"Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt" is the eighth and final episode of the third season of Stranger Things and the twenty-fifth episode overall. It premiered on July 4, 2019, along with the rest of the season.
As Joyce Byers, Murray Bauman and Jim Hopper drive to Starcourt Mall to find the kids, Eleven screams in pain as the piece of the Mind Flayer in her leg starts to move. Jonathan Byers grabs a knife from a nearby restaurant to cut open her wound with. Unable to take the pain of him trying to pull it out of her leg, Eleven rips the piece out with her powers, and an arriving Hopper smashes it under his boot. The kids who fought the Mind Flayer update the adults and the Starcourt group on recent events, and they agree they need to close the gate again to kill it. Bauman shows the group Alexei's blueprints of the Russian base, but Erica Sinclair sarcastically warns him of the dozens of armed guards down below. Dustin Henderson recommends they use the ventilation ducts and offers to come with them to navigate, and instead offers to use Cerebro to help when Hopper refuses to take him back into the base. Dustin reconciles with Mike Wheeler, Will Byers and Lucas Sinclair over their recent distance from each other, and the Starcourt group takes Hopper's stolen car to Cerebro. Joyce says goodbye to Will and Hopper to Eleven, making her swear she will stay safe. He stops Mike as he leaves, telling him to be careful.
As the adults descend into the base, Nancy finds that her car has been tampered with, and the group sees Billy Hargrove has tracked them down and is waiting for them across the parking lot in his car. They hurry back inside. Guards are waiting for the adults as the elevator arrives, and Bauman distracts them with his fluency in Russian, allowing Hopper to gun them down. The car stops on the way up the hill, forcing them to hike the rest of the way. Mike attempts to call them, relaying their emergency of being trapped inside the mall. Jonathan notices the car model Eleven killed the Russians with, and realizes it may have the part they need to get Nancy's car working. Eleven attempts to flip it with her mind to no avail. The adults disguise themselves as Russians and Bauman slides into the ducts, guided by Dustin and Erica, who have reached Cerebro.
The kids flip the car and Jonathan and Nancy search it while Eleven tries and fails to crush a can of New Coke. Will's neck flares up and Max Mayfield sees the Mind Flayer walking on top of the mall's glass roof. It crashes into the mall just as Jonathan finds the car part. The Russian enters the base as Hopper expresses anxiety over the kids' safety. Joyce reminisces with him over their recent adventure, and expresses doubt when he mentions her plan to move. She invites him to dinner with her at the place he was stood up at should they survive. As Dustin and Erica continue to guide Bauman, Steve Harrington notices the lights at the mall going haywire. Dustin frantically calls the others, only for Mike's Supercom to be tossed aside by the Mind Flayer as the group hides from it. Dustin gives Steve and Robin Buckley his Supercom and the teens leave to go rescue the mall group. Max, Mike and Eleven try to escape through a back entrance, but the Mind Flayer hears them and gives chase. Lucas saves them from being caught by distracting it with his Wrist Rocket, and Lucas, Nancy, Will and Jonathan lure it out of the mall and away from the trio.
Bauman arrives at his destination and distracts the Russians by remotely disarming the Key. Joyce and Hopper arrive at the safe that holds the shutdown keys, but finds Alexei's code does not work. As Dustin listens to them argue over Planck's constant, the number needed to unlock the safe, he suddenly begins changing stations on Cerebro's controls. As Jonathan tries to start the car and Billy drives towards them at a high speed, Nancy tries to shoot him. Steve saves them by ramming his car into Billy's. The Mind Flayer follows the group outside, and Steve and Robin flee with the rest. In Salt Lake City, Utah, Dustin's girlfriend Suzie receives his call. He asks her about Planck's constant, but not understanding the direness of the situation, she is more concerned with him not calling her for a week. Needing to satisfy her, Dustin reluctantly duets the theme from The Neverending Story with her as his friends listen in, and she gives him the number, which unlocks the safe. Billy stumbles out of his burning car and notices Mike, Max and Eleven trying to leave the mall, chasing them back inside. Realizing Eleven is not with the others, the Mind Flayer turns around and heads back towards Starcourt.
Billy corners the kids and Max tries to bring him back to himself with personal details, which fails. He swiftly knocks out the kids and carries Eleven back to the food court. He tells her to "try and stay very still," the same thing he told other Flayed before they were turned. The Mind Flayer returns to the mall and prepares to turn Eleven, but is stopped by Lucas' fireworks, thrown by the returning kids. The Russian attacks Hopper and Joyce before they can turn the keys, and Hopper fights back, their brawl going outside the safety of the control room and next to the Key, where Hopper kills him by throwing him into the machinery. Meanwhile, Max and Mike come to and catch up with Billy and Eleven. To bring Billy back, Eleven reminds him of memories she saw of him with his mother. He sacrifices himself to keep her alive, letting the Mind Flayer impale him with its tendrils. The machine malfunctions because of the Russian's body, trapping Hopper with it as Joyce uses a scrap of cloth to rig the keys and pull them at the same time. She stares desperately at Hopper, and he nods for her to destroy the Key. She reluctantly does, closing the gate while squeezing her eyes shut. When she opens them again, Hopper has vanished. The Mind Flayer collapses and dies.
Billy apologizes to Max and dies from his injuries. Bauman and a distraught Joyce flee into the ducts as more Russians arrive, and Dustin and Erica watch in awe as military helicopters converge on Hawkins. Sam Owens leads dozens of soldiers into Starcourt, and they rescue Joyce and Bauman. Joyce and Will reunite in front of the burning mall, and she weeps when she locks eyes with Eleven, who realizes Hopper is dead.
Three months later, the burning of Starcourt becomes a national sensation, and the deaths of the Flayed are blamed on it, as well as Hopper, who is decorated as a hero. Larry Kline is arrested for his various abuses of power. Steve and Robin gets jobs at a Family Video store under Keith. The Byers family and Eleven, now living with them, are finishing packing up their things with the help of their friends to move to California. Max and Lucas tease Dustin by incessantly singing the theme from The Neverending Story while Will donates his Dungeons & Dragons board, insisting to Mike that he could never join another group's party. Dustin and Lucas give Erica her own board. Jonathan and Nancy tearfully prepare to end their relationship while Eleven again attempts to use her powers. She and Mike make plans to meet at Thanksgiving, and she reveals she heard him say he loves her at the cabin, telling him she loves him too before they kiss. Joyce folds up Hopper's police coat and finds his speech for Eleven and Mike inside, which she gives to Eleven. In the speech, he thanks her for helping him love again and reminisces about the days when it was just them, but acknowledges that she is older and more mature, and finishes by referring to himself as her father and asking her to keep the door open three inches. A sobbing Eleven tells Joyce she is ready to leave as she finishes the letter, and the group says goodbye to each other before the Byers family and Eleven drive away. Mike takes one last look at the house before biking off with his friends.
In a mid-credit scene at a base in Kamchatka, Russia, a guard is stopped by his coworker from taking "the American" out of his cell. They instead take another prisoner out and lock him in a cage, where he is fed to a fully grown demogorgon.
- "Goldrush Two" by Yello - Steve, Robin, and Erica head out to the convertible.
- "Higher and Higher" by Jackie Wilson - When Steve is driving and Dustin is arguing with Erica about the existence of Suzie.
- "The Russian Nightingales" by The Red Army Choir - Hopper and Joyce sit in the Russian base and decide they make a good team.
- "Never Ending Story" by Limahl - Dustin and Suzie sing together over the Cerebro as everyone listens in, completely shocked.
- "Dirge" by S U R V I V E - Billy shields El from the monster, Joyce turns the switches.
- "When You See Me" by Hurricane Express - Steve and Robin apply for jobs at the video store.
- "Deep" by Peter Sandberg - El reads Hopper's letter for the "heart to heart" speech and gets emotional.
- "Heroes" by Peter Gabriel - Eleven, Will, Joyce, and Jonathan finish packing up the Byers house with their friends and move out.
- "Happy Screams" - Mike, Max and Jonathan describe the Flayed Monster.
- "Tammy" - Joyce requests Will to stay with Jonathan while Hopper tells Eleven she needs to be safe because the monster is after her.
- "What Did You Do to Him?" - As Jonathan notices the ignition cable to Nancy's car is gone Billy revs his engine.
- "Scoops Troop" - The scoops troop get stuck on their way to Cerebro as Mike tries to radio them.
- "Blueprints" - Murray craws his way through the air ducts.
- "Hopper Sneaks In" - Hopper and Joyce make their way to the vault.
- "Planck's Constant" - Hopper enters the security code; Nancy, Jonathan, Lucas and Will attempt to flee from the Mind Flayer; Billy is in pursuit of Eleven, Mike, and Max.
- "The Trees Are Moving" - Steve and Robin witness the Flayed Monster approaching after running their car into Billy’s; The monster returns to the mall after Billy takes Eleven.
- "Heather’s" - Hopper and Joyce are about to turn the keys before Grigori surprise attacks Hopper.
- "Seven Feet" - Eleven snaps Billy out of the Mind Flayer's control by reminding him of the memory he has of his mother at the beach.
- "Earth Song" - Joyce sees the remnants of the exploded machine, the kids embrace, the military comes in.
- "Aftermath" - Joyce hugs Will outside Starcourt Mall and El learns that Hopper is dead.
- "You're a Fighter" - Jonathan and Nancy hug and kiss goodbye in his room.
- "I Like Presents Too" - Mike and Eleven talk about their plans to visit each other.
- "The First I love You" - Eleven tells Mike she loves him too and they share a kiss.
- "Not Chinese Food" - Russian soldiers drag a prisoner from his cell.
- "The Upside Down" - The Demogorgon emerges.
|For this subject's gallery, see The Battle of Starcourt/Gallery.|
- On December 9, 2018, a teaser trailer for the third season was published across social media, listing the titles of the eight episodes, the final of which was "The Battle of Starcourt".
- This episode is the only one of all episodes of the series to feature a mid-credits scene. It also has the longest run-time out of all the episodes.
- The final scene of the Party watching the Byers and El leave is reminiscent of the finale episode of Season 2, where Mike, Steve, Lucas, Max and Dustin watch the others leave to end the Upside Down.
- Series composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein make cameo appearances in this episode as patrons at the Family Video store.
- The soundtrack "Heroes" by Peter Gabriel is played at the end of the episode when Eleven reads Hopper's "heart to heart" speech. The same soundtrack was also played at the end of "Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly" of the first season.
- In a social media post, it was revealed that a beach ball was used in set for filming the scenes of the Spider Monster.
- According to visual effects supervisor Paul Graff, the Duffer brothers originally planned to have the Mind Flayer's invasion at the Fun Fair, rather than the Starcourt Mall. The sequence would have been inspired by films like Godzilla and Jurassic Park. However, considering the amount of work the VFX team had to do, they decided it was more logical to shift the sequence to the mall.
- Originally, Dustin and Suzie duet song was "The Ent and the Entwife" from Lord of the Rings but it came out in 1997 so they change it to the The NeverEnding Story theme song.
- Both Billy Hargrove and Grigori are killed in this episode.
- This is the final episode in which Dacre Montgomery and Cara Buono are credited as main cast members.
Fate of Jim Hopper
- The alleged death of Jim Hopper in the episode became a huge point of discussion among fans, some of whom theorized that he could still be alive, claiming the "American" prisoner in the mid-credits scene to be a hint of his survival. The Duffer Brothers stated that the mid-credits scene was purposely intended to spark debate, mentioning it as a tease for the next season.
- "Instagram post"
- "'Stranger Things': Inside the action sequence you never saw and other VFX secrets of Season 3"
- "'Stranger Things': What's Next After That Deadly Season 3 Cliff-Hanger"The Hollywood Reporter. July 5, 2019.
- "Is (SPOILER) really dead? Duffer Brothers answer burning questions about Stranger Things 3 ending "EW. July 8, 2019.
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