** Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things**
Every once in a while, a television program or film comes along that completely blows audiences away, not only due to an excellent script, or a compelling cast, or interesting characters, but to something much more — a creation that reaches out, pulls you into another world and feels effortlessly genius and original at the same time.
Stranger Things has received a lot of hype since it was released on Netflix, and it's entirely justified. One of its most alluring qualities is how a combination of original and well structured storytelling and likable characters pulls you into a world that is simultaneously terrifying and fuzzy with nostalgia.
While the climax of the first season is satisfying, it also raises endless questions. A hallmark of the ingenuity of the show is how deep we can delve looking for answers, entering our very own Upside Down world of theories and speculation. One of the biggest unanswered questions from the climax of the show centers around Chief Jim Hopper, and what happened in the month time lapse.
The Evolution Of Chief Jim Hopper
Hopper is a complex character. David Harbour's perfect portrayal carefully balances over-assertiveness with understanding, transforming Hopper from a roguish bully in the beginning, to fully fledged badass hero by the end. After entering the Upside Down world with Joyce and rescuing Will from the slimy tentacles of the demigod, he is then approach by the men in suits.
When we pick things up a month later, Hopper is still working for the police department but appears to hold knowledge of Eleven, leaving a conspicuous food parcel containing leftover Christmas dinner and Eggos. His actions occur despite us viewers believing we witnessed the telekinetic juvenile's demise in defeating the monster from the other world. So what's going on?
It's clear that Hopper's skill set has been seen as an advantage for the government that he was fighting opposite. When he's captured entering their compound, Hopper exercises his negotiation skills to get them to agree to release him, but it's clear that should they decide to, those responsible could have him killed. So it's likely that conversation resulted in a catch-22 situation.
But Hopper may have another motivation to work with the government and his own reasons for agreeing to work with them. While searching for Will, he says to Joyce: "You know what I would give for a chance," in reference to the fact his daughter had died. A theory on Reddit also suggests that his role with the government could be searching for alternate realities, having entered The Upside Down world and returned unscathed.
Is Hopper More Involved Than We Realize?
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Harbour's comments also seem to reflect this theory. In reference to where his character is left come the end of the series, he said:
"Whatever’s going on with the lab, Hopper’s involved a little more deeply than we realize. And part of that may be that he has some sort of understanding of this Upside Down world that other people don’t have."
This also ties in with the comments Hopper makes about his daughter. It's clear he'd do anything to for a chance to see her again, and perhaps his exploration of other possible realities could be with the motivation of finding an alternate reality where his daughter is still alive. Plus, it would explain why shots of his final moments with her were intercut with the scenes of him rescuing Will.
When it comes to the fate of Eleven, this is also something Hopper is privy to, probably due to his work with the Hawkins Laboratory. In the same interview, Harbour added:
"He may understand that Eleven exists in some form. And so he’s got this box out in the woods where he gives her food. But again, these are all questions that we will start to explore when we see where season two takes us."
Hopper's hands-on involvement with the government and The Upside Down world is the perfect tonic for Season 2 (which, let's face it, should get commissioned soon). As a character who evolved flawlessly across eight episodes, it'll be interesting to see where he goes next with more involvement in the supernatural, as well as his relationship with Eleven.
The final scene with Will suggests that the demogorgon, upon capturing him, has used his body as a host for further alien beings. If more monsters are set to be unleashed in Season 2, the civilians of Hawkins, Indiana couldn't have a better man than Hopper on their side.