Stranger Things 3 Finale Spoilers Ahead
“Oh, 1000 percent. It was definitely the most difficult,” Millie Bobby Brown told Entertainment Weekly when she was asked if season three of Stranger Things was the hardest season to film. Brown plays the resilient and telekinetic Eleven on the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Episode eight of Stranger Things 3, “The Battle of Starcourt”, provides some of the most powerful moments of the series. In the episode, Joyce Byers, portrayed by Winona Ryder, has to prevent the gate to the Upside Down from opening by destroying a machine in a massive explosion. Unfortunately, David Harbour’s fan-favorite character, Jim Hopper, was left in the blast zone and is presumed dead. The episode jumps three months into the future as the Byers prepare to move out of Hawkins with Eleven, also known as El. It’s during the move that El discovers the letter from her adoptive father Hopper and says goodbye to her friends. Brown’s performance is raw and emotional during Harbour’s voice-over.
If this scene was difficult for fans to watch, it was more taxing to perform. In regards to the tearful goodbyes, Brown confirmed everyone on set was emotional, “It was as emotional as it looked. We all said, ‘Let’s just imagine that this is the end of filming forever.’ And we all start immediately crying as soon as they said, action. It felt really genuine and it was like saying goodbye to best friends.” It could have been their last day on set as Netflix has not confirmed a Stranger Things 4. However, multiple producers have talked about making more episodes and with the success of the series it is incredibly unlikely that Netflix would discontinue the hit show. Producer Shawn Levy insisted, “Season Four is definitely happening. There’s very much the possibility of a season beyond that one, that’s currently undecided.”
In addition to the kids’ goodbyes, Brown also had to film the scene of Eleven reacting to Hopper’s letter. Brown says she had not heard Harbour’s recording until they began to film,
They had prerecorded David and they played it out loud. I didn’t want to read that speech. I didn’t want to hear about it. I didn’t want to rehearse it. I just immediately wanted to put a camera on me and find the way I react and the way I reacted was pure devastation and sadness, and a distraught child that just lost her father or so she thinks. So it was definitely a raw emotion, especially because David Harbour and I are really close. He is just one of the greatest men. I think something I admire about David is he respects girls and women so much. It felt so … I’m so gutted and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is horrible.’ So the emotions were raw in that scene for sure.
The episode was an emotional rollercoaster ride for sure, but it is questionable that fans have truly seen the last of the beloved sheriff. Many fans are speculating that Hopper is the prisoner in the mid-credit scene where a Russian soldier passes by a door and says, “No, not the American.” The Duffer Brothers (creators of Stranger Things) often surprise viewers with their plot twists so the prisoner is likely a red herring for Hopper. It’s possible the prisoner is Dr. Brenner, the man Eleven refers to as “Papa” who was confirmed to be alive in Stranger Things 2.
Would that mean Hopper really is dead? Doubtful. Theoretically, the rift in the gate could have provided Hopper a chance to escape the blast. Since Joyce’s eyes were closed, she did not see him die and his body was never shown. In fact, he can’t be seen by viewers during the blast either (pictured below). Furthermore, the Duffer Brothers used the mantra “leave the door open three inches” numerous times this season. This seems to be foreshadowing that perhaps the gate was left open just enough for Hopper to get through. Brown may have given away the biggest clue herself in the previous quote, “…a distraught child that just lost her father or so she thinks.” If El only thinks she lost Hopper, then what actually happened? Fans will have to patiently wait until the inevitable Stranger Things 4 comes out for answers.
Hopper Looking Into the Gate
Machine About to Blast with no Hopper in Sight