(Warning: This post contains major spoilers for “Stranger Things 3” through the finale.)
“Stranger Things 3” was a season full of growing pains for Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the gang, as they learned about love and loss over their summer break. All while, you know, dealing with supernatural creatures and possessed people, which is par for the course at this point for the kids of Hawkins.
And in the end, the biggest pains came with the death of Jim Hopper (David Harbour), which led to Will (Noah Schnapp), Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), along with Eleven, moving away from their not-so-safe small town — leaving Mike, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) behind.
Wolfhard told TheWrap about how these gut punches affected both him and his character on the third season of the Duffer Brothers-created Netflix series, as Mike struggled first with his breakup/makeup with Eleven, and then with letting her go after her adopted father sacrificed himself so they could defeat the Mind Flayer and (for real) close the gate to the Upside Down.
“In a lot of ways through Season 3, a lot of the characters have grown and Mike has grown a lot this third season,” he said. “He learns a valuable lesson about friendship and not having control over situations and letting things just happen and that people will come and go in his life. Not that he’s never going to see [Eleven and Mike] again or anything. Like he says, he’ll see them soon at Thanksgiving, or whatever.”
“But I think it’s an interesting thing that if we get a Season 4, we can explore what Mike does,” Wolfhard continued. “Does he have to make new friends? Does he have to put himself out there? Does he have to do things he doesn’t necessarily want to do socially? We’ll see.”
Wolfhard told TheWrap that some of his favorite scenes this season were the ones he got to shoot with Brown, as their teen romance really brought out Mike’s “awkwardness.”
“I loved the stuff with Eleven in the grocery store aisle and we’re sitting down and I’m telling her about love and stuff,” he said. “And in that scene, I got to explore awkwardness and just be funny. That was fun. And it’s the first season where Mike got to flex that muscle and show that he’s a weird, funny, awkward dude. And the Duffers loved it and were like, ‘Just say more, say more.’ And so some of the stuff in that scene was improvised.”
Part of this comes from the fact that, as Finn puts it, “Mike and Eleven do not have a normal relationship.”
“Mike met her when she didn’t even know words,” he said. “And so there was a barrier there for a while and they are kind of just getting through that barrier.”
As for Hopper’s death, Wolfhard couldn’t tell us what that post-credits scene, which heavily implies “the American” that the Russians have in custody could be our dear chief, means — but he’s hoping for Hopper’s survival just as much as you are.
“This is gonna sound like Netflix has a gun to my head — but I honestly have no idea,” he said. “It definitely — we’ll see what’s gonna happen there. But I definitely think, hopefully as the seasons go along, hopefully, we’ll get the go-ahead for Season 4 so we can explore that. But it would be great if Hopper was alive! So we’ll see.”
Hopper’s demise wasn’t the only one that shook “Stranger Things” fans with the eight-episode third season, as Billy (Dacre Montgomery) ultimately died a hero, protecting Eleven from the Mind Flayer after being its villain by proxy all season. And while that death might have come as a shock to you, Wolfhard and the cast were prepared for Montgomery’s exit.
“We kind of knew from Season 2 that it wasn’t going to end well for Billy,” he said. “And so when we knew that, we kind of knew that coming into Season 3. I think everyone knew, and it’s what we talked about and knew that’s where we were going to end with the character. [The cast] knew in Season 2 that a character was going to die and everyone is kinda like, ‘Alright, well who is the worst? Who is the person that was not the best?’ And of all the main people in the cast, we realized it was Billy. And I thought it was such a moving last act for him.”
OK, let’s end on a lighter note here by asking Wolfhard what he thought of that surprise finale sequence in which Dustin and his girlfriend Suzie (who turns out to be real!) sing the theme from “The Neverending Story” while everyone listens via walkie talkie.
“We were all really excited because we love the idea of that scene and everyone wanted to be in on it,” he said. “And the idea that Dustin has like a beautiful singing voice was so funny to all of us and that he has this weird thing with his girlfriend, who ends up being real, it was just so much for the cast and the characters to handle. So we were all really into that scene.”