“Isn’t it time you died?!” It’s the moment Stranger Things season 3 truly starts to snap, crackle, and pop. The 2019 premiere “Suzie, Do You Copy,” is already almost 10 minutes into the action when that savage little one-liner is thrown across the Starcourt Mall, but the party doesn’t really start until Erica Sinclair (Priah Ferguson) shows up. That is a fact continuously proven throughout Netflix’s Stranger Things 3.
Yes, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve Harington (Joe Keery), and newbie Robin (Maya Hawke) may want to break into the secret Russian facility underneath the mall… but that wouldn’t be possible with small-statured Erica. Dustin may want to escape that underground Cold War nightmare, but it’s Erica who points out just how impossible his dream is without the proper a vehicle. Erica is so special, she’s the one who gets the best surprise of season 3 finale “The Battle of Starcourt.”
And, Erica’s portrayer, 12-year-old Priah Ferguson, knows her character is bound for summertime glory.
“I think Erica is cool because she is outgoing, kind of like me, and she says what people think,” Ferguson tells Refinery29 over the phone.
She is definitely right. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite Erica moment of season 3. Should that honor go to the moment she becomes the perfect meme for impatience: Relentlessly ringing the Scoops Ahoy bell until an ice cream sample appears in her hand (itself a moment of improv, Ferguson confirms). Or, is it when Erica is ready to believe every sci-fi twist of Stranger Things, but refuses to accept her dweeb of an older brother is a secret monster-fighting hero?
Ferguson says none of the above. “You know when Erica says, You can’t spell ‘America’ without ‘Erica?’” she starts, “I think that will be a meme.”
While Erica is practically made of social media-ready one liners, she isn’t some sassy one-dimensional caricature. As we learn throughout season 3, she is also a budding math genius and possibly the smartest person in the entire Stranger crew.
“I always knew Erica was kind of smart. But when I realized she was a math whiz was when she was schooling [Dustin] about how long it would take them to get back home [from the Russian facility],” Ferguson says. It is a startling moment for Dustin — and viewers — as they realize Erica can do high-level math equations on the fly as easily as she can down a U.S.S. Butterscotch sundae. That’s when you notice Erica has been showing off her smarts for the entire season. Remember when she spends “The Sauna Test” schooling a high school graduate and bona fide science nerd on the precise definitions of capitalism?
Ferguson herself is happy to see her character reveal her nerdy side, saying it’s “definitely” cool. “I’m a nerd. I have a little nerdiness in me especially about history,” she adds.
Stranger Things hints it’s not done letting Erica and Ferguson’s smarts shine with finale “The Battle of Starcourt.” After the chaos of the episode, she is gifted the Dungeons & Dragons game her brother and his friends have been playing with since the very beginning of the series. It is the absolute best way Stranger Things could pass the nerdy baton.
When you ask Ferguson what she thinks the D&D development means for her series' future, the sharpness of Erica quickly appears. “I’m just excited about season 3 that if there is a season 4, hopefully Erica is in it. So yeah, that would be cool,” she asks, keeping the always-mysterious Stranger Things party line. Then actress gamely asks, “What do you think will happen?”
The leading possibility: A fearsome Erica commanding her own D&D party, to use Lucas & Co.’s vernacular, to open a yet-to-be announced Stranger Things season 4. “Well that’s cool. Yeah,” Ferguson agrees without tipping her hand. Erica, political mastermind, smiles.