“We’re not kids anymore,” says Mike, presumably to his best friend Will Byers. And it’s in this one line that the central tension of the Stranger Things season 3 is revealed: Grow up or get left behind (and possibly eaten by a Demogorgon).

This July, the world will make its long awaited returns to Hawkins, Indiana. But it might not be the same small town we know — as imminent threats from the Upside Down break through the surface and our motley crew of outcast kids reach their formative years, the stakes (and the world) suddenly become much grander.

From this trailer, Stranger Things once again proves that it’s the master of mixing dark and edgy material with the whimsical, nostalgic innocence that comes with being a kid. This trailer evokes images and memories of the true American summer, complete with bright outfits, summer camp, days spent wandering malls, carnival nights, and of course, summer romance, all playing out to the tune of that classic Who song belting “Out here in the fields… it’s only a teenage wasteland.”

But it’s not all fun and fancy-free in Hawkins — Will is still haunted by his trip to the other dimension, Hopper is still reeling from his discoveries in season 2, and Eleven (oh, excuse me, Jane…. nah, forget it. She’ll always be Eleven to me) is still battling what it means to be the savior of life as they know it, basically.


Chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) fear for the state of Hawkins and the world in Stranger Things season 3. Source: Netflix.

If season 2 felt like a misstep for some (myself included), I think that season 3 will put us back on the right track. Season 2 wasn’t a bad season of television, but it certainly asked more questions about the world building than it cared to answer. Season 3 may answer some of those questions.

It’s clear even just from this trailer that season 3 will be about growth for these characters, about discovering who they are and how to balance strengthening themselves as individuals and strengthening their friendship as a group. I’m really excited to see where the show takes these characters, especially because they’ve already set the stage for this development in season 2. Last season Steve got a lot of development and it was fantastic, and from this trailer we can see that he is coming even more into his own, owning his place as a member of the Hawkins crew and redefining himself after his failed relationship with Nancy. I’m looking forward to seeing even more of him in season 3.

I was skeptical last season about the role of Max and Billy in the series, and it seems that while Billy still remains a mystery, Max was actually a set up last season to give Eleven a female friend in season 3. This isn’t a bad idea and it means that we are going to see a ton of character development from Eleven, who has gone from escaped science experiment to Gothic X-Men member to classic 80’s tween. Who knows where she’ll actually end up.


Jane, a.k.a. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and Max (Sadie Sink) are peak ’80’s in bright prints and big smiles. Source: Netflix.

There’s a lot going on in this trailer, which feels like the characters are all being pulled in different directions, only to be dragged back together for another fight to save the world.

If this trailer is any representation of what the actual season is going to be like, I really think that Stranger Things 3 will be the best yet.

Stranger Things season 3 premieres on Netflix on July 4.