call them a pussy, much like how his father did to him. Then we see him get introduced to Max and his stepfamily for the first time. Then, we see him asking who’s there at the steelworks, which Eleven finally sees in detail. Above her, a giant red storm cloud accumulates and Eleven believes that this location is the source: Brimborn Steelworks. Jonathan finds the address in the yellow pages. Mike tells her to get out of there.
As Eleven returns she calls for Mike but finds the room oddly empty. Suddenly, Billy appears from out of the corner and gives her a warning as he puts out his cigarette:
“He can’t hear you. You shouldn’t have looked for me. Because now I see you. Now we can all See You”.
At that moment every flayed person from every corner of Hawkins assembles, including Heather and her mother. Eleven cries as Billy continues to condemn her:
“You let us in. And now you are going to have to let us stay. Don’t you see all this time we’ve been building it. We’ve been building it for you. All that work. All that pain. All of it, for you. And now it’s time. Time to end it. And we are going to end you. And when you are gone, we are going to end your friends. And then we are going to end… everyone.”
Eleven telekinetically flings Billy to the end of the room as she liberates herself. Back in her room at home, she cries into Mike’s arms.
At the Steelworks building, we see Heather and her mother line up along with every flayed in town, one-by-one, electing to kill themselves. Including Mrs. Driscoll. All causing the Mindflayer to grow extra-large in size.
In the final shot, the Mindflayer breaks out through the roof of the steelworks building.
Chapter Seven: The Bite
At Mayor Kline’s Fun Fair, John Mellencamp’s R.O.C.K. in the USA plays. Mayor Kline arrives much to the crowd’s approval and he tells the audience that he spared no expense for the best entertainment money could buy. Meanwhile, Mrs. Wheeler rides with Mr. Wheeler and their little daughter, Holly as the family sits atop the Ferris Wheel (Mrs. Wheeler bribed the operator to stop the ride once they were up high). The fireworks go off and Mayor Kline wishes the crowd a happy fourth of July. Yet in the distance, Holly notices that the trees are moving. Her parents ignore her pleas. The camera zooms in and hears the loud shriek of ‘The Mindflayer’.
As fireworks go off in the sky, the camera pans low back to Eleven and Hopper’s shack. Inside, Eleven tells the others what she saw in her mind place: that the Mindflayer is building something special for her. They deduce that it’s going after Eleven as she’s the only thing that can stop it. Eleven also tells them that it wants to kill all of them.
Just then, Nancy stops everyone and questions El: “Didn’t Billy see this exact room?” Will feels a tingle on his neck. Jonathan leads the group outside. In the distance, a large creature approaches.
At the underground lab, Dustin drives the gang away as Steve compares his driving to the Indi 300. Robin corrects him that it’s the 500, and the two argue, with Robin agreeing that they’ll have to just settle on a million. Steve agrees. Erica doesn’t know what’s wrong with them, though it’s admittingly distracting. Dustin crashes the car. Dustin and Erica try and get Steve and Robin to go into the elevator.
In the elevator, now ascending, Steve tries surfing on a wheelable pallet but stumbles, much to Robin’s amusement. Dustin asks if Steve was drugged and Steve admits he doesn’t do drugs… just marijuana. Dustin asks if Steve’s going to die on them and Robin responds haphazardly:
“We all die my strange little child friend. It’s just a matter of how and when?”
Dustin asks Steve where he parked his car and Steve asks if they can stop at the food court, much to Robin’s approval. Dustin agrees so long as they address the car issue, but Steve suddenly remembers that the Russian took his keys during the interrogation. As the elevator arrives at the ground level, Robin and Steve laughingly taste the air, but an armed officer arrives at the scene, and so Dustin and Erica rush everyone back inside.
Back at Eleven and Hopper’s shack, the gang arms up and prepares for a battle, boarding up the windows. They stand back-to-back in the middle of the living room as Nancy, equips a shotgun, and Jonathan, an Axe. Suddenly, a tendril breaks into the house and attacks. Jonathan uses the axe to cut it while Nancy blasts it with the shotgun. Eleven grabs it with her mind and snaps the tip off as the tentacle whips back outside.
Suddenly, two more attack Eleven from both the left and right, as Eleven stops them in their tracks and destroys those too. A large monster’s head then pops out from the ceiling and whips another tendril at Eleven’s leg, pulling her. The group holds onto Eleven as Nancy reloads and then fires the shotgun. Lucas grabs the axe and after several chops, cuts the tendril off.
Mike grabs the tendril and pulls it off eleven who screams in great pain. She gets up, upset, and uses both hands to rip the creature’s head in two. The creature now staggered, Mike and Max carry Eleven out as the kids use the chance to load-up in the car and drive away.
Back at the mall, Dustin leads the group as he takes the three of them behind and the back and into the movie theatre front, where “Back to The Future” is playing. He lets Robin and Steve settle on one end, while he and Erica sit on the other end of the front, exclaiming, “It’s official. I’m never having kids.” He tells Erica to watch the other two as Dustin leaves with the walkie talkie to find them a ride. Meanwhile, Steve and Robin indulge in some popcorn both admitting they have no idea what’s happening in this movie.
Now driving to Hawkins, Alexi goes over the device with Murray, telling the group that the device works with two keys turned simultaneously. To get the keys, they must enter a vault and enter the code: Planck’s Constant to grab the keys. Joyce and Hopper argue, and Murray tells them to cut the bullshit, and admit their feelings for another — breaking down why they’re obviously in love with each other. When Alexi asks what’s going on, Murray tells him in Russian, that he thinks Hopper and Joyce should stop fighting and have sex already. Alexi questions in Russian, “They Haven’t!?”
And with that, the two seemingly natural enemies (Russian Scientist vs. Anti-Russian conspiracy reporter), have become good friends.
Back with Eleven’s group, the gang raids a convenience store and Max tells everyone how to address Eleven’s injuries using first aid (She knows because she hurts herself a lot skateboarding, apparently). Lucas tries to help by dumping all his supplies in front of Max, but none-of-it is useful, and she tells him to grab a bowl — which he thinks is the hardest task ever to find in a convenience store.
While looking for supplies, Nancy deduces that all the flayed kept talking about going back to the source. That Driscol, Heather, and Janet are probably in that giant creature and that by killing the creature they kill all the flayed (which to be honest, is more of a convenient plot device than actual sound logic).
Lucas tells Will that getting a bowl seems to be the hardest task here. Yet on the search, he finds ‘Satan’s Baby’, a bunch of some of the high-powered fireworks. He begins taking a bunch of them with him for their journey just in case.
Mike talks with Eleven, saying it’s been hard breaking up. He admits that he likes that she and Max are friends. Admits that he was jealous as he wanted El all to himself but realizes that it’s unfair. He says he never felt this way before as (love) makes you crazy, though can’t find the words to say, “I love you.”
Suddenly, over the walkie, Dustin interrupts the two, as he’s finally able to reach his friends. Immediately, he asks for help and tries telling about the secret Russian base. He asks for a ride, but his radio is cutting out, as it’s low on battery due to overuse (Which Steve warned him about episodes ago). Dustin rushes back to Erica looking for batteries but realizes… Steve and Robin are missing.
At the water fountain just outside the movie theatre, Robin admits she thinks that the ‘Back to The Future’ mom just tried to bang her son. Which confuses Steve, as they’re the same age. He questions why is it called back to the future? As Robin pushes him away to drink from the fountain. Amazed, he tells Robin to check out the ceiling with him, which is beautiful… until they both get severely nauseous as the room spins. Together, the two rush for the bathroom toilets and throw-up, everywhere.
Now at the fair, Hopper and Joyce go about to search for their children. Murray is ordered to look after Alexi in the car. Hopper tells Joyce to not let Murray’s words get under their skin. In the background, Mayor Kline sees Hopper and calls in the Russians.
Back at the convenience store, Eleven looks for Dustin using her mental abilities, while Lucas and Mike argue that he really likes New Coke in a funny scene. They find Dustin in the movie theatre and decide to head out and drive to him. Back in the aisle, Eleven’s blood coagulates into a puddle that moves
Back at the movie theater bathroom, Robin and Steve think they puked most of the truth serum out and the two play a fun truth-telling game together. Robin admits she peed her pants earlier when the torture doctor pulled out the bone saw. Steve admits that he used to be in love with Nancy. Though he also emphasizes… ‘Used to’.
Steve uses the moment to make his move with Robin: admitting, that he’s never laughed this hard in a long time. That he’s fallen for a girl who’s smart and can crack secret Russian codes. That she’s someone he’s never really met before. Robin gets awkward, and Steve asked if she OD’ed. He slides under the stall towards her and she tells that floor’s disgusting.
He asks her what she thinks. She thinks that the girl sounds awesome, but the guy less so, as he’s on drugs. He thinks the guy is thinking straight for the first time. She says if he really knew her, they wouldn’t be her friend. She admits she likes Steve, but also says she’s not like his other friends — especially, Nancy Wheeler. Robin confesses she was obsessed, not because she had a crush on him, but because ‘she’ couldn’t stop staring at him.
She tells him about Tammy Thompson. How Tammy obsessed over Steve, despite how stupid he was in getting breakfast crumbs everywhere, and despite how much of a douche he was. Robin wanted Tammy and hated how much the girl crushed over Steve. Steve is confused as Tammy Thompson is a girl. After a moment, Steve realizes Robin is a lesbian.
Steve surprisingly admits that Tammy is a dud. Robin argues with him that she’s not and the two laugh about it and have fun with the situation, Steve being more accepting about both the rejection and also, the discovery. Dustin arrives and breaks their banter up.
Meanwhile, back at the convenience store, Billy arrives and touches Eleven’s living blood from the monster’s wound and leftover first aid, seeing it’s memories and tracking what the kids are planning.
Back at the fair, Alexi and tells Murray how to turn the machine off together and warns him that nobody should be near it, or else be vaporized. Alexi jokingly asks Murray if he can now become a US citizen and join in on the fair fun. Murray tells him he doesn’t need to be American to enjoy. He shows him a bit about the American culture, the rigged games, and how the games give illusion of fairness but are rigged to put money in rich man’s pocket. Murray buys his new friend tickets anyway, as Alexi plays and has fun, while Murray looks for some unhealthy fair food fore them.
Meanwhile, Hopper and Joyce spot Karen Wheeler and rush to her as they get on the Gravitron. She asks where the kids as the two are forced on the Gravitron ride together. Joyce holds Hopper’s hand as they go through the spinning ride.
At the movie theatre, the audience applauds the end of ‘Back to the Future’. Dustin tells the group to blend with the exiting guests, hoping that they can sneak on the bus. Steve warns them not to go home though, as Dustin’s house is likely compromised, as he gave the Russians his full name. Robin stops the group in their tracks from continuing, as Russians are spotted looking for them. The group runs and slides down between two escalators.
Back at the fair, Alexi wins a big American carnival prize: a woody woodpecker, which we know from his love of Looney Tunes, that he absolutely loves. As he walks happily back to a likewise celebrating Murray, who has gotten the two a pair of corndogs, he sees the Russian-terminator, Grigori, who calls him a “Traitor” as he shoots him with a silencer right as a balloon pops from a dart game — the same one where Alexi won his prize.
Murray screams Alexi’s name as the carnival begins to fade in Alexi’s eyes and he falls into his new friend’s arms. Murray carries Alexi to the side and takes off his own shirt to put pressure on his wound, looking desperately for help. He finds Jim and tells him that they got Alexi. Jim finds more Russians encroaching and takes Joyce by the hand as the two flee.
In an epic chase scene, Jim tells Joyce to find Murray, get the car, and wait for him out back. Jim goes into a funhouse as the Russians chase him, as he clears the scene of pedestrians. A Russian man approaches with a silencer into the funhouse’s ‘cave of horrors. As the man slowly looks for Jim, he gets ambushed by him.
Outside, Murray finds Joyce and brings him to Alexi — now dead. Murray is hard on himself as he left for a minute for a stupid corndog, blaming himself. As the two leave the park, Joyce runs into Larry (The Mayor) and punches him in the face. She then knees him in the balls and walks away with Murray to the car.
In the funhouse, Jim gets the edge and beats the Russian soldier with a heavy punching bag. But just outside, the Terminator-Russian approaches. Jim grabs the Russian’s walkie and silencer and hides, as Grigori approaches the Hall-of-Mirrors. Grigori believes he finds Jim and starts firing — hitting only a mirror, just as Jim gets the jump on him yet again and unloads several rounds into his chest — seemingly killing the Terminator-Russian for good.
Suddenly, the Russians arrive and so Jim jumps down the funhouse slide, escaping out the back exit and driving away with Murray and Joyce. They confirm that Alexi is dead. He hears Russian speech over the radio and tells Murray to translate — now.
We see the source of the radio signal and find Russians searching a newly evacuated mall for the children. Dustin, Steve, Erica, and Robin hide behind a counter, as the Russians approach the kids, guns in hand. Suddenly, a car that’s being used for middle-of-the-mall showcase starts honking. As we look at it, we start to see it moving. The camera pans up as Eleven telekinetically throws a car at the Russians.
Finally, we see Eleven’s group meet Dustin’s group for the first time this season. Erica is surprised at Lucas. Robin is surprised at Eleven, only discovering now that she has superpowers. They quickly summarize the Russians and Eleven/Mindflayer storylines as quick as possible.
Eleven keeps hearing noise in her head and passes out. When they go to her, she complains about the terrible pain in her leg. The group focuses in on it, and sees a living creature move from the inside, as Mike asks Eleven if she’s okay and the girl screams in great pain.
Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt
The episode begins with ominous synthesizer music, as Joyce drives Hopper and Murray to the mall. Murray says that the deciphered message from Russian walkies from last episode, said the kids are at the food court.
At the food court, Eleven screams in pain as Mike tries his best to console her. Robin tries to alleviate the situation, saying one time during soccer, a girl’s whole bone came out of knee and that Eleven’s going to be fine. Steve tells Robin that’s not helping. Suddenly, Jonathan arrives and brings El a wooden spoon to bite down. They ready her and Jonathan cuts into her leg with a knife as Eleven screams. Jonathan reaches in to pull the creature out, as Eleven screams in severe pain, she yells at him to stop and says she can do it. Screaming in pure agony, she telekinetically pulls the creature out of her leg and screams, as the glass behind her shatters with her powers. She tosses the tiny creature away and as it tries crawling off, a boot SMASHES it.
Reveal that the boot is Hopper’s as he, Joyce, and Murray have finally arrived.
Begin opening credits.
Mike, Nancy, and Hopper finally converge their three storylines. Lucas tells him the creature destroyed his cabin. Steve reconfirms that this big fleshy spider thing is the Mindflayer’s big weapon made from melted people. Joyce asks if sure it’s still alive, and Max says El beat the shit out of it, but yes, it’s still alive. Lucas says if they close the gate again they should kill it. Murray, “YooHoos” and grabs everyone’s attention.
He goes over the maps he made with Alexi. Shows them ‘The Hub’ which should take them to the gateway. He believes that the vault should be closer to the gate, maybe 50-feet, but Erica interrupts and corrects them, that it’s in fact 500 with long corridors surrounded by guards. Erica and Murray exchange names, the girl calling him Mr. Bun-man, and claims that if the group follows his plan he’ll die. Dustin agrees and shows the hatch that leads to an underground ventilation system which goes around the guards. Dustin offers to navigate with Erica, but Hopper says no.
Moments later, as Hopper scavenges the guns from the dead Russians, Erica and Dustin agree that everyone going to the lab is going to die. Mike, Lucas, and Will chime in and say that they survived. Both groups apologize for everything earlier on this season and say they could’ve used each other and share a big-time hug.
Hopper tosses a walkie to Dustin telling him to navigate from someplace safe, but Dustin and Erica say that signal won’t reach. Dustin tells Hopper that he needs something with a high enough frequency band to relay with Russians radio tower. But that he’ll need someone who’s seen their comms room and has access to a superpowered handcrafted radio tower, who conveniently has one placed at the highest point in Hawkins’ — all of which points directly to Dustin. Hopper reluctantly agrees. Dustin says he needs a head start and a car…
“Goldrush” by Yello plays, as Steve is excited, he gets to drive Hopper’s stolen convertible the “Todfthr”. Together, the group has to drive to Dustin’s ‘Cerebro’ Radio Tower at weather top, the town’s highest point.
Murray goes over the keys with Jonathan and Nancy. Joyce says goodbye to Will, reassuring that he’s going to be safe from all this and that he should stay close to Jonathan. Will says he’s more worried about Joyce. They hug and she holds onto him tight.
Hopper holds Eleven’s hand and she tells him she just needs to recharge, then she can fight. He admits she can fight better than any of us, but right now, he needs her safe, as the creature is after her, not them. He asks if she understands and she nods. Mike approaches saying they should go and El hugs Hopper quick before he leaves. Max and Mike carry El off and Hopper calls Mike over, telling the boy to be careful. Finally, Joyce approaches Jim in a fond moment watching the kids go off, though then immediately is confused as to why she’s even there! The shot transitions into the Mall’s corridor halls behind the stores, Joyce and Murray convincing hopper it’s a three-man operation, as it takes two to turn the keys.
Just outside the mall, Mike and Max let Eleven sit in the back trunk as her leg is bleeding. Nancy tries starting her car but it’s not working. She pops the hood and Jonathan checks the car, finding that the ignition cable’s gone.
Suddenly, in the distance, headlines shine as a car engine revs revealing Billy. Nancy screams at the kids to head back into the mall, as Billy continues watching them from outside while revving his engine in intimidation.
Down the elevator shaft, Murray explains the plan again, saying that he’s going to cut the power cables which should set-off the alarm. It should give an opening for the other two to grab the keys from the vault. Joyce confirms that after, they should follow the map to the observation room, turn the key, then escape via the vents. Suddenly, Joyce gets on Hopper’s case as he made a noise, begrudgingly upset that it’s not his plan. Murray says, if all works out, they’ll never even know they were there — which of course, leads to the opening of the elevator door and the Russians finding and holding the group up at gunpoint. Murray tries convincing them that they were called in last-minute to see the comrade-lieutenant. When they ask which, Murray guesses, Lieutenant… Molotov?
At that point, thankfully, Jim gets trigger happy and unloads his machine gun taking out all the Russians. Murray says he had it under control and Jim says he’s improvising as he takes the Russian soldiers’ uniforms — he gets an idea.
Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher & Higher’ plays in the background, as Steve is driving Dustin’s group to Cerebro. Robin says Suzie must be special for him to lug all this to the middle of nowhere. Erica says that the girl sounds made up, and asks Steve what he thinks, who hesitates to reject the notion. Forgetting where he’s going, Dustin yells at Steve to turn off the non-road and they freak out, as Steve floors it uphill until the car gets stuck in the grass. They proceed on foot to Cerebro, just yards ahead.
At that moment, Mike signals ‘Scoops Troops’ (Dustin’s group) that they’re stuck in the Mall and Billy has disabled their car. Inside the mall, Nancy loads her gun and Max asks if they’re going to kill her brother. She says that it’s just precaution. Will tells Max the gun is also for use against Mind Flyer, who also must know they’re there. Nancy looks at the flipped over car joking questions that there’s no chance that’ll drive? Which Jonathan realizes, that it doesn’t have to — they just need the car’s ignition cable. The kids try flipping the car over to no avail. Eleven tries to use telekinesis… but is unable to channel her power.
Back in the underground lab, a newly disguised Murray and Hopper (they looted the bodies by the elevator) arrive at a checkpoint. Murray convinces the guard to let them through, while Hopper keeps quiet and plays dumb. Joyce asks why Murray was talking so much and he says that guard was nice. They then get a signal: as Dustin calls Murray the codename ‘Bald Eagle’, everyone laughing about the codename. Murray utters under his breath that he hates children as he jumps down into the vents.
Back at the mall, the gang uses leverage to flip the car using physics. Max finds Eleven who scampers off looking for a can of coke in the garbage. Eleven tries to bend it with her mind, like she had a million times in the past, but is unable to use her powers. When Mike asks her if she’s okay she gives a scared expression.
Nancy and Jonathan look for the ignition cable. Mike feels an odd prickling in the back of his neck. Max and Mike look up and see a giant creature breaking through the mall’s roof of glass. Mike calls out to his sister, as a creature snarls from high above and busts through the mall roof.
The Mindflayer lands in the heart of the Mall.
At that same moment, an elevator descends down the shaft, showing the Terminator-Russian arriving with a squad and finding dead bodies stripped of their clothes, calling out ‘The American’ in Russian.
Back at the base, Hopper is worried and Joyce tries being reassuring him, which makes Hopper annoyed as she’s supposed to argue why they needed to go back to the kids. She replies he’s supposed to argue, “It’s really hard to listen when you make it seem like everything’s the end of the world.”
Finally, with their guards down, Hopper admits that despite their bickering, they make for a really good team. Joyce admits they made it this far then asks if she got the job, as detective Byers has a ring to it. He tells her that it’s difficult to serve in a town she doesn’t live, reminding her that she’s still leaving Hawkins. Joyce hesitates now and says if they make it out, they both deserve to celebrate.
Joyce says that she hears Enzos is good and asks Hopper out on a date this time: Enzos Friday, 7 pm. Hopper needs to be sure it’s a real ‘date’ and Joyce tells him to stop talking before she changes her mind.
In the vents, Murray signals ‘Scoops Troop’ to tell him where to go. The kids tell ‘Bald Eagle’ to fly right. Steve finds the Mall’s lights flash on-and-off and tells Dustin to signal the ‘Griswald Family’ (Nancy and Mike’s group) to come in. However, the giant Mindflayer grabs the Walkie and screams into it instead (a tad convenient eh?).
The giant monster lumbers around the mall looking for the kids and even reabsorbs the piece cut out from Eleven. Dustin keeps trying to reach out but gets nothing but radio silence. Freaked out, Steve decides to head back to save them and Robin joins him, Dustin tossing her a walkie before she leaves. Dustin relays to ‘Bald Eagle’ that they have a problem and Hopper asks him what’s wrong.
Back at the food court, the Mindflayer keeps looking as Will freaks out behind the car with Jonathan and Nancy. On the other side of the place, Mike suggests they make a break for it with the creature turned around, but Max is concerned with El’s leg. El says there’s another way out through the back. They try it but knock over some debris as the Mindflaywer gets alerted towards that area of the store, launching several tendrils in search, one of which eviscerates a dummy dressed almost identical to Elven.
Back in the lab, ‘Bald Eagle’ has landed as Murray turns off the switch. He signals Hopper and Joyce to get ready. As Murray starts shifting the breakers off, the soldiers sound the alarm.
Back at the mall, the Mindflayer’s tendril continues looking for Eleven. Lucas tells his group not to worry, as he pops a balloon at the other side of the mall with his slingshot, which narrowly saves Mike from getting spotted. The Mindflayer chases after the sound and everyone uses the moment to scramble and run.
Below, in the lab, Hopper and Joyce run into a soldier and playing it cool. They walk up to the vault and input the code but it’s wrong. Hopper tells Murray his goddamn code is wrong, and Murray says he thought that was Planck’s constant but was obviously wrong. Listening in on the communications Justin gets an idea…
Outside the mall, Jonathan puts the ignition cable in and starts trying to start the car. Billy revs his engine and begins flooring it towards them with his car at full speed. Nancy tries to buy time and uses her handgun to unload bullets at a speeding Billy, to no avail. Out of bullets and still stuck, the group is saved as Steve smashes into Billy’s car in the “Todfthr” mere seconds before Billy could crash into them.
In the accident, Billy’s car hood light’s on fire. Steve asks if Robin is, she’s okay and she jokingly tells him to ask her again tomorrow. Above, the Mindflayer rises out of the mall and sees them, beginning the chase as Nancy tells the others to get in her newly started car. Jonathan drives Nancy’s car away picking up Steve and Robin, as the Mindflayer gives chase.
In Salt Lake City, Utah is a house with a large radio tower on the roof. A radio kicks in asking, “Suzie, do you copy?” as we close-in and see a girl with a large oboe to her side, reading a copy of Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. This is revealed to be none-other-than Suzie, Dustin’s apparently not-made-up girlfriend. She enthusiastically greets him via nicknames of Dusty-bun Suzie-poo, all while the Mindflayer keeps chasing Jonathan in his car way past the mall. Needing to know Planck’s Constant, Dustin asks Suzie and switches the channel they’re on into the group channel so that everyone can hear the conversation. Suzie refuses to help until Dustin does what she likes… revealed to be a singalong to ‘The NeverEnding Story’. I’ll just post right here for all the adorableness.
All this so Suzie could reveal Planck’s constant: 6.62607004
Hopper inputs the code and retrieves the keys. Dustin tells her she just saved the world and the two grossly keep stating how much they miss each other, before Erica cuts out the radio.
The following happens in quick cuts highlighting tensions:
Outside the mall, Billy crawls out of his burning car as Mike, Max, and Eleven try to escape. Max doubles back to shut the gate on him though Billy stops it from fully closing.
At Nancy’s car, the creature turns around and heads back to the mall, the group needing to double back after it.
Murray gets his door knocked on as Russians encroach. Right as, on the other side of the Lab, Hopper gets to the observation deck with Joyce and fires rounds of ammo into the air causing the scientists in the room to leave. He sets up the keys with Joyce.
Back at the mall, Eleven and Mike try to wait at the elevator but soon find Billy approaching and looking rather menacing. Max begs Billy to stop and not do this, as she tries reaching out to her brother’s humanity, but he coldly backhands her in the face. Mike likewise tries stopping him and is thrown into a wall pipe which knocks him out. Eleven tries using telekinesis but is slammed into a wall behind her and then thrown into a separate wall, effectively knocking her out as well, as Billy picks up her unconscious body and carries her away.
Back at the observation room, Hopper asks if they’re set down there, and Murray says he’s ready but to hurry as company is coming. Hopper tells Joyce he’s ready but is interrupted and stopped by Terminator-Russian, Grigori, who signals that he’s found the Americans. Grigori and Hopper begin having one last fistfight.
Billy carries eleven over the shoulder into the center of the mall. He places her on the ground and whispers:
“Don’t be afraid. It’ll be over soon. Just try and stay… very still.”
Above her, the giant MindFlayer approaches from the roof and lowers itself to eleven, Billy standing over her while watching. As the creature pulls shoots out it’s long and tendrilled tongue, an explosion happens on its face.
From the upper levels of the Mall, Lucas screams, “Flay this you ugly piece of shit!” as he starts tossing the “Satan’s Baby” fireworks onto the creature with Will’s help. As seen from the several sticks strapped together (and confirmed by an earlier scene with Lucas), the fireworks have enough gunpowder combined to be on the level of dynamite.
From the opposite side, Jonathan and Nancy also drop fireworks, and from a third side, Steve also drops some with Robin, while calling the monster an asshole.
Back at battle in the lab below, Hopper and Grigori fight down narrow metal corridor and end at the giant laser adjacent to them. Hopper signals Grigori to bring it.
Back at the food court, The three groups continue to drop fireworks onto the creature as Billy hits the ground in agony, feeling the pain that the Mindflayer feels via their psychic link.
In the commotion, Eleven tries to sneak away, but Billy drags the girl back towards the creature. And at the footsteps below the suffering beast, he begins choking Eleven.
Back below, Hopper and Grigori exchange blows. Hopper gets the upper hand but is kneed onto the ground as his face is mere inches away from being torn by the electromagnetic laser’s spinning generator.
Back above, Nancy throws another big firework but yells she’s almost out. Steve signals to Dustin that they’re out of time and Dustin signals the group to close the gate now!
Back below, Joyce undoes her stolen Russian guard belt and uses it to try and turn the two keys simultaneously by herself.
Back above, Max awakes by the elevator and wakes up Mike. The two rush back to the main part of the mall when they realize Eleven is gone.
Back at the food court, Eleven senses the Mindflayer’s control over Billy’s slipping due to all the explosions. He still chokes her out. She softly whispers to him…
“Seven Feet. You told her the wave was seven feet. You ran to her, on the beach. There were seagulls. She wore a hat… with a blue ribbon. A long dress with a blue and red flower. Yellow sandals, covered in sand. She was pretty. She was really pretty. And you… you were happy.”
She touches his face and in that last tiny moment, Billy regains his humanity.
Back below, at the electromagnetic drill, Hopper is inches away from getting his face torn to pieces. He instead, snaps the Terminator-Russian’s ankle then pulls Grigori close causing his face to hit the spinning turbine instead. It doesn’t kill him, but Hopper gets to his feet and fingers Grigori’s bullet wound, whispers into his ear, “I’ll see you in hell…” then throws Grigori into the turbine which eviscerates the Russian-terminator into pieces.
Back above, Nancy grabs the last big firework. Tosses it. Will tells Lucas they’re out of fireworks too. The creature encroaches on Eleven. Mike and max arrive, as Billy’s the only thing standing in the Mindflayer’s way. As the creature reaches out to kill Eleven, Billy sticks his arms out in rejection, yelling and screaming at the creature — redeeming himself. It proceeds to stab in from almost every direction, as Billy sacrifices himself to save Elven. Screaming as the creature uses one final tendril to stab Billy right in the chest, as Max screams out her brother’s name.
Dustin screams again to close the gate now! Through the walkie, as the scientists arrive just below. Hopper looks at Joyce and he knowingly nods to her. She tears as Joyce flips the keys. The electromagnetic drill explodes, liquifying the scientists below and closes the gate
At the mall, the Mindflayer keels over and dies. Everyone looks on in disbelief. A weak snarling sound as the Mindflayer lays defeated.
Max approaches a dying Billy. With his last worries, he says sorry to Max and dies in front of her. She sobs, speechless, as Eleven holds onto her as she cries.
Joyce looks on towards the platform where Hopper was seemingly evaporated. She cries too. Murray arrives at the last second and asks where Jim was, with no response. The two see more Russians arrive and flee the scene.
At Dustin’s camp at Cerebro, we see helicopters fly by, the cavalry reinforcements of American soldiers arriving on the scene. They break into the underground lab and find Joyce and Murray sitting and hiding, all the Russians having mysteriously emptied out. At the electromagnetic laser, they find the crack in the wall, a hole into the upside-down now closed but wounded. As they evacuate the Mall’s survivor’s, Joyce finds Will safe and sound and the two embraces (spoiler, Will’s puberty hits very hard these last few episodes, he’s much taller than Joyce now). Meanwhile, El finds Joyce crying in Will’s arms. And with no Hopper in sight, she cries too, knowing what must’ve happened.
Three months later…
On an episode of ‘Cutting Edge’, a seemingly sketchy conspiracy show, they do a piece on Hawkins Indiana. The July 4th tragedy, government cover-ups, and death of Police Chief Jim Hopper. They also mention the chemical leak and show pictures of a conspiracy at the lab, including Barbara’s disappearance and Bob’s mysterious death. It also showcases the disgrace of a corrupt mayor, showing that Mayor Larry Kline was arrested. There’s also a sign of the words Hell spray pained over Hawkins, and potentially, blame the rise in Satanism, an occurrence which actually did happen in the late 1980s.
At ‘Family Video’, a videotape rental store, Steve and Robin apply for jobs. Keith (played by Matty Cardarople from Season Two. Also a Netflix veteran for his work on A Series of Unfortunate Events), asks each to give their three favorite movies. Robin selects The Apartment, Hidden Fortress, Children of Paradise. Steve selects Animal House, Star Wars (The one with the teddy bears AKA Return of the Jedi), and the movie with the Dole-ran (DeLorean) and Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) where he tries to bang his mom, which Steve effectively calls: “The Time”. Keith gives the job easily to Robin but not Steve. She convinces Keith to hire Steve by saying he’ll attract all the hot ladies, lying that Steve drove in traffic at Scoops Ahoy. When asked about their relationship, she simply stresses that he’s her friend.
Back at the Byer’s residence, Lucas and Max tease Dustin by singing ‘The Never Ending Story’ as they pack the house up. They ask Dustin to sing along. He says it’s for Suzie’s ears alone — causing the couple to sing the song again to his annoyance. Feet away, Will drops his D&D box into the donation box. Mike asks him if he’s sure, what if he wants to play with another party? Will says it’s not possible, showing that Will has moved on beyond D&D but not necessarily his friends.
Meanwhile, in a separate room, Nancy asks Jonathan if that’s everything packed. He mentions 17 years of his life packed in a single day. Nancy hugs him from behind and asks what if she never lets him go. He says he thinks the new owners might kick them out. She tells him he could stay in their basement, hide in a tent, like El. Jonathan tells her everything will be okay and sighs. Says as a wise man (Murray) once said, “They have shared trauma.”
She says what’s a little more, and the two agree and kiss as they say goodbye.
In the closet, Eleven can’t reach the teddy bear on the top shelf. She tries using telekinesis, to no avail. Mike brings it down and asks her if she packed her Walkie. Says he’s going to steal Cerebro from Dustin and call her all the time. He confirmed he can come down for thanksgiving and will ask if she and Will can come down for Christmas. She brings up the day at the cabin where he was talking to Max about his feelings, and then El tells Mike, “I love you, too” and plants him one last kiss.
Joyce packs Hopper’s stuff in the house (We’re guessing she took all of his belongings after he died) and finds the heart-to-heart note he wrote for El and Mike with her help. El walks past and Joyce and mentions it’s the speech he wrote for them. El confirms he never spoke it to her, much to Joyce’s laughter. She asks Joyce if she can read the note. Joyce obliges.
The following narrative occurs over Hopper’s voice over, with Joyce’s scribbled notes like “stay calm” and “breathe” interspersed throughout the early section of the essay for Hopper to keep mindful of and follow.
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you both about – and I know this is a difficult conversation. But I care about you both very much. And I know you care about each other very much and that’s why it’s important that we set these boundaries moving forward so we can build an environment, where we all feel comfortable, trusted and open to sharing our feelings.”
Here, we run through clips of the group saying farewell to the Byer house, Hopper’s empty cabin now filled with holes, and everyone hugging and saying goodbye. All while El is emotionally touched by the letter. We also see her ride shotgun in the moving truck as Joyce and family leave Hawkins.
We also see Dustin and Lucas give the donation box to Lucas’ sister, Erica.
For the rest of the note, Hopper really starts to really share his feelings and writes from his heart, as seen in the flashback. The final scene of the montage is El crying while finishing the note as Peter Gabriel’s ‘Hero’ plays as Joyce asks El if she’s okay.
“Feelings. Jesus. The truth is, for so long, I’d forgotten what those even were. I’ve been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep dark cave. And then, I left some Eggos out in the woods and you came into my life and… for the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy.
But lately, I guess I’ve been feeling… distant from you. Like you’re pulling away from me or something. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching westerns together before we doze off.
But I know you’re getting older, growing, changing. And I guess… if I’m being really honest, that’s what scares me. I don’t want things to change. So I think maybe that’s why I came here, to try to maybe… stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were.
But I know that’s naive. It’s just… not how life works. It’s moving. Always moving whether you like it or not. And yeah, sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s sad and sometimes it’s surprising. Happy.
So you know what? Keep on growing up, kid. Don’t let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from ’em, and when life hurts you – because it will – remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.
But, please, if you don’t mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.”
The final scenes are El walking away with a box of Hoppers Goods. And one last look from Joyce, as she closes the door to the Byer’s home.
Post Credits Scene
We open in on Russia, where soldiers intentionally mention “The American” in a cell (possibly, Hopper as that was his nickname by Grigori). They take out a prisoner to be brought below, where it’s revealed a tiny Demogorgon lies caged, which soon eats the prisoner.
- Episode 6 was the best and creepiest cliffhanger of the series.
- There was so much more product placement everywhere. Everything from New Coke to Marlboro Reds to 711 to Orange Julius. Perhaps the real Mindflayer… is capitalism?
- Episode 7 really reminded me of Red Dawn with all the Russian references. Also, I loved Alexi and Murray’s almost love story.
- Episode 8 was such a good ending to the series I’m sad to see it go. It was an episode which capped in growth for everyone though I don’t know if I agree where all the characters ended.
- Hoppers final words are technically, “I’ll See you in Hell.” Which to me, is quite literal, as he was predicted to retire his TV career and pursue the Hellboy movie series (Which I don’t think will happen anymore).
- I hope you all enjoyed these thorough recaps about Stranger Things!