Spoliers Ahead for the end of Season 3!
It’s safe to say that Stranger Things has become a part of modern pop culture, and it’s no question why. College students relate to the characters due to specifically Nacy, Steve and Jonathan being roughly around the same age while older adults relate because of the recurring 80s references and nostalgia they bring. Some others like it for the remarks made about Dungeons and Dragons and even using allegories to monsters from the game’s lore. I like it for different reasons.
You are probably wondering why I’m only now doing an article about this when Season 3 was released back in July. Sure, I did binge it in one night upon initial release, but over this winter break, I finally decided to rewatch it for the second time without any distractions. And let me tell you—the finale had me bawling for the last half hour of the episode. It wasn’t like I forgot all the things that happened in the end, but I forgot how we got there: all the small details, minor words that really do have an impact in the moment.
Upon first watching, I don’t think I cried over Billy’s death. I think I was more shocked that he sacrificed himself for Eleven, but upon second viewing, I cried seeing Max’s reaction to her brother’s death. It was written and portrayed in Season 2 that these two characters don’t like each other but when it comes down to it, family is still family. This scene really struck me in the gut. That’s one thing this show does right: the writing.
Season 3 in particular was so well done when it came to writing and having the perfect balance of action/intense scenes and moments of downtime. The characters can actually talk to each other, and we see their thought processes. I became more analytical of the content I watched after seeing fifteen million videos about the mistakes of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Stranger Things did what that movie couldn’t—build a background for characters, which in turn gives us a motivation to care for them.
Due to the character development over the last 3 seasons, Hopper’s death was impactful and made me sob both times when I watched the scene. The writers carefully set up how to deactivate the machine and it was only briefly mentioned not to be on the other side of the glass when it’s turned off. If you’re not paying attention to hear the line, you’ll completely miss it. But fear not, everyone. I have a theory.
At the very end of the last episode, Eleven reads the actual letter from Hopper, and immediately following the conclusion of the monologue, “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel plays. Now, when I first watched this, I sobbed on command when that song kicked in. For those who don’t remember, this song was played when they found Will’s “body” back in Season 1, so the song is already packed with emotionally charged energy. But my theory involves the use of this song.
Never once in the show have they reused the same song once that wasn’t original soundtrack. This was the only instance where they’ve done that. We all knew that in the quarry, that wasn’t Will’s body, and they played that song as a musical cue. And they’re doing the same thing here with Hopper’s death although we don’t see a body. I have a feeling that they may be doing a musical foreshadowing, given when they used this song prior, and Hopper is alive and well in Russia, if you’ve seen the hidden clip at the end.
If you haven’t rewatched this season, I highly recommend it. You might pick up on some new ideas and thoughts, and maybe cry again and harder than the first time.