Warning: This story contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 3.
The Stranger Things kids have come a long way since those simpler days when Hawkins had only one sticky monster.
In the Netflix show’s ever-expanding universe, where the Upside Down’s dangers were once no match for Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), the curtain dropper assures viewers that triumph over evil is no longer a given — even with all the brain power in the Scoops Troop.
Suzie? Totally real! What the Mind Flayer wants? It seems like the plan is to come for Eleven and all of her friends and keep going from there. A Joyce-Hopper romance? Before he was pronounced dead, Hopper made his feelings known, and Joyce had warmed up to the idea. And Robin (Maya Hawke)? Yet another girl who isn’t into Steve (Joe Keery).
But of course, such an ominous season 3 finale leaves many big questions for season 4 to tackle. Much like Mike (Finn Wolfhard), we have concerns, and we have sub-concerns.
Here are our 10 lingering questions about Stranger Things season 3.
1. Can memories release hosts from the Mind Flayer’s possession?
Eleven appears to be able to exorcise, or at least temporarily deactivate, the Mind Flayer from Billy (Dacre Montgomery) by reminding him of his childhood memories as a young surfer with his mom. Is this nothing more than a reminder that jolts the trapped, real Billy out of his trance? Or can emotional memories effectively release the Flayed “hosts” out from under the control of the Mind Flayer’s control when someone invokes them? Is Eleven the only one capable of excavating these memories through telepathy? Which brings us to the next question…
2. How can the Mind Flayer be destroyed?
The Mind Flayer’s body is dead by season 3’s end, but is its consciousness still alive and kicking? When Eleven closed the gate on the Mind Flayer in the season 2 finale, that feat immediately laid waste to all of the demodogs within our world. But the Mind Flayer left a souvenir that latched onto sweet little can’t-catch-a-break-this-lifetime Will (Noah Schnapp.) And it’s spreading with the force and mystery of intergenerational thirst for Billy at a public pool. Eleven has tried and failed to stop him. What will it take to bring this force down?
3. Will Eleven’s powers return?
Eleven lost her powers at the end of this season. Lucas’ (Caleb McLaughlin) classic slingshot move might be cute, but Eleven’s particular ability to telekinetically toss a car at a line of enemies has proven a little more useful when they’re in a bind. It’s clear that the girl is maxed out after forcing the large slug-like segment of the Mind Flayer out of her leg, and performing like a champ through it all. (If you want to know how hard she was going, note the pile of bloody tissues in the supermarket in Chapter 7). Will she get her car-flinging superpowers back? Mike seems pretty confident. But what will everyone do in the meantime if they don’t return soon enough?
4. What’s up with Hopper?
Hopper (David Harbour) has disappeared or died, at least if you believe what you read in the Indianapolis Gazette. Leave it to the Duffer brothers to yank a guy just when he’s getting out of his deep, dark emotional cave and locking down an actual romantic engagement with Joyce (Winona Ryder.) Is he really a goner? We never saw him die, and Joyce and Murray (Brett Gelman) never saw his remains among the survivors of the explosion beneath the mall. It’s always a possibility that people might not really be dead when you’re in the Stranger Things zone. What happened to him? Was he captured by the Russians? The Mind Flayer? Is this the last we’ve seen of him?
5. Where did the Byers go?
We know one thing: It’s somewhere far enough away that Mike and Eleven to have to wait until Thanksgiving to see each other again. Wherever it is, it probably isn’t far enough from Hawkins for Joyce. Will Mike and Eleven make the long-distance walkie talkie thing work? They don’t have a song the way that Dusty Bun (Gaten Matarazzo) and Suzie Pooh do. Remains to be seen.
6. Will Jonathan and Nancy make it?
Another couple question: Season 3 threw this relationship into a chaotic obstacle course. Despite some conflict about their vastly different experiences at the Hawkins Post and Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) total disregard for Jonathan’s (Charlie Heaton) darkroom rules, they worked it out. And they know shared trauma can help a partnership from the part-time relationship counselor, full-time conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman. They’re committed to getting through hard things together. Will they continue to do so?
Also of note: Will Nancy break a national news story? It seemed like the show was gearing us up for resident hunch hound Nancy Wheeler to really shove it to the harassers at the Post by breaking a story on all of the insane mall madness that went down. She was the one who was all over the rat issue all along. But professionally speaking, this wasn’t exactly her summer. Will she have another crack at a scoop?
7. Why do the Russians open the gate?
The Mind Flayer had a plan of its own. What’s the point of opening the gate for the Russians? Exploration? We see Russian agents send a prisoner to his death by Demogorgon in a cell during the post-credits scene. But why use monsters as weapons against the enemy? What is the endgame? So far, it’s unclear, and they lost a valuable player they had going for them in the way of comedic relief, the amusing delight that was Alexei. R.I.P.
While we’re on the topic, are there other gates open? In season one, the Demogorgon used to punch through walls and tree portals, but now members of the Mind Flayer’s evil army are just chittering and squelching around town. How many openings are we dealing with? What gives?
8. Why does Billy see his twin?
Perhaps we should look to another show about cool kids for the right wording for this particular question: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It does seem like everything has been “flipped turned upside down” by some puzzling new plot points. In an unexplained scene from “Chapter 2: The Mallrats,” Billy confronts his body double. He meets his Upside Down identical “twin” leading a group of possessed-looking figures, and only later in the episode does his mirror image have a message to deliver via the Mind Flayer: “I want you to build what you see.” Pretty boss move speaking through someone’s carbon copy! Why and how is the Mind Flayer potentially generating multiple clones of its infected hosts?
Is it because it simply needs more bodies to inhabit to terrorize the cutest kids ever? Or is there something more sinister at play in which having a Parent Trap scenario of lookalikes would serve the Mind Flayer’s mission? And what about Heather, the show’s sacrificial lamb?
9. Does Mrs. Wheeler’s daughter know a lot more than we think she does?
When Mrs. Wheeler (Cara Buono) is attempting to find joy in her marriage on the ferris wheel at the fun fair, Holly Wheeler (Tinsley Price) notices something’s off: The trees are moving (the work of the Mind Flayer, naturally). The wee little Wheeler has zero interest in the fireworks display, which seems kind of odd for a bite-sized person. In fact, the foreboding tree rustling scene recalls the flashback season 1 Hopper (David Harbour) had when he remembered his daughter Sarah getting freaked out about some unknown supernatural force. Is Holly just hyper-aware of her surroundings? Or is there a small possibility she is gifted?
10. Will we get more Keith?
Speaking of smaller characters we should definitely not sleep on, thank goodness Keith (Matty Cardarople) returns to interview Steve and Robin for their shiny new gigs at the video store in Chapter 8. Close watchers will recall that this is a new stint for the laconic Keith who worked at The Palace, that video arcade where the kids hung out and played games like Dragon’s Lair and Dig Dug back in season 2. Will we get all of the Keith lines we deserve in season 4? Dare to dream. This guy’s good.