Stranger Things 4: Did Hopper survive the explosion?

STRANGER THINGS, David Harbour, (Season 4, aired May 27, 2022).  Phone.  : Netflix / Courtesy of Everett Collection

It’s been nearly three years since the third season of “Stranger Things” graced our televisions in July 2019, and after such a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the anticipation for the fourth episode couldn’t be higher. The action-packed season three finale left viewers on the edge of their seat when fan favorite Jim Hopper apparently died at the hidden Russian base beneath Starcourt Mall. With an end-credits scene featuring a new young Demogorgon and the reveal of American prisoners at another Russian facility (located in Russia, this time), the finale created as many questions as it answered.

Perhaps the most asked question in fans’ minds: Did Hopper die in the explosion or was he one of the American prisoners alluded to in the end credits scene?

Season four quickly answers that question for viewers. In the very first episode, Joyce receives a ransom note hidden inside a Russian doll that claims Hopper is alive, giving fans hope that everyone’s favorite overprotective dad might make a comeback. Episode 2’s intro quickly confirms that Hopper did survive, but how did he manage to escape that explosion? Joyce, Hopper, and Murray all figured out that if they were within range of the device when the kill failsafe was triggered, they would be instantly vaporized. Considering that Hopper was standing right next to the main core, how could he have had a chance of surviving?

In a flashback to when Joyce turned the keys to initiate the destruction of the device, we see a brief sequence of Hopper turning away from the observation deck (and Joyce) and sprinting up the scaffolding on along the core towards the crack that opens our world upside down. At first glance, it looks like he might be aiming for the crack itself. If he could slip into the Upside Down before the explosion went off, he would theoretically save himself. Risky, it’s true, because he could also find himself trapped there, but at least he would be alive.

At the end, Hopper jumps over the end of the railing, falling in a haze of smoke as the explosion finally goes off. For several moments, we remain to hold our breath to see the continuation. The camera descends to the ground below the scaffolding structure, where Hopper lies among the rubble and debris, very much alive. It looks like he ran, jumped and hit the bridge, apparently clearing enough space between himself and the explosion to survive.

That said, it’s worth mentioning that it’s still possible that Hopper could briefly return in Upside Down, though the episode doesn’t confirm it. But given that the explosion was supposed to be so powerful that it would vaporize anyone caught in the crossfire, just running away and surviving seems a bit impractical and too easy an explanation. It’s possible that Hopper took a brief detour into the Upside Down to survive the explosion, then emerged again before the rift was completely sealed.

Yes, Eleven sealed the crack at the end of season three, killing the Mind Flayer and all of his minions in the process, but “Stranger Things” never shied away from the reality that a gateway is never truly closed. .

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