stranger things season 3 trailer breakdown

It’s the first day of spring, which means summer is right around the corner. And you know what that means: Stranger Things is back. The third season of the hit Netflix series just debuted its official trailer, giving us a glimpse of a summer of big changes for the kids of Hawkins, Indiana. Aside from the obvious first trappings of puberty, the gang’s dynamic is shifting as romance is in the air and fireworks are flying. But greater changes are afoot in Hawkins, as a new morally corrupt Mayor Kline (Cary Elwes) takes office and opens the new Starcourt Mall, all the while strange disappearances begin to take place.

We try to unpack what this all means and more in our Stranger Things season 3 trailer breakdown. Let’s dive in.

First thing’s first: Yertle the Turtle is alive! The fate of Dustin’s (Gaten Matarazzo) turtle was left up in the air after he committed the first of his series of bad decisions in season 2 by adopting a Dema-slug, Dart, and placing it in his turtle tank. “Sorry, Yertle, temporary eviction,” Dustin said while placing the unwitting turtle on the floor of his bedroom. But while Dustin’s poor cat Mews was killed by a fast-growing Dart, it seems that Yertle escaped its wrath. Thank goodness.

Dustin seems dejected that no one remembered he was returning home (perhaps from camp?). But it turns out his friends are lying in wait, with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) using her powers to manipulate Dustin’s toys and lead him into his living room where the gang sneaks up behind him armed with celebratory signs and party horns. Unfortunately for Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin is armed with rat spray. Maybe telepathic pranks aren’t the best idea for these kids after what they’ve been through.

But that mishap with the surprise party seems to have been quickly forgotten as the kids set off to build…something. But the important thing is this project seems like it is for fun instead of for some life-threatening event, which is a nice change.

It looks like Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are applying for jobs at The Hawkins Post, inspired perhaps by their investigation into the U.S. government cover-up of Barb’s death last year. Which is definitely a better summer job than Steve’s (Joe Keery).

Look at Jim Hopper (David Harbour) all dressed up (badly) and ready for a date. Jopper fans can rejoice, because it looks like the sexual tension between Hopper and Joyce is becoming a full-fledged romance. Or is it?

Oh no! Judging by Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) guilty expression and the fork in her hand, it looks like she stood Hopper up. Later on in the trailer we get a hint why: Joyce seems intent on leaving Hawkins — which is no wonder after her son was kidnapped by a supernatural monster and her boyfriend Bob (Sean Astin) was killed by one. “It is important to me that you feel safe,” Hopper tells Joyce later in the trailer. “I want you to feel like this can still be your home.” But she doesn’t seem convinced.

Mike (Finn Wolfhard) was hit the hardest by puberty so it makes sense that he’ll get the most obnoxious speech about growing up. “We’re not kids anymore,” he lectures someone, presumably either Dustin or Will. “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?”

Poor Dustin looks like he’s still getting left out, especially after everyone in his group — apart from Will — has found romance. Lucas and Max (Sadie Sink) have paired off after that cute peck at the end of season 2, while Mike and Eleven are still obsessed with each other.

Another season, another year of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) being tortured. Except this time it’s hopefully just the emotional torture of growing up, and not supernatural forces coming back to haunt him again. But Will seems to be taking the changing dynamic of the group harder than Dustin — standing in the rain, looking somberly at pictures of gang. Could the Upside Down be at work on this poor boy’s mind again?

Speaking of Dustin, he’s still got a best friend in Steve, who has the typical ’80s teen summer job of working at a mall. His coworker is an “alternative girl” named Robin (Maya Hawke) who watches bemusedly as Steve and Dustin perform a fantastic secret handshake. But, let’s just stop and appreciate Steve in a sailor outfit with a cap that says “Ahoy” for a minute. The only downside is that the cap hides his fabulous hair. This is what we’ve been waiting two years for.

Let’s go to the mall, today.

Mayor Kline has gotten the town riled up, with people looking a lot angrier than they should be over a mall. But that new mall looks like it is taking away business from downtown Hawkins, hence the angry chanting and signs. Support your local businesses!

A hitman at a carnival! This is something I didn’t expect to appear in Stranger Things 3, but there seem to be some sinister forces at work in Hawkins that aren’t just supernatural. Are there monster hunters in Hawkins now?

Speaking of the supernatural, it was only a matter of time before we had another brush with the Upside Down. Eleven either accidentally ventures there or gets dragged back in during one of her telepathy sessions, and we get another glimpse of that sinister red lightning.

This was a really cool shot that reminds you that Stranger Things established itself as a visually stunning pop culture phenomenon with just a black room, water and mirrors (and maybe a little inspiration from Under the Skin). But is Eleven’s smashing of the bathtub significant in any way? Who knows! But it sure looks great.

Eleven has more than one encounter in the Upside Down, this time getting dragged underwater by a mysterious force. It’s a shot we’ll see again with someone else in the trailer.

All right, you may have noticed that I’ve been avoiding shots of Dacre Montgomery‘s Billy, partially because I don’t like him, but because he serves no purpose in this trailer other than to be the hot school bully who got a job as a lifeguard at the community pool. But now, despite being on the outskirts of all the supernatural happenings before, it looks like Billy has gotten a taste of the Upside Down, with a strange tentacle-like lesion growing on his arm. Must be something in the chlorine.

*Cue Nerf Herder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song.*

Either the new Dema-monster or a new weapon is sending waves of electric shocks, sending what I’m guessing to be government agents inspecting it flying into the air.

Are you my mummy?

Erica (Priah Ferguson), Lucas’ sister, is springing into action! The synopsis for the season describes, “Lucas’ sister Erica discovers a mysterious new threat,” which could mean that this new threat emerges at the new mall, where we see Erica wearing this outfit — sans helmet — later in the trailer.

The gang is all back together, with one new member — Maya has gotten herself involved in the latest supernatural catastrophe to hit Hawkins, though she doesn’t appear to be very impressed by whatever has hit Jonathan on the head and shattered the glass in front of Eleven. And Lucas has his bandana on, which means that the group has already prepared to go into the fight. Too bad they didn’t warn Steve, because a bloodied face doesn’t match that sailor outfit.

Cary Elwes looks slick as all hell as Mayor Kline, and I could totally see why the people of Hawkins would drop everything and build a mall for him. Look at that suit! Look at that hair! As you wish, indeed.

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