It is officially the Fourth of July.
You must be wondering why we are making such a big deal about another country’s Independence Day.
This has everything to do with us because ‘Stranger Things’ is back with Season 3
Now, we got a little lucky when Netflix invited us for their first ever screening in Malaysia
on Monday (1 July). To be more specific, we managed to catch a sneak preview of the much-awaited first episode
of ‘Stranger Things 3’!
Before we talk more about the first episode with as little spoilers as possible, it is very crucial that you do some homework on Season 1 and Season 2 since it has been about one and a half years since we last saw the Hawkins crew.
The beginning of ‘Stranger Things’
The Netflix original series took the world by storm after making its global debut back in 2016 and has turned into a pop culture phenomenon since then.
The brainchild of The Duffer Brothers, the show starring Millie Bobbie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, and more is a hit among young and older viewers alike.
The ‘Stranger Things’ wave led to another hit season in 2017, which continued the adventures with newer characters and an equally engrossing storyline.
In Season 1, we were introduced to the kids of Hawkins who had to face Upside Down and all its monstrous horror when a gate to this alternate dimension was opened.
The second season saw bigger terrors taking over the small town, like the Shadow Monster and demodogs, infecting the places with tunnels and vines underground. But at the end of the season, the gate to the Upside Down was closed.
Or so we thought.
Here’s where we left off
Warning: Season 1 and Season spoilers ahead.
About one year after Will’s disappearance and comeback, Season 2 is set around Halloween time in 1984. Everything seems normal as the crew hits back to biking around town and arcade games. However, it turns out that Will is not entirely out of his nightmare.
He has episodes where he has visions of the Shadow Monster with long limbs looming over Hawkins. In one episode, the monster possesses Will and infects him like a parasite, taking over his mind like a puppet.
The crew finally figures out how to get rid of the monster from within Will, by “burning” it out of him, as Will’s mother Joyce said, because the monster “likes it cold”.
El lives! While everyone thought that she vanished after battling the Demogorgon at the end of Season 1, she is now living with Hopper in a secluded cabin in the woods.
Despite being forced by Hopper to stay indoors at all times for her own safety, she runs away from the cabin because she can’t stand being away from Mike for so long. Another reason she wanted to get away was to find her birth mother, Terry Ives.
Dr Brenner had stolen Eleven away from Terry at birth and told her that the baby was born dead. She didn’t believe him and stormed into the lab one day to rescue her daughter, whom she referred to as Jane. Instead of getting her baby girl back, she received an electro shock therapy that damaged her brain instead.
Since then, Terry remains trapped in her mind and unresponsive to her surroundings.
After visiting her mother, Eleven finds her “sister” Kali, another girl who was also tortured in the same lab as she was and had powers of her own. Kali is part of a gang of misfits who wanted to use her powers to punish those responsible and convinces Eleven to do the same.
However, Eleven says no after sensing that her friends back home are in trouble. In the end, she uses her powers to close the gate to the Upside Down once and for all, trapping the Shadow Monster.
DUSTIN AND STEVE
The nerdy Dustin discovers a tadpole-like creature, which he affectionately names Dart. But his affection dwindles when his new pet grows into a mini Demogorgon (a.k.a. demodog) and ate his cat Mews.
As Dart continues transforming into a ferocious beast, Dustin struggles to contact his crew even with multiple S.O.S. calls. He bumps into Steve and recruits him to help tackle this Dart situation.
Now, who would have thought that these two would make the OTP (One True Pairing) in ‘Stranger Things’?
Speaking of Steve, he finds himself turning into quite a good babysitter, especially after breaking up with Nancy, who can’t live with the fact that they have to lie about Barb’s disappearance (read: death).
The now-heartbroken Steve with the perfect hair directs his focus into fighting the demodogs alongside Dustin and the kids, and discovers that he is actually quite a good babysitter.
Poor Mike wouldn’t know that Eleven is still alive until near the end of Season 2. So, to cope with the “loss” of his first love, he spends most of the time hiding in the basement of his home, attempting to reach her on the walkie-talkie.
Whenever he isn’t moping around calling for Eleven, he supports his best friend Will throughout the nightmarish episodes when the monster takes over Will’s mind, soul and body.
NANCY AND JONATHAN
We mentioned earlier that Nancy and Steve break up early in this season, partly related to her guilt towards Barb’s death. Nancy decides to follow her gut and find a way to reveal the truth.
She teams up with Jonathan and seeks advice from a local conspiracy theorist Murray. They end up releasing a secretly recorded tape of Dr Owens confessing to Barb’s death.
But instead of releasing the whole truth, they soften the facts and leak a story about how Barb was killed by toxins released by the Hawkins Lab and her death was covered up. This caused the lab to shut down.
Oh! Nancy and Jonathan also finally got in on during their time together on the road. Though it is still a blurry picture, we can pretty much confirm that the two are dating by the end of the season.
MAX AND BILLY
Max and Billy are two new characters introduced at the beginning of Season 2. It is clear that the step-siblings have a rocky relationship, with the bad big brother Billy constantly tormenting little skater girl Max, especially after she becomes part of the Hawkins crew.
As it turns out, Max slowly gets more comfortable with the gang after finding out about the events in town from the past year.
The second season ends with the Snow Ball at Hawkins Middle School, where love blooms in the air between Mike and Eleven, and the newest couple in town Lucas and Max.
But it is ‘Stranger Things’ after all, nothing ends on a good note per se. The ending shows an ominous image of the Shadow Monster looming over the school in the Upside Down.
Now, we’re all caught up with the first two seasons!
What’s in-store in Season 3
So, after the long wait, what is in it for the fans in the newest season?
We are now in 1985 Hawkins and the summer is heating up the time. While school is out, there is a brand new mall in town where everyone is hanging out.
The kids of Hawkins are now stepping into their teenage years as romance continues to blossom, which in turn complicates the group’s dynamic.
They now have to figure out how to grow up without growing apart from each other.
Meanwhile, danger is just around the corner as the town is threatened by enemies old and new. Eleven, Mike and the gang are reminded that evil never ends, it evolves.
Will they be able to survive another round of terror?
Why you need to watch it
After watching the first episode (at the cinema, may we add), it is safe to say that Season 3 is bound to be bigger, gorier and more violent than ever
. So, brace yourselves!
But it is not all horror and terror throughout the season. In the first episode alone, we see more humour than we have ever experienced in 'Stranger Things', which is a pleasant surprise.
Not only do we get to focus on the
teens without the distraction of school and classes, we see a more colourful season this time around as the series continues its 80s bonanza, fashion, music and everything.
It is no secret by now that the Shadow Monster is still lurking in Hawkins because Eleven didn’t destroy it the last time. All she did was close the gate to the Upside Down, but let's not blame her for that.
How does the evil get out again this time? Well, you will just have to watch to find out.
Since we only got a preview of first episode out of eight in Season 3, we will have a lot more ground to cover. But all we can say is: WATCH IT
‘Stranger Things 3’ premieres on Netflix today (4 July).