**Warning – this article contains spoilers for Stranger Things 3**
If post-credits scenes in almost every superhero movie weren’t enough, they’re now coming to Netflix – or at least they are for the On-Demand service’s smash-hit Stranger Things, which ends its third season with a sneaky extra scene.
For those who didn’t check out as soon as the first credit rolled, we’ve dissected the shocking final moments of Stranger Things 3 below, but be warned; obviously we’ll be dealing with some MAJOR spoilers from the new series from the off, so if you haven’t watched the entire series yet we implore you to look away now.
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Honestly, it’s a code red! Look away now, or risk having your brain turned Upside-Down…
As the credits roll, drifting snowflakes gradually reveal the action has moved from Hawkins, Indiana back to the Russian tundra, making for a certain symmetry given that this series’ very first scene was set in a similar location.
Panning over a base in Kamchatka, Russia, we soon enter a building to find two Russian soldiers headed to the cells, hoping to select a prisoner for unknown circumstances.
“No. Not the American,” one guard tells another, and the pair move on to another cell to claim their victim.
Immediately, this moment will have pricked the ears of fans hoping for any hint at the fate of Jim Hopper (David Harbour), Hawkins’ heroic police chief who was apparently disintegrated when our heroes managed to destroy the Russian machinery and close the new gate to the Upside Down.
The last time we saw Hop he was trapped behind a wall of energy, tacitly giving Joyce (Winona Ryder) permission to sacrifice him to save everyone else – and then nothing. No death scene, no body. Sure, everybody else who was near the machine when it went up was turned into so much gory soup – but can we really say for sure that Hop was toast?
Well, maybe not. Like most viewers (probably) we can’t help but assume “The American” held in captivity is none other than Hopper himself, somehow spirited away from Hawkins and now under lock and key as revenge for all the trouble he caused the Russians.
Just how he could have gotten all the way to Kamchatka is a bit of a mystery, of course. Did he end up there after being pulled into the closing gate of the Upside Down, re-emerging where another entry had been attempted? Or was he just rugby-tackled offscreen and quickly dragged to a waiting biplane in the split-second before Joyce turned the keys and blew up the machine?
For now, these details – and whether “the American” and Hopper are indeed the same person – will remain a mystery. But that wasn’t the last revelation the post-credits scene had to show us anyway.
After dragging another desperate prisoner down a hallway and some shadowy staircases, the Russian guards fling their unlucky guest into another cage, bolting the door and cranking open a release hatch within as he begs for mercy.
Emerging from the shadows, the prisoner is confronted with none other than the Demogorgon (or a Demogorgon anyway), the unstoppable killing machine that was released from the Upside Down in season one and cut a bloody swathe through Hawkins before being destroyed by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).
While we saw smaller, dog-like versions of the monster in Stranger Things 2 (acting as servants of the telepathic villain The Mind Flayer), this is the proper, full size edition – and in the final moments of the season the Demogorgon opens its trademark face-petal mouth, emits an unholy screech and chows down on the unfortunate Russkie in its cage.
Now, all we have are questions. If they never quite managed to open the gate to the Upside Down, how did the Russians manage to get their hands on a Demogorgon? Did it slip through before the gate was fully closed again? And if that is the case, why transport it all the way to Russia just to keep it locked up?
A clue to all this comes earlier in the season, when Lucas’ sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) notes that a few cages in the facility underneath Starcourt mall are about the right size for a Demogorgon. In hindsight, the Russians may have been planning to catch their very own Demogorgon all along, possibly for military use or just experimentation.
Who knows? Maybe this was their motive for trying to get into the Upside Down in the first place after hearing rumours about the Demogorgon’s attacks back in 1983, and somehow they pulled off their mission despite Hopper and Joyce’s efforts.
Looking forward, it’s hard not to believe a returning Demogorgon will be anything but trouble for our heroes, even if it is on the other side of the world, and we’re sure we’ll see plenty more of this storyline in Stranger Things 4 (whenever that arrives).
And frankly we have to wonder – is it worth getting Hopper back from Russia if he brings a Demogorgon back with him?
(Er, yes, it totally still is. We miss him already).
Stranger Things 3 is streaming on Netflix now