Heartbreak & Goodbyes
Clocking in at a little over 70 minutes, Stranger Things’ season finale sees all the pieces slot into place for a dramatic climax at the Starcourt Mall.
The episode picks up where it left off from before, with the group trying to remove the part of the monster in El. After a fruitless attempt, she uses the last of her power to extract it. The group then decide on the next course of action. Dustin, followed by Erica, Steve and Robin, head to the radio tower to help navigate Joyce, Hopper and Murray through the Russian facility while the rest of the gang plan to seek refuge in Murray’s place.
Nancy, Jonathan, Will, El, Max, and Mike try to leave in Nancy’s car but soon realise that the car has been tempered with by Billy and are unable to leave the mall. As they see Billy in his car, ready to attack them, they decide to head back into the mall where they’re greeted by a much bigger Mind Flayer from before.
Hopper, Joyce and Murray make their way down the facility but soon come face to face with four Russians guards. Hopper quickly disposes of them which then allows Murray to make his way down the vents. Before the big showdown, Joyce and Hopper have a nice moment where she finally asks him to go on a date.
As El struggles to use her powers, the kids try to hide from the Mind Flayer. Just as the beast is about to find Mike, Lucas manages to distract it. Nancy, Jonathan, Lucas and Will then manage to escape out of the mall. Unfortunately, Billy is still there waiting for them. Just as he is about to run Nancy over, Steve arrives and crashes his car straight into Billy’s.
Back in the underground facility, Joyce and Hopper have trouble getting the keys out of the safe as they appear have the wrong code. The code being Planck’s constant, Dustin realises that his new girlfriend might be the only one that knows it. He finally manages to reach her on the radio and after making him sing the theme of the movie “The Neverending Story”, she gives them the code, allowing Hopper to open the safe and retrieve the keys.
Joyce and Hopper finally reach the main control room. Just as they’re about to turn the keys, the Russian biker arrives and starts fighting with Hopper again. However this time, Hopper gets the better of him and throws him into the machine.
Billy is now after El, Max and Mike. He quickly takes them down and brings Eleven to the monster. Just as the Mind Flayer is about to attack, Lucas saves the day by launching fireworks at it. El then manages to use Billy’s memories of his Mum to make him remember who he is. This causes him to walk towards the monster, sacrificing himself to save her.
Joyce realizes that she has to turn the machine off as more Russians arrive. Unfortunately, she sees that doing so will kill Hopper. They share a look and he gives her nod, telling her that it is ok. She turns it off which results in the Mind Flayer dying and saving everyone.
We then skip forward 3 months. Will and his family are moving away with El. There are some very emotional moments here as they all say goodbye to each other. El and Mike agree to see each other during the holidays and as she is about to leave, she tells him that she loves him.
Joyce then gives El the speech Hopper wrote for her and Mike where he has some heartfelt words for her. He explains how he wants her to keep on growing and how much she means to him.
The episode ends on an open note with a mid-credit scne depicting a Russian facility and some guards taking a prisoner into a room. Suddenly a hatch opens revealing a Demogorgon.
As expected, the finale is chock full of action, horror and emotional segments – even managing to add some well-placed humour in too. Stranger Things ends with a really strong finale, arguably the strongest in its three season history. Seeing all the characters come together and echo back to each of the main plot points for the season gives the season a more cohesive feel to it, especially the radio tower and narrative surrounding Billy.
Tonally, the show manages to build on its 80’s nostalgia although at times the balance hasn’t always been great. The over the top product placement of Coca Cola has been really offputting and pausing the entire narrative so our characters can drink Coke feels like the proverbial cherry on the cake with this.
The finale is certainly emotional though, one that’s a real tear jerker. With the promise of a fourth season looming on the horizon, the last chapter of season 3 manages to give us a satisfying and thrilling open ending. It’ll be interesting to see what the next instalment will bring, especially with the group now split up and El struggling to use her powers.
In the meantime, the third season has been a fun, transitional and emotional rollercoaster, one that ends on a real high point, readt for when we come back for the next adventure in Hawkins.