The final episode of Stranger Things brings a lot of very quick character development for Chief Hopper.
The character, who up to that point has been a heroic, if somewhat broken, crusader in the fight to uncover the mysteries that plagued his little town, suddenly turns a bit nasty, ratting out Eleven to her shadowy would-be captors, and making an unknown deal with some suspicious people in black suits at the end of the episode.
In Hopper’s mind, betraying Eleven is a small price to pay for achieving his goal of rescuing Will Byers, even if, let’s face it, he’s proven that he’s not exactly a nice guy.
David Harbour, who plays Hopper, still sees his arc as somewhat heroic. What’s more, he’s said that at the start of Season 2, Hopper is in a good place because he feels he’s saved the day. But all that’s about to change, as his arc this season will be a lot more murky:
“He’s a different man than he was in season one and he gets to go on a different arc. The first season he really sort of discovered why he was dead inside and like how he was finding his way out and he kind of came to life. And so in the second season, his arc is very different.”
“We start with a man who has sort of become heroic in a certain way, right? I mean he still has some of his stuff but he has gone on this heroic journey and now sort of the beginning of the [first] episode, we start examining the perils of what it is to be a hero or perhaps the fantasies that you have about yourself and the dangers of that. And that subtle arc takes him in a different direction which, I think, is equally satisfying but very, very different.”
Okay, sure, that’s great, Chief. You’ve found some semblance of personal redemption after rescuing Will Byers.
But let’s not forget, you betrayed Eleven. You spent an entire season finding out how horrid and crummy her life was, and you willingly made a deal with the devil that would have led to her return to a nightmare world of government probing.
Chief Hopper is not a hero, no matter how good he’s feeling about himself personally at the start of Season 2.
Perhaps this is what David Harbour is hinting at, though – that Hopper has convinced himself that everything is wonderful, and that he’s quickly going to fall from grace as he realizes that he’s made some very shady deals with the wrong people, and that he might not have entirely finished rescuing Will from the Upside Down after all.
The character definitely has room for more personal growth, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes.
One thing we definitely need to see, though, is an incredibly awkward seen where Hopper has to stand face to face with Eleven, as he apologizes for ratting her out and almost ruining her life forever.
It’d better be as cringeworthy as possible. Hopper shouldn’t be let off lightly for being an utter government tool.