Theory Thursday: Stranger Things: [Spoiler] is alive!

Welcome to the first “Theory Thursday” in which we discuss popular and not-so-popular theories surrounding our favorite TV shows. Today’s selection includes one I found on Twitter that is just absolute genius. It was created by mel @itsmelaxniee, so follow them please! Without further ado, let’s get into it.

As the title suggests, if you have NOT finished Stranger Things season 3, do not continue reading. This entire post is dedicated to exploring the very end of the season and what it could mean for season 4.

Overall, season 3 was a satisfying and great installment to the series. The pacing was on par, characters developed, and we even saw some character redemption for Billy (at the very end, but still). This season also saw the introduction of several new characters, and this seems to fit what the series did with season 2 (introducing Billy and Max). Alexei, the Russian, CHERRY-slurpee-loving scientist and the smarmy Mayor Larry Kline played by Cary Elwes. These two offered another layer to the show and its characters.

With the door to the Upside Down closed by Eleven in the season 2 finale, we find out that the Mind Flayer has actually been trapped outside with the Hawkins gang instead of back in the Upside Down. Setting our plot in motion, the three groups work to solve their own pieces of the Mind Flayer puzzle.

credit by yzapoo is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

This season followed our favorites in three distinct groups: Hopper and Joyce with Alexei and Murray Bauman, who we met in season 2, The “Scoops Troop” with Robin, Steve, Dustin, and Erica, and the rest of the gang with Mike, Eleven, Max, Lucas, and Will. For the majority of the season, these three groups stay completely separate from each other. It allows for a story with incredible pacing because it only shows each group for an allotted amount of time and builds suspense and anticipation. It’s also much more exciting when these three groups finally team up!

The season finale found Joyce, Hopper, and Bauman (R.I.P. ALEXEI, you cinnamon bun) deep under the StarCourt Mall trying to close the Upside Down for good. When Hopper is trapped between the machine and the entrance to the Upside Down itself, he gives Joyce one last look and nods. Viewers immediately know what this means. In order for Joyce to close the door, the machine will blow and kill everyone near it, including our favorite chief of police. When she does, the camera pans over to a group of Russians who have heard the alarms and ran to the machine, and we see the entire group killed instantly. We can then assume that Hopper died as well, but we never saw him get vaporized. In the aftermath, we see Eleven and Joyce share a knowing look and Eleven breaks down (us too, readers). The last few scenes show what the gang is up to three months later, with Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven (who we can guess was adopted by Joyce) all set to move away from Hawkins for a fresh start.

credit by yzapoo is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

During the credits, we are left with one last scene. At a Russian base, we see soldiers in some type of holding cell area. They grab a prisoner, and one of them heads to a closed cell when another says, “No. Not the American.” We are never shown who this American is. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from speculating.

Now, I refuse to believe Hopper is dead, and because my denial is so strong, I went online to see what others thought. Most guessed that the prisoner is Hopper who was somehow captured and taken after the blast. This is absolutely what I thought until I came across another theory.

According to this one Twitter user, Hopper isn’t dead, but he’s also NOT in the prison cell. The “American” inside the cell is Dr. Brenner. Remember him from season 1?

I wanted to feature this theory because it seems pretty airtight. Does it follow the cyclical writing style of the writers? Check. Is it the exact kind of fake-out to keep us guessing but still remain unpredictable? Check. Does it tug at our heartstrings? Double check.

Because of the storyline involving Hopper’s parenting skills with Eleven, it wouldn’t make sense for him to just die without any kind of resolution. And before you come at me with the heart-to-heart letter Hopper wrote, I’m convinced that’s just a placeholder until we get a face-to-face resolution.

Speaking of open storylines, we haven’t seen Dr. Brenner in a while. He played such a vital villain role in season 1, it would make sense to keep him in the loop and bring him back for season 4 to cap off his particular character. But in an interview with Entertainment Weekly published in September 2017, the Duffer Brothers announced that “Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the [Duffer] Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents . . . The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

With the way the stories have been set up in the past three seasons, plot fatigue could very easily set in past the fourth season. The plot lines would become predictable and therefore stale, not allowing for a more satisfying ending. Personally, I would be okay with a season 4 ending. Of course, I’d love for it to go on forever, but I know it would become harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas season after season.

What do you think? Does this theory sound credible? Is there another theory about season 4 or possibly season 5 that you’ve heard of?

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