Now that we’ve all binged (or taken our time to savor) Stranger Things 2, the inevitable time to speculate about season three has come! As we discussed in our season wrap-up, the second season was defined by frustrating missteps (I’m looking at you, Chicago) and surprising turns (Steve, Steve, and more Steve), but all of these factors inform what we liked to see (and rather avoid) in Stranger Things 3.
What We’d Like to See: New Character Combos
Our latest trip to Hawkins included plenty of tried and true character team-ups (Nancy and Jonathan, Hopper and Joyce, etc.), yet the most memorable and exciting moments from season two typically featured combinations of characters that rarely (if ever) interacted in season one. Between the Hopper-Eleven and Steve-Dustin pairings, the Duffer Bros. did a fantastic job depicting our favorite characters (and previously most hated character) in new lights. For the show to remain fresh and interesting, season three will need to continue this trend and move the cast around. I’d put my money on a fun dynamic between Eleven and Max next season.
What We Don’t Want to See: More Love Triangles
I love shapes. Circles, squares, hexagons—love them. And I understand that a huge portion of any fan base is devoted to a show’s romantic drama. At some point, though, love triangles become little more than lazy sources of needless tension. The Nancy-Steve-Jonathan relationship is obviously the show’s most notable love triangle, but season two also introduced the Joyce-Bob-Hopper and the Max-Lucas-Dustin triangles.
While I wouldn’t necessarily criticize any of these relationships, I believe these conflicts have fulfilled their purpose and can be moved on from. The series will undoubtedly continue to explore the cast’s romantic endeavors, and that is fine. But there are plenty of ways to depict romance outside of love triangles, and it’s time for the show to embrace them.
What We Want to See: More Steve (and Other Surprising Arcs)
Anyone who read my reviews from season one should remember that I was fiercely pro-Jonathan and anti-Steve. But, oh, how the tables have turned. I still believe that Jonathan and Nancy are a solid couple, but my feelings about Steve have dramatically shifted. Steve, who I desperately wanted the Demogorgon to kill in season one, has now become one of my favorite characters. As Bill discussed in his breakdown of the season finale, Steve was a gift to fans this season, and I can’t wait to see more of his ridiculous babysitting antics in season three. As sweet as his relationship with Dustin was, though, I would also like to see him get a chance to hang out with some of the other characters.
Besides being a joy of its own, however, Steve’s arc shows me that the Duffer Bros. have the ability to take their characters in surprising directions. In my opinion, the characters that could most benefit from the Steve-treatment are Will, Max, and Billy.
Now that Will is no longer possessed, I’d like to see how he fits into the Party when he’s not just a victim. Having been accepted by the Party, Max has more time to grow as a character and establish her role in the group. And after Steve’s turn from heel to hero, is there hope for Billy? I am confident (and excited to think) that season three will take these and other characters in fun and unexpected directions.
What We Don’t Want to See: Eleven Separated from the Party
As enjoyable and dramatic as Eleven’s time with Chief Hopper was, everyone’s favorite telekinetic tween admittedly had the weakest character arc of season two. Giving Eleven an opportunity to explore her history and powers was important, but the resulting journey felt aimless at best and a waste of time at worst. Now that Eleven has a new identity as Jane Hopper, the show has little reason to keep her separated from Mike and the rest of the Party.
What We’d Like to See: Making Kali/Eight More Relevant
Though season two’s detour to Chicago has been rightly maligned as a low point in the series, I believe Kali should largely be exempt from that criticism. While she may not have been as much of a hit as Bob and Dr. Owens, Kali was a strong addition to the cast that opened up new opportunities to explore the show’s mythology. The main problem with her character was how isolated she felt from the rest of the plot and characters.
Kali and the Brenner’s other numbered subjects (assuming they’re still alive) have the potential to truly shake things up in Hawkins and change the balance of power depending on whose side they’re on (the Mind Flayer’s, the Party’s, etc.). If Kali can become more relevant, I believe she can become a standout character and significantly alter the course of the series. If one super-powered child could turn Hawkins on its head, just think what a dozen psychic individuals would do to the small town. The possibilities are both endless and exhilarating—just as long as Kali leaves her punk friends back at home.