Stranger Things Season 3 is streaming on Netflix and it’s the best thing I’ve seen all year long. The Duffer Brothers once again prove themselves to be masters at building so much depth to characters that we love and even new characters. There’s 13 leads this season and I love every single one of them. They each have different characteristics that make them unique and extremely likeable.
If you’re eager for the series to start off with heavy Upside down SciFi suspense, you might be disappointed because the first few episodes we are mainly focusing on the characters. Hopper does not like Mike because he spends all his time with Eleven. He feels like they should have boundaries. We see relationship problems between Mike and El. Nancy and Jonathan are dealing with work-related problems and being maltreated by their co-workers working at the local newspaper, The Hawkins Post. Dustin has just got back from camp and claims to have a new girlfriend named Suzie that no one believes is real. Steve Harrington is working at a new ice cream shop with his co-worker Robin.
There’s a lot of setup with the characters and that did not bother me whatsoever because I love these characters. The first 3 or 4 episodes you may be a little underwhelmed by the level of problems that are being dealt with. I felt like these first few episodes were really good but I have heard the complaint that it is slow and I disagree. They communicate a lot that I thought was interesting really fast as we have 13 main characters at this point and they needed to give each one an adequate enough screen time so you can see how they’ve changed since the last season. I defend the decision for the Duffer Brothers to spend so much time on the characters because that is why this show is so good- Stranger Things always shows our characters doing things we can relate to and it is when it does that, the characters feel very real and extremely fleshed out. Several SciFi movies and TV shows can often get lost in the SciFi and forget about building good characters- but Stranger Things keeps the characters a priority and I loved what they do with them.
Due to the large cast that has grown since it’s first season The Duffer Brothers strategically split our group up: (for the majority of the show) Mike, Lucas, Will, Max, and Eleven are trying to figure out how to stop the giant spider looking creature that’s called The Mind Flare from returning. Dustin, Steve, a new character named Robin, and Lucas’s sister Erika are trying to decrypt a Russian message that leads them to uncover a conspiracy that coincidently connects to the main plot. Joyce is grieving the loss of her previous love, Bob. As I mentioned, Hopper is trying to figure out how to be a dad and I liked how concerned he was because it really showed how good of a father figure he is. Him and Joyce investigate a weird situation involving magnets. Nancy and Jonathan are investigating a series of rats that are acting peculiar. While trying to get the story published, they face opposition from their co-workers who all think it’s a silly story.
Having everyone separated allows the characters to talk with each other easier. If you’re in a group of 3-5 you get more chances to talk then if it’s a big giant group of 13 people. Also, the environment changes consistently as we cut from each group which made it feel like a lot was going on and it was a nice visual change to look forward to. One moment we are at the pool, the next we are in a forest, and the next the mall.
The Starcourt Mall was easily the best-looking location! It looks gorgeous and truly feels like a mall that existed in the 80’s. You not only had old stores but also had older logos for fast food restaurants and I absolutely loved it.
I am now going to get into major plot spoilers and so this is your official spoiler warning!
The funniest joke made this season and maybe in the entire show is after we find out that Dustin’s girlfriend Suzie is real. In order to get information that will allow Hopper to open a very important safe that will save the lives of everyone we love, Suzie forces Dustin to sing The Never Ending Story theme song.
It’s so unexpected, totally wasn’t the time for something like this to happen- there’s literally a monster about to destroy their friends. And when Suzie does this I was a bit annoyed for just a little bit but once the synth music comes in and they both start singing I died laughing. Whoever pitched this idea, 10/10; I loved it 200%.
Stranger Things does a great job at subverting our expectations! From episode 1, “Suzie, Do You Copy?” we are left to wonder if Dustin’s girlfriend is real. In the last episode, it turns out she is real! I thought it was hilarious that Suzie really did exist since everyone including myself thought she was fake. I actually thought Dustin and Erika might have become interested in each other but I was clearly wrong.
Another example of the show subverting our expectations is when we learn Robin is attracted to women. I was really surprised and at the same time sad for Steve Harrington who grew close to Robin this season. I think we all really wanted to see them get together. In fact, if any character was going to say they were gay I thought it’d be Will Byers who is upset that Mike and Lucas are so interested in girls. He just wants to play D&D with his “buddies” like the good ol’ days. Mike snaps at him saying, “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” Will doesn’t defend himself and it could just be he hasn’t reached the point where he is interested in girls like his friends or it could be The Duffer Brothers hinting that season 4 may explore his sexuality.
Even though I’m sad for Steve Harrington not getting with Robin I’m glad that the Duffer Brothers chose to do this because it feels like real life- sometimes someone who thinks they’ve finally found someone they really like tells you that they only see you as a friend and had everyone found a love the show would feel very contrived and not natural. The fact that Steve has yet to find his happy ending is still on the search makes him feel like a real character. In addition, I hope Robin can find someone she really likes!
I love the creative idea to have Lucas blast Fireworks towards The Mind Flare. That’s something that is specific to the July 4th Holiday and release time of the season. It was such a unique way to battle against a monster. How many other shows or movies do you know have fireworks being used as a weapon? This form of attack was original and beautiful to look at.
Eleven loses her powers when she uses a ton of energy to force a piece of The Mind Flare that trapped itself inside of her leg. This moment created lots of tension because El has been the trump card helping out a ton this season. Particularly I like when she helps trap Billy inside the Sauna. That reminded me of a scene from an old X-Files video game. I also like when she goes psycho and uses her powers to rip pieces of The Mind Flare a part. Having El lose her powers was a smart decision because it made the end unpredictable as we all would think that El would be used to finish off the antagonist.
The biggest spoiler I want to discuss is Hopper’s sacrifice. His death was entirely unexpected, shocking, and devastating. I like how his sacrifice is what ultimately saves our group because after El loses her powers I did not have any idea what would finish off The Mind Flare. As cute as the fireworks were to weaken the monster, we knew that wasn’t going to defeat the creature. It’d be too easy. A theory I had was maybe the characters we met last season who also have powers like Eleven would show up and help overthrow the monster but I’m glad that did not happen because there would’ve been no emotional impact with that choice. I think the screenplay made the best decision possible regarding the ending. There have been some people angry with Suzie saying Hopper would have had more time to get back to Joyce had she not had to sing the song. That’s debatable but I can understand everyone’s frustrations. I’m sure Hopper would be gone song or no song as this is what the showrunners wanted moving forward.
I loved that Joyce decides to adopt Eleven as it is in her motherly character to do that. When El is reading the letter that Hopper had written to talk to her I lost it. It was so sad.
However, I would bet money that Hopper is not dead because in the end credit scene, a security guard says, “Not the American” and this whole series Hopper was referred to as the American. I can’t imagine anyone else being behind that door and Stranger Things is very intentional with their script and for that to never be addressed wouldn’t make any sense.
I think next season will start a year after these events. I predict Joyce will have moved on and potentially find someone she likes. When it is discovered that Hopper is alive, this could create some tension-filled conflict. I think Mike and El are going to be dealing with long-distance relationship issues. I also think this next season may be released around Thanksgiving time since that’s when Mike says him and El will for sure see each other next time.
|Final Verdict:||The Duffer Brothers once again prove themselves to be masters at building depth to characters that we love and even new characters; each feel real, unique, and likable!|