190703 stranger
Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin. Image Credit: Netflix

It feels like just yesterday we were all buzzing about the new kids in town who took us back to the creepy wonder of 80s horror on ‘Stranger Things’. But the nostalgic supernatural series is already entering its third season, with eight new episodes dropping on July 4. We first met the ragtag children of Hawkins and their superpowered new friend Eleven when they banded together to solve the kidnapping of their friend Will and, in the process, discovered the Upside Down — a slimy alternative realm. In season two, the kids find out that Will has been possessed and must defeat a new monster, the Mind Flayer. Season three promises to be gnarlier than ever. As fans get ready to binge the new episodes, we round up five things that have us excited.

The kids are all grown up!

Our favourite children — Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will — are no longer children. They’re all grown up and will have to deal with more teenage angst. Instead of worrying about making friends to play with, they’re starting to reckon with the inevitable fact of growing up and maybe even apart. This adds a whole new dimension to the show, taking it from a straightforward adventure story — i.e. kids vs. monsters — to, potentially, a show where internal conflict plays a bigger role. That being said, we’re always excited to see them fight new demons.

More of Detective Hopper and Eleven

One of our favourite relationships in season two was Detective Hopper and Eleven. They have both dealt with losing their families, and they both have their guards up because of it. So to see them carefully — and sometimes against their own stubborn reluctance — build a little family of two has been heart-warming, heart-wrenching and hopeful. The fact that season two ended with (spoiler alert!) Hopper obtaining a forged birth certificate for Eleven — effectively becoming her dad — makes us hope for more of their bond in season two.

190703 stranger things
The cast of "Stranger Things," from left, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink, Noah Schnapp, and Gaten Matarazzo Image Credit: Netflix

More of Steve Harrington and Dustin Henderseon

Another friendship we loved in season two was Steve and Dustin. We fell in love with Steve as the babysitter who desperately tries to wrangle all these kids together — and who becomes a mentor and big brother to Dustin. Their age difference lends itself to several hilarious (and sometimes emotional) exchanges. On the surface, the two shouldn’t work. But Steve is pretty uncool, despite often presuming otherwise, and Dustin struggles with being perceived as uncool too, which gives them common ground. From the trailer, it seems like we’re going to see more of this delightful brotherhood.

Chapter Six: The Birthday

A shot in the dark, but just from the title of episode six — The Birthday — we’re revved up for good content. Any kind of party in a coming-of-age story tends to be particularly eventful, and we’re willing to bet that if the whole episode is named after a birthday, then it’s going to be a memorable one. Let’s not forget that season two ended with the kids attending their school’s winter dance, the Snow Ball, which proved to be one of the more emotional and satisfying events of the entire season. So, whether there is an actual party or not, we’re ready to find out what makes this birthday so special.

There are new characters — and an important new mall in town

In addition to all the returning cast members, a bunch of new characters have arrived in Hawkins. From Cary Elwes, the typical 80s politician Mayor Kline, to Jake Busey, who plays a shifty reporter at The Hawkins Post. Also joining is Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman’s 20-year-old daughter Maya Hawke, who will play a character named Robin (Hawke also has a role in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’). Call us strange, but even more exciting than the new characters is the introduction of a new location — Starcourt Mall. The show filmed on location at a working mall in Georgia, redressed with ‘80s storefronts from The Gap to RadioShack. Hinting to the location’s importance, the final episode of the season is named Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt. A full out combat in a mall? Count us in.

Two more seasons (and a movie?)

The Duffer brothers, the creators of ‘Stranger Things’, have said that the show will continue for at least one, if not two more seasons after this. They have pretty definitively stated that there won’t be more episodes past a potential season five, which is understandable, as the cast will belong to a different age group and that would force a change in the tone of the series. We’re excited to know that season three won’t be the end of the road for this charming bunch, and that we can continue to watch them grow. Who knows, there might even be an epic reunion movie down the line... Maybe set in the ‘90s.

Don’t miss it!

‘Stranger Things’ season three streams from July 4.