It’s been over two weeks since Stranger Things season 3 hit Netflix. That’s two weeks for us to obsess over Chief Hopper’s (David Harbour) “death” (or kidnapping), idolize new character Robin (Maya Hawke), and quote all of Erica’s (Priah Ferguson) memorable lines. And thanks to Netflix’s Stranger Things podcast, Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3, we don’t have to wait years to find out more about each of them.
The pod’s second episode, out now on all podcast streaming platforms, gives fans a closer look into Maya’s creation, the Scoops Troop, Hopper’s final scene, and more. But if you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, EW rounded up all the biggest Easter egg reveals from the latest episode (and check out all the highlights from the first episode here).
1. Bringing Russians into the story this season as the main villains wasn’t meant to be topical.
“Back when I thought it was still a really outdated idea and a throwback idea, [now it’s] oddly topical but at the time it almost seemed borderline cheesy,” co-creator Matt Duffer says. “But we always loved the idea of Russians and then it became how do we interweave them and connect them to this mall. It just grew from there.”
Executive producer Shawn Levy reveals that they wanted to take a real-world fear and make it even more terrifying by combining it with the supernatural. “We’ve seen the Americans and now the Soviets trying to harness the power that seems to reside in the Upside Down through that gate,” Levy says. “We’ve seen both sides of the Cold War now try to tap into it and control it in order to weaponize it so it felt like a really compelling way to take a real-world fear, an actual authentic historical paranoia, and to mix it with a very specific sci-fi genre plot that is unique to Stranger Things.”
And bringing in the Russians as the villains this season also helped make the conflict more believable.
“We always struggled a little bit with the U.S. government as the bad guys because there’s only so many times you can punch and/or kill U.S. government or military personal before you get locked away in America,” Matt Duffer says with a laugh. “So in a sense, they were an easier human villain because we could do a lot more with them.”
2. Organizing the Scoops Troop was a risk that paid off.
The producers had no idea if the Scoops Troop, a.k.a. Steve (Joe Keery), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Robin, and Erica, would work. “Putting Steve Harrington with Erica Sinclair, that didn’t make sense on paper,” Levy says. “But then again, neither did Dustin and Steve. One of the great skills of the Duffers and the show is trying pairings that we’ve never done before and often bottling magic by the new dynamics that come up in these new pairings.”
3. It took Hawke a little bit of time before she knew who Robin was.
“I definitely had an experience filming it where I was really trying to figure out who Robin was and I was trying to be her and be as cool as she is,” Hawke says. “Then as filming went on, I realized that she could be as lame as I am and that she had the room within the story to really be a full human being with the potential to be vulnerable and to cry and to make mistakes and to have her jokes not land. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. As I loosened up and got more comfortable on set, she loosened up and got comfortable with Steve and the whole Scoops Troop.”
In fact, costume designer Amy Parris reveals that Hawke actually drew on Robin’s converse sneakers with the word “boobs” and a drawing of boobs. Parris didn’t know at the time about Robin’s sexuality but Hawke did that on purpose. Talk about a well-hidden Easter egg!
4. Increasing Erica’s screen time was also an unexpected choice, but added a layer of comedy to the action that felt exciting.
The young “sociopathic capitalist brilliant mind” is “like a Veep character,” according to the producers. And she really came into her own this season.
“The idea of placing her in the middle of the narrative and literally putting a young child with incredible attitude in the midst of a world-saving plotline, that is just such an inappropriate mash-up but it’s the perfect formula for comedy and for fun,” Levy says with a laugh.
5. Hopper doesn’t actually hate Mike (Finn Wolfhard).
Despite his repeated attempts to break up Mike and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Harbour explains that Hopper’s real issue is with losing his daughter as she grows up.
“It’s the reason why he goes on the journey that he goes on: he loves her and doesn’t understand how to be a good parent,” Harbour says. “The real issue that Hopper’s grappling with that you don’t really get to see … is change and time itself, which is the ultimate villain.”
6. Hopper’s final fight scene was inspired by the airplane sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“In the final script it basically just says, ‘they fight,’” Matt Duffer says of Hopper’s fight with Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko).
“There were so many takes we had fun with like, ‘Happy Fourth of July, you son of a … !’” Harbour adds.
And Hopper’s “death” was something that the Duffer Brothers had wanted for the character all series long. It just didn’t feel right until this season.
“We always talk about Empire Strikes Back, we always wanted to give him a darker ending, we always wanted to give him a Han Solo sacrifice moment,” Matt Duffer says. “It was emotional to shoot but it was really, really quick. David never asked for music but I think we did play some emotional music when we shot David’s final look at Winona.”
“There’s a tragedy there but there’s also a little bit of ‘it’s okay’ to Joyce,” co-creator and Matt’s brother Ross Duffer says. “There’s so much going on in his eyes and you can only script that so much.”
7. That after-credits scene is staying a mystery … for now.
We’ve all got theories on who “the American” is being held in the Russian bunker. And that’s exactly what the Stranger Things producers want: fans to theorize.
“I think you know I can’t say much about the after-credits scene,” Levy says. “Already we’re seeing such a flurry of theories and questions and hypotheses about what happened, what might happen next and we’re pretty thrilled to keep people guessing.”
Stranger Things season 3 is now streaming in full on Netflix. Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3 is produced by Netflix and Pineapple St. Media. You can listen to it here or on Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and wherever else podcasts are available.
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