Stranger Things Season 2 feels very much like a movie sequel in a lot of ways, and like a sequel, it repeats many of the elements that were successful about its predecessor. The protagonists again have to stop a monster from the Upside Down, Will is again in peril, and the characters are again split up into several groups with each having their own separate storylines.
Season 3 of Stranger Things is already in the works, so how many of these beats will creators Matt and Ross Duffer repeat for the third time? Well, in a new interview, they’ve already suggested that there’s one major way that Season 3 will be different from the others. Here’s what we know about the third season of Stranger Things.
Season 3 might be the penultimate season
When a show is successful, there’s a desire to keep it going for as many seasons as possible, with some series stretching on for far longer than the original premise really set itself up for. But even though Stranger Things is one of the most popular shows currently airing, the Duffer Brothers want to quit while they’re ahead and not overstay their welcome. For that reason, Season 3 might actually be the penultimate season.
Back in August, Matt and Ross Duffer told Vulture that there will be a third and fourth season but that the show will likely end there, with Ross Duffer explaining, “We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out.” He cited the fact that it would get difficult to keep writing the show for many years after Season 4, as they can only justify having something bad happening to these people once a year for so long. Season 4 being the ending is by no means set in stone, and producer Shawn Levy later told Entertainment Weekly that there’s still a possibility of a fifth season, but he said it’s very unlikely there would be a sixth.
Either way, this is not a show that seems like it will continue for that much longer. So Season 3 will probably start setting the pieces in motion for the ending rather than set up threads that will be around for years.
It probably won’t air until 2019
It remains to be seen when Season 3 will drop on Netflix, but it probably won’t happen next year. Fans will recall that there was a break of 15 months between Season 1 and Season 2. That isn’t because there was a long break between making the seasons but just because Season 2 took that long to produce. There was also an additional episode, with Season 1 consisting of eight episodes and Season 2 consisting of nine episodes.
Assuming Season 3 takes as long to produce as Season 2, it would premiere in January 2019. There’s always the possibility that production would be able to be rushed and the third season could make it out in time for next Halloween, but that doesn’t seem especially likely. After all, Season 2 began production at about this time last year, whereas Season 3 is still being written, according to Deadline.
Season 3 would need to begin shooting early next month in order to be out by Halloween of next year, and it seems clear that this is not going to happen. A premiere date of December 2018 seems like the absolute earliest we can expect, with some time between January and March 2019 seeming more probable.
There will be a time jump
There’s a jump in time between Season 1 and Season 2 of Stranger Things, with Season 1 wrapping up in December and Season 2 opening in October of the following year. Similarly, Season 3 will feature a time jump. The Duffers confirmed this in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. They didn’t specify how long the time jump will be, but it sounds it will probably be about as long as the previous one, meaning Season 3 would open towards the end of 1985.
A big part of the reason for this is just because the child actors are aging so fast. The kids already look a lot older now than they did when they shot Season 2, and they’ll look even older by the time production for Season 3 gets underway. It therefore would be rather jarring if Season 3 picked up with everyone leaving the Snow Ball yet the kids were all clearly a year older than when we last saw them.
So the plan seems to be to have every season feature a time jump roughly equivalent to the amount of time that passed in real life. This will, therefore, create a Harry Potter situation where the characters age naturally as the story progresses, and it will avoid a Lost situation where the actors age way faster than the characters are supposed to be aging.
The Mind Flayer may be the villain
By the end of Season 1, the main villain, the Demogorgon, had been defeated. This created room for Season 2 to introduce a completely new villain in the Mind Flayer, a mysterious giant monster from the Upside Down. By the end of the season, Eleven has closed the gate between Earth and the Upside Down, therefore saving the town of Hawkins for now. But the Mind Flayer has not been dealt with at all, and as the final shot implies, it continues to be a threat that is watching over the characters.
So going into Season 3, it sounds like the villain might still be the Mind Flayer. Ross Duffer explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.”
It’s always possible, though, that the Mind Flayer will be more of a “big bad” that lurks in the background like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones and doesn’t really pop up again until the final season, but it’s certainly fair to say that we’ll be seeing more of that monster in the future.
Will won’t be the main person in peril again
There’s at least one way that Season 3 of Stranger Things is expected to be a lot different than the first two. Season 1 was all about trying to find Will, who we learn was taken to the Upside Down and needed to be rescued. In Season 2, Will returns home, but he’s hardly safe, and he’s targeted by the Mind Flayer and possessed in the latter half of the season. So in both Season 1 and Season 2, Will is the main target and is the one in peril who requires saving.
It doesn’t sound like that will be the case with Season 3, though. Matt Duffer recently told Variety, “I think we need to give Will a breather, though, because he’s been through it two years in a row.” When asked who is going to be the victim in Season 3, Duffer said that it’s too early to say and that they’re still in the writing process.
It’s always possible that the Duffers will completely change their minds and make Will into the victim for a third time, but at the moment it seems like they’re planning to steer clear of that as to not repeat themselves. This could also allow for Will to have some moments of heroism in Season 3.
Noah Schnapp thinks Will isn’t out of the woods just yet
Although the Duffer Brothers say they intend to give Will a breather, the actor who plays him isn’t so sure. Noah Schnapp told The Hollywood Reporter that he thinks the Mind Flayer isn’t through with Will, saying, “I personally think it’s not all out of him. I feel like it can’t be. There’s this massive monster taking over all of Hawkins, and all you have to do is light a few fires and turn on a few heaters, and he’s gone? It just doesn’t make sense to me, really.”
Schnapp is just speculating the way that any fan of the show would, though, as he hasn’t seen any scripts for Season 3 yet. Still, the sentiment that Will isn’t totally back to normal is one that many viewers share. It could be that Will is still going to experience some difficulties in Season 3 but that he just won’t be the primary victim. It’s also possible that Will won’t be targeted by the Mind Flayer again until Season 4 and that Season 3 will deal with another threat entirely.
Some fans think Dustin is in trouble next year
So if Will isn’t the main target in Season 3, who will be? One theory is that it will be Dustin. After all, towards the end of Season 2, Dustin was sprayed in the face by an Upside Down creature while exploring the caverns. This doesn’t seem like a throwaway moment — Dustin specifically says that it got in his mouth.
While that didn’t end up amounting to anything, it’s difficult to imagine that the series would write this specific beat in if not to set up something down the line. Hopper himself also got sprayed while he was exploring on his own, so it’s possible one or both of those characters will be in some serious trouble next year.
It’s also possible that the target could be Eleven herself. As frustrating as it was to see her separated from the group for much of Season 2, it’s understandable why it was necessary, as there being a member of the team who has superpowers kind of lowers the stakes a bit seeing as she can just easily get them through most situations. So with Season 3, Eleven could be weakened somehow like Will is in Season 2, or perhaps she will even be targeted by Eight, who was introduced as another superpowered young girl in “The Lost Sister.”
Finally, the Duffers could decide to change up the formula entirely, not having one person be the main victim and allowing all the characters, especially the kids, to work together for the first time. We’ll find out what’s next when Stranger Things returns to Netflix, likely sometime in 2019.
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