As a special treat for the next few weeks, I’ll be recapping all of ‘Stranger Things Season 3’ using a good amount of screenwriting prose and a large amount of detail, in what’s arguably the most extensive scene-by-scene recap you’ll be able to find, online. For entertainment purposes, I’ve also linked our new podcast below for the Month of July, as the Workprint Staff try and explain the new season of ‘Stranger Things’ to Jen, who hasn’t followed the show in years.
All for a very Stranger Things midsummer themed Workprint.
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 One: Suzie, Do You Copy
The season opens in a mysterious laboratory on June 28th, 1984. Two Russians scientists nod and turn keys a set of keys simultaneously, jumpstarting a powerful electromagnetic drill which punches a hole into a wall, seemingly digging into the upside down. After a few brief moments, the drill starts to fail and ignites, disintegrating all the scientists in the controlled room.
An authoritative Russian, addressed to by his subordinates as the Comrade-General, reprimands one of the two scientists. Next to him is an intimidating man who looks like the spitting image of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie: Terminator. The intimidating man strangles the scientist to death. The comrade-general tells the other scientist that he has one year. They depart and head outside, revealing that they are indeed in Soviet Russia.
Begin Opening Credits.
Back in the US, ‘Never Surrender’, by Corey Heart, is playing on the radio. The camera shifts revealing Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are making out. Mike is very much into the song. Eleven is not. Meanwhile, just outside the door, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) eats a bag of chips and watches Tom Sellick in an episode of Magnum P.I. He inches the chair backward, peeping in at the gap to Eleven’s room, and catches her and Mike kissing. Startled, Eleven shuts the door closed using telekinesis. Jim, now officially the angry protective dad to Eleven this season, tells them to keep the door open three inches. He immediately swings open the door and finds the couple sitting on opposite sides of the bed, flawlessly playing it off and pretending that they don’t know what Jim is talking about.
Moments later, Mike and Eleven laugh about it over walkie-talkies as Mike bikes away to meet with the Gang. The episode then transitions to the Starcourt mall, where a now late Mike, meets with Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), and Will (Noah Schnapp). We instantly notice that the children have grown, as puberty hit some of them hard; especially the height differences, as the kids are much taller and lankier. Lucas teases Mike over his obsession with Eleven: how the couple always makes out and how Mike always ignores his friends. Max, who has been dating Lucas since season two, takes notice and is visibly upset at her ignorant choice of a boyfriend.
The kids move across the crowded mall interiors, showcasing various stores and fashions of the 80s, as Lucas bumps into his younger sister. The two tease each other in an acerbic way that only siblings can and the kids eventually reach the ‘Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Parlor’, a sailor themed ice cream shop, where Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), dressed in tiny blue shorts and sailor hat, is working. Robin (Maya Hawke), the freckled girl working the counter, also in a matching sailor outfit, calls Steve from the back. He regretfully asks the kids, “Again?!” then allows them through the back employee hallways. From there, the kids sneak into the Movie Theatre to watch the R-rated movie Day of The Dead. But just as the movie is seconds in, the power starts to die, throughout the mall and also all throughout the town.
An aerial shot zooms away from the mall and pans across town, showcasing the blackout affecting all of Hawkins. We brush past some outer forest areas and then close into an abandoned steelworks building, where a small host of rats scurries about. Suddenly, a cloud of dust assembles into a mysterious figure, which then flies straight into the camera. At that same moment, the power returns and Will Byers touches the back of his neck at the movie theatre. He has flashbacks and feels a strange sense of Déjà Vu with the Mindflayer, as horrific images of his time with the creature from season two flash before his eyes. In front of him, a series of hands punch through the wall in the Day of The Dead Movie.
Says Nancy (Natalia Dyer), as we transition into the next scene. She wakes up in Jonathan’s bedroom. The two had forgotten to reset the clocks after the power outage the previous night. Immediately, they get dressed as Nancy sneaks out of Jonathan’s bedroom window. The Gentlemen Afterdark’s song ‘Open The Door’ plays as Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) tries to head out, but Joyce (Winona Ryder) stops him and wipes the lipstick from his cheek before leaving. Will, who is eating breakfast with his mom, says Jonathan is gross. His mother tells him he won’t think so when he falls in love. Soon after, Joyce notices a series of magnets that fell off the refrigerator. She puts them and the fallen image they were holding back up, a drawing of Bob Newby from Season Two, Joyce’s former boyfriend who was eaten by Demodogs.
Jonathan drives Nancy to their shared job. Nancy complains to him that the men at their job don’t respect her and only see her as a coffee runner. While this is happening, the couple passes Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) on the road, who is being driven home by his mom from Summer Camp. We shift focus and now follow Dustin, who is calling, “Gold Leader to base” over his walkie-talkie, but none of his friends are responding.
When he arrives home, Dustin unpacks and soon finds his toys eerily begin to come to life like something straight out of the movie Toy Story. Dustin grabs an aerosol can (which upon closer look, is the Farrah Fawcett spray Steve recommended for his hair last season) and looks on at his creepy toys. It’s revealed that Eleven is moving the toys with her mind and the gang surprises Dustin with a welcome back banner from behind. Startled, Dustin shrieks, showcasing a toothless grin and continuously sprays Lucas in the face with the spray.
At the Hawking town community pool, all of the moms get hot and heavy as they sunbathe and eagerly await to see Billy (Dacre Montgomery), with his six-pack, aviators, and mullet, walk out as the sexy new lifeguard. He interrupts his own sexy, slow-motion entrance, by calling out a fat kid running alongside the pool, viciously calling him lardass, and threatens to ban him for life all while the entire community watches — reminding us that Billy is still the bully we remember from last season. Once the scene resumes, the moms greet him enthusiastically and Billy compliments Mrs. Wheeler (Cara Buono) on her bathing suit. The two exchange longingful looks of attraction towards each other.
Joyce sets up a banner for a special sale at the general store she works in, obviously losing out to the nearby mall competition from the looks of her store. Soon after, Hopper arrives and asks Joyce for advice about Eleven, as Mike is over almost every day, and he’s very worried. Joyce tells him to try to be reasonable. She recommends he has a heart-to-heart with the kids and actually talk to them and set boundaries, reminding Hopper that above all else, to not lose his temper. She then helps him in drafting a letter/speech for Hopper to say to them.
Rushing past the window of the general store as Joyce helps Jim draft a letter is Nancy. She is fetching lunch on a run for her job, revealed to be at the local newspaper: The Hawkin’s Post. We follow Nancy inside and see that Jonathan works as a photographer there. Nancy, as a runner. She uses the opportunity of delivering lunch to pitch a story, asking the writers if they could cover the Starcourt Mall and how it’s ruining local small businesses. In return, the men in the office laugh and make fun of her, calling her Nancy Drew.
Lucas wipes the Farra Faucet fluid off of his eyes with the help of Max. Once his vision comes to, he asks her if she has a new zit on his face. Max drags Lucas’s face back under the sink. Meanwhile, Dustin shows off some new inventions he created off in science camp. One of which, is a long distance, battery-powered radio tower he wants to try out to contact his girlfriend: Suzie. This surprises the gang. According to Dustin, Suzie is from Utah, they met in science camp, and she is a hotter version of Phoebe Cates.
Meanwhile, Steve tries impressing some ladies at his ice cream parlor job. He awkwardly fumbles and tries hyping up his experiences working instead of attending college, and almost immediately strikes out. His coworker, Robin, who is tallying Steve’s score with the ladies on a whiteboard, marks that was his sixth rejection of the day. Steve says it’s because of the stupid sailor hat which hides his best feature (his hair). Robin mentions that maybe Steve should just tell the truth. Steve rejects the notion, recounting that he couldn’t get into any sort of college, his dad is trying to teach him a lesson, he makes three dollars an hour, and has no real future, so he’ll pass on being himself. Afterward, Steve tries to impress the next set of ladies with a false sense of confidence now that his hair is loose. He fails.
Hopper goes over his speech with Joyce and gets frustrated. She reassures him he’s doing fine and grabs hold of his hand. Jim smiles and asks Joyce if she’d grab dinner with him tonight. Joyce pulls away and says that she has plans. Just then, a customer enters the store pulling Joyce away. Hopper longingly looks at Joyce, as a romantic rendition of Patsy Cline’s ‘She’s Got You’ plays, showcasing that Jim is obviously in love with Joyce.
We cut back to Dustin, who hikes up a hill with the gang to set up his long wave radio tower, nicknamed Cerebro, in order to talk with Susie, his alleged girlfriend. He mentions that she’s Mormon so he has to communicate via radio as he can’t call her. Mike tells Dustin he has to head home with Eleven, despite it being only 4 pm. Mike suddenly gets an odd tingling feeling on the back of his neck, as just below him, a series of mice walk across a line in the field. We cut away to show a bevy of mice recall to the Erimborn Steelworks building. They spontaneously combust into goop, screaming as each one pops to death one-by-one.
Back at the community pool, Billy watches Mrs. Wheeler back stroking, as Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ plays in the background. He compliments her perfect form. Says he has excellent form as well. He says he knows all the styles, really emphasizing his knowledge of the ‘breaststroke’. Billy offers to meet her at a motel 6 at 8pm in the pool for “private lessons”. She denies she needs lessons but Billy reassures her it’ll be the “Workout of her life.”
Meanwhile, back at the hill hike, Lucas finishes all of the water much to Max’s annoyance. Together, Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Will, set-up Cerebro. But when Dustin reaches out to Suzie, nobody replies. He continues reaching out as the sun starts to set.
Joyce returns home to find her house empty. She microwaves a quick dinner and pops a bottle of wine, showing that she really had no plans and was simply rejecting Hopper’s advances. Putting on an episode on Cheers, she remembers fond memories of her time watching the show with Bob (Sean Astin), together. At that moment, all the magnets fall off the refrigerator again.
While cleaning the offices at the Hawkin’s Post, Nancy receives an urgent phone call and takes down a note: a Doris Driscoll, who leaves her home address as she’s calling about diseased rats.
Back in Elven’s bedroom, REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore’ plays as Mike and Eleven continue to make out yet again. Hopper, still struggling and smoking in his bed, rehearsing the speech he’d written with Joyce, tries to talk to Mike and Eleven and share his feelings. When they allow Jim into the room, he tries but struggles to talk with both of them; which Mike disrespectfully jokes about and then whispers sweet things into Eleven’s ear. Upset, Hopper lies and says something is wrong with Mike’s grandma.
We cut to the two of them getting in Jim’s car as Mike questions what’s wrong with his Nana. Hopper admits there’s nothing wrong but that he believes there is something wrong with Mike’s relationship with Eleven. Angry, Mike calls Hopper a piece of shit and tries leaving the car but Jim locks the door. Repeatedly. Mike calls him crazy. Jim tells Mike what’s crazy, is if he ever disrespects him again. He then tells Mike that he’s going to drive him home and that the boy will listen to what if he has to say, and if Mike’s lucky, he will allow him to continue to date his daughter. Mike reluctantly agrees, having no choice in the matter.
Much later into the evening, Dustin continues trying to reach out to Suzie. The group starts to doubt Dustin and Cerebro and then proceeds to call it a night and leaves him. Shortly after, Dustin receives an odd transmission, something in the Russian language. It is revealed to be transmitted by Russian scientists sending a message via communication relay in an underground laboratory. We also see the surviving Russian scientist from the opening scene, who is evidently at this new laboratory.
Afterward, we cut away to show Mrs. Wheeler dollying up to Cutting Crew’s ‘I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight’ as she readies to leave, but soon finds her husband on the couch, cuddling with their daughter. She has a change of heart and decides not to meet Billy that evening.
Billy, excited about his potential romantic encounter and rehearsing calling Mrs. Wheeler by her first name, Karen — crashes his car on the way to the motel six. He’s just outside the steelworks building and notices something hit his windshield. He’s soon pulled by the leg into the steelmill by a creature, as Billy protests and screams as he’s horrifyingly dragged into the lower levels of the mill.
THOUGHTS ABOUT EPISODE ONE:
- Kudos to the special effects crew as this season goes all out. The machine at the beginning looks like something taken straight out of Watchmen and Doctor Manhattan. Also, after having watched the season in full already, I’ll admit this is an excellent episode in seeing how well things turn full circle.
- A lot of this episode sets up for the season and you appreciate it a lot more second time around.
Chapter Two: The Mall Rats
Billy retreats back to his car and then rushes to his payphone. His perspective quickly switches into the upside-down world, where he finds of all things… himself.
Eleven paces back and forth at her home at Jim’s Shack. She calls the Wheeler residence, asking Mike where is as it’s 9:32. Mike tells Eleven he can’t see her today, and reasons that his Nana is hurt. Confused, Eleven tells him that she thought Hopper said that she wasn’t (he apparently clarified with her the night before), but Mike lies and says that she’s actually very sick. This surprises Mike’s eavesdropping mother Mrs. Wheeler, who is shocked Nana sick, as Mike yells at her to, “Get off the phone!” in a hilarious homage to old shared landlines. Eleven asks Mike if he is lying. Mike denies it. When Hopper asks what’s going on Eleven just hangs up the phone receiver and slams the door on him as she goes into her room.
Ecstatic that Mike listened to his orders and kept distant, Hopper rocks out to Jim Croce’s ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’ on his way to work. He drops by Joyce’s general store and thanks her, as the plan she recommended succeeded. He then asks her out to dinner at Enzo’s but emphasizes that it’s not a date. She’s surprised he even mentioned it. Cutting the tension, Jim gets called into the work, as the townsfolk are picketing against the new mall. As Hopper leaves, Joyce sees more magnets fall at the general store and gets a suspicious look on her face.
Nancy asks Tom, her boss at Hawkin’s Post, if somebody else can do the lunch runs today as she needs to visit the doctor for ‘Girl problems’. She uses the time to drag Jonathan with her to chase a lead and visit the lady who reported the diseased rats. Nancy thinks it’ll be a big story and is worth the risk. Jonathan is reluctant and worried about getting fired.
After yet another 80s mall montage panoramic, we cut-back to the Scoops Ahoy where Dustin visits Steve. The two greet each other in an incredibly dorky fashion. Dustin shares with Steve that he has a girlfriend now. One who believes kissing is “Even better without teeth” which makes Steve a little skeptical. Over free ice cream which Steve is more than generous in sharing, Dustin shares that the group had ditched him the previous night. However, he also tells Steve that he has intercepted a secret Russian communication, promising his friend that they could both be heroes (which to Steve, is a great way to win over some ladies) if Steve could help him in translating the Russian broadcast to English, and pulls out a translation dictionary.
Eleven finds Max skateboarding outside her house and comes over to ask for advice. She tells Max what happened with Mike this morning and Max tells her Mike is obviously lying. At that same moment, the camera cuts away to a nervous Mike, who freaks out and repeatedly tells Lucas that he knows Eleven knows he’s lying. Lucas asks why he is even lying, to begin with? Mike says it’s because Hopper threatened him. Lucas admits he’s in deep shit. Max meanwhile, tells Eleven to ignore Mike to give him a taste of his own medicine — that if Mike doesn’t honestly explain himself today, to dump his ass. Lucas meanwhile, shares with Mike that despite Max breaking up with him many times, he’s won her back each time it happens, and offers Mike to see how to win a girl back. At the same time, Will, who has been with Mike and Lucas the whole time, is disappointed as he just wants to play Dungeons and Dragons.
At the community pool, Mrs. Wheeler goes to find Billy in a storage closet inside the building by the community pool. He looks very sickly. She apologizes that she can’t cheat. Billy slams her head into the wall. We cut back to reality, and realize Billy only dreamed about slamming her head in. He tells Karen to stay away and walks back outside, severely disoriented by the heat and suffering obvious effects from his last night encounter.
At the ice cream shop, Robin gives free samples to Lucas’ sister who is asking for far too many. She’s obviously tired of working the counter. In the backroom, Steve tries to help Dustin but mostly notices that the background jingle in the message sounds awfully familiar. The two have made little progress. Soon after, Robin joins them in the back asking Steve to tag in — she also reveals that she knows exactly what the two are doing, as the two have been loud and not subtle at all about the secret, often neglecting that she’s even in the room. Robin offers to translate for free, and even though she doesn’t know the language, she speaks French, Italian, and Spanish, plus can play music rather well, boasting that she has a naturally talented ear.
Nancy and Jonathan arrive at Mrs. Driscoll’s place, where they find an eaten bag of fertilizer and one of the alleged diseased rats, frenzied and locked in a cage.
Jim arrives at the Mayor’s office walking past a line of angry picketers. He talks with Mayor Larry (Cary Elwes) who wants him to get rid of the people talking trash about the mall outside of his office, especially because they never got a permit from Hopper’s office. Mayor Larry mentions he’s going to throw a big Independence Day celebration for the town to stay popular for his reelection campaign.
Eleven goes with Max to the mall and together, they go shopping. A montage ensues. Eleven asks Max how does one know what they like? Max teaches her to find what you like, find something that resonates with you and only you.
Joyce visits her son’s former science teacher, Mr. Clarke (Handy Ravens), and brings books on electromagnetism in hand from the store. She finds Mr. Clarke working in the garage listening to Weird Al Yankovich’s ‘My Bologna’.
Jonathan meanwhile, tries taking pictures of the angry rat in the basement but it won’t stay still. Nancy makes cold calls looking for leads, finding an ad for the Blackburn Farm Supplies. She goes back into the basement and pulls Jonathan away, just as he was noticing something seriously wrong with the rat. Moments after they leave the basement, the rat explodes. It’s entrails and goop slowly crawl away.
We return to the beginning of the episode, where Billy speaks to himself form the upside down. He asks him what he wants. His doppelganger replies: “To Build What You See”. Billy wakes up again in a pool area with his arm severely sunburnt (a sign that he’s infected as learned from Mike in Season Two). Billy agonizes in pain and drenches himself in one of the showers. One of the young lifeguard girls checks up on him and Billy hallucinates: the same girl, begging him in a deep distorted voice, “Take me to him.” When Billy comes back to reality and the girl asks if he needs an ambulance, he curls his hand into a fist on his knee and we see a quick, jerky, body motion, and the distant sound of a girl screaming…
Meanwhile, the kids continue a fun mall montage to the tune of Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’. As Eleven and Max try on clothes while the boys look for a gift for Eleven. At the Scoops Ahoy, Robin deciphers the first sentence just as Steve goes to deliver some ice cream cones to none-other-than Eleven and Max. As the girls leave after having a wonderful day at the mall, they run into the boys just outside. Immediately, Eleven questions Mike and catches him in the lie. Unable to tell her why, she dumps Mike, with Foreigner’s ‘Cold as Ice’ playing in the background.
Back outside the Mayor’s office, Jim arrests a protestor who claims he’s just exercising his right to protest the mall that ruined his family business. Soon after, Jim gets a special delivery for a shirt to wear for his date that night with Joyce (One like what Tom Sellick wears in Magnum P.I. in a nod to what he was watching in Episode One). Hopper arrives early to his date and orders himself a scotch and a bottle of Chiante, which he horribly mispronounces, for the two of them.
At that moment, Joyce is still out late talking to Mr. Clarke, learning about solenoids and electromagnetic fields. They simulate a small EM field. Joyce asks how could this is happening at her house. Though skeptical, Mr. Clarke explains that theoretically, a large version of the AC transformer could exist causing a large electromagnetic field, though the device would cost tens of millions of dollars to make.
Late into the night, Robin, Dustin, and Steve decipher the Russian translation but don’t know what it means. Robin discusses it with Dustin and agrees, that this is not an insane theory and it, in fact, must be a secret Russian code, proving Dustin right. While the two exchange their thoughts about it, Steve stops dead in his tracks in front of a Children’s Indiana Flyer-Horse ride. He calls Robin and Dustin over, drops in a quarter, and plays the ride, realizing that the jingle is the exact same sound in the recording. He realizes that the code didn’t come from Russia. It came from right there in the mall.
A very drunk Hopper drinks alone, regretting that Joyce has stood him up. He takes the bottle of wine and goes off-premise when threatened with a call from the authorities by his waiter, Jim claims rubs it in his face that he’s the chief of police. On his way out, he bumps into a very intimidating Russian. The man from before who looks like The Terminator.
Finally, Billy returns to the Steelmill and carries the body of the lifeguard below. When she comes to her senses, she wakes tied up and struggling. Billy lowers closer to her and whispers into her ear: “Don’t be afraid. It’ll be over soon. Just stay very still.”
Suddenly, the leg of a sizable creature emerges as the girl screams.
THOUGHTS ABOUT EPISODE TWO:
- Billy has a very creepy vibe for this season.
- The mall scenes and 80s references are also noticeably heavier than ever before and this episode showcases that very well.
- This season does a very excellent job juggling its large ensemble cast.
Hope you enjoyed the recaps and podcast. Next week, we’ll be doing the same for episodes 3+4.