You can’t always trust your heroes.
It’s a lesson that the kids of Stranger Things learn the hard way in the first season’s finale, when Chief Hopper sells out Eleven, giving her location to her shadowy enemies in exchange for a shot as saving Will Byers.
We see some of the repercussions of this at the end of the episode, with Hopper getting into a car with a bunch of guys in suits, to discuss what actor David Harbour calls a “cover-up”. Apparently, this will be an important thread going forward:
“There’s a bit of a cover-up kind of going on that Hopper is head of. We don’t need people to know about the interdimensional monster that was running around town. He’s also got the Barb thing. Barb was never found, so that’s addressed. And then he’s got this reemergence of Eleven, which he knows something about at the end of last season. There is some interaction on that front, in terms of his relationship with Eleven, and we see what that becomes in season two, which is very complex. Hopper is sort of pulled in a lot of different directions.”
“Pulled in a lot of different directions” is putting it mildly. Hopper working with the feds to lie to the people of Hawkins. It seems that the character is going to be veering dangerously towards becoming a full on antagonist for the series as a whole.
You know what? That’s a great idea.
Chief Hopper is one of the more complex characters in Stranger Things. When we meet him at the start of the first season, his life is a mess after the death of his own daughter, he’s slept his way through the vulnerable members of the community (such as the local librarian), and he regularly turns up to work the worse for wear after a long, lonely night, having decided that his job is ultimately fairly pointless.
Then, Will Byers goes missing, and Hopper kicks into gear, turning into a super investigative force of nature, before ultimately betraying Will’s friends out of an obsessive desire to save at least one kid.
Of course this guy should be a villain in season two! Of course he should think, the whole time, that he’s a hero, saving the day.
As Will gets sick and the rest of the town starts to suffer from the fallout of the first season, Hopper should be desperately trying to cling to the lie he’s been sold, as well as the lie he’s invented for himself, that he’s the guy who deserves all the credit for saving the day.
We don’t get enough tragic, complex villains in TV. Too often, antagonists are one-note “evil” people who exist only to cackle maniacally. Hopper is a great choice for a season villain, even if he’s only doing so under orders from a bigger bad, because we care about him and we don’t really want to see him making bad choices that are going to come back to bite him.
There will be a comeuppance, of course. Part of the fun of setting up a tragic character who’s absorbed by his own pride is watching everything he’s built tumble around him.
Chief Hopper needs to suffer for his actions. Cruel as this all sounds, it’ll make for the most satisfying story arc in Stranger Things season two if we see the rise and fall of this beloved fan character.
Besides, if Hopper thinks he can deny justice for Barb, he’s got another thing coming.