According to producer Shawn Levy, the third season of Stranger Things will feature a brand new evil force. Combining eighties nostalgia with Spielberg influences and modern effects, Stranger Things has become nothing short of a global phenomenon, picking up awards and critical acclaim at every turn. With streaming services such as Netflix continuing to push ahead in producing original series, Stranger Things acts as a shining example of how to successfully execute such a project.
In season one, the threat looming over the people of Hawkins, Indiana was a rogue Demogorgon from another dimension that Eleven eventually tore apart with her telekinesis. The situation escalated considerably in Stranger Things 2 with the appearance of a much larger and sinister beast nicknamed the Mind-Flayer, who was able to control a pack of smaller Demogorgons that Dustin lovably named "Demodogs." Once again, Eleven managed to save the day but the final scene of Stranger Things 2 showed the Mind-Flayer looming ominously over the kids while in The Upside-Down, suggesting the threat was far from over.
While this final sting might have suggested that the Mind-Flayer would be the arch villain of Stranger Things 3, executive producer Shawn Levy has suggested otherwise. Speaking with Glamour, Levy was asked whether one of the protagonists would suffer the consequences of battling the Mind-Flayer in season 2, to which the producer replied:
"You might assume that but you would probably end up being wrong. We're dealing with forces of evil that are new."
Levy also confirmed another key detail of Stranger Things 3 - that Will Byers won't be taking the brunt of the trauma this time around.
"We're going to give Will a break. We’re not going to put Will through hell for a third season in a row. He’ll be dealing with stuff, but he won’t be at rock bottom the way we forced the amazing Noah Schnapp to play.”
Keeping Will (somewhat) out of the firing line in Stranger Things 3 is likely to prove a wise decision. Not only would it feel repetitive for Will to be the main source of distress for a third consecutive season but viewers may now finally get to see the youngest Byers brother in action and solving mysteries alongside his friends, rather than being constantly terrified and in mortal peril.
The prospect of new "forces of evil" in Stranger Things 3 is undoubtedly an exciting one and indicates that the show doesn't plan on repeating itself next season. However, some fans may be concerned that with the introduction of a new big bad, season 2's Mind-Flayer cliffhanger won't end up being as significant as it initially seemed. Additionally, Levy's claim seems to negate the theory that Eleven's "Papa" would act as the arch-villain next season, although he is still almost certain to return at some point.
As for what these new threats could be, perhaps the most obvious possibility is the gaggle of other psychic test subjects that are surely out in the world somewhere. Stranger Things 2 began to explore this concept with the introduction of Kali (Eight) in the divisive episode "The Lost Sister." That leaves at least nine other super-powered test subjects who could potentially appear and probability would suggest that not all of them will be as friendly as Eleven.
Stranger Things 3 will premiere in 2019 on Netflix.