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Five questions we need answered after watching Stranger Things season 3

Stranger Things 3 | Final Trailer | Netflix

The third season of Stranger Things debuted July 4 on Netflix, and the hit show’s return somehow managed to live up to the tremendous hype that’s been building since season 2 premiered back in October 2017.

While season 3 of Stranger Things certainly took the show to some new places, it also left plenty of questions unanswered and even introduced a few more mysteries to the series’ mythology. Naturally, our biggest questions about the show have a lot to do with the events of the third season, so consider this a spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t finished season 3 of Stranger Things yet.

Why does everyone want to access the Upside Down?

During the first season of Stranger Things, it made sense that the scientists at Hawkins National Laboratory would investigate this breach into an unknown dimension that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) accidentally opened. It’s an unknown dimension, after all, and that’s what scientists do. However, after unleashing one monster, then even bigger monsters (the Mind Flayer and the horde of Demodogs), allowing poisonous tendrils to spread under the town and possibly beyond, it’s difficult not to wonder what they expect to get in return for all of this trouble.

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In the third season, we learn that the Russians are also attempting to open a gate to the Upside Down. And yet, across all three seasons, we never get a good explanation of what benefit to anyone (American or Russian) a pathway to the Upside Down offers. Are there powerful energy resources there? Weapons? The only thing we’ve seen come out of the Upside Down so far is misery and death, so what’s the point?

Is Hopper really dead?

The biggest question on the minds of most fans is rooted in the “is he or isn’t he?” fate of Hawkins’ grizzled chief of police, Jim Hopper (David Harbour). After saving Hawkins (and possibly the world) once again, he was seemingly caught in a massive explosion in the season finale. His death was never shown on screen, though, which suggests the writers want to leave themselves a narrative safety net if they decide to bring him back.

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Adding fuel to the speculative fire, an undated scene set in the Soviet Union that plays out after the finale’s credits has a prison guard reveal that an unidentified prisoner he calls “the American” is among the facility’s residents — right before he sacrifices a different prisoner to a caged Demogorgon. That vague title just so happens to be the same one the big bad calls Hopper constantly throughout the season. If the scene is indeed set in the future and not unfolding parallel to the season 3 events happening Hawkins, there’s a very good chance Hopper is not only alive, but imprisoned in the Cold War-era Soviet Union — which is sort of a mixed bag, really.

Will Eleven get her powers back?

Ever since the first season, Eleven’s powers have been a sort of deus ex machina element in Stranger Things, capable of solving just about every mystery and overcoming every threat to her and her friends. The final episode of season 3, however, put Eleven in a new, unpowered role in the story, and forced her friends without telekinetic or telepathic abilities to step up and save the day. It was a welcome change, but how long will it last?

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The reason behind Eleven’s loss of her abilities remains as mysterious as so much of the Stranger Things mythology, possibly having something to do with the Mind Flayer biting her and leaving a wriggling piece of himself in her leg. Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) predicted her powers will return eventually, and it’s easy to hope that’s the case — but fans might have to prepare themselves for the notion that Eleven might not be the one-girl army we’ve grown accustomed to when the next season picks up.

Why haven’t we met any more MKUltra subjects?

This was one of our big questions going into season 3 of Stranger Things (none of which were answered, sadly), and it continues to be one of the show’s most intriguing mysteries. The second season introduced audiences to Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen), a teenage girl with the ability to create illusions and another former subject of the MKUltra experiments at Hawkins Laboratory. We know that she was designated subject “008” and Eleven was, well … “011.” And that’s all we really know at this point.

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So what about all of the other subjects? Eleven’s ability to reach out and locate just about anyone she sets her mind to suggests that she could find the other MKUltra subjects if necessary, and with the fate of the world at stake, that certainly seems like reasonable cause to do so.

Is the series going global?

The introduction of Soviet agents to Hawkins and the departure of Eleven and the Byers family puts Stranger Things in a very interesting place at the conclusion of the third season. The aforementioned post-credits scene set in the Soviet Union only makes it more likely that future adventures of Eleven and her pals will unfold outside the borders of their small Indiana town.

Stranger Things Season 3 in the mall
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Part of the appeal of Stranger Things has been the small town where all of these supernatural events keep happening, in much the same way the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, is the backdrop for so many of Stephen King’s stories. Although Mike hinted that Eleven will be back to visit during the holidays, there’s no certainty that a Hawkins reunion is in the kids’ future. If this is indeed the end of Hawkins as the setting for future Stranger Things seasons, the town (and its wonderfully ’80s mall) will be sorely missed.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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