Season 3 of Stranger Things premiered last Thursday, and although it took me longer to watch it than I had hoped, I’m finally finished and ready to share my thoughts! Warning: mild plot spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched yet, what the heck are you waiting for?!
Like the second season, I felt that this season got off to a slow start. Nothing very exciting starts happening until the fourth episode, but I still enjoyed watching the first few episodes as they set up the story. Once things get going though, they really get going. After I got past the third episode, I binged the rest of the season all the way through because it was just so darn good. There were a few things that I didn’t like, but overall, I think it was the best season yet and I’m happy to hear that there’s already talk surrounding a season 4.
The plot construction was great this time around. I thought it was neat how the story came together piece by piece as each group discovered more about the Russians’ plan to reopen the gate to the Upside Down. Nancy and Jonathan investigated the diseased rats for a newspaper article pitch, the Scoops Troop cracked the Russians’ secret code and broke in to their underground lab, Hopper and Joyce kidnapped a Russian scientist to ask him why the magnets lost their magnetism, and El and the rest of the gang took on Billy and the Mind Flayer. None of the groups knew what the others were up to until the last couple episodes, which means that none of the groups knew the full story until the end.
What I loved most:
Max & El’s Friendship
Watching El develop such a strong friendship with Max was so much fun. In the first season, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas become Eleven’s first ever friends. Then in the second season, most of El’s screen time is spent developing her relationship with Hopper. We do get to see her bond briefly with another female when she reunites with Eight in season 2’s “The Lost Sister,” but this is super short-lived.
Max and El don’t hit it off when they first meet, but when El starts having boy problems, she goes to Max for advice. The two become fast friends, and Max opens Eleven up to a whole new world of sisterhood that she had never really taken part in before. With Max, she gets a bestie that can relate to her, who can give her tips on handling her feelings and dealing with Mike’s boneheadedness. Max encourages her to find things that she likes for herself, not for Mike or Hopper, empowering her in a way that has nothing to do with her actual superpowers. Plus, the shopping montage at the mall is one of the cutest things ever and I’m all for that 80s fashion.
Billy was easily the most unlikable character in season 2, existing only to bully his half-sister Max, piss off Steve, and hit on moms. He’s still unlikable this time around, but for very different reasons. Billy becomes the Mind Flayer’s host and helps create a zombie-like army of Flayed people ready to melt and become one with the Mind Flayer’s meat incarnation (gross, btw).
Dacre Montgomery acted the hell out of Flayed Billy. Despite being such a jerk in the last season, I remember thinking “man, this guy can act.” I was thrilled to see that Billy had more screen time this season and to see a bit of his backstory. He had his redemptive moment in the final episode, and although it wasn’t quite enough to forgive him for being so evil, it was a nice ending to his story.
Even More Kickass Girls
Robin was such a great new addition to the cast. She’s smart, sarcastic, calls Steve on his BS, and to top it all off, she’s a band geek. My kinda gal! She’s also the show’s first openly gay character, and although I think they could have done a lot more to develop her queer identity, I think her coming out scene was handled beautifully.
We got a little taste of Erica in all her sassy glory last season, but we spend a lot more time getting to know her in season 3. Luke’s little sister is a straight-up boss. She’s a math whiz, quick with a comeback, and a My Little Pony fan. Although she denies her nerdiness throughout the season, she comes to terms with it in the end and I can’t wait to see how her character grows in season 4.
What I didn’t like:
There were a few things I wasn’t a fan of in season 3, but my biggest peeve was Sheriff Hopper. He’s always been a brash, no nonsense kind of guy, but while he was a lovable brute before, I think he went a little off-the-rails this season. He abuses his Sheriff position, drinks way too much alcohol, is needlessly rude to Joyce, and handles El and Mike’s relationship poorly. He had his moments, like when he was right about Alexei not wanting to leave and his heartfelt letter to Eleven, but most of his scenes just annoyed me.
I didn’t like how the whole ‘sexism in the workplace’ subplot played out, either. Yes, it makes sense that the show would portray this facet of life in the 80s, but it just got so damn cringey. Nancy’s boss and his reporters are complete pigs toward her, putting down her article pitches and constantly making fun of her. It would have been awesome to see an actual resolution to this, like Nancy getting to publish her story in the show’s final moments, rather than just serving to drive Nancy and Jonathan apart. It did motivate Nancy to really dig her heels into her story, but being the badass she is, I have a feeling she would have dove in with or without the misogynistic jerks berating her.
Lastly, it drives me crazy that we’re never told why the Russians are trying to reopen the gate. All we get is this stereotypical ‘evil Russians’ explanation but really, what are they doing? Even if the explanation is just that they want to use the Upside Down to gain the upper-hand over America during the final years of the Cold War, it’d be nice to know for sure what’s going on there.
Stranger Things did a lot right with this latest season. Starcourt Mall was dripping with 80s nostalgia and served as the perfect setting for much of the action to take place in. Most of the character development was great, from the gang getting older and developing new interests, Will feeling left out and destroying his childhood sanctuary, and even Murray finding a new friend in Alexei. The cliffhanger was a real humdinger, revealing that Hopper may not actually be dead and that the Russians have a Demogorgen caged up. All in all, I don’t want to assume anything for season 4, but while I definitely want to know what the heck is going on in Russia, I’m more interested to see how Joyce, Jonathan, Will, and El are dealing with their move and how the rest of the gang is coping with their friends being gone.
Over to you!
What did you think of season 3 of Stranger Things? Do you think Hopper is still alive and that maybe he’ll be less of a butthead next season? Share your thoughts in the comments below!