Stranger Things season 3

Stranger Things Has To Grow Beyond Hawkins In Season Four

It can't be Eggos forever.
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Stranger Things has a repetition problem. So far, all three seasons have followed the same pattern: the Upside Down comes to town, a monster haunts Hawkins, and Eleven does her best to save the day. Season three shook things up a little with Eleven being de-powered towards the end of the season, and with Hopper making the “sacrifice” he did, but the season still hits many of the same beats that the previous seasons had.

Of course, there was the promise of change at the end of season three. The Byers family and Eleven left Hawkins for Chicago, and somewhere in Russia, Russian guards spoke about a secret American prisoner as they fed another prisoner to a Demogorgon. There is life beyond Hawkins, Indiana it seems.

This shouldn’t be news; after all, we visited the world outside Hawkins in season two in the unfairly maligned “The Lost Sister,” where Eleven met her sister Kali and the pair bonded over being experiments before Eleven decided to reunite with her new family back in Hawkins. But the end of season three seems to offer a permanent solution to the never-changing setting of the series.

The Duffer brothers, should they get a season four (I’d think that’s all but guaranteed), seem to agree that the show will start to grow beyond Hawkins, which is badly needed. “I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plotlines into areas outside of Hawkins,” said Matt Duffer in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

So there’s that, at the very least. Season four, in it’s all but guaranteed glory, will finally grow beyond the original setting.

The question remains then is how can the show grow up? Eleven is currently powerless, and while that will probably only last a few episodes into the next season, she can’t keep saving the world pretty much on her own. There was no mention of Kali this season, but hopefully she’ll be brought back in season four, because it would be nice to get some resolution to that plot. The Duffers have already promised more Russia too, because you can’t tease a Demogorgon and not follow through.

The Byers family leaving town with Eleven is exactly the kind of game-changing plot that the series needs to stay fresh. Expanding the world beyond the borders of Hawkins means that we can get new characters, and a new take on the Upside Down. There have to be more labs out there trying to tap into the power of the Upside Down, and more children like Eleven. The Russian government has clearly found a way to stabilize the portal, as evidenced by their new monster.

Stranger Things has to find an endgame storyline to start building towards. Eighties nostalgia cannot carry a series through to conclusion. The Duffer bros have to find a story worth telling through until the end, because the series can’t sustain endless cycles of monsters showing up in one town to get their asses kicked. At some point, they have to build towards an ending.

We don’t even know if Stranger Things will get a season four, though the ratings make it seem likely. If the show does return, they need to continue to expand their horizons, shake up the season’s storyline, and continue to expand the world. Much like the teen stars, the show has to grow up sometimes.

(via Entertainment Weekly, image: Netflix)

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Image of Kate Gardner
Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.