Stranger Things Season 4 is right around the corner, which likely means many of us are re-watching the third season to prepare. And if you’re anything like me, by the time you get to the season finale, “Chapter 8: The Battle of Starcourt,” then you’re waiting in anticipation for Dustin and Suzie’s “Never Ending Story” duet. The number has over 68 million plays on Spotify, and this writer is likely responsible for at least a million of those.
Very few shows could pull off an absurdly unexpected musical number in the middle of its explosive season finale, and Stranger Things is one of those shows. And “Chapter 8: The Battle of Starcourt” is one of those finales where you find yourself clutching a pillow amid high stakes out of fear that something might happen to your favorite character and throwing your hands up in the air to sing at the top of your lungs.
Dustin and Suzie’s “Never Ending Story” duet evokes joy for a myriad of reasons, and one of them is the sheer fact that Gatten Matarazzo and Gabriella Pizzolo’s voices complement one another perfectly. It’s still so unbelievable how purely chaotic and great this song is!? They sound like kids, which is part of the reason why it’s entirely so wholesome.
But there’s also much to be said about the scenes pay off and the fact that it’s a moment that not only proves that Suzie is real but that she and Dustin do have something truly special. (Something, his friends, will obviously use against him as Max and Lucas do, but still.) For the season to begin with an episode titled “Suzie, Do You Copy?” and end with a duet like this, followed by delivering Planck’s constant and allowing the team to succeed makes the moment that much more riveting.
We could also pinpoint everyone’s reactions, which, in short, are a mood. When Hopper’s face turns into the human portrayal of the confused emoji and Joyce puts her head to the wall in disbelief? Iconic. The way Steve and Robin look at one another in sheer disbelief? Unparalleled. Priah Ferguson, as Erica, deserves an award for the instant shock she conveys sitting right beside Dustin as he sings the first note. But also, Ferguson deserves praise for all other expressions following.
This moment would have been a big ol’ — wtf moment on any other show. But on Stranger Things, it’s part of the charm. As viewers, it’s easy to care about these kids right from the start, but a scene like this heightens that compassion because it reminds us that these are the beats they’re missing out on in the midst of these battles. These loud, boisterous moments where they get to be kids and lose themselves in the fleeting beauty of young love.
After this profoundly wholesome moment ends, you think about the fact that most of their best years were spent running from monsters and experiencing more losses than gains. As viewers, we can understand that this is precisely why they hold onto their friendship with the fierce intensity they do, fighting and bickering about which road to take because it’s a sign of how ardently they care.
Dustin and Suzie’s “Never Ending Story” duet took us all by surprise when it first aired, but something happens when you allow yourself to bask in the pure joy it evokes. You bawl like a baby the second you start to understand that this is more than just a silly beat of joy in the middle of havoc. It’s a reminder of what they’re missing out on and the things they deserve to experience. And, in every sense of the word, it defines wholesome.