Netflix’s Stranger Things
Season 3: “Chapter Eight – The Battle of Starcourt”
Directed & Written
by The Duffer Brothers
* For a recap & review of Chapter Seven, “The Bite” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 premiere, click here.
Joyce (Winona Ryder), Murray (Brett Gelman), and Chief Jim (David Harbour) have picked up a transmission from the mall. In the food court, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is suffering with part of the Mind Flayer inside her. The friends aren’t sure what to do. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) takes charge, heating up a knife to do impromptu surgery. He cuts into the wound and reaches inside. He has to stop. El uses her power to rip the Flayed DNA from her body.
And after all this time, the WHOLE GANG is back together!
Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) catch up with what the cop and the others were doing, and vice versa. Everyone’s now up to date. Next, they’ve got to get into the vault where the key to turn off the machine is kept. “Commie Disneyland” it is not, and Erica (Priah Ferguson) schools the grownups on what’s going on, considering she and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) have been all over that place.
They’ll need Cerebro, and Steve gets to drive that nice car.
Good to see Joyce and Will (Noah Schnapp) together again, just as nice as it is to see Jim and El together. The Chief and our magic girl have grown so close. After losing his daughter, he’s got that void calling out in him. He loves El. He’s also learning to trust Mike (Finn Wolfhard) with her heart.
Outside, Nancy can’t start her mother’s car. It leaves them vulnerable to Flayed Billy (Dacre Montgomery), so they go back to the food court. They try looking for an ignition cable in the display car. El overexerts herself again. The kids get the car right side up again without her powers. She’s troubled, and hurting— both physically and emotionally.
Above the food court, the Mind Flayer appears and bursts through the glass.
Murray, Joyce, and Jim take the elevator. They’re confronted by Soviet guards and the journalist’s Russian skills don’t get them far. The Chief blasts the men away. The three slip themselves into Soviet uniform to get deeper inside. Up on the hill, Dustin and the “Scoops Troop” get to Cerebro. They’re able to make contact with “Bald Eagle“— Murray— , then “the Griswold Family” in the court. Everyone’s connected. Murray heads down into a hatch leaving Hooper and Joyce on another level to argue about their tough relationship. The two potential lovers work out a date, though.
The Flayer cuts communications. It has the kids trapped. Mike, Max (Sadie Sink), and El make a run for an exit. Down in the base, Murray’s at the breaker. In the court, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) distracts the Flayer with his slingshot. Him and the others have time to slip away. Alarms are going off all over the subterranean base. Joyce and Hopper get to where they have to enter the code— Planck’s constant. Murray thought he had it correct, but he’s wrong. Maybe science nerd Dustin can get it right. Or, he knows someone who can get it right for them.
Outside, Nancy stares down Billy while he drives full speed for them. She fires, unable to stop him. At that perfect moment comes Steve, crashing into Billy. Doesn’t change the fact the creature is on top of the Starcourt.
In Utah, Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo) is, indeed, quite real. She’s reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s first published novel, A Wizard of Earthsea. She hears a transmission over the radio from Dustin. Oh, sweet nerd love between Suzie Poo and Dusty Bun! Father Gore is so teary while writing this. Crazy cute. They sing a tune from The NeverEnding Story. After it’s done, Suzie offers the numbers for Planck’s constant. Joyce and Hopper grab the keys.
Max and the kids run from Flayed Billy. He overpowers them, taking a weakened El with him. In the base below, Jim and Joyce are about to turn the keys to close off the Upside Down when that big goddamn Russian shows up to kick their asses. The Chief ain’t gonna take it lying down.
In the food court, Flayed Billy takes El to his master. The Mind Flayer comes down to eat his prey. He’s surprised by the kids throwing the fireworks. This stops the monster, driving it back. El uses Billy’s childhood memories to stop him from sacrificing her to the Flayer— he sacrifices himself instead.
Joyce manages to turn both keys at once. Hopper tosses the Russian into the machine, getting trapped in the room. OH. MY. GOD. IS HOPPER DISINTEGRATED LIKE THE REST? (Could he maybe be trapped in the Upside Down instead? Let’s hold onto hope.)
With that, helicopters are swarming Hawkins.
Dr. Owens (Paul Resier) and American soldiers come down upon the Starcourt Mall.
“You just saved the world”
Three months later.
Robin and Steve are still buddies. They get a job at the local video shop. Dusty Bun continues to be teased by his loving friends about his singing. The Byers family are moving out of Hawkins, so it’s a bittersweet time for everyone— not much at all left for poor Joyce, now with Jim gone.
El isn’t only losing people, she’s losing her power. Mike reassures her they’ll return. El’s leaving with the Byers family. This gives the young dude a choice: to say what he feels, or leave it all unspoken. He bumbles around it.
So, El says it for him: “I love you, too.”
Joyce packs and finds the heart-to-heart note Jim wrote. She realises he never actually used it anyway. She gives to El. The girl sits alone and reads what her surrogate father wanted to tell her. She can see how much Jim cared, how deeply he came to love her.
“Remember the hurt.
The hurt is good.
It means you’re out of that cave.”
Season 3 was perfect! In every way. Emotional, intense, and weird. All the goods. No telling where things will go from here. There are plenty of places the story could move. Particularly with the final mid-credits moment in Kamchatka, Russia.
We witness more Soviet men go into a cell, dragging a prisoner into the basement. They put him in a cage and open a hatch to let a creature in. A familiar thing. Awfully similar to the Demogorgon. New and improved? Shiiiit. What about the mention of an American locked up? Hope for Hopper?