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Watch: Stranger Things 3’s latest trailer reveals an unexpected villain

The Mind Flayer is back, and it’s pissed.

Stranger Things 3 — the final trailer is here.
Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

Stranger Things has been known to keep its plot details under wraps, but Netflix has just released the latest (and most likely final) trailer for Stranger Things 3 — interestingly at 7:11 Pacific time — and it’s full of intriguing plot details concerning the latest threat looming over Hawkins, Indiana.

The new trailer features our loyal band of heroes, both teens and adults, valiantly facing off against a terrifying threat — and not a new threat, it seems, but one they thought they’d previously defeated. Namely: The Mind Flayer, the terrible tentacled entity last seen hovering over Hawkins Middle School in the Upside Down, is apparently alive and well and prepared to lay waste to the whole town, and perhaps more.

In the trailer, the Mind Flayer appears to be speaking ominously to Eleven, Mike, Will, Dustin, Lucas, and Max, informing them as they listen in horror that the creatures from the Upside Down plan to destroy them and their families, and then “everyone.” It’s not explicit whose voice the creature is using; the Mind Flayer can only communicate with humans by attaching to a vulnerable host whom it then speaks through. But the way the trailer is edited implies that it’s chosen Max’s older brother Billy to be its next vessel, and Billy’s actor, Dacre Montgomery, seems to be the one speaking to the kids. If that’s the case, then the Mind Flayer couldn’t have picked a better, or meaner, vessel to work with. (Poor Max!)

In short, season three seems poised to undo pretty much all of Eleven’s hard work in closing the gate between our world and the Upside Down in the season two finale. Not only has the Mind Flayer seemingly managed to evade being exiled beyond the gate, but now it’s angry, and coming for her and her friends specifically. Eek!

Cue lots more of what we’ve come to expect from Stranger Things by now: kids battling evil, led by a powerful Eleven sporting a nosebleed and using her version of the Force; concerned but caring parents ready to fight alongside them (we’re including babysitter Steve in this group); and plenty of mysterious government officials, creepy politicians, and military operatives in full-body protective gear, all ill-equipped to deal with the supernatural forces they’re facing.

While Stranger Things 3’s previous trailer was full of the ’80s aesthetic flourishes that make the series so continually captivating, this one is mostly all business. Still, we get a glimpse of some obvious quirks: the food court at the mall that seems to play a prominent role this season, the retro logos for a few mall stores including the Gap and J.C. Penney, and an amusingly oversize ’80s-era walkie-talkie.

There are also some moments of sweetness in the mix, with Police Chief Hopper and Eleven having a sentimental daughter-dad moment, and Eleven telling her boyfriend Mike to trust her — a touching echo of the moment in season one when he asked her to trust him. We stan the ever-deepening character relationships on this show, and Stranger Things clearly knows that’s what fans are here for.

This new trailer brings us no closer to decoding some of the clues dropped in previous teaser trailers, most notably what the heck is going to happen “when yellow and blue meet in the west.” But season three will premiere on July 4, 2019, and the new trailer does explicitly show us Hawkins enjoying its own Fourth of July celebration, so it’s possible that yellow and blue fireworks are the objects that will be meeting; indeed, one of the final shots, which shows the kids staring up toward the ceiling of the mall with looks of fear and surprise, might indicate that there’s something far more explosive happening than pyrotechnic spectacle.