Breathe. Just breathe…
If you’re like me you’re heralding the return of Stranger Things Season 3 with more ancticpition than countries that achieve their independance.
It’s been called the ultimate love letter to the 80s, and it really is. Stranger Things takes some classic movie tropes, callbacks, and references and puts them altogether into an original story while still creating their own legacy. Among some of the classic things it references:
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Return of the Jedi
- The Karate Kid
- The Goonies
- The Lost Boys
This article will give a quick summary of the first two seasons of Stranger Things and a preview of what to expect from the third season – we’ll even go over a few theories and some predictions.
OK, grab your slingshot and your Eggo’s and let’s do this…
Stranger Things Season 1 Recap
So if you haven’t watched Stranger Things at all, here’s what I need you to do. Go out to your local hardware store and ask if they have any heavy-duty sized crowbars. Buy one, take it home and find a nice comfortable place to sit down. Now, I need you to SMASH your toes to a bloody pulp for not having watched this!
Just so we’re clear: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!
OK here’s what happens in the first season; It’s set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in 1983. A goverment agency has accidently opened up a rift into the “Upside Down” which is a mirror image of the real world. It’s an alternate dimension where various monster and creatures reside including the Demagorgan, which escapes.
At the same time, a kid named Will Byers goes missing. He has been kidnapped and taken to the Upside Down. Will has three friends named Mike, Lucas, and Dustin who are trying to find him along with his mother Joyce and the chief of police, Jim Hopper.
Also at the same time, a young girl with a shaved head has escaped the lab where she had been being used for psychokenetic experiments. On a rainy night – a la E.T. – the boys run into her and take her under their wing. She is branded with the number “11” and they begin to call her Eleven or Elle for short. Eleven is able to control things with her mind like Yoda which results in her nose dripping blood and her becoming very weak.
Will has an older brother named Jonathan who’s a bit of an outcast and is tormented by the school jock, Steve Harrington. Steve is dating Mike’s older sister Nancy who has a best friend named Barb who has also disappeared to the Upside Down – Barb doesn’t make it.
The first series culminates with Will being rescued from the Upside Down and Eleven destroying the Demagorgan which sucks her into the Upside Down too. We’re left with Will showing signs that he’s still infected with something and Jim Hopper leaving Eggo’s in the woods which happen to be Eleven’s favorite food….
Stranger Things Season 2 Recap
Do you remember when the surprise teaser trailer for season 2 debuted during the Superbowl? I do, becuase I nearly passed out. The first season was an instant classic and caught everyone off guard, including Netflix it seems. They put very little money into the show and advertising it, and the strength of the show was built on word of mouth.
So, as usual, how do you follow up a monster hit with a sequal? This is a plague that any big franchise faces becuase you have to avoid doing a rehash of the first season, but still stay true to the roots. It’s a difficult balancing act as the novelty factor is gone but I think season 2 did a good job.
The second season has new a new creature and new characters. This time we’re dealing with the Mind Flayer which is terrorizing Will and eventually, all of Hawkins. We now have Bob, Joyce’s new boyfriend plaid by nostalgia staple Sean Astin. We have a new girl thrown into the mix named Max which is kind of a love interest and her evil step-brother BIlly who looks right out of the “Lost Boys”.
Will is possesed by the Mind Flayer in season 2 and is drawing underground maps of Hawkins. There are “demodogs” which are traveling through all of these tunnels and causing choas. At the same time Dustin has discovered a small “pollywog” that he names Dart.
Where is Eleven in all this? Turns out shes been holding up in the woods in a cabin owned by Jim Hopper. After the events of season 1, she escaped from the Upside Down and has been laying low with Hopper ever since.
It turns out there are other girls like Eleven and she journeys to meet them in a throwaway “backdoor pilot episode”. Ultamatley, Eleven is able to battle the Mind Flayer and send it back to the Upside Down though it nearly kills her. The end of the season teases that the Mind Flayer is still around though.
Since it’s so hard to recreate the magic of something you’re viewing for the first time, I think season 2 was still good. I didin’t love the way they brough back Eleven though as I thought it would have been better to have a more dramatic reveal with her esacping the Upside Down – she’s just kind of hanging around for quite a few episodes.
Stranger Things Season 3 Trailer Breakdown
So I imagine you’ve seen both the trailers but I think the first one really sets the tone of what to expect from the third season. I love that it’s set in the summer as it teases the idea of summer romance and more of a coming of age story; “one summer can change everything”.
This season looks a lot grander with way more production values. It also includes the new “Starcourt Mall” which was what was happening in the 80s as downtowns were fading away to these new “malls” (which are now fading away to Amazon). There’s a new mayor in town and it seems that there will be a connection to the Starcourt Mall and what I imagine is a government involvement regarding the Upside Down.
The mall appears to be a front to either study or harness the power that’s possible from the Upside Down. It’s hard to tell how much the people in power are aware of the Mind Flayer as Eleven remarks that the gate to the Upside Down didn’t close properly and “he got back out”.
I love the inclusion of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” aka “Teenage Wasteland” and, to me, I really think one of the main characters is going to kick the bucket this season. I think they need to have a huge moment like this to really cement the impact and future of the show. It seems pretty clear they are going to do at least another season, but probably two more.
Now that Avengers has set the modern standard of how characters can be eliminated – no matter how big they are – I think Stranger Things needs to follow suit and ax one of the main kids to really make a statement with this season.
New Characters For Season 3
There are a few new characters for this season including:
- Carey Elwes playing Mayor Kline was also in the “Princess Bride”
- Jake Busey plays Bruce – who I believe is named after the shark from Jaws – and he is a shifty reporter who works for the Hawkins Post.
- Francesca Reale plays lifeguard Heather which seems to have a significant role as episode 3 is entitled “The case of the missing lifeguard”.
- Maya Hawke (daughter of Ethan) plays Robin who works with Steve at the mall at the ice cream parlor “Scoops Ahoy” and she’s said to be “alternative girl” but it’s hard to see what role she’ll play in the season.
- Michael Park from Dear Evan Hanson voices the Mind Flayer which I didn’t realize was a thing so this will be interesting to see.
What Is The Connection With New Coke?
I FLIPPED OUT when I saw this in the second trailer as at the pool, Karen Wheeler (Nancy and Mike’s mom) is drinking a can of New Coke.
In case you’re unware of this here’s a quick history lesson on New Coke and why it’s so amazing to see it featured in season 3: Going into the 80s Coca-Cola was getting killed by Pepsi in the market place and they decided they needed a change. It was the 100th anniversary of Coke and they decided to introduce a whole new version of it with a new taste and formula.
They did a lot of testing and market research and many people said they liked the new flavor – but more as an ADDITION to the Coke lineup. Coke would abandon the old formula and released New Coke on April 23, 1985.
And people went nuts.
It’s not that they disliked New Coke but the problem was Coca-Cola had stopped making the original Coke altogether. They did not anticipate the nostalgia people had for it and amidst massive letter writing campaigns and 24/7 phone complaints they threw in the towel and stopped producing New Coke just 79 days after launching it.
They would then bring back the original Coke formula and rebrand it as “Coca-Cola Classic”. This has been considered one of the biggest marketing screw-ups in history and some question if this was the intent by Coke the whole time.
Either way, the inclusion of New Coke in season 3 is brilliant and Coca-Cola has launched a campaign to bring back the original New Coke formula for a limited time. This is such an amazing campaign to use a piece of history in a modern show that is set in the past, and then bring it back to the real world. You can order the limited edition New Coke on their website that comes with Stranger Things branded glass bottles too.
If you want the full – and amazing – story of New Coke, check out my blog I wrote all about it.
Theories For Season 3
Well, this is what the internet does – it speculates till the cows come home on what to expect any time a trailer drops. I used to be bigger into trying to find every secret and theory but it got to the point I didn’t want it to ruin the show or movie. I like to see the response afterwards to dissect and interpret what we have just seen.
Whether it’s a Marvel trailer or Stranger Things, producers are so deliberate now with what they reveal as they know it’s going to be dissected to kingdom come. A lot of the time now they are deliberately throwing people off by including scenes that won’t even appear in the final product.
I’m not sure if that’s the case here because a big theory – and so clearly shown in the trailer – is that Billy has become infected with something from the Upside Down and is in the process of turning into some sort of creature. It’s thought that the monster from the end of the first trailer is actually him after the full metamorphosis.
My opinion – and we’ll see how wrong I might be – is that they are so obviously showing this conclusion in the trailer that I don’t think this is going to end up being the case. I don’t think they would give away that much and the big appeal with Stranger Things is not knowing where it’s going to lead.
Here are a few other theories predicted for the season. If you don’t want the possibility of these being right, and it ruining the season going in, just skip ahead.
- As much as I didn’t think Billy is going to be fully infected there’s the case that anyone with a name starting with “B” doesn’t do so well aka Barb, and then Bob
- The Mind Flayer is going to start hijacking the minds of more and more of the town and turn them into various monsters
- The rats seen running into the steel mill will also be turned into an army of monsters for the Mind Flayer
- The Starcourt Mall is clearly the epicenter of the final battle a la “Dawn of the Dead” as indicated in the final episode titled: “The Battle of Starcourt”. It’s thought that the mall has been built over the old energy lab site. I’d say that’s a pretty good bet…
- The Mind Flayer is creating another alternate universe and is bringing people over from the real world to populate it
So that’s my Stranger Things Season 3 preview and I hope you’re as excited as I am. I love how they’ve moved the setting into the summertime and away from the typical fall/Halloween dynamic. I think they can take a new direction with the show as the characters are growing up and I think this season can push the maturity of not only them but of the whole series.
I also love that it’s set in 1985 which I think is the most pinnacle year of the decade and I wrote an article about 19 reasons why 1985 was the greatest year ever. There are now a few more big-time movies that are released in 1985 that they can reference including Back to the Future, The Goonies, Weird Science, and The Breakfast Club.
This might seem weird, but I’m hoping they don’t go overboard on the references just for nostalgia sake. As much as I love that, I think they established all that in the first and second season and I think they need to set more of their own legacy without having to rely on callbacks all the time.
But I do want to see some sort of Deloreon reference…
The production values looked even more ramped up for season 3 and it looks like the most work has been put into this season. The Duffer brothers had begun writing it back in 2016 before the second season had even premiered and it seems that the characters will be more fully developed and fleshed out than before. Like any form of entertainment, all the production in the world doesn’t mean a damn thing if the writing sucks – just ask anyone who watched the last season of Game of Thrones…
The cast has described Stranger Things Season 3 as “bigger, darker, scarier..”
And that’s exactly what I’m hoping for.