‘Stranger Things’ season 3 sees scientist Alexei 'Smirnoff' become pivotal ally and Hawkins hero
Touted to be a threat initially, all that Alexei was, was a good man who loves cherry-flavored Slurpees, burger king's burgers and Woody Woodpecker cartoons, except he was working for the wrong guys
This article contains spoilers for 'Stranger Things' season 3
Hawkins has a new enemy in 'Stranger Things' season 3. The events in 1983 and 84 seem to have triggered interest from the Russians as they decide to get in a batch of scientists to try and reopen the Upside Down. They try and do so after setting up a secret underground facility in Hawkins right under the newly opened Starcourt Mall, the town's latest attraction.
This attempt is spearheaded by a Russian scientist, Alexei Smirnoff played by Alec Utgoff (honestly, the credit for giving that second name goes to David Harbour's Jim Hopper). Alexei wasn’t the lead scientist, but when the Russians were testing the cannon that would open the portal, the experiment catastrophically backfired killing the scientist in charge. The military gives Alexei a year's time to perfect the technology again and the scientist lands up in Hawkins.
Meanwhile, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) and Hopper have managed to put two and two together and figure out there is something fishy with the energy sources in town. Their investigation leads them to Alexei, who is then kidnapped by Hopper. And since neither of them understands Russian, Alexei is taken to Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) to get him to translate.
Murray does a decent job with his bits and pieces Russian and later they understand he's talking about keys (basically openings) to the Upside Down in Russia, but as they failed, they are attempting to do the same in Hawkins as it has opened here before. They’re working on opening the portal because it is currently “healing” and that explains their idea to set up a facility under Starcourt.
That brings Alexei to Hawkins where Hopper then, naturally, kidnaps him. Hopper and Joyce (Winona Ryder) have figured out there’s something going on with the energy sources in town, and track one of them to an abandoned house with Alexei trying to repair a machine in the basement. Assuming he’s of some value since he knows what’s going on, Joyce and Hopper take Alexei to Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) to get him to translate.
While Murray is able to translate just about everything Alexei is saying, it’s unfortunately not word for word. Basically, what the Russian scientist conveys is that there used to be all sorts of “keys” (a.k.a. openings) to the Upside Down in Russia but none of them would actually open. So, the Russians came to Hawkins because they knew the key had already been opened once before. They’re in the process of trying to open it back up because it’s currently “healing” and that’s what they’re doing under the Starcourt Mall.
He eventually agrees to help Hopper and Co. turn off the cannon and while he hates Hopper, he still decides to help out as he bonds better with Murray. By the end of the season, it does appear that the scientist who loves cherry-flavored Slurpees, burger king's burgers and Woody Woodpecker cartoons, was really a good man working for the wrong guys. However, he never actually gets to see the mission through as he’s killed by a Russian agent during the Fourth of July fair.
Season 3 sees the heroes up against a formidable foe in the Mind Flayer, who returns as a more scarier, gorier version than in the second season. And a few lives were lost in the process. We see Billy die, Hopper presumed to have perished and a lot of innocent scientists, who are part of the mission for science, bite the dust.
And probably without Alexei, things would have taken a little longer to figure out or maybe not at all. So despite his short stint with the team, he's played a pivotal role. At the end of the series, when we look at all the characters who died, it feels a tad sad for Alexei. His chemistry with Murray was brilliant and the comedy was a much-needed respite when things were getting serious.
Well Alexei, Hawkins thanks you for your valuable help and Dasvidanya! And may your soul rest in peace.