Much like a demogorgon breaching the barrier between dimensions, apropos of nothing, the first trailer for Stranger Things’ third season unexpectedly appeared today and while it easily could have been something slight and teaser-y, it’s actually quite dense with details about what to expect. Shocker: things are gonna get weird and gross.
The trailer’s opening fakeout is sweet, but it also gives you a bit of sense about how much time has past since Stranger Things’ second season.
Set in the summer of 1985, this season picks up just as Dustin’s returned from summer camp, and while the kids are still very close with one another, they’re also growing up, changing, and getting into new things. Of course, they’ve still got time to get together and build huge antenna meant too...help them pick up something?
It makes sense that after Nancy and Jonathan crossed paths with conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman in an attempt to expose the Hawkins National Laboratory during season two that the teens would consider getting into the journalism game in order to keep speaking truth to power. It seems that this season, the two of them are going to try getting jobs at the local paper, but given that they’re still just two kids whose only experience so far is running around hunting monsters, it’ll be interesting to see how seriously they’re taken.
Billy Hargrove, Max Mayfield’s jerk of a stepbrother, is back and being smarmy at the local pool (as he’s wont to be). While the group of girls checking Billy out don’t immediately seem all that important to Stranger Things’ story, there’s a quick flash of Billy in the showers later on with what seems to be something from the Upside Down growing inside of him, which suggests that anyone even considering trying to hook up with the guy is probably going to be in for a world of trouble. Use protection, folks.
Father of the year Jim Hopper is back and dressed very much like a single man of his time who’s trying his damnedest to be social, which is good for him because honestly, he doesn’t get out nearly enough.
Contrast Hopper’s attempt at getting out to Joyce Byers who’s chilling by herself at home, and it seems as if this new season’s going to follow as the show’s most important adults navigate the waters of being parents whose children are quickly growing up, and needing them less in their lives, meaning that the adults have some time to focus on themselves.
To the point about the Stranger Things kids growing up, they’re also pairing off in new ways that’ll likely challenge older friendship dynamics. We see that as the ambivalence Eleven once had towards Max is waning and the two girls are becoming closer, Max and Lucas are still dating, and the group as a whole is becoming less occupied with the kinds of playful, adventurous “kid” things Dustin wants to spend time on.
Stranger Things has always leaned heavily on the idea that even though Eleven’s the only kid with special powers, it’s the group’s connection that gives them the strength to fight off monsters, and so it makes sense that the show would return to the idea of that bond being put through the wringer. Also: even though everyone else has their personal drama’s going on, Dustin’s still got a friend in Steve, who’s got a swanky new job at a nautical-themed ice cream shop.
Stranger Things’ third season not only drops on July 4, but the date is seemingly a big part of the story being told. As Hawkins prepares for its celebrations of Independence Day, the town’s citizens are rallying against the mayor in what seems to be a campaign to protect Hawkins’ downtown area. There’s a lot of time spent on a Fourth of July fair being held in the town which, while presumably fun, also becomes the location of something odd going down involving a Hopper and a mysterious man with a gun in a mirrored maze.
Again, this is why it’s best to steer clear of Billy Hargrove.
Suffice to say that whatever strangeness that draws Eleven back to a place where there’s red lightning in the sky is also responsible for this nastiness growing in Billy’s arm. While it’s nice to see that the kids are going to get to spend some quality time at the mall, it’s much more interesting to see a group being electrocuted by whatever exploding thingamajig that is towards the end of the above gif. In all likelihood, these are yet more Hawkins scientists messing around with things they don’t fully understand, potentially plunging the town into chaos yet again.
Lucas’ sister Erica—doing her best John McClane impression, pre-1988's Die Hard, so maybe he got it from her?—is back! And so is private investigator Murray Bauman, but enough with all the fun and games—this is Stranger Things, which is to say that shit’s going down.
At some point during the season, Steve, Dustin, Erica, and newcomer Robin (Maya Hawke) venture off together to—judging by the shot of Erica—break into a facility in order to retrieve something they presumably aren’t meant to have. This shot being cut together with shots of rats running away from something, a maniacal man, a beam of light being shot into something, Hopper holding a gun, and Eleven sitting in a darkened grocery store points to more things from the Upside Down making their return.
And here’s one of the said things.
Clearly, this isn’t an Upside Down monster we’ve seen before and the fact that Nancy and Jonathan encounter it in what looks like a hospital suggests that whatever this thing is, it might actually have been a person at one point who was checked in for medical attention.
I really can’t stress this enough...but you’re going to really want to avoid Billy at all costs when Stranger Things returns on July 4.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.