TV Review: Stranger Things Season 3

The third season of Netflix’s record-breaking original hit Stranger Things is finally here

*Spoilers Below*

To recap, Stranger Things‘ previous instalment ended with Eleven successfully closing ‘the gate’ before attending the Snowball dance with Mike and the rest of the gang. Hopper also officially adopted El. At last, all seemed well for the small town of Hawkins, until the final moments of the show where we see the Mind Flayer lurking ominously over the Upside-Down version of the school. Season 3 opens six months down the line and everyone seems to be enjoying their summer, but Eleven and the gang are soon forced to deal not only with this monster but also with the Russians that are trying to reopen the gate with a massive laser.

Personally, I enjoyed this season just as much as the first two. Stranger Things has always been just a little unnerving, but I must say, this season moved beyond that and dived straight into gruesome. Watching all those rats and Hawkins locals turn to red, slimy mush isn’t for those with a weak stomach – it’s gross, to say the least. Also, watching Eleven pull out a chunk of the monster left inside her after one of its tentacles attacks her made my stomach churn.

Honestly, the whole series just seemed to have a lot more graphic action in general. We see El use her powers more aggressively to protect her friends, throwing people and monsters out of buildings, and witness Hopper brutally beat the mayor of Hawkins and threaten to cut off his finger until he gets the information he needs. Billy gets stabbed with several fleshy, barbed tentacles, and the Russian assassin gets ripped apart by spinning parts of their own laser.

However, I also found this season of Stranger Things to be a lot more fun. The mood of the show just seemed lighter, with some exceptions throughout, of course. This was supported by the summer-time setting, which meant that for the first couple of episodes, our band of heroes got to be normal and just have fun.

One thing that I think this show has done so well is the characters, and they’ve continued to deliver. Despite some of them being somewhat stereotypical – the tough cop with a dark past, or the jerk jock turned good guy – you can’t help but love them. I can’t describe the joy I felt watching Joyce become more involved with the action this season. Her new “don’t mess with me” attitude is more than okay with me, especially when it causes so much friction with the plans of her not-so-surprising new love interest, Hopper.

Another unsurprising highlight of the series is Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington – after watching him become a glorified babysitter for the gang last season, it was more than sweet to see him still helping them out, even if it is just sneaking them into the cinema.

The creators of the show built upon the foundations set by the second series in how they expanded the universe of Hawkins. This season, we’re introduced to Robin and Erica, and as much as I love the original cast, these new characters steal the show. Erica’s sass and mini rants about communism and not being a nerd create some of the most entertaining moments of the show. I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to watch a spin-off where Erica, Dustin, Steve and Robin get into more trouble.

Robin, as well as being just a great character, gets a shout out for breaking away from the stereotypes this show quite regularly relies on. When the season started, I liked Robin straight away – her sarcastic comments and obvious chemistry with Steve was perfect to put our high school king into his place, but I feared that she had been introduced to be the unpopular girl that eventually becomes his love interest, and up until the penultimate episode, this seemed to be what was going to happen.

When Steve admits he has a crush on her, Robin drops the bombshell that she was actually obsessed with Steve in high school because she envied that he got the attention he got from her crush, Tammy. The stereotypical relationship was avoided, and boy am I thankful. Because let’s be honest, all the relationships that have emerged so far have been completely predictable: Mike and El, Joyce and Hopper, and Nancy and Jonathan. Even Max and Lucas were obviously going to end up together.

Overall, I would say that Stranger Things is still going strong after its third season. Despite its penchant for following stereotypes, it still manages to be wildly entertaining as both a comedy and action-packed thriller. Both strong writing and endearing performances by the cast continue to prove that Netflix can produce good content, so hopefully, despite no official news yet, Stranger Things will be renewed for a fourth season, which the Duffer Brothers have previously stated would be the final one.

Some closing thoughts:

  • “Get in loser, we’re going shopping”: Starcourt Mall provided a great new setting, and I’m sad to see it go due to the ‘fire’ that apparently destroyed it. Without it, we wouldn’t have one of my favourite scenes of the season: the montage of El and Max being BFFs at the Starcourt Mall set to Madonna’s Material Girl. What more could we ask for?
  • The fashion: The introduction of Starcourt also meant that we got to see some brilliant 80s outfits on Eleven this season. They were colourful and garish and just perfect. Also, shout out to Hopper’s funky shirt.
  • That Marvel-esque post-credits scene: In the scene, we see that the Russians, now back on their home turf, have managed to get a hold of a fully grown Demogorgon, so let’s assume that Season 4 isn’t going be a quiet one. We also find out that they have an American prisoner to feed the beast – place your bets as to who that’s gonna be (it’s Hopper, for sure).
  • Powerless: After doing some pretty brutal things with her powers this season, El seems to have lost touch with them. She was unable to crush a coke can, and then couldn’t even get a teddy down from a shelf three months after the big battle. So, is this the end of Eleven’s telepathic powers or is Mike right when he says they’ll come back?
  • Movin’ out: Following Hopper’s death, Eleven seems to be living with the Byers family, but unfortunately, Joyce’s mind seems to be set on moving her family out of Hawkins. In the final episode, we see the gang packing up the Byers house and leave Hawkins. But how long do we really expect them to stay away from when the Russians have their own personal Demogorgon?

By Robbie Nichols

Feature image credit: Netflix

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