Summer is so close we can already begin to smell the sunscreen and grilled hot dogs, but it won't be all fun and games for our favorite Demogorgon-fighting youngsters. On July 4, Stranger Things 3 will come to Netflix, and its first chaotic trailer promises plenty of changes and new nightmares. Here's everything we spotted in the new teaser and why it's giving us some major Ghostbusters and Alien vibes.
The opening is less about the "what"—a forlorn Dustin returns from summer camp and gets a surprise welcome from his friends—than the "how." Seeing a bunch of toys (that will be worth so much some day, so please keep them in good condition, Dustin!) moving on their own is terrifying in a town where horrible man-eating monsters are known to run rampant. That our minds first went there and not to the girl with telekinesis highlights how much terror lurks everywhere on the show, as does genuine comedy.
We then learn the central group is now firmly a co-ed pack of six, as they head out to set up some kind of contraption. It could be as simple as a weather-vane, but with Dustin in charge it could be something much weirder. Either way, we're sure it will play a role later in the season, when we see those alien red storm clouds forming.
Next, we see the boys' tight bond is beginning to break apart, as no one stays with Dustin after dark. Just like with Mike and Eleven earlier, we also see Lucas and Max are definitely an item as they hold hands, which is another reason the group is starting to fracture.
With Will and Dustin flying solo, will they become resentful of Eleven and Max's positions in the new group dynamic? A shot of a lonely Dustin points to this new arrangement not being what he wants, as we hear a sharp-tongued Mike say, "We're not kids anymore. I mean, what did you think? We were just going to sit in my basement all day and play games for the rest of our lives?"
Hey, calm down Mike. You've had a girlfriend for like a day and you live in a town of monsters. Maybe don't be so hard on your friends who have always been with you.
No wonder Will doesn't seem happy about the way things are now either, as he sadly looks at a photo of when the boys dressed up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween. Any time Will looks like this, we're worried. Hopefully for everyone's safety this is a personal struggle and not a sign of something demonic, especially after he seemed to be free of the Shadow Monster after season two.
We're sure he's fine... oh, oh wait, no. Here he is looking possessed.
Even if Will and/or Dustin are angry with their friends, it is doubtful that will impact the great new bond that has developed between the two girls, who we see hanging out multiple times. Eleven seems to finally be experiencing a normal childhood, filled with pre-teen '80s activities like listening to music, going to the exciting new mall, and taking glamour photos that are destined to become a popular poster.
An old friendship is also going strong, as we see Steve and Dustin nerding out together in front of Steve's co-worker Robin (played by new cast member Maya Hawke) at the mall ice cream shop. Robin's job at the mall and her appearance in a later shot indicates she will be caught up in the terrors to come.
A still-together (and well-dressed) Nancy and Jonathan appear to be at their local paper The Hawkins Post. Could they have another story they want to get out there? Or are they looking for work and that's why they're so dressed up? (Is there even a chance this editing is a misdirection and they are at City Hall to get married? Can't be ruled out.)
Since Jake Busey will be playing a morally questionable reporter this season, and this is the only shot of him from the trailer, we don't have a good feeling about whatever is happening with the local press.
As for the rest of the town, the new mall is not a hit with local business owners who are protesting its opening. (Special kudos to the sign that says, "The pretzels aren't even that good." It truly speaks to our own concerns in life.)
Is this civil unrest why Cary Elwes' Mayor Kline throws a huge Fourth of July fair?
Whatever the mayor hopes to accomplish with his carnival, we doubt he achieves it, as chaos caused by an unseen (or maybe just small—we'll get to it) force breaks out. It causes Chief Hooper, who we see bloodied at one point, to draw his gun during the event, where he is with Joyce Byers. Despite what appeared to be her skipping a date with him early in the trailer (Bob hasn't been gone all that long), we hear him tell her, "It is important to me that you feel safe. I want you to feel like this can still be your home."
I'm gonna need that shirt PRONTO.
The carnival is also when we see the return of Brett Gelman's non-skeptical private investigator, Murray Bauman. Did Jonathan and Nancy call him for help? Did he find something out? Or is he looking into something new? Also, where is his shirt?
Does Bauman's appearance have anything to do with the shadowy, scarred figure seen stalking around the trailer with a gun? Who or what does he work for? Is this a U.S. government official or a Russian spy trying to find the powerful secrets hidden in the town?
Is this the person who jabs a battered Steve with a needle, in one of the scariest shots from the trailer?
We know who might stop him: Lucas's little sister Erica, who gets her own full-fledged Die Hard moment.
Uh, that better be a Die Hard reference and not an Aliens one, cause we will NOT be happy. That's also why we don't want to see her going up against the group of masked men who seem to have a major malfunction with their massive, strange machine. It appears to send off a huge energy source, which ominously reminds us of how the Department of Energy's failed experiments brought monsters into the world in the first place.
The damage the machine causes to the humans in the room looks a lot like the red skies associated with the Shadow Monster in season two, which we also see when Eleven is on the beach.
We also see that same energy source burning that same black and red damage into a wall, and it looks and feels a lot like the opening of the Gate. Whatever this machine is and does it looks highly dangerous.
We know this season will have a Back to the Future element. Is that machine designed for time travel? No matter what it's designed for, it could accidentally re-open the Gate that was seemingly closed last season?
As for the season's monsters, both human and alien, they might be more connected than ever. First we see Billy heavily flirting with Mike's mom Mrs. Wheeler at the pool where he works as a lifeguard.
But it's someone else at the pool we're more worried about. Billy passes a fellow young lifeguard early in the trailer, and she also glances at his wonderful head of hair.
But later in the trailer we see her screaming as she is pulled under water as Billy watches.
Water has always played a major role on the show. Barb was pulled to the Upside Down via a pool, and Eleven transported into another dimension via a sensory deprivation tank. In season one, that included using an inflatable pool. The city's best way to beat the heat could be a new gate. We do see Eleven in an almost identical situation.
She also crashes through a tub on that same interdimensional plane.
Whatever is happening to Eleven this season it clearly makes her angry, as we see her unleash her incredible powers.
We see her in this same shirt falling through the other dimension. Is someone or something pulling her there against her will? Did she bring something back with her? The answer to these questions likely get at the heart of the season's main story.
At least we also got this nicer shot of her doing her powerful bloody-nose thing in front of some Eggo Waffles. This shows she has at least some control over what is happening.
But an opening to the Upside Down might not even be required to have monsters show up this year. In addition to the masked men who are injured by the machine, we also see Billy in the shower with a nightmarish infection in his arm.
THAT AIN'T GOOD.
Where do you go when you're sick? The hospital. Unfortunately that's where Jonathan sees the birth of a monster even more horrible than the Demogorgon.
Anyone else getting a Ghostbusters/Alien vibe? Could that actually be Billy who was infected with some Upside Down diseases that transformed him into a xenomorph-like beast? Or could it be one these two new dead-eyed characters, seen walking calmly like they are possessed?
Is there a plague in Hawkins turning people into incubators for Upside Down monsters? That might be a lot to read into this trailer, if not for the fact that it also shows us the great spreaders of disease themselves, rats.
Although they are only seen briefly, they are important enough they also made the season poster.
Season two ended with a lot of dead Demogorgons underground where rats could feast on them. What happens when a rat eats a monster from the Upside Down and then bites a human?
No matter what happens this year it's all leading to one very epic showdown at the mall, where all of the major young characters, seen bloodied and beaten, will do battle with the season's monsters, whether they be human, creature, or both.
Hawkins better get ready for fireworks and a whole lot more on July 4th.