Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of Stranger Things. If you’ve yet to finish your binge, you might want to watch now, read later.
There’s no way, right? No freakin’ way could Stranger Things really have killed off David Harbour‘s beloved Chief Hopper in its Season 3 finale. That’s as unthinkable as Steve Harrington having a bad hair day!
That being the case, I’ve come up with a way — three ways, actually — that Hop could’ve survived the blast that destroyed the Russians’ interdimensional gate opener. I know — maybe I’m grasping at straws here. But if they’re straws that let me — all of us — imagine Hop pulling through to finally get to have dinner with Joyce at Enzo’s, I’m gonna grasp away. My theories:
1. Since neither we nor Joyce saw Hop blown to smithereens — you’ll recall, she shut her eyes and turned away as she turned the keys to set off the explosion — there’s a chance that he went from tearfully gazing at her to lying flat on the ground fast enough to avoid the full brunt of the blast. If he did, that all but guarantees that he’s “the American” that the Russkies have locked up in Kamchatka, does it not?
2. If Hop isn’t “the American,” perhaps the explosion knocked him through the gate to the Upside Down before it slammed shut. I know it seems like the detonation would have sent him flying in the opposite direction, but this is the Upside Down we’re talking about. If up is down and down, up, who’s to say that forward isn’t backwards? This would also explain why, as far as we know, his body was never recovered.
3. Hopper’s vanishing act is part of some plan that he and Owens concocted on the sly so that they could ensure that the Russians’ operation overseas is shut down without endangering El and Joyce. If the Russkies believed that Hop was a goner, they’d have no reason to go after his crush or his daughter to discourage his attempts to thwart them. And that sad smile that he flashed Joyce before the explosion did suggest that he might know something she didn’t — or it could have, anyway!
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