TV Series Review: Stranger Things (Season 3)

Ahoy! The much anticipated 3rd season of Stranger Things has finally been delivered by Netflix. Those desperately waiting to return to Hawkins and catch up with their favourite characters don’t have to wait any longer. A threat both new & old will rock the small American town and its inhabitants leaving it forever changed.

In the summer of 1985, the new Starcourt Mall has become the focal point of the town, driving other stores out of business. Sheriff Jim Hopper is conflicted over Eleven and Mike’s budding relationship. Joyce considers moving out of Hawkins for better prospects, leaving the state of the children’s friendships and her own relationship with Hopper in the air. However, strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s awareness of something otherworldly. Elsewhere, Eleven and Max develop a close friendship and begin to sense something is off about the town’s residents. Also, despite having closed the portal to the Upside Down, there are those hard at work to reopen the gateway.

When I first finished season 3 I came away feeling like I had loved every second of the 8 episodes. However, after some thought I realised how disappointed by it I was. Simply catching up with the characters and seeing the ways in which they are progressing is an absolute delight. This season deals with plenty of themes surrounding growing up, I really enjoyed this. It’s one of those things that happen in life but it doesn’t make it any less sad, it’s very relatable. Also, the 80s aesthetic displayed here is phenomenal. The colours, outfits, hair, dialogue, synth music, neon, I just can’t get enough of it.

Once again, the performances are really strong throughout. A special mention for Dacre Montgomery who plays Max’s Brother Billy. He’s given a prominent role here and he really impressed me. I would say his whole story arc is one of the strongest aspects of the season. Mike & Eleven are as adorable as ever. Steve proves once again that he’s quite possibly the best human being on the planet. It even introduces a new character called Robin who slots it surprisingly well. I just love these characters.

No show does nostalgia as good as Stranger Things. It really goes for it hard in season 3, with literally no subtlety. This is one of my problems though, it wasn’t like that in previous seasons. There would be references and plenty of homages or Easter eggs but it was never this in your face. Putting it simply, it’s cheap.

Season 3 takes a lot from Invasion of the body snatchers. That’s fine and it’s done well enough but what happened to originality? Season 1 borrowed plenty but at its core was something truly unique unlike anything we had seen before. The entire plotline surrounding the Russians is a bit of a huge mess in my opinion. It’s one of the many storylines that the show attempts to juggle and it’s just messy. It gives something for certain characters to do but you’ll really need to leave your brain at the door.

Let’s talk about Hopper, what the heck happened to Hopper? I saw someone describe him as being “Homer Simpsoned” in season 3 and I can see why. You know, Homer was a loveable fool but his intentions were pure. Then, he just became a literal idiot. Hopper is made to look very foolish in this season, he contributes very little. Not only is there that but his whole relationship with Joyce is just a bit weird. She stands him up at dinner and he just never lets it go even though she was literally doing something that concerned her kids. It’s mostly all done in a light hearted way and it does have its moments. Yes, even I teared up at the end.

It’s worth mentioning that this season contains some of the best horror moments of the entire show to date.

Unfortunately, it’s sort of ruined when it’s almost certainly revealed that a certain character is alive. The ending with the kids is equally as sad but even that is ruined because we all know that isn’t going to last very long with what’s to come.

I’m conflicted about season 3 because I definitely liked it but it has issues. I feel it was all played way too safe. Much of the grounded realism of previous seasons is thrown out the window. The characters are constantly placed in certain danger but I never felt like they were in danger if you know what I mean. Nancy gets thrown into a wall at one point and doesn’t even sell it. This type of thing just annoys me.

The whole season has a cartoonish feel to, like it’s definitely not set in any kind of reality. The Never Ending Story scene is cute but it’s painfully dumb considering the seriousness of the events at hand. A certain character may well have escaped their “death” had they not wasted time singing. Max making jokes with the boys a mere 3 months after holding her dying brother in her arms is just silly. This season had 3 or 4 powerful emotional moments and it just chucks most of them away. At least there is Alexei, dear sweet Alexei…..

Overall, I hope season 4 can attempt to go back to the basic roots of Stranger Things. I mean, the Upside Down is barely mentioned. The mindless entertainment of season 3 cannot be denied but it’s just that, mindless.

Stranger Things (Season 3)
  • The Final Score - 6.5/10
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