Where I do an episode-by-episode review of Stranger Things season 3.
Episode 8, ‘The Battle of Starcourt’: Oh. My. God. What a finale.
It begins with a grisly ad-hoc surgery of Eleven’s leg to remove the demo-parasite, which meets its end under Hopper’s boot. Call me immature, but the gang-reunion was a hoot-worthy moment.
But they soon break up into their original components- Dustin, Steve, Robin and Erica as the ‘Scoops Troop’, Hopper, Joyce and Murray as the ‘Bald Eagle’, and the rest of them as the ‘Griswold Family’.
The Scoops Troop drive to the top of a hill in the yellow convertible stolen by Hop to use Dustin’s radio tower to guide Bald Eagle through the Russian base. The Griswold Family tries to drive to safety, but it turns out that Billy has ripped off their car’s ignition cable and they have to hurry back inside the mall. El tries to right a car she threw at the Russians an episode earlier so that Jonathan can use its ignition cable to power up their car, but her powers don’t work, a fact which is emphasised twice or thrice later in the episode as well. I spy with my little eye not-so-subtle foreshadowing.
Meanwhile, at the top of the hill, Steve and Robin glimpse fire and chaos at the mall, so they decide to go help the Griswold Family while Dustin and Erica do the guiding.
At the mall, they crash in the yellow convertible at the last minute to save Nancy, Jonathan and the kids, which was another yay moment.
At the Bald Eagle front, Hopper, Joyce and Murray take out three Russian guards and put on their uniforms. Murray, as always, was hilarious. I laughed a lot at his conversations with the Russian guards.
Something which surprised me in the final episode was the existence of Suzie, Dustin’s (not) made-up girlfriend. Right from episode 1, I thought Dustin had been pretending to have a girlfriend because he didn’t want to feel left out after Mike and Lucas were in relationships. But we got to meet Suzie after Hopper and Joyce couldn’t open the vault because Murray had given them the wrong value of Planck’s constant and Dustin had to radio Suzie to ask her the number. After this, I doubt I’ll ever forget Planck’s constant. See, mom? Watching TV does help with studies.
Suzie forcing Dustin to sing with her over the radio was silly and made me facepalm, seeing how tense and urgent the situation was. A lot of things were destroyed in this episode- the mall, the monster, and Dustin’s dignity, apart from other things.
Thankfully, Joyce and Hopper managed to open the vault and retrieve the keys in time. But Grigori (the Russian terminator dude whose name I only know from the subtitles) attacks them at the observation deck, where Hopper hurls him into the gate-opening machine.
At the mall, Billy gets ready to sacrifice El to the Mind Flayer, but this is where the ‘Satan’s babies’ Lucas picked up earlier come in handy. It’s quite a show with all the kids hurling fireworks at the monster. The scene with El reminding Billy of his childhood and his mom and Billy coming out of his possessed state long enough to save El was quite clichéd, to be honest, but it was a cliché that worked well. Sadie Sink could’ve upped her acting game, really- her tears at seeing her step-brother being mauled by the monster didn’t seem quite honest.
At the last moment, before the monster can get to El, Joyce and Hopper manage to close the Gate. But what the hell is this? It kills Hopper in the process. I hate Netflix for that. Why do all the men that Joyce likes have to die?
Then we flash forward to the epilogue scene three months later, where the Byers family is moving out along with Eleven. Eleven reading Hopper’s letter which he never gave to her was one of the most heart-rending scenes on the show. It tugged at the right chords and made me miss Hopper all the more.
In an MCU-style post-credits scene, we get the hook for season 4, where the classic demodog with its flower-shaped face returns. And the hope that maybe, just maybe Hopper is alive after a guard says ‘No, not the American’.
With sprinkles of humour and oodles of action, the finale was finely executed, and although season 3 overall didn’t live up to the benchmarks set by the previous seasons, it was a good watch.