Stranger Things season 3 looks to involve a Russian threat, although theories that it's linked to Chernobyl may be off the mark. Set during the summer of 1985 season 3 is focused on the characters growing up and beginning a new chapter in their lives; and those changes will also extend to the more supernatural elements on the show. The monsters of Stranger Things are changing too, with things more terrifying than the Demogorgon emerging from the Upside Down to terrorize the town of Hawkins.
One particular Stranger Things theory that has re-emerged as the season 3 premiere date has drawn closer is the connection between the time period and certain world events which actually happened in the '80s. By the mid-'80s, the Cold War was at its peak, with tensions between Russia and the U.S. growing day by day. One Reddit theory posited the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown could be involved in season 3. But, while Chernobyl is a major topic of discussion following HBO's hit show, that's highly unlikely since Chernobyl didn' happen until April 1986.
Still, it is important to ponder how world events will make their way into Hawkins; this town isn't inured to bigger goings-on. Even if the Chernobyl nuclear reactor is off the table, it doesn't mean Russians aren't involved in some way in Stranger Things season 3. There are Russian characters credited on certain episodes of Stranger Things, most notably season 3, episode 2, "The Mall Rats." How could Russians logically figure into Stranger Things?
The Russians Might Be Involved In Hawkins Lab's Experiments
It would be a rare show of international harmony during an especially tense time in recent history but there's the possibility of the Russians are working with the Americans via Hawkins Labs to develop a weapon together. Stranger Things established in season 1 that Eleven's mother participated in the MKUltra experiments of the 1960s. Those experiments permanently damaged Eleven's mother and it's implied they may have contributed to Eleven's abilities she's now exhibiting in the 1980s.
Given how hush-hush this all was, there may be possible Russian involvement, whether it's the Soviets conducting similar experiments and comparing notes, finding subjects for Hawkins lab to test, or some similarly mutually advantageous arrangement at work here that will be revealed in Stranger Things season 3.
The Experiments At Hawkins Labs May Be Used To Spy On The Russians
It's possible experiments were performed on Eleven that were designed to turn her into the ultimate espionage weapon against the Russians. Eleven has exhibited the ability to move across time, space, and possibly other dimensions. This makes her a uniquely skilled person who is young enough to still be molded by whatever forces are working to hone her abilities and make her into a weapon.
Evidence of this was shown during a flashback in Stranger Things season 1. Eleven was instructed by Dr. Martin Brenner to go into her mind and to find and zero in on just one man. In the all-black space which visually signals Eleven is in her own head, the camera panned to show her walking up to a man dressed in a trenchcoat, appearing to speak in Russian. Eleven listens in and is able to transmit what she hears through speakers.
Did the lab have plans to use Eleven to listen in on the Russians further and turn her into some kind of tool of the Cold War?
The Russians May Come To The U.S. To Steal Eleven
Alternatively, the Russians may have been alerted to Eleven's existence and are looking for her in Stranger Things season 3. Spying goes both ways, especially during the Cold War, so the Russians could know of Eleven and may even have some insight into the strange things happening in and around Hawkins, Indiana.
There's one scene, in particular, from the Stranger Things season 3 trailer the might speak to this theory. A shot is shown during the Hawkins funfair of a man holding a gun, walking through the maze of mirrors. He's clearly on the hunt for something and it could be Eleven, who is likely there with her friends and/or Hopper. Snatching Eleven during a crowded, noisy event like a funfair would be the perfect timing for the Russians, but could this really be the case? We'll find out when Stranger Things season 3 releases on July 4.