Fans finally got the first glimpse of Hawkins, Indiana for the upcoming season of Stranger Things. But while some of the news was great, some was disappointing. The good news: Hawkins finally has a mall, allowing the show to get as mid-80s crazy with the fashions as Glow does. The bad news: The mall is not coming until "next summer," suggesting Stranger Things Season 3 will debut much closer to Season 1's premiere window than fans had hoped. But there are also plot clues. Will Stranger Things Season 3 be about Russian interference? Some fans are convinced one of the details in a mall shop window confirms it.
Stranger Things Season 1 dropped hints the children being experimented on at Hawkins Lab were part of the Cold War fight. This was true of the original Project MKUltra, of which Eleven is supposed to be a product. The tests, which were a real thing, were done in the United States covertly by the CIA from the 1950s to 1970s. Stemming from Nazi scientific research discovered after WWIII, the project used LSD and other psychotropic drugs to see if humans could develop mind control to use against the Soviets as weapons.
In Season 1, Eleven is shown to be using sensory deprivation to travel through time and space and spy on Soviet meetings happening on the other side of the globe. But then the Demogorgon turns up and all that goes out the window.
Season 2 let this plot point fall by the wayside, in favor of focusing more on the supernatural aspects of the Upside Down and the Mindflayer. There are a few vague handwavey bits about needing to keep the Upside Down contained, lest the Russians find out about it and weaponize it, but it's never seriously discussed.
Why are fans convinced the show will turn back to the Russian spy elements of the plot? Check out the best-seller in the window of Waldenbooks.
To be fair, this could just be a perfect period bit of propping. Tom Clancy's debut novel was released in 1984, a thriller featuring Soviet submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius and Jack Ryan, a Marine turned CIA analyst, and this is the first edition cover in the window. The book was already selling well enough to launch Clancy's career when Reagan mentioned he'd read it in a televised news conference in early 1985, calling it "my kind of yarn." It sent the book to the top of the best-seller lists for months afterward.
But chances are, the series is putting the book front and center for a reason. For instance, when the camera finishes with Waldenbooks, it rolls by Sam Goody. There's an ad in their window for Bruce Springsteen's mega-hit album from the time period, Born In The USA. But the camera does not focus in on it or linger in nearly the same way.
Will the Russians and the CIA be a significant factor this season for Eleven and her attempts to live a normal teenage life? Or is the book merely a red herring? The wait for more clues will be a long one if Stranger Things 3 does not return until summer of 2019.