Audiences are preparing to return to both the town of Hawkins and the Upside Down as Season 4 of Stranger Things releases on Netflix on May 27. As fans are excited to see the return of El, Hopper, and the rest of the cast and crew it has been more than a minute since audiences got their fix of Stranger Things. Season 3 dropped all the way back in the summer of 2019, and before we dive into the newest season we revisit what happened last in Hawkins.
What happened in Season 3 of Stranger Things?
The last we saw of El and the rest of the crew, audiences were left with clues that noteworthy changes were on the horizon. All this followed the events of summer 1985, as we saw El (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Max (Sadie Sink) come of age in the midst of another attack from the Upside Down.
Will senses another threat on the horizon and his suspicions are proven true as the Mind Flayer returns once more, taking control over the citizens of Hawkins one by one. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy (Natalia Dwyer) investigate the strange events happening throughout Hawkins, which are the result of the Mind Flayer’s continuous possession of its citizens.
Eventually, the Mind Flayer gets its hands on Max’s brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery), growing more and more stronger with each citizen it takes possession of. The Mind Flayer’s continued strength eventually leads to a confrontation with El and the rest of the crew. Despite her capabilities, the Mind Flayer significantly injures El and causes her to gradually lose her powers, a struggle she endures over the course of the season.
Meanwhile, Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) find themselves unearthing a Russian conspiracy taking place in Hawkins. The two eventually discover that the Russians have their own goal of attempting to traverse into the Upside Down, and work with Murray Bauman (Brett Goldman) to infiltrate their headquarters located secretly underneath Starcourt Mall. While working at the mall during the summer, Steve (Joe Keery), and the newly introduced Robin (Maya Hawke) work with Dustin and Lucas’ sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) to unravel the Russian conspiracy and find themselves embroiled in the conflict.
Both plotlines eventually lead to the Battle at Starcourt Mall, with all the characters reunited once more. After battling the Mind Flayer, El uses what’s left of her powers to relinquish the monster’s control of Billy. Subsequently, Billy sacrifices himself to save the rest of the crew, who eventually work together to bring down the monster.
Underneath the mall, Hopper and Joyce make their way to the Russians’ headquarters and work to shut down their portal to the Upside Down. Before Joyce can deal the final blow, Hopper finds himself trapped on the other side of an energy field near the portal. Knowing that what must be done requires a sacrifice, Hopper gives the go-ahead for Joyce to close the portal, seemingly killing Hopper in the process.
By the conclusion of the season, months have passed and El’s powers have yet to return. Joyce takes custody of El and decides to move the Myers family out of Hawkins. In a tease for Season 4, we shift to a Russian prison where we see a Demogorgon in a cage and hear a reference to a prisoner called “The American,” potentially hinting that Hopper is not gone after all.