As much joy as we got out of Billy's (Dacre Montgomery) tight jeans and sensual cookie eating in Stranger Things' sophomore outing, to be perfectly honest, we didn't really understand the point of Hawkins' newest bad boy. It came out in a Vulture interview with the Duffer Brothers that this was in part because the bigger role Billy was intended to play that season wound up getting pushed to Season 3. So you know what that means: Get ready for the season of Billy, babyyy.
But the thing is, we didn't even need that little nugget from the Duffers to know that Billy would be playing a major role in a supernatural storyline this season. The trailer puts this charismatic douchebag front and center — and we aren't complaining. That's because from everything we've seen in the trailer and pieced together from all the teases online, it appears as though Billy is being set up to become one of the Big Bads of the season.
Up until now, Billy has managed to stay oblivious to the supernatural nightmare world lurking just beneath the surface of Hawkins. But all that is poised to change this season, thanks to what looks to be an Upside Down-infected bite mark on Billy's arm, with black veins creeping out from the point of infection. And it seems as though whatever is now inside Billy will continue to spread, as evidenced in another shot in the trailer that shows the same black veins now creeping across his eyeball.
Last season, the Shadow Monster was using Will (Noah Schnapp) as its spy, eventually taking full possession of him. But after this plan was foiled, it makes sense that the Shadow Monster would adapt its strategy to take over Hawkins. So rather than repeat the same type of possession the Shadow Monster used with Will, we're guessing it figured out a different way to infect and control the citizens of Hawkins, with Billy being one of its early victims.
This theory also fits in with the fact that one of the inspirations for this season is George Romero, who is best known for Night of the Living Dead, the most iconic zombie film of all time. If the Upside Down has found an easy way to infect humans with its hive intelligence, anyone under the influence of it could be turned into the Stranger Things equivalent of zombies. And wouldn't you say these two ladies in the trailer look a bit zombie-fied?
As to how this potential Upside Down virus will be spread, rats have figured heavily in the promotional material. Rats are known historically for spreading plagues, and given their predilection toward hanging out in underground sewers and tunnels, it makes sense that they'd be some of the first creatures to come in contact with whatever has come through from the Upside Down, which spread through underground tunnels last season. The second episode of Season 3, titled "The Mall Rats," could not only be a nod to Starcourt Mall, which will be a major setting this season, but to the potentially infected rats who brought this infection into society.
There are a few other episode titles that hint at an Upside Down infection spreading throughout Hawkins, such as "The Bite" (Episode 7, the penultimate one of the season), which may indicate that someone else in the main cast gets infected leading into the season's climax, and "The Sauna Test" (Episode 4), which could hint that rather than stab people with hot pokers again, our heroes will place anyone they suspect of being infected into a sauna to see how they react, knowing that the Shadow Monster hates the heat.
The idea of the kids coming up with a simple test to prove who is or isn't infected by the Upside Down is reminiscent of the blood test in The Thing, another influence on Stranger Things Season 3. But we think the connection to The Thing goes even further than that, which is once again where our dear friend Billy comes in. In John Carpenter's 1982 film, a creature with hive intelligence begins picking off the members of an Antarctic research crew one by one. The Thing's ability to take over its host's body, as well as make every single part of it — even a drop of blood — autonomous and sentient made it not only hard to identify but hard to fight. The creature in The Thing also mutated into grotesque forms, serving up body horror in all its disgusting glory. (David Cronenberg, king of body horror, is also an influence this season.)
At one point in the trailer, we get our first glimpse at a new Upside Down creature, a disgusting thing with a form that seems to defy all biological laws. This led fans to believe that this creature — or thing, if you will -- is likely a mutated human, or potentially even multiple victims of the virus fused together to create the Upside Down version of a Megazord. In the trailer, we even get to see this monster seemingly mutating while a horrified Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) watches on. Given that we know Billy is one of the infected, it doesn't seem unreasonable to suspect that this grotesque mess is actually Billy.
This unnamed new creature appears to be terrorizing people in a hospital. It's possible that as the infection spreads, Billy goes to the hospital to get help, unsure what is actually going on, and it's there that he goes full-blown Thing. Another one of Season 3's antagonists, a new character Bruce (Jake Busey) who works at the Hawkins Post, is also seen looking bloody and deranged in the hospital, so there is also a slight chance that he could be the new monster instead of Billy — or that they fuse together to form this terrifying new creature.
Whatever — or whoever — this creature is, the idea of it being a mutation would dovetail nicely with Season 3's theme of change. Taking place the summer before the kids start high school, they're transitioning from childhood to adolescence, and this messy time of change will provide a lot of the emotional through line in the upcoming episodes. The third season's tagline, "One summer can change everything," drives home just how transformative this season will be — and when it comes to Billy, we're betting he won't be changing for the better. Or maybe it's just that his appearance will finally start matching his true, monstrous nature.
Stranger Things Season 3 premieres Wednesday, July 4 on Netflix.