BWW Recap: Is Season Three the End of STRANGER THINGS?
The Fourth of July was celebrated not only by Americans across the country but Stranger Things fans when the third season of the Netflix original series was released. Although the streaming platform has not yet released the viewer count for the show's newest season, the show garnered over 15 million views in October 2017 for the second season's premiere and is expected to have another impressive view count. If you weren't one of the millions to catch up on the show over your long weekend, BroadwayWorld has you covered. This goes without saying, but spoilers below!
"Chapter One: Suzie, Do You Copy?"
The third season of "Stranger Things" opens on June 28, 1984, in Russia with a group of scientists and military officials trying to open a portal to the Upside Down. Their machine malfunctions and their attempt ends with an explosion. A scientist is told he has one year to successfully open the doorway to the other side. The plot moves forward a year to Hawkins where El and Mike are a couple, Max and Lucas are together and Dustin returns from Science camp. He comes home with several of his inventions including his masterpiece Cerebro, a radio tower to talk to his girlfriend Suzie, a girl from Utah who he met at Science camp. Nancy and Jonathan are working at the Hawkins Post and Steve is working at Scoops Ahoy serving ice cream at the Starcourt Mall with his coworker, Robin. Steve helps the group of kids sneak into a showing of "Day of the Dead" at the mall before the power suddenly goes out all over the town. Will, who is still attached to the Upside Down, senses something is wrong. In the rundown downtown, Hopper confides in Joyce that he is uncomfortable with how much time El and Mike are spending together. Joyce works with him to prepare a "heart-to-heart" with the kids before Hopper asks her out to dinner, which she turns down. She also tells him she is planning on selling her house and moving out of Hawkins. When Hopper does attempt this conversation with the kids later on, he ends up threatening Mike and telling him to spend less time with El. The episode heats up when we see Billy as a lifeguard at the local pool where several of the moms thirst over him. He flirts with Mrs. Wheeler and their encounter leaves her considering having an affair with him. The episode ends with Billy driving to the Motel 6 to meet her for a "private swimming lesson," but he is pushed off the road by a mysterious force. After he gets out of the car to investigate, the force drags him into the abandoned Brimborn Steelworks building.
"Chapter Two: The Mall Rats"
This episode picks up where the season premiere left off with Billy fighting the unseen monster and making a run to his car. He calls 911 at a phone booth but is disconnected before seeing a group of people approaching. The leader of the group is a man who looks exactly like Billy. Later on Billy's doppelganger kidnaps a female lifeguard at the pool and presents her to the monster in Steelworks. Mike and Hopper's conversation from the last episode has gotten to Mike and he lies to El, telling her he can't see her because of his sick Nana. El, upset with Mike, goes to Max to talk about her relationship problem and they go shopping at the mall. There they run into Mike, Lucas and Will, who were trying to find a gift for El, and El "dumps his ass." Hopper, happy to see his plan working, tells Joyce this and once again asks her to dinner - not as a date, but as two friends. After Hopper leaves to break up a protest outside of Mayor Larry Kline's office, Joyce notices the magnets in the store no longer work, like THE ONE on her refrigerator at her home. She begins studying electromagnetic fields and pays a visit to Scott Clarke, a Science teacher at the middle school, to learn more and ends up missing her dinner with Hopper. Meanwhile at Starcourt, Dustin and Steve reconnect and shares that he intercepted a secret Russian communication using Cerebro. The two of them and Robin work together to translate the message Dustin recorded and realizes it is a code. Steve recognizes the music playing in the tape's background as the same waltz song from the coin-operated horse ride at the mall, meaning the Russian spies are closer than they thought. Hawkins Post interns Nancy and Jonathan investigate a tip she received in the previous episode about rabid rats in a women's house who were eating fertilizer. Shortly after they leave, the rat explodes and becomes a moving mass.
"Chapter Three: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard"
El and Max's friendship continues to develop in the third episode and the two have a sleepover where El uses her psychokinetic abilities to see what Mike, Lucas and Will are doing. They then check in on Billy and see he is on the floor with a screaming woman. The next morning Joyce goes to Hopper's house and brings to his attention the magnets losing their magnetism, presenting her theory that this is being done by "them," as in those at the Hawkins National Laboratory who were performing experiments to understand the Upside Down. Despite being upset after being stood up by her the previous night, he brings her to the lab to ease her mind. While there, a mysterious man beats up Hopper before driving away on a motorcycle. Mike and Lucas give in and finally play Dungeons and Dragons with Will, but the two are less than enthusiastic. The boys argue about their divided interests and Will goes to Castle Byers. Realizing the group of friends is growing apart, he takes his frustrations out and destroys the stick fort and pictures inside. Mike and Lucas find him and Will tells them that "he's back" (hinting the Mind Flayer is the cause for his goosebumps and panicked feelings he's been having). Dustin, Steve and Robin continue to translate the Russian message and Robin decodes it, connecting each piece of the puzzle to places in Starcourt. Nancy presents her findings on the rabid rats to the editor and staff of the Hawkins Post, but is humiliated and told to drop the story. In order to present more evidence to the men in the office, she and Jonathan revisit Mrs. Driscoll, only to find her in her basement making monstrous noises and eating fertilizer. El and Max spend the day trying to find Billy and the woman with him and discover it was Heather, a fellow lifeguard at the Hawkins Community Pool, when they find her fanny pack in Billy's bathroom. They also find bags of ice in the bathtub and blood on the cabinets. El is led to Heather's parent's home and she and Max find Billy having dinner with Heather's parents. While asking him where Heather is, she comes out of the kitchen. Billy's doppelganger recognizes El from when she closed the portal opening at the end of season two. The episode ends with Billy and Heather's doppelgangers knocking her parents unconscious.
"Chapter Four: The Sauna Test"
Despite seeing both Billy and Heather having dinner at Heather's parent's house in the previous episode, El knows something is wrong and can't shake the image of Heather in a bathtub calling for help. Mrs. Driscoll, who was last seen eating fertilizer in her basement, is TAKEN AWAY in an ambulance screaming "I want to go back!" and reaching her hand out while passing by Steelworks. In the building, Heather's parents are tied up and the monster attaches itself to them. As a result of Nancy and Jonathan's investigation, they are fired from the Post and break up after an argument in the car.
The next morning Hopper wakes up to Joyce caring for him after he was knocked unconscious from the fight with the mysterious man. When Joyce tells him the man drove away not in a car, but a bike, they go to the Mayor's office to investigate because Hopper believes he saw the man when he was breaking up the protest days earlier. After some threats of blackmail and violence, Hopper and Joyce go with Larry to his house and see land deeds and transfers of property, proving the man who fought Hopper is associated with Starcourt and how his buying of land in Hawkins might have something to do with the power outages and loss of magnetism in magnets. The group at Starcourt wanting to see what the Russians are hiding in the building acquire the floor plan and map of vents for the mall. However, none of them are small enough to fit through the vents so they enlist Lucas' sister and frequent Scoops Ahoy sampler, Erica, for help. She travels through the vents and unlocks the doors to let the others in, but once they start touching things, the open wall slides down and locks them in while THE ROOM is sent traveling down like an elevator. Max and El come back together with the boys when Will tells them about his recent feelings, which lead to the goosebumps on the back of his neck, and how he used to have these feelings whenever the Mind Flayer was close. He theorizes that although Joyce got him out of the Upside Down and El closed the gate, the part of the monster that was inside of him didn't return and is still in Hawkins, but this time in a new host. El and Max explain how they think Billy may be the new host, and to test this they come up with the plan to trap Billy in the sauna at the pool after operation hours. They are able to lock him in the sauna and prove he is the new host, but he escapes after fighting off the kids. Billy goes back to Steelworks and tells Heather that they know about him before the shot pans out to the monster with a group of townspeople that are also possessed.
"Chapter Five: The Flayed"
The plot picks back up with the Starcourt crew stuck in THE ROOM that was sent thousands of feet below ground level and is able to escape after a group of Russians enter THE ROOM to get supplies. They walk down what seems like an endless hallway in the underground bunker before reaching a HUB where scientists and armed guards are. They sneak into the command room before finding the large machine last seen in the season's opening scene trying to open to a portal to the Upside Down in Russia. Joyce and Hopper are visiting each of the abandoned locations bought by Starcourt and when they visit Hess Farms, they fight off Grigori, the man who attacked Hopper earlier and take Dr. Alexei, or "Smirnoff" as Hopper calls him, the man who attempted to open the Upside Down in Russia. They flee to Illinois to meet with Murray Buaman, the journalist featured in the second season, to act as a Russian translator. Nancy and Jonathan meet with the group of kids because she believes Mrs. Driscoll may be a new host to the Mind Flayer. They figure out Billy, Heather and her parents are also hosts and head to the hospital to try to stop the monster from spreading to more people. When Nancy and Jonathan make it to Mrs. Driscoll's hospital room, they find her missing but see Tom, Heather's father and their former boss at the Hawkins Post, and Bruce, a former employee who was especially cruel to Nancy. The two fight off the monster's hosts before they begin melting into a gooey mass, like the rats, and combining to make one large monster in the hallway.
"Chapter Six: E Pluribus Unum"
The episode starts with Steve and Robin are taken by the Russians underground while Dustin and Erica escape and run off. Back at the hospital, with lights flickering, Will senses the monster and they find it right before it possesses Nancy. El is able to fling the Flayer out the window before it retreats back to the Steelworks building via drainpipes outside of the hospital as a pile of slime. Mayor Kline is at the fairgrounds setting up for the town's Fourth of July celebrations when approached by Grigori, who is searching for Hopper and Joyce after they kidnapped Alexei. At the residence of Murray, Alexei eventually explains to Joyce and Hopper the Russians were unable to open their own portal to the Upside Down due to their "key" (machine) not being powerful enough, so they came to Hawkins to penetrate their healing opening. Hopper contacts a government official about an entrance to the Upside Down at Starcourt Mall. Below Starcourt in the bunker, Steve and Robin are tied up and interrogated by Russians before being drugged. As the "doctor" readies himself to torture Steve, Dustin and Erica barge in and free the two. Back at Hopper's house, the group of kids and Nancy and Jonathan come together after the hospital incident and El tries to find Billy using her abilities. She sees a young Billy on a beach with his mother surfing before seeing other memories of his, including moments with his abusive father, his mother leaving, him beating up other children and Max coming into his life. El then finds "the source" at Brimborn Steelworks and Billy tells her looking for him has led to him seeing her, as well as everyone else possessed by the Mind Flayer. He tells her they have been building their army and they are going to "end" everyone. The episode concludes with all of the hosts entering Brimborn and one by one, walking up to the monster and merging into it.
"Chapter Seven: The Bite"
The carnival put on by Mayor Kline is in full force and Holly, Nancy and Mike's younger sister, is at the top of the Ferris wheel with her parents when she sees the trees in the nearby forest moving, showing the Mind Flayer quickly approaching Hopper's cabin in the woods. Will senses this and even though the house is boarded up, the monster breaks in and tries to attack the kids. The monster is fought off, but not before it bites El and injures her ankle. They take her to a store to clean her cut and they finally hear Dustin on a Walkie-Talkie and receive his "code red" warning, telling them to come to the mall. At Starcourt, Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica are able to make it back to the ground level and hide from the Russians inside the mall. Robin and Steve break away from the crowd they are hiding in at a viewing of "Back to the Future" to go to the bathroom where the drugs start to wear off. Steve confesses his feelings for her, but she reveals she is a lesbian. The four of them meet back up in the movie theater and while leaving are spotted by Russians. Right before they are found hiding behind the concessions counter, El saves them and all of the kids and teenagers are reunited. At the carnival, Joyce and Hopper are looking for the kids, but are spotted by Grigori and the Russians looking for him. Murray and Alexei, although told to stay in the car, venture into the carnival for some fun, but Alexei is shot and killed by Grigori. Hopper and Grigori go face to face in a mirrored fun home and shoots him. Hopper then flees the scene with Joyce and Murray, but it is revealed Grigori is not injured because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. At the mall, El collapses and her cut on her ankle has worsened. The kids see something inside her cut moving around and pulsating as she screams out in pain.
"Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt"
El continues to cry in agony and Jonathan attempts to get out the piece of the monster by cutting open her wound more and fishing for it. El then uses her abilities to take the monster out and it is squashed by Hopper, revealing he, Joyce and Murray are back to help them. The three groups catch everyone up on what has happened and together make a plan to close the opening to the Upside Down. Hopper, Joyce and Murray head down to the bunker while Steve, Robin, Dustin and Erica head up to Dustin's radio tower, Cerebro. The rest of the kids try to leave the mall to get El to safety, but the ignition cable is missing from Nancy's car. In the parking lot, Billy is seen and heard revving up his engine and once the kids return inside of Starcourt, El finds out she no longer can use her psychokinetic abilities. In the bunker, the three adults kill a group of Russians and take their uniforms to blend in. While Murray is traveling through the vents, Joyce asks Hopper out on a date with the same dinner plan as earlier in the season. Thousands of feet above them in the mall the monster breaks in and Steve and Robin meet the kids fleeing from the parking lot. On top of the hill, Dustin finally hears back from Suzie, his girlfriend that everyone doubted was real, and she helps them with Planck's Constant, which is needed to unlock a door in the bunker (only after Dustin and Suzy sing a rendition of "Never Ending Story," which everyone on the Walkie-Talkies have to awkwardly sit through). Billy, now in the mall, takes El and lays her down for the monster to inhabit, but she describes one of Billy's memories she had experienced earlier. The real Billy comes through and sacrifices himself to the monster while El escapes. Back below, as Joyce and Hopper are ready to turn off the key and close the portal, Grigori once again tries to take down Hopper. They battle next to the key and Grigori is thrown into it by Hopper. With Dustin yelling to close the portal, Hopper tells Joyce to go through with it and she shuts off the machine, killing Hopper and all those next to it.
The plot fasts forward three months and Steve and Robin get jobs at "Family Video." Joyce and the boys are packing up their sold house and El tries again to use her abilities, but they haven't come back to her. Jonathan and Nancy say goodbye and El tells Mike she loves him back. While going through Hopper's things, Joyce finds the note he wrote for his "heart-to-heart" with El and Mike in the first episode of the season and El reads it. Joyce, Jonathan, Will and El leave Hawkins to start their new lives together.
In a post-credits scene taking place in Kamchatka, Russia, a prisoner in a cell next to "the American," is fed to a captive Demogorgon.