“You let is us in…now you are going to have to let us stay,” the Mind Flayer whispers threateningly over the town of Hawkins, Indiana, where the ragtag team of four (five?) (six?) middle school best friends with an encyclopedic knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons and an impressive grasp of inter-dimensional physics gather in the Star Court Mall armed with slingshots and shotguns to defend the world from a terror unlike anything it had ever seen before.

While previous season 3 promotion promised sweet moments of summer romance and teen antics, with a hint of danger bubbling underneath, this final trailer comes out to say this is not all fun & games. Saving the world is serious business, especially when we know very little of the threat (other than its monstrous, all-consuming form). Personally, I adored the last trailer, which capitalized on the comedy/action/horror blending we’ve come to expect from Stranger Things, but this trailer offered what I feel perhaps has been lacking from the series recently — real stakes.

Season 1 had impressive stakes, but we knew it was only the beginning of a much larger journey and there were few casualties (except for Barb, RIP Barb). Season 2 had a grander final fight, yes, but didn’t feel any larger than the first season, and at no point did I truly fear for any of our gang. Maybe this was because the threat was extremely vague — yes, the Upside Down had made its way into our world, but what exactly does that mean? Eleven (yes, I know, Jane) seemed only to need to “close the gate” so more-or-less solve the problem, and she did so with relative ease (and with powers still incredibly undefined, despite her solo training trip). In both seasons, Eleven feels all-powerful, and it’s impossible to tell where her limits are.

In season 3, it seems, they are going to work a little harder to define her strength, as well as face real consequences for the threats of previous seasons. Not only does our antagonist have a name — the Mind Flayer (aka King Demogorgan), but also a consciousness, which the monster from the first season did not have. The Mind Flayer can speak, communicate goals (destroy the world!), and make decisions. We finally have our Big Bad of the series. It feels like this will be a real challenge, and we might not all make it out alive.

AND, if you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know that I’ve been wondering what the heck Billy is doing in this series… well, according to this new trailer he’s the new Host for the not-exactly-Demogorgan monster. Is he himself the Mind Flayer, or is he a possessed puppet? It’s too early to say.

Still yet to appear in a season 3 trailer is the lab rat crew from episode 8 of season 2. That episode led us to believe that they would be returning for the final showdown in season 3, like the X-Men joining the Avengers, but we’ve yet to see them so who knows if they’ll turn up (though I think they’d be of much more help than, say, Max, who forced herself into the mix in season 2).

All of this is to say that, for me, Stranger Things has always been the most mind-boggling, incomprehensible series that asks way more questions than it answers… but it’s also one of the most charming and compelling. I adore the series, the characters, the art direction, everything, so much so that the plot takes a serious backseat in my overall enjoyment of it. This is incredibly high praise because I’m a plot-oriented person, but somehow, Stranger Things has managed a feat unlike any I’ve ever seen before. There is simply nothing like it, despite how much it draws upon other pieces in various genres.

The fact is, nobody really knows what’s going on in this show. Nothing is explained, there’s virtually no rules, and yet, no one seems to care. Stranger Things has us all along for a wild, unpredictable ride that has no end in sight, which is perfectly ok because no one is looking to get off anytime soon.

I stand by my statement that season 3 has the potential to be the best season yet, likely due to its sweet spot mix of action and domestic moments, but also largely due to the fact that there simply is no expectation for the plot. There is little chance for people to be disappointed, so long as this final battle is bigger than the last.


Tell Us: What are you most looking forward to in the new season?