Stranger Things season 3: The biggest WTF questions we want answered

Hawkins is full of loose ends but there's even more questions lurking far further from the city limits.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
5 min read

Ice scream.


Binge-watching the fantastic third season of Stranger Things over the July 4 holiday certainly was a wild ride and broke Netflix records, but now we've ended up here -- after the final credits rolled (after that post-credits scene) there's still plenty of loose ends. Season 3 certainly helped answer a few questions but it also threw up a bunch of new ones that beg to be answered in an eventual fourth season. Netflix need to leave our flayed minds hangin', just a little, right?

Who can wait that long though? With no season 4 release date on the horizon, you want answers now right? Once we got past the strong '80s vibes and sifted through all the subtle details you might have missed, we decided we want answers too. So let's head into the Upside Down together and dig deep into some of the big, big, WTF questions we still have.

Take note, it's all spoilers from this point on.


Let's jump straight to the final moments of the season 3 finale "The Battle of Starcourt".

Goodnight, sweet dad bod

Hopper gets the axe in the final episode as Joyce Byers blows up the "key" keeping the door to the Upside Down open. However, while we see members of the Russian facility get obliterated by the explosion, we don't see Hopper's fate. That leaves things conveniently well-placed for Hopper to return or to be found in the Upside Down. He's probably only wearing a towel, but if he's alive, we're happy.

Further evidence that he may have been transported to the Upside Down before being rezzed is a line during the post-credits scene in the final episode. Those credits show a complex in Kamchatka, Russia, a tiny peninsula north-east of Japan. Two Russian soldiers go to open a door but one of the soldiers says, "No. Not the American," and instead opens another steel door of a (soon-to-be-eaten) prisoner.

Is the American our old mate Hopper? And will he come hop, hop, hopping back to Hawkins? Who knows. But if he is being held in the complex, I'm worried that a stable diet of borscht will see him lose his immaculate dad bod.

Сверху вниз демон

Oh, and another thing about that Russian complex? It houses a freaking Demogorgon, the flower-teeth-faced monsters introduced in season 1. Thus, it appears our Russian comrades visiting Hawkins have some experience opening doors to the Upside Down. Seeing the Demogorgon crawl out of the dark suggests Hawkins isn't the only way in, meaning the world of Stranger Things is likely to get much, much bigger in season 4.


Sometimes I accidentally call it the Demo Gordon and imagine it gets really angry at bad restaurant owners.


Power >9000

Speaking of the world of Stranger Things: We've now seen a lot more than just Hawkins, Indiana with Russia entrenched as Upside Down-chasers. However, our first glimpse of the bigger universe came from a much-lambasted episode in season 2: "The Lost Sister".

In that episode, we see Eleven journey beyond the bounds of Hawkins and meet up with a handful of vagrants in Chicago, seeking out one of the girls she saw in the "rainbow room" -- the room she was held in at the Department of Energy pre-season 1. That girl, Kali, was the 8 to Eleven's... uh, 11 and we see early in season 2 that she has the same telekinetic abilities. 

On the flip, by the time season 3 is over, Eleven has completely lost her powers. Whether she's just been going too hard or she's hit superpower puberty, we're not sure.

Mum, please.

As a CNET Twitter follower pointed out to me after publication: What is going on with Karen Wheeler trying her luck with Billy, a freshly-turned-18-year-old that guards the pool? She's clearly frustrated by her relationship with Ted, as we keep getting reminded, but the Billy story line seems of little value by the time the credits roll -- even the fact that she bails on Billy pre-private "swimming lessons" has no real consequence besides giving us a dream-like sequence where Billy cracks her head into a wall. Kinda strange, this thing.

Turn it up to 11

That brings up an important point about Eleven's powers. The extent of her telekinetic abilities is still kind of a mystery, still, three seasons in. I have one particular question I need answered but I'm also interested to know what these powers are doing to El? They seem to be detrimental, considering every time she uses them she ends up with epistaxis. Is this meant to signify her brain being hurt? Her blood vessels working overtime and bursting? As a scientist I really need to understand how this thing is working.

Alas, we still don't really know -- we just know Eleven can practically rip things apart with her mind so play nice, Mike.


Hop, hop, hop.


Remote mines in the facility

Hawkins is -- apparently -- a place where super secret organizations think they can conduct their super secret activities without being discovered. Clearly, Hawkins is the complete opposite. In season 1, we see the Department of Energy is hiding children underneath Hawkins and eventually a whole portal to another world. They keep that secret fairly well until some meddling kids come of age.

With that pedigree in Hawkins, might be time to start putting in a few more safeguards if you're trying to run a facility you don't want anyone to know about. What kind of sub-standard security systems are the Russians operating though? They leave their secret spy facilities unguarded for huge periods of time and make them accessible, with no traps, via air ducts as part of the busiest mall in town? You're practically begging for a handful of inquisitive kids to drop down into the facility and find out all your secrets. This is Hawkins, man and these kids are one Great Dane away from a Mystery Machine.

Guard. Your. Spy. Stuff.

Watch this: Stranger Things season 3: Everything to know

Terminator Grigori

Alright, so the Russians have one super-powered guard with ridiculous strength. There were multiple times I expected him to turn to goo and just slink through a wall or something -- but he ended up biting the dust. However, he did seem to have strength that far exceeded the normal adult, Russian male. Was he created in a lab? Are there more super soldiers? Was he part Demogorgon?

The Bye-rs

Joyce packs up the family home in Hawkins and heads into the sunset with Jonathan, Will and Eleven. We're not sure where the Byers and their plus-one are headed right now. I guess there's a chance they end up in Chicago... wouldn't that be a handy way for El to get her powers back from the only other kid she's ever met with telekinesis? Yes? (Sign me up, Duffer Bros., I got this.)


Can't spell America without...


DM Erica

The MVP of season 3, Erica Sinclair, has the sass, smarts and sentence structure of a woman well beyond her years. At the end of the season, she's gifted a D&D set from the departing Byers and this seems particularly important. Perhaps Erica and her friendship circle will be the focus of season 4?

Is Billy hot or not?

Kidding. Obviously this one has been answered comprehensively.

Steve's hair

What will happen to it as we push deeper into the 1980s. What if we hit... the 1990s?

Oh god. I'm really keen for frosted tips Steve, baby!

See all the Stranger Things season 3 photos

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Update July 9, 5:50 p.m. PT: Additional WTF Q added