It may seem impossible but there was a time when these besties weren’t close at all — wayyyyy back in season 1. Then (thankfully!) season 2 introduced fans to the bromance they never knew they needed when Steve became the reluctant babysitter for Dustin, spiked baseball bat and all (giving the former d-bag a redemption arc that no one saw coming). Now it’s a friendship that we just can’t live without.
But when Stranger Things stars Keery and Matarazzo sat down with EW to tease the upcoming season (which begins streaming at 3:01 a.m. ET / 12:01 a.m. PT on Thursday, July 4), the actors revealed that Steve and Dustin’s friendship is going to look a lot different in this installment.
“It picks up where it left off at the end of last season,” Keery tells EW of Steve’s brotherly relationship with Dustin as he sits next to Matarazzo. “But it’s more of a partnership really than I’m being a babysitter to [him].”
While Steve was the ultimate big brother mentor to Dustin in season 2 (even going so far as to give him the ultimate Steve makeover for the school dance), the playing field is actually more than leveled this season.
“At some point, the roles are reversed,” Matarazzo says of the protector/leader role passing on to Dustin. “One of the biggest things [Dustin learned from Steve] is courage. You unlocked a sense of courage in me, not just with girls but throughout all of season 2 you were the babysitter, you were the one that was protecting us with a baseball bat and you became a leader. I think Dustin saw that and when he needed to be, he knew that he could because of what he saw in you.”
Keery agrees, adding, “Especially … in this year.”
Stranger Things season 3 hits Netflix on July 4.