Strange theory: Billy Hargrove’s a worse villain in the new season of the Netflix thriller series

Yesterday’s biggest pop culture news kept me up all night: Netflix’s “Stranger Things” will be premiering globally on July 4. There will be eight episodes for this season.

But unlike the previous seasons that had us submerged into a grotesque alternate reality where nighttime seemed to be longer than any of the days, the show’s third installment is giving us a glimpse of a warm, adventure-filled (and soon-to-be-gone-wrong) summer. It’s so much more vibrant than we remember it to be, and even lets its characters embrace the bold and eccentric neon colors of the 80s.

Fans are shown snippets of an idyllic summer—part-time jobs, internships, enjoying of sundae cones, and even a little bit of pool-side flirting. But before it takes the shape of a pre-teen drama (very much featuring the holding of hands and first kisses), it retains its Stephen King vibe. They’re still a group of kids who are reminded of their loss of innocence as danger resurfaces from the shadows. It’s a coming-of-age story forced by monstrous threats.
It looks like much of the season will take place in Starcourt Mall, a new public hangout shown in an earlier teaser. While it shows a ton of fun scenes between the gang, it is also revealed as the site of the final battle on the last episode which is titled “The Battle of Starcourt.” They’re going to be up against yet another type of brute (an arachnida-looking one at that) from the Upside Down.
So much can be speculated from the 3-minute “Stranger Things” video, and here are some details I noticed after watching the trailer a dozen of times:

Welcome back, Erica

First things first: Yup, Lucas’ feisty, princess-of-clapback sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) gets a bigger role in this paranormal chapter.

A-dorable Dustin
The newest “Stranger Things” trailer reveals that the year is 1985, roughly six months after the previous season. Dustin has come back from Camp Know Where, a summer science camp he decided to go to alone. It looks like he’s still the most enthusiastic AV Club member out there. His friends decided to give him an odd welcome, one that Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) felt a Farah Fawcett hairspray could protect him from.
In the short amount of time that passed, some things didn’t change. Dustin’s still pretty much close with Steve (Joe Keery) and it doesn’t make it less heartbreaking when we see him gaze with jealousy as Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) share some sweetness on the screen. Poor little fella.

Change of will
His voice has obviously changed, and it seems like Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) will be pushing his friends away at some point in the third season. He says: “We’re not kids anymore, I mean what did you think? We’re just gonna sit in my basement all day, play games for the rest of our lives?” Excluding himself from the world might be his way of protecting the ones he loves, as he remains to be a direct link to a never-ending monster infestation.

This generation’s Winona?
In both the teaser stills and trailer, Maya Hawke looks a lot like Winona Ryder. She plays Robin, Steve’s co-worker at Scoops Ahoy. She’s got a lot of spunk and seems to be the newest addition to the older group of teenagers just trying to survive the Hawkins nightmare.

Could she be Steve’s new fling, too? Here’s the catch, though: She doesn’t seem to be a big fan of kids.

The new BFFs
After her goth phase, Eleven is seen in pretty printed summer dresses. She let her hair grow into a bob, with light brown locks framing her face. In most of the scenes, El hangs out with the new girl in town, Max Mayfield, who has also shed off her tomboy getups. It’s nice to see El experiencing what a typical teenager goes through—mall hangouts, sleepovers, and scenic hikes. The two are inseparable!
Let’s be real: Every time Millie Bobby Brown and Sink are together on the screen, it looks like a fashion editorial.

The Upside Down ally
Okay, so while most of us have been hoping that Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) would potentially have the same character direction of Steve and join the fight against the Mind Flayer, the Duffer Brothers made it perfectly clear that he’s set as a villain. A huge part of Billys inclusion in the narrative is the fact that Steve’s charisma no longer afforded him to be seen as an asshole. Regardless of this development, the story trope requires this character. In these paranormal thrillers, there’s always two elements of evil—one is otherworldly, and the other is embodied by humanity.
It turns out Billy is meant to fill in the role of the latter. In April last year, Montgomery visited the country during the first Comicon Asia and specifically said his character’s devilishness wasn’t at all influenced by anything supernatural. “There’s no supernatural element involved with Billy in season two, he is human. Everything about him is innately human,” the actor emphasized, in a previous article I wrote for the Inquirer.

But seeing how Billy contracts some sort of virus in the trailer, he might just play host, just as Will did, to the Mind Flayer this time around. That
s not at all surprising though, after all, in all horrific stories, it is the monsters of men that easily fall prey to the unknown.

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