Stranger Things Season 3 ended on a very final-seeming note. After having her son Will disappear, losing her boyfriend Bob Newbie, and then losing her best friend Hopper, Joyce Byers packed up her house, her kids, and the now-orphaned Eleven and drove away from Hawkins for good. It was a breakup of the friendship circle that began with Season 1 and signaled an end to the group as fans knew them. But that wasn't the only radical change to happen. Sadie Sink's quotes about Max in Stranger Things Season 3 point out her character has undergone some severe emotional trauma as well.
The season finale's last scene, with the Byers moving far away, and Eleven packing up for a new life, focused all the attention on the loss of Hopper, and the separations of couples Jonathan and Nancy and Mike and Eleven.
But Hopper wasn't the only character who died in Season 3. Billy Hargrove also sacrificed himself during the Battle of Starcourt Mall. He did it partly to save Eleven. But it was also to redeem himself for all the bad things he did while under the Mindflayer's control. And worst of all, he died right in front of his stepsister, Max, after she had worked so hard to save him.
Billy and Max's relationship wasn't great. His father was an abusive creep, and Billy had grown up with serious anger issues. His racist attitudes towards Max's boyfriend Lucas were ugly. But at the end of Season 2, Max laid down the law, and Billy left her alone. Though Max didn't like Billy much, he was still her brother. She cared about him enough to feel brokenhearted when she realized he'd been possessed by the Mindflayer and was murdering townspeople. And his death hit her hard.
Which is why Sadie Sink, who plays Max, found her character's behavior in the series finale scene a little odd.
Speaking to TeenVogue, she said:
That scene with [Max] and Billy at the end…obviously, she’s just traumatized. But then it cuts to her three months later, and she’s singing and happy with Lucas. I remember reading that scene, and I was like, ‘What’s going on? Wait. Did she not…Did her brother not just die?’
But as Sink put it, she realized that Max has never been the kind of girl to let other people see what she's feeling.
I think it makes sense for her because that’s kind of as messed up as their relationship was. [Billy’s death] still really affects the dynamic within her family. But in true Max fashion, she’s not going to let anyone see how she’s really feeling at some points. You see her just pretending that everything’s fine when really, everything’s changed for her. She’s in a completely different emotional headspace.
If that's true, fans should be worried about Max. Repressed emotions have a way of coming out in the ugliest ways, at the worst times. And Hawkins has a track record of wreaking havoc when they do.
Netflix has not yet greenlit Stranger Things Season 4.