One problem that could derail Stranger Things 3

STRANGER THINGS - Credit: Netflix
STRANGER THINGS - Credit: Netflix /

Stranger Things 3 is the biggest show of the summer, but there are some major changes happening in the new season. Not all of them will be good for our favorite characters.

Change is coming to Hawkins in Stranger Things 3, and that might be the only thing that could derail Stranger Things 3 when the new season premieres on Netflix on July 4.

The new season features a one-year time jump to the summer of 1985. Our favorite characters are getting older and growing up. And, that’s going to be on display in the new season.

When Stranger Things started, there were four in the party: Mike, Will, Lucas and Dustin. In the two years since the show started, Eleven and Max have joined the party. Clearly, this has changed the dynamic of the party already, and it wasn’t easy for some in the party. Think back to Lucas in season 1. And, those types of changes are only getting bigger as our young heroes grow up.

According to the Duffer Brothers, change and growing up will be a big theme in the season. Here’s what Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly about how growing up affects the season:

"“The season takes place during the last summer before high school. The kids are growing up, and that transition is going to be messy and awkward and painful. Are they able to grow up without growing apart?”"

While change is a good thing, too much change could cause major problems with fans in the new season, and that’s a fine line the Duffer Brothers will be walking in season 3.

Growing up is hard, as the Duffer Brothers referenced. Friends do grow apart, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing in real life. For a show like Stranger Things, with its foundation built on those bonds of friendship, family and sacrifice, the party growing apart could be a disaster.

The trailer for season 3 already teased some cracks within the party. In the trailer, we hear Mike’s voice:

"“I mean, what did you think? We’re going to sit in my basement all day? Play games for the rest of our lives?”"

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The next shot is Will, soaking wet and crying while looking at a picture of his friends from almost two years before. That doesn’t look good for Will moving forward, especially with all the trauma he’s dealt with in the last few years of his life.

This conflict of change could have some disastrous consequences within the group of friends. From the trailer, and from some of the second season, it already looks like Dustin could be an outcast from the group. He is still, from the giant antenna in the trailer and his summer camp gear, very interested in his science experiments and projects, and it’s clear that he still has a crush on Max. We see him reacting with a frown as Lucas and Max walk off during the Fourth of July celebration.

These changes the young characters are facing is what I’m concerned about in the new season. In a medium that gives better fan service when the characters are mostly static, Stranger Things is focusing on change in the new season. Will those changes work? Or, could they ruin the best part of this series? I think it’s going to be a dark road for most of the season. And, that’s where things get tricky.

Do we want to watch these characters go through the painful process of growing up? Or, would it better to see them maintain status quo and solve another supernatural mystery together?  I think we’ll get both in Stranger Things 3, like it or not.

No matter what happens in the season, in the end, there’s a good chance our heroes will all make up, but at what cost? Will those cracks be big enough to end the group’s friendship? These are a few of the big questions I have heading into the new season.

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I think the Duffer Brothers will do a great job taking this story in a new direction in Stranger Things 3. There’s going to be the usual “stranger things” happening during the season, but we’re also going to get a chance to learn more about these characters, especially the young characters.

If they swing the pendulum too far to the change direction and change the core values of the show, though, fans might not like it, and that is always a fear with a beloved show like this. Look at what happened when the writers took Game of Thrones in a direction that fans didn’t like.

All good shows face this problem at some point. The thing that worked so well and made so many fans of the show can’t be the same thing that happens every season.

In the case of Stranger Things, fans fell in love with characters and their interactions with each other as they tried to find their friend, Will. In the first season, we saw a lot of Eleven, Mike, Lucas and Dustin hanging out and trying to find Will. They were together most of the season, and their mission to save Will was ultimately accomplished with the help of Joyce, Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, and most importantly, Hopper.

All these characters working together with one major goal played out beautifully in the first season.

In the second season, though, we didn’t get to see as much of it, and I think that’s one of the reasons some fans didn’t like season 2. We saw a lot of these characters together, but they weren’t all working together with the same goal in mind.

For instance, we don’t see Eleven interact with any of our favorite characters, other than Hopper, for almost the full season. She returns to Hawkins just in time to save Will and the town.

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In season 2, we also see Jonathan and Nancy go off on their own mission. Will, Mike, Hopper and Joyce get are basically caught up trying to help Will for most of the season. Dustin and Steve are tracking down Dart, and later, they are joined by Max and Lucas.

In other words, there were a lot of moving pieces to the puzzle, and I think most would agree that the show suffered a little bit by rearranging the deck, so to speak, after the first season. It had to happen, of course, but it was a bummer that Eleven wasn’t around the other characters for most of the season.

I’m expecting Stranger Things 3 will be a lot different from Stranger Things 2. All of our main characters are in the same place, basically, for the first time in the series. No one is stuck in the Upside Down (yet) or stuck hiding out in a cabin in the woods.

How will they interact together with no common bond of saving someone? I’m guessing it won’t be easy with Mike and Eleven coupled up, along with Lucas and Max. And, what happens to the party if those relationships end?

It’s much too early to tell what will happen exactly, but I’m nervous about how these changes will affect the story and the show as a whole. It could be a great change of pace, or it could throw off the balance of a great series.

I have a feeling, eventually, everything will be okay and come back to the party solving the mystery and saving the day, but it won’t be without cost. There’s always a price to pay in Stranger Things, and I’m hoping it’s not too much for our young characters.

We’ll find out July 4 when Stranger Things 3 hits Netflix!

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