When we last left our favorite citizens of Hawkins, the Mind Flayer was pressing against the thin barrier that separated our world from the Upside Down. Stranger Things season three is looking to shatter that border and introduce a new, much more repulsive threat to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the gang, which is a real bummer because Hawkins just got a new mall complete with a smorgasbord of delicious food court offerings. The Duffer Brothers refuse to let these folks just enjoy the offerings of Scoops Ahoy by unleashing a new D & D inspired creature upon the peaceful summer of 1985.
As expected, the latest Stranger Things trailer offers plenty of nostalgia to get lost within, and a peek at a few new character dynamics that are developing amongst the core cast. We all want Hopper and Joyce to smooch, but government hitmen and interdimensional creatures just keep getting in the way. Sigh.
Oh gosh. I just want to talk about that beastie. What a gnarly and grotesque addition to a series that has already blessed us with the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer. Gimme more, more, more monsters. But before I get lost in that beautiful maw, let’s dig into the set-up for this new adventure.
We open, as all Stranger Things trailers should, with music. Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” welcomes Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) back to the warm embrace of his bedroom. Based on the uniform combo of a ballcap, shirt, and shorts sporting the brand Camp Know Where, we can assume that he’s spent the first chapter of summer vacation at some sort of computer retreat.
Dustin woefully laments to his turtle pal Yertle, “At least somebody’s happy I’m home.” He’s feeling a touch blue that his usual friends weren’t there to greet him with open arms.
Just before Dustin falls into a pit of despair, the remote control toys of his room come alive. As he follows the pied pipers out into the hall, he arms himself with a can of Farrah Fawcett industrial strength hairspray. This is the same product that Steve (Joe Keery) introduced to him last season. We get a quick pan across the faces of his friends and see that Eleven is controlling the toys using her special talent. Nosebleeds are no big deal to her at this point; she’s willing to put the stress on her mental faculties in service of a solid prank.
The gang sneaks up behind Dustin carrying a “Welcome Home” sign and scream their surprise to his unguarded back. Dustin naturally freaks. Prank victory!
Until Dustin whips around and sprays an entire load of Farrah Fawcett hairspray into the mouth and eyes of Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). Screams of surprise transform into screams of regret.
This is Dustin launching some preemptive revenge against Lucas as he’s apparently swept Max (Sadie Sink) off her feet. More on that later.
We move from Mötley Crüe to The Who as the Netflix Logo appears and “Baba O’Riley” transitions us into the actual plot of the third season. Still in his Camp Know Where attire, Dustin and crew begin their mission of communication with The Upside Down? Or maybe it’s just an overachieving science class experiment? Why else would they need this makeshift radio tower? Curious.
Inside The Hawkins Post, we see the disheartened pair of Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton). Last season they were determined to bust the Upside Down/Government conspiracy wide open, but there wouldn’t be much of a show if they convinced the outside world of the horrors happening within Hawkins. They need an adult ally. Hmmmm…hold that thought.
Bad boy Billy (Dacre Montgomery) struts his stuff as a lifeguard at the Hawkins pool. That ghastly mullet has all the ladies fooled.
We meet Hopper (David Harbour) waiting on a date who may never show. We all want Joyce (Winona Ryder) and him to live happily ever after, but the Duffers are trapped in a perpetual tease. Light up Hopper, enjoy the only bliss you’ll experience this evening.
Joyce at home. Picking away at a bland, blah, and boring TV dinner. She deserves better.
Mike (Finn Wolfhard) explains that they’re not kids anymore. Childhood is rapidly rushing away. There’s no room for innocence with Demogorgons and Mind Flayers on the loose. Dustin stands in the rain watching Max and Lucas dash off holding hands. Kid, romance will break your heart more often than mend it.
Inside Will’s room water drips down on his collection of season one and two photographs. Happier times? This latest adventure must travel to some seriously dark places for Will to already be nostalgic for that time he was trapped in the Upside Down. By the way, why is there so much water? Leaky roof? Or did he and his room just shift in dimensions?
Lucas may no longer be Dustin’s BFF, but at least he can still swing imaginary lightsabers with his teenage buddy Steve. A new mall has erected in Hawkins, and it’s become a lure for all the youth in town. Naturally, this is the 80s. Besides excellent job opportunities like Scoops Ahoy, the food court provides an excellent location for Max and Eleven to try out their Debbie Gibson hairbrush lip-synch routine. Nice to see those two getting closer.
Of course, not everyone is happy about the new mall. Here we see a mob of angry protesters picketing outside. Mom & Pop stores are threatened, and they blame Mayor Kline/Mayor Swine (Cary Elwes) for this corporate invasion. Based on the signage, we learn that the mall pretzels aren’t even that good. That’s super lame.
Along with the mall, the Hawkins Fair will provide a battleground for the kids. Here we see a stern-faced hitman stalking through a hall of mirrors. Who’s he chasing? Adult, child, or beast? In voiceover, we hear Hopper attempt to convince Joyce that Hawkins can still feel like home. He’s going to make it safe. Good luck with that.
Eleven stands on a beach, and a red lightning storm erupts overhead. The last time we saw an event like this was in the second season as the Mind Flayer was attempting to reach our side. Hawkins is not a coastal town. Could the kids travel far west or east, or does this ocean reside on the other side of The Upside Down? Or are they simpling visiting a lake?
Billy makes a startling discovery in the shower. He’s infected by the Upside Down. This monstrous presence will allow him to reveal his true self to the others, and it’s the perfect excuse to let out the beast we know him capable of becoming. Don’t expect him to make it out of this season fully intact, or even alive.
It appears that the Hawkins lab is back up and running. Scientists have constructed some sort of device that penetrates the Upside Down. Despite their My Bloody Valentine costumes, they are unguarded from the supernatural force. These dopes never learn.
The gang reunited, plus Robin (Maya Hawke) from Scoops Ahoy. They’ve just encountered something monstrous inside the mall after hours. Eleven is dripping blood from the nose as usual. They look stunned, but not terrified. Steve has a bloody left eye and his mean-face fixed. Robin appears nonplused. I don’t imagine they’re staring at an Upside Down beast.
Our first proper shot of Mayor Swine/Kline screaming “Happy Fourth of July” to the good folks of Hawkins. He’s got a real Murray Hamilton from Jaws vibe going here. He just wants his town to make money and keep him in office. The Upside Down will be a real disappointment for his political future.
Meet Bruce (Jake Busey), a reporter for the Hawkins Post. It doesn’t look like he’ll be the ally Nancy and Jonathan were hoping to recruit. He’s seen some bad business, and he is changed. Not for the better.
The hallway mirror assassin appears to have also glimpsed a threat more terrifying than what he signed up to handle. As “Baba O’Riley” reaches its climax, we are attacked by dozens of images. Intercutting between shots of smiles and screams we see a biological blob growing. What is it? Another Demogorgon? A baby Mind Flayer? Um…no…
It’s The Deadly Spawn!! Or at least his second cousin. Birthed from the body of bad boy Billy? Maybe. How is your Dungeons and Dragons knowledge? The season one and two beasts were named after creatures from the roleplaying game, so it’s a good bet that this toothy beast has a D&D handle as well. Is that a Su-Monster? The Orcus? Naw. Smart money says that this creature is the Tarrasque, a giant reptilian creepy crawly that only exists to consume flesh. So, yeah, basically The Deadly Spawn from the 1983 movie of the same name. If you haven’t seen that flick, it’s time for a rental.
As is the tradition with all modern movie trailers, you gotta end on a laugh. Pretend you didn’t just witness the most upsetting Stranger Things monster yet and let’s return to Scoops Ahoy where Robin questions Steve’s maturity level, “How many children are you friends with?”
Stranger Things Season 3 premiers on Netflix on July 4th.