Aptly titled ‘The Battle of Starcourt’, Episode 8 of the series sees most of the action focused in the mall or underneath it. Just like any other battle, it is explosive and there are heavy losses on both sides. The choice to launch this series on the Fourth of July makes sense from the narrative point of view since the final battle for the freedom of Hawkins, and humanity takes place on Independence Day. All throughout, this season has been a roller coaster of emotions and has seen a lot of character development and changes. It is unsurprising that the finale ties all this in and drives home the point that childhood is effectively over for everyone and neither the town of Hawkins nor the group is ever going to be the same again.
However, this one last battle they fight together, is a team effort through and through, especially with El mostly out of the action. As is characteristic of ‘Stranger Things’, the battle is crucially coordinated from three locations and they all have to come together to win the high stakes, that is the safety of the human race.
Okay, firstly, ‘Stranger Things’ Season 3 Episode 8 is almost 80 minutes long, so there is a lot to unpack here. Remember in the previous episode we saw that El’s leg was infected and that she might be benched for the final battle? Well, our worst fears come true when we realize that she has lost her powers and cannot fight. However, as the song associated with this show goes – we can all be heroes, just for one day. So everyone else gets into position and comes up with a plan to thwart the Russians, thus thwarting the monster from Upside Down.
By this time, of course, Hopper, Joyce, and Murray have joined up with the rest. These three go down to the Russian facility to destroy the key and shut the gates to the Upside Down. Dustin, Erica, Steve, and Robin go and man the radio tower Dustin set up to contact Suzie. They plan on using this to communicate with Hopper’s team and help them navigate the ducts of the facility so their mission is stealthy. The rest of the group are supposed to go with El to Murray’s place, so as to be off the radar of the murderous monster. However, this plan hits an immediate snag since Billy has disabled their vehicle, preventing a getaway, and is waiting outside for them. Thus, they are forced to retreat to the mall and are cooped up there when the monster attacks. Unarmed, and without El’s powers, the gang is defenseless. Since fighting is not an option, they decide to hide and flee at an appropriate time.
Hopper’s team does not seem to be doing too well either, since they lose their element of surprise almost immediately, after having to shoot four Russian soldiers, and we soon see that the Russian Terminator has arrived, tracking them. To top this off, they need a password to open the safe which has the two keys which can be used to shut down the machine trying to open the gate to the Upside Down. This password is the Planck’s Constant, but Murray gets it wrong, so they are in a jam.