“Suzie, Do You Copy?” gets the summer off to a strong start, with the kids older — but not much wiser.
This Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 1 recap for the episode titled “Suzie, Do You Copy?” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous season by clicking these words.
Hawkins, Indiana has always been inextricably tied to its 80s setting, but that doesn’t mean time is at a standstill there. The first thing Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 1 establishes is that everything is moving on. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are dating, and spend all their time lying about curfew so they can sneak away and smooch. Hopper (David Harbour), Eleven’s clueless guardian, hates it, as do Will (Noah Schnapp), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink), even though the last two have an on-again-off-again relationship of their own. Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are together, and both employed at the Hawkins Post. Billy (Dacre Montgomery) works as a heartthrob lifeguard at the local pool, while Steve (Joe Keery) is employed at an ice cream parlor, trying — and failing — to win over the female clientele.
It’s all slightly different. And yet, this is Hawkins, so it’s all kind of the same, too.
For instance, I wasn’t being totally accurate before. The first thing “Suzie, Do You Copy?” establishes is that Russian scientists are up to no good, and some slick visuals have bodies bulging and popping. In that sense, this town and this show never really move on. After Steve sneaks the kids into the cinema, there’s a power cut, and something eerie makes itself known. Will still has a connection to it. Later, rats all hurry somewhere, and when they arrive their little furry bodies bulge and pop, too.
Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 1 knows you know this about it. The inevitability is part of the appeal. For now, though, it wants to focus on reintroducing these kids we’ve grown to love over two prior seasons; to let us see how they’re growing and changing, individually and as a group, and to highlight how Hawkins itself is changing with them. The newly-built Starcourt Mall is a character all of its own. That’s where Steve’s nautical-themed ice cream place, Scoops Ahoy, is located, and it’s where one imagines a significant chunk of the season is going to be set. Steve’s sassy co-worker, Robin (Maya Hawke), is a new cast member who makes an impact straight away.
And then there’s Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). Back from summer camp, he has a new long-distance girlfriend, and the title of Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 1, “Suzie, Do You Copy?”, makes reference to his attempts to contact her using a radio and a giant portable antenna he has dubbed “Cerebro”. None of his friends believe the girl is real, all getting steadily less tolerant of childish lies and exaggerations. Is he lying? Who knows. But while he isn’t able to raise her on the radio, he is able to accidentally intercept the communications of the Russian scientists we met at the beginning.
Other strange happenings in Stranger Things Season 3, Episode 1 include stuff flying from Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) fridge, and the mysterious case of the itinerant rats, and the fate of Billy. Poor, handsome Billy, attempting to sneakily rendezvous with Mike’s dime piece mother, Karen (Cara Buono), is ambushed and dragged into an eerie warehouse by parties unknown. That’s the big cliffhanger of “Suzie, Do You Copy?”, a solid reintroduction to Hawkins and its residents that suggests the summer has a lot more in store than just secret teenage snogging.