Season 3 feels like the peak for Stranger Things, and from here, it can either plateau or go downhill.
|Creator(s)||The Duffer Brothers|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action|
|Good If You Like||80s Sci-Fi/ Fantasy|
Shows With Teens Doing What The Adults Should
US vs. Russians
|Isn’t For You If You||Don’t Like Dull Romances|
Hate When Formidable Villains Are Defeated Indirectly
Dislike Many Deaths Not Having The Impact They Should
|El||Millie Bobby Brown|
|Dr. Owens||Paul Reiser|
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It has been less than a year since the events of season 2, and the kids are trying to enjoy their summer. El and Mike by making out as much as possible, Lucas and Max have an off, and on relationship, Dustin just got back from camp, allegedly even got a girlfriend, and as for Will? Well, he is getting left behind as he hasn’t really gotten into dating and prefers to play D&D.
As for the teenagers? Well, Nancy is still taking advantage of Jonathan and upset her newspaper internship is purely her paying dues and not doing any meaningful work. Unlike Jonathan who is developing photos all day. Then, when it comes to our beloved Steve? He is working at the mall, with a new friend Robin, who picks with him like she is his sister. Lastly, Billy works at the pool where every girl and woman, even the moms, ogle him.
But, of course, the peace and sense of normalcy doesn’t last. Russians, since the US government decided to abandon opening the gate, have picked up where they left off. Leading to the Mind Flayer returning and wanting revenge. Making it so the kids, teens, and adults, all are drawn back into the chaos they thought was over.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Were Max and El spending Max’s money at the mall?
- Did Billy think he was working with the devil, an alien, or was he just so out of it that he was barely thinking at all?
- So is killing someone formerly possessed by the Mind Flayer considered murder?
- What’s the likelihood of Murray being gay or sexually fluid? Or was he just getting close to Alexei and that’s it?
- Who is the American mentioned at the end of the episode? Could that be Hopper? Within 3 months, who is to say, like El in season 1 going into season 2, he didn’t disappear but end up rematerializing in the Upside Down? Then, since the Russians won’t quit, finding a way back over and ending up in Russia?
- How was the Mind Flayer defeated if the Russians have a live Demogorgon? They are on the lower end of the Upside Down monsters and can’t exist in our world unless the gate is open. So how in the world did the kids and adults defeat the Mind Flayer and, if the gate is open again, does that mean it is starting things up in Russia now?
- Anyone else surprised the news didn’t cover the disappearance/ death of 20+ people more?
- What happened to the Russians that were still around as Joyce and Murray were leaving?
- Was the main thing Dr. Owens did was cover everything up or something beyond that?
- Where is Joyce moving to and how was it decided she’d take El?
- Where is Murray after the time jump?
- So will season 4 just be about El getting her powers back?
- How did Erica and Dustin’s parents react to them being gone as long as they were?
- Did Dr. Owens interrogate the kids, and Joyce, since they not only experienced something supernatural but also fought Russians?
- What is the likelihood Grigori had superiors who know of Hopper and his associates?
- Will the Starcourt be rebuilt or will locals refocus on main street stores? If there is a recovery of either at all.
- How does Will feel about El basically becoming his adopted sister? Much less, how does El feel about Joyce becoming her adopted mom? It isn’t like any of the combinations with El have been that close.
- Who bought Joyce’s house?
- How was Billy’s death explained to Max’s parents?
- Considering the lack of security on “The Lab,” the government used to operate, will there be more considering all that was under the Starcourt right under everyone’s noses?
- Was there a funeral for Hopper and who said what?
- Is It Wrong To Have Hoped & Expected Kali and The Others To Show Up?
El Getting A Sense Of Normalcy – 85
After the events of the first season, and pretty much living out the entire series as a weapon, El finally got a sense of normalcy on the show. She and Mike were just a boy and girl in love, Max and she became girlfriends and, for a few episodes, she only used her powers for trivial things. All of which was a nice change of pace for a character who pretty much has only know trauma, loss, and some sense of isolation.
Dustin – 89
Since the beginning, Dustin may have been seen as a comic relief, especially because of his scream, but this season reminded you how essential he is to the show. In many ways, Dustin has a level of compatibility, chemistry, that the others don’t necessarily have. For whether we’re talking about Erica or Robin, Dustin helps them get acclimated and also makes their sudden important seem natural. Which, of course, you have to also add in Steve’s help. Yet, lest we forget, it was Dustin who helped Steve go from the high school ass**** to one of the most lovable characters on Stranger Things.
So put some respect on his name and singing talents.
The Diverse Depiction Of Women & Girls – 90
Often times, diversity can be seen strictly in just casting someone who isn’t a white male, and it is left at that. Also, usually there is a restriction in age, size, gender performance, and sometimes sexuality. Stranger Things is a tad different. For while no one physically took the place of Barb and gave us someone who didn’t look like a top of the pyramid cheerleader, either past or present, there was diversity in other ways.
For example, we got Erica who is very in your face, curious and, though she hates to admit it, a bit nerdy. Then there is Nancy who is very girly girl, oblivious to her various privileges, and then there is Max and Robin. Max is this interesting mix of many of the ladies in that she can be as aggressive as Erica, girly as Nancy, yet also has this sort of tomboy vibe like Robin has.
And speaking of the newest young woman, Robin brings on queer representation to the show. Also, like Erica, she presents some comic relief, and while Max is relegated to a smaller role this season, Robin is made damn near to be an equal amongst the teens. And while she doesn’t necessarily get a big moment, outside of coming out, she has quickly made herself essential.
Lastly, when it comes to the adults, you have to appreciate what Joyce and Karen bring to the show. Joyce is struggling as a single parent, yet remains curious about life. She doesn’t just let things happen to her but is willing to fight and struggle for them to change. Which isn’t to put down Karen, but it does show the difficulty there once was for women to be mobile socially and economically. Leading to you understanding why Nancy, despite how aggravating she can be, is often encouraged to do what she wants, despite the consequences. After all, would it be as grating if it was Jonathan or the boys taking on such initiative? Even if it meant exploiting others?
Murray – 80
While, again, not a huge part of this season, just as he wasn’t really of the last, you have to enjoy Murray’s quirks. Be it him pushing a ship hard and forcing them to maybe act on their underlying feelings, or just being this weird, comical dude without patience. I won’t say that Murray should become a core and more consistently seen character, but I think he has to show up once a season and stick around at least.
Billy’s Death – 84
A lot of people, named characters and random people introduced this season, die. However, the only one which had any real impact, and was left to be a definitive death, was Billy’s. And between El going into his memories and his final words being an apology to Max, Billy’s death is the only one which ends with a period or even exclamation point. Unlike others who died to prove the ruthlessness of others or had their deaths left on an ellipsis.
The Russians – 64
The main issue with the Russians is that they repeated what the Americans were doing but seemed to be less organized and easier to infiltrate. That second part, especially, was what undercut them. For whether you are talking about Hopper, Joyce, and Murray breaking in, or the kids coming in and leaving, it made them look inept in ways which made it hard to take them seriously. Even with Grigori presenting himself as an adept soldier.
The Possibility of Hopper Still Being Alive – 65
Billy’s death is the only one which is worth praising since, even as the laser blew up, while we saw many Russians clearly get killed, the same couldn’t be said for Hopper. And while the show has this beautiful letter he wrote for El readout, there was this sense his death isn’t real. Which, admittedly, is common. However, with the Russians noting they have an American, and not showing who, it leaves a door open for his return and it makes the ending he had so cheap. Killing any real need to worry or feel anything for him.
On The Fence
The Mind Flayer – 79
This season, the Mind Flayer took over multiple people and the size we saw in the Upside Down, it didn’t get that big, but it did get massive. Making the way they escalated the villain quite awesome and kept it relatively fresh. However, with it being defeated indirectly, solely due to the gate closing again, that was a major bummer.
Nancy – 75
Nancy is one of those characters who aren’t likable, yet you recognize she is also essential. Actually, let me rephrase, I don’t like Nancy because of the way she treats and talks to Jonathan, and due to her being privileged. Which, strangely, members of her family don’t exhibit anywhere near the level she does. Yet, you have to admire her taking the initiative at work and usually being one of the first to grab a weapon to help El. So while she may not be as lovable as El, Max, or Robin, there is no denying if she were to die or leave the show it would be a noticeable absence.
The Relationships – 70
Most of the relationships seem rooted in trauma more so than love. It’s something Jonathan says to Nancy, and it really puts things into perspective. If it wasn’t for them both experiencing the Mind Flayer and Demogorgon phenomena together, he and Nancy wouldn’t be together. Heck, if Jonathan wasn’t such a pushover, Nancy wouldn’t be with him.
From there, it spreads. Joyce and Hopper aren’t so much cute together because of their past, but simply because they can rely on one another through these series of traumatic events. Thus crafting what comes off like chemistry but, as shown through Bob, isn’t the kind which develops into love. It is more about dependability more than anything.
Something we also see in El and Mike’s relationship. For, as Max points out, there is this certain realm of control Mike has over El since he is the most consistent person in her life. So, it makes it where, even with Hopper’s existence, she depends on him for affection and normalcy. Which, after living most of her life traumatized to develop her powers, creates this imbalance that taints any sense of romance.
And of course, lastly, on the negative tip, there is Max and Lucas. Two characters who, in season 2, seemed like they could be cute together, but that is gone in season 3. Max to Lucas just seems like a pale redhead version of Erica. Well, if the two got along better.
Making it so the only relationships which was appealing was Dustin & his girlfriend, Suzie. Who, granted, is very new, and only appears for maybe 15 – 20 minutes the entire season. Yet, with their relationship not being forged from sharing a life or death series of moments, or anything which complicated the relationships named above, it is pure. Add in they are both weird in ways that seem like you could find a couple like them, and it makes them the one romantic reprieve of the season.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
Stranger Things is coming to that point where it is starting to repeat itself and isn’t coming up with new stories that can match or outdo the old ones. And while they upped the Mind Flayer, and Grigori was a formidable villain, their ends weren’t necessarily the one-two combination you could hope for. Grigori made a foolish mistake by being cocky and the Mind Flayer, once more, was solely defeated because the gate closed. Thus leaving the door open for its return.
And, speaking of returns, I’m sure most would agree that when a show kills off a character it is often more about building up suspense and drama than story. Such is the case with leaving the door open for Hopper’s return rather than making it clear he is dead-dead and the rest will have to move on without his leadership. Which, all together, is why this is being labeled as mixed. As with most shows, while season 3 of Stranger Things has its high points, taken as a whole, you’re reminded how hard it must be to keep a show engaging for years. Especially one with a villain that is reused over multiple seasons, who may get more stronger and aggressive, but will ultimately still be defeated. Much less, by the same group of people who seemingly just can’t catch a break in the battle against the villain, or in their personal lives.
Has Another Season Been Confirmed?
No, but it is likely.
Thoughts On Another Season
I’m mixed about the idea. Mostly because the Mind Flayer keeps getting defeated indirectly and not being killed. So unless the show takes things to where it is and fights the Mind Flayer in their element, it will just feel like the show is repeating itself year after year. Add in the whole Russian angle flopped this season, them coming back for another doesn’t inspire much hype. Never mind not definitively killing off Hopper but leaving a door open for his return.
But, with the group separating, that could lead to some interesting moments. As noted in the recaps of this season, we didn’t see Kali and her group and with El losing her powers, now is the perfect time for them to return. Heck, them joining El to defeat the Mind Flayer once and for all could make for an excellent final season. One which, since I like a quality character death, could be the end of El since it seems she is doomed to die if she keeps fighting as hard as she does.