Stranger Things hinted at Season 3’s Soviet-heavy plot two years before it unfolded onscreen. Since the disappearance of Will Byres (Noah Schnnap) in its very first episode, Stranger Things’s story has unfolded in a methodical and organic manner, with characters evolving, love blossoming, and the threat of the Upside Down and its denizens gradually escalating along the way.
As part of this evolution, Season 3 saw the residents of Hawkins contending not just with the resurgence of the dreaded Mind Flayer, but a contingent of Russian spies and soldiers who had set up shop in the center of their sleepy town. Like their Cold War enemies, the Russians had learned of the Upside Down, and the series’ cold open showcased their teams trying to enter the dimension and exploit its capabilities on their home turf before they relocate to a fortified base beneath the newly built Starcourt Mall. Interestingly though, their heavy presence was predicted way back at the start of Season 2 by Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman).
First introduced in Season 2, the eccentric journalist and private investigator had been hired by Barb’s (Shannon Purser) parents to discover the truth behind the Barb's sudden disappearance. Since she had been killed by the otherworldly Demogorgon, which Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and the Hawkins Lab silently attempted to cover up, yet this did not stop Bauman from repeatedly accosting Hopper to try and discover the truth.
We see the first of these interactions in “Madmax” – Bauman’s introductory episode – during a meeting where Hopper scornfully listens to the journalist’s hodgepodge of fact and conjecture over the mysterious events of the first season. However, while Bauman may have incorrectly posited that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was a Russian operative, his talk of spies and “a full-scale invasion” of Hawkins is not so humorous in the wake of Season 3. Indeed, a year after that conversation, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), Erica (Priah Ferguson) and Robin’s (Maya Hawke) investigation would uncover this aforementioned subterfuge, and both Hopper and Bauman are forced to put aside their differences to infiltrate the base.
As such, it’s now clear that Bauman’s amusing assertions were actually a sly bit of foreshadowing for a very fitting development later in the show. After all, Eleven’s discovery of the Upside Down was an unintended consequence of Dr. Martin Brenner’s (Matthew Modine) attempts to psychically eavesdrop on Russian agents. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for the Soviets to have been dabbling with the supernatural if the Americans were, and especially so if the troubles of Hawkins were becoming more and more noticeable to watching eyes.
Moreover, Bauman’s first scenes are particularly prophetic in another way as well. The fan-favorite character refers to massive international repercussions if the Russians were involved. It’s certainly no coincidence that Season 3 ended with the reveal of a Demogorgon being kept in a facility in Kamchatka, or that the next phases of Stranger Things are confirmed to be moving far beyond the remote Indiana setting that’s dominated the show so far. Stranger Things has always invited theories and predictions over its future, and in the wake of clues such as this being unearthed, fans will no doubt be scouring the show’s prior seasons during the countdown to Season 4.