Stranger Things 3 releases tomorrow, and I know I'm not the only one speculating about what will go down this summer in Hawkins, Indiana. While there is much to look forward to, here are five things I'm personally excited to see play out.
1) Joyce and Hopper
This potential romance has been hinted at since season one; I’ll admit, I was disappointed when it didn’t come to fruition in season 2, but the build up has been worth it. Plus, having THE original goonie, Sean Astin (Bob), as a brief but genuine romance in Joyce’s otherwise horrifyingly unfortunate love life was nice; too bad he became Demodog chow. The silver lining of Bob’s death is, of course, Joyce's sudden, if tragic, availability. And guess who’s there to pick up the pieces; good old Sheriff Hopper. At the end of season 2, we witness an endearing moment between the two while the kids are busy figuring out dancing and first kisses at the Snow Ball; they reminisce about sharing cigarettes between classes in high school and taking off running whenever they were caught. In the first trailer for season 3, we get a glimpse of Hopper seemingly waiting on someone for a dinner date; a someone we can only assume is Joyce, as the next clip is of her eating dinner by herself on the couch looking forlorn. Soon after a sound bite reveals Hopper potentially addressing Joyce and saying that “it’s important to me that you feel safe. I want you to feel that this can still be your home.” If they don’t become a thing by the end of season three, I'll be severely disappointed.
2) Lucas' Sassy Sister, Erica
Erica, Lucas’ little sister, was absolutely hilarious in season 2 with the constant trolling of her big brother and his friends. While Dustin is desperately trying to get a hold of Lucas via Walkie-talkie because of an emergency involving Dart, the upside down critter Dustin had been harboring, Erica answers his cries of help by telling him to shut up. Dustin tries to get Erics to cooperate, but is promptly jeered and dismissed. When asked to tell Lucas there is a code red, Erica responds with “I got a code for you instead, it’s called code shut-your-mouth.” Erica shines again when Lucas is getting his picture taken in his ghostbusters costume. “God, you are such a nerd. No wonder you only hang out with boys” she shoots off. “Erica!” Her mother warns. “Just the facts” she responds then mouths NERD in silence for her brother to see. If the Duffer Brothers weren’t already planning to give Erica a bigger role in the next season, the way she slayed those comical quips certainly landed her a more significant part in the epic concluding season, as her participation in promos suggests.
3) The Mind Flayer Speaks?
Okay, the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer, Demogorgon, and Demodogs are terrifying as it is, not to mention the creepy government conspiracy that essentially rules our protagonists’ lives. Another layer of terror appears to have been added for season 3, as the final trailer begins with ominous narration which, after watching the entire trailer, can be assumed to be the Mind Flayer. That’s right, the silent, sci-fi monster might potentially have a voice the tone and diction of which is eerily reminiscent of He Who Must Not Be Named; whether or not this is just a misleading combination of sound and visual used for promotional purposes remains to be seen, but it is clear that the danger is clearly not over for the Hawkins gang. The gate to the Upside Down was closed in season 2 but it seems the Mind Flayer has not only stayed behind, but also upgraded hosts from the meek Will to the aggressive and much larger Billy. One of the high points of the season will surely be seeing how the gang takes on this new and improved menace which now seems to be threatening more than just Hawkins, Indiana.
4) Billy and Mrs. Wheeler
Speaking of Billy, I hope y’all didn’t forget about the rather electric encounter between Billy and Mrs. Wheeler, Nancy and Mike’s mother, in season 2. I loved this moment for a number of reasons including the fact that it provides a great sense of relief in a high-tension episode where we finally get a bit of insight into why Billy is such a bully. The “Summer in Hawkins” teaser clip released in anticipation for season 3 suggests Billy and Mrs. Wheeler might pick up where they left off. Billy is a lifeguard for the summer and some of the neighborhood wives, including Mrs. Wheeler, take full advantage of it by making sure to lay out by the pool when Billy strolls in for his shift.
All the ladies perk up their chests and freeze in awe as Billy slow walks his way to the lifeguard stand to the tune of The Cars – “Moving in Stereo.” The thirsty ladies are hilarious despite the fact that they’re essentially lusting after a teenager.
But none is thirstier than Mrs. Wheeler who bites her lip as Billy approaches.; “Dig the new suit Mrs. Wheeler,” Billy says, to which she casually responds, “Thank you.” I, for one, am excited to see how far they take this dynamic before Billy becomes one with the Mind Flayer.
5) Will 008 (Kali) Return?
Our minds were blown in season 2 when we were introduced to Eleven's (Jane) lost sister 008 (Kali). Because both have special mental abilities, they were taken, imprisoned, and turned into experimental subjects as children. We know that Jane’s powers are the result of her mother participating in a covert operation called MKUltra in which the CIA conducted experiments using psychedelic drugs, abuse, and sleep and food deprivation on test subjects in order to develop mind-control techniques. After finding out she exists, Eleven takes off in search of Kali, the only person Eleven knows shares the same traumatic lived experience as her.
Kali, who can make people see what she wants them to see, gladly takes Jane in.
What ensues is a rip-roaring, Cherie Currie/Joan Jett Runaway’s style adventure during which the two sisters plan on exacting revenge on those who harmed them. Eleven stops short of murdering one of the men who tortured her mother upon realizing vengeance will only bring her down to his level, much to the chagrin of Kali who reminds Eleven that her friends can’t save her. That’s when Eleven delivers one of the characters' most defining lines: “No, but I can save them.” Right after this, Eleven takes off for Hawkins where her friends are in desperate need of her help. While a fun episode in an overall amazing season, Kali’s plot line has no resolution; for a subplot with such great potential, it is left wide open. Therefore, if they don’t bring Kali back in season 3, she will have been nothing more than a flashy side plot that functioned merely to get Eleven to realize where her true home and what her true purpose is.
Of course, this is all speculation based on previous seasons, teasers, and trailers. Whether or not my predictions pan out is not important. What’s important is that Stranger Things is back tomorrow July 4th to clarify lingering questions and go out with an epic BANG worthy of the show that reawakened everyone’s inner child by reminding them that things are never as banal as they seem.
Who knows, maybe Barb will make an appearance.
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