One would have to dig pretty deep into the upside down to find someone totally estranged from the Netflix phenomena that is Stranger Things. An ingenious concoction of heart-stopping horror alongside cosmic aesthetics and bubbly hilarity, it’s fair to say that ST is a headlining act of the streaming sensation that is sweeping the nation. Even more so then is how the interwebs imploded as soon as we were graced with the trailer for Season 3. Indeed, it’s only one week into existence and is already Netflix’s most viewed video with 22 million views, so it’s safe to assume that we can’t wait to get sucked into the Hawkins mayhem again.
What’s actually quite intriguing about the trailer is that, although it’s oozing with action and pasted with the characteristic neon backdrop, the nature of the season actually remains quite ambiguous. Yes, we have giant arachnid-looking monsters as a level up from the mind-flayer, Eleven pulling some even more impressive telekinetic hocus-pocus with the lighting and the beloved scooby-gang readying themselves for battle, but the emotional and personal stakes still remain enshrined in shadow. There is also, what sounds like, Mike’s voiceover critiquing the unknown about the fact that they (the kids) are no longer kids anymore; the days of blissfully winding away the hours playing Dungeons and Dragons in the basement beginning to fade far behind them. It seems then that this new season will really want to delve into the emotional repercussions of the past two seasons and see how this has affected the relationships between everyone, the coming-of-age element of the show coming more to the forefront alongside all the external monster-hunting banter.
It was incredibly encouraging to see how Eleven and Max seem to have become a firm duo in the trailer; playing together in one of their bedrooms, posing for a cheeky proto-insta snap and exploring the new department store together. It was incredibly irksome to see them at such loggerheads last season (especially over a boy of all things), so it was probably a wise move to make it clear that any issues are all water under the bridge from the very inception, rather than wasting any more time dancing around a reconciliation. It was additionally heartwarming to see how dear Steve seems to have thrown himself fully into his role as pseudo-parent to the kids – Dustin particularly – and that the show has allowed this relationship to flourish to make his character a pretty solid fan-favourite. The romance that was clearly trying to be emphasised was that of Mike and Eleven as we were thrown a fleeting kiss amidst the montage of snap shots towards the end of the trailer. However, it’s clear that we’ll also be exploring the relationship between Hopper and Joyce and whether that’ll be going anywhere in turn. As for Nancy and Johnathan, the only clear shot we have of this pairing is that of them sitting together – very tensely and formally dressed – within what looks like a waiting room. This could be anything from their school to perhaps a more prominent office, and since we also catch a shot of the extreme theorist Murray Bauman making a return, it’s possible that the duo may be going to new heights with their discoveries and consequential publicity. More justice for Barb anyone?
Moreover, it’ll be intriguing to see just how the writers plan to develop and possibly redeem the character of Billy Hargrove, a notorious womanizer and potential sister-beater. Admittedly we don’t see much of him in the trailer, but the little that we are enticed to is incredibly juicy. It seems like Billy may be starting the summer at the top as he struts his (ironic) lifeguard status around the pool, but the fact that we soon see him with black veins gushing up his arms whilst in the shower is more than enough to inform us that our resident bad-boy is about to end up in some scorching hot water. What isn’t made clear however is whether or not this means he’ll be teaming up with the rest of the gang in order to combat the oncoming alien evil – in fact, that might even be too easy and predictable. If the show were to be brave, we may bear witness to how whatever has infected him come to consume his body and soul – a bittersweet effect perhaps, if it turns out that it is Billy, bestialised, that is the threat everyone has to fight. It would certainly hammer home the emotional depth and darkness that was mentioned near the beginning of this article and which was horrifically established through the fate of Super Bob in season 2 – a truth about growing up, which is that you can’t save everyone. Indeed, this would be an impressive move for, though we can empathise with the appalling treatment Billy suffers at the hand of his dad, it would be a little too idealistic if he were to go a complete 180 degree turn of redemption. To see his demons come to life might be far more stimulating, especially if we also come to see what happens if and when he too decides to fight them eventually.
There’s so much more to unpack from the trailer, from the focus on the new cosmopolitan shopping centre and how it, much like the laboratory and the high school, seems like it will the next labyrinthian metropolis where the die-hard action of the climax will be taking place. Figures in gas marks being zapped by electricity seem indicative of more governmental intervention, so we’ve yet to see whose side these guys are going to be on. We also have our new leading femme Robin (whose chastisement of Steve’s super-cool handshake with Dustin was utterly uncalled for), who possibly poses as a new romantic interest for Steve and, going by the dynamic group shot of all the kids and teens grouped round a bloody-nosed Eleven, is clearly a new cog in the well-oiled supernatural machine.
As any new trailer should, this glimpse into Stranger Things leaves so much to be desired. The trailer gave us plenty to speculate on and have us as fired up as the night of the fourth of July. The madness can’t come soon enough – we’re all waiting for it to get stranger again.