It’s been two years since the previous season of Stranger Things debuted on Netflix, and I have to admit; I don’t remember much from that second season. Most of what I fondly remember about the series is from the brilliant first season.
Fortunately, Stranger Things Season 3 feels more like an improved version of the first season’s formula, making this the best season yet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still more of the same 80s nostalgia, charming cast of characters, and silly story beats, but those are the reasons why we’re even watching this show in the first place.
Return To Form
Part of why Stranger Things 3 is a return to form for the series is that it doesn’t suffer from the curse of the Netflix bloat problem. At 8 episodes long (just like the first season), it doesn’t drag too long, unlike the 10 to 13 episodes of other Netflix series.
Despite being just one episode longer (with 9 episodes), season 2 felt like a slog by comparison (it even had one or two filler episodes). There’s no filler to worry about here. I’m someone who usually abhors binge-watching, but I actually finished Stranger Things 3 in one sitting without feeling too fatigued.
The trademark 80s tropes and references make a triumphant return in Stranger Things 3 – not to say that there weren’t any in season 2, but I can’t even recall what they were. What makes this series unique is that you don’t really need to have grown up in the 80s to fully appreciate it all, though some of the throwbacks will still likely fly over your head.
I love the fact that Stranger Things 3 manages to pay homage to more great sci-fi classics. For example, the monsters (the Mind-Flayer and his Flayers) this time are clearly inspired by 1982’s The Thing and 1978’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.
Meanwhile, the new Russian villains include a guy named Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko) who looks eerily similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original T-800 from 1984’s The Terminator. He even acts, moves and somewhat talks like him too. Perhaps they should hire him for the next Terminator movie.
Ridiculous Oversimplified Plot
Like I mentioned before, no one is actually watching Stranger Things for its sophisticated and complex plot. The series is meant to feature schlocky and familiar story beats from the 80s, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the world-building could be better.
The Duffer Brothers (creators of Stranger Things) have always focused on their cast of characters instead of truly developing the plot in any meaningful way.
Three seasons in, and we know nothing else about the Upside Down other than the fact that it’s home to Lovecraftian monsters like the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer.
No one even explains why they want to enter this other dimension so much, other than just them being evil government types and ‘evil Russians’. I guess that’s all part of the package, being a product that reflects the 80s.
The Gang Is Back But Not Always Together
All of the gang is here in Stranger Things 3 nut weirdly enough, my personal highlight for this season wasn’t even Mike, Eleven, or anyone you would expect. Instead, it’s the bromance between Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin and Joe Keery’s Steve, as well as their interplay with newcomer Maya Hawke’s Robin.
These three work so well together that I would actually watch a spinoff featuring just them hanging out in the mall. Other highlight characters of this season include David Harbour’s Jim Hopper and Winona Ryder’s Joyce Byers.
In fact, Stranger Things 3‘s main plotline can be divided into four separate groups with their own B-plots: the main kids (Mike, Will, Eleven, etc.), the trio (Steve, Dustin, and new girl Robin), the adventures of Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers, and the budding investigative duo of Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers.
It’s a bizarre choice for the cast to be kept separated for almost the entire season, but circumstances are a lot different in Stranger Things 3, as the gang are technically teenagers and young adults now.
They’re not kids anymore; they’re now facing the all the perils of growing up, including relationship issues and job problems.
It makes for compelling character development, especially for those who have been here with the Stranger Things cast from the very beginning.
Fun 80s Ride With Emotion And Gusto
Stranger Things 3 ends on a sombre and hopeful note, with an emotionally-devastating moment rivalling that of Avengers Endgame‘s ‘I love you 3000.” In Marvel-like fashion, Netflix has also included a post-credits scene, which hints at a possible season four in the future.
The series will always be known for its charming and lovable cast, as well as a unique sense of humour that stems from 80s nostalgia and aesthetics. Stranger Things brings a smile to my face and a warm fuzzy feeling in my gut, making me miss an era I never even lived in or experienced.
FINAL SCORE: 80/100
Stranger Thing Season 3 is now available on Netflix.