This 'Stranger Things' Season 3 Theory About Hawkins Lab & Starcourt Mall Is Intense

by Ani Bundel

Time goes by so slowly. It was over a year ago that fans saw the Christmas of 1984 and the Hawkins Middle School Snowball Dance, where viewers left the heroes of Stranger Things. Due to the vagaries of time and television, it will be another few months before the summer of 1985 arrives, and a new adventure begins in Hawkins, Indiana. But in case you might have forgotten how much you missed the series, Netflix released a teaser video this week revealing the episode titles. Naturally, these immediately brought out new Stranger Things Season 3 theories, a cottage industry among the hardcore fandom.

Stranger Things' episode titles have long been a source of fandom theories, even more so in Season 2 because they changed partway through the filming process, when the showrunners, the Duffer brothers, realized they needed to reconfigure the plot to make it work. This time, the production waited until filming was complete to release the episode titles, a smart move on everyone's part. Since filming has finished, the order of the episodes are now set in stone.

They are:

  • Chapter One: “Suzie, Do You Copy?”
  • Chapter Two: “The Mall Rats”
  • Chapter Three: “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”
  • Chapter Four: “The Sauna Test”
  • Chapter Five: “The Source”
  • Chapter Six: “The Birthday”
  • Chapter Seven: “The Bite”
  • Chapter Eight: “The Battle of Starcourt”

These have spawned theories about things like Suzie's identity and whether or not the missing lifeguard will be the next Barb. But the real question lies in the Starcourt Mall. Since the very beginning, the show has teased the mall as the new It Place To Be, to see and be seen, and for teenagers to congregate and hang out in packs.

But as the finale title indicates, it's also the main battleground of whatever is coming in the new season. This is where the new theory gets interesting. After all, Hawkins is a small town, surrounded by a lot of farms. Where would a mall go, and still be inside Hawkins' township? The most logical place is an area with enough acreage to have a parking lot and a large scale multi-story building, one recently abandoned by the last owner and sold to a developer for profit.

There's really only one spot: The old Hawkins National Laboratory, which the Department of Energy moved out of in the fall of 1984.

This would mean that deep under the Starcourt Mall lies the place where the space between the Upside Down and the Real World is far thinner than anywhere else. It would also give the kids who lived through the experience of the Demodogs pause at the idea of going to hang out there, much to the consternation of their parents and the ridicule of their peers.

It would also make the Starcourt Mall the most logical place for the Mind Flayer to break through, and give the creature so many new possible targets to aim for.

Stranger Things 3 still doesn't have an official release date other than "2019," but most assume, like the Starcourt Mall, it will open this summer.