Producer Shawn Levy says Stranger Things Season 3 will be the series' darkest chapter yet: "It would be a mistake for anyone to think that season 3 is the summer of fun and lightness because it's a whole lot more than that."

Stranger Things Season 2 ended on a series of uplifting high notes. Sure, that devious "Mind Flayer" is still lurking ominously in The Upside Down, but the interdimensional rift has been sealed and Will Buyers can finally live a normal life. Not only is Eleven home safe, she's free from the nebulous government organization that tortured her, has a new father-figure in Sherriff Hopper, and can explore her budding romance with Mike. And while Steve and Dustin might be unlucky in love, they both have amazing hair-and that's important in the 1980s. Indeed, the future looks bright for everyone as Stranger Things prepares for a 3rd season, slated to premiere on Netflix in the summer of 2019, but looks can be deceiving.

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The truth is, the upcoming season of Stranger Things will be the series' darkest chapter yet. Here's what producer Shawn Levy told The Playlist in a recent interview:

"So, season 3 has a really healthy dose of poppy, bright levity and cultural fun. But I can only promise you that season 3 eventually goes places that are darker, and unquestionably more action-packed, than we've ever gone before. It would be a mistake for anyone to think that season 3 is the summer of fun and lightness because it's a whole lot more than that."

Season 3 will take place in the summer of 1985, so in addition to The Starcourt Mall that featured prominently in the first teaser, expect references to Ronald Regan's second term in office, the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev, New Coke, and We Are the World. It'll have been over a year since the last time we saw Eleven and the boys, but Levy recently told The Hollywood Reporter what fans can expect in terms of a time-jump and ongoing character relationships:

"Mike and Eleven are going strong, so that's a relationship that continues, and same with Mad Max and Lucas. But again, they're like 13- or 14-year-old kids, so what does romance mean at that stage of life? It can never be simple and stable relationships and there's fun to that instability."

Newcomers for Season 3 include: Maya Thurman-Hawke (daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke) whose character Variety described as "an 'alternative girl' bored with her mundane day job"; Francesca Reale will be playing Heather, a popular lifeguard at the Hawkins' community swimming pool; Cary Elwes will play the "handsome, slick, and sleazy" politician Mayor Kline and Jake Busey is an unhinged reporter named Bruce. Season 3 will also see an elevated role for Priah Ferguson, who was a consummate scene-stealer as Lucas's sister Erica in Season 2. Many fans are hoping series masterminds Matt and Ross Duffer will find a way to bring fan-favorite Barb back, but don't hold your breath!

If you missed the first teaser for Stranger Things Season 3, take a visit to the newly-constructed Starcourt Mall in the video below. We'll keep our ears to the ground in order to bring you additional details as they emerge. This news came our way via The Playlist.