I will admit that I was really late to the entire Netflix party. I was mostly reliant on the more “unscrupulous” means of getting my entertainment before but Netflix has been a godsend as I’ve been exposed to dozens of movies and television shows that I would never have found without it. Also, I will say that it’s so much easier to just scroll through it and randomly come across something that I might find interesting.
However, one of those exclusive shows that I was watching before I started subscribing to the service was Stranger Things. Like most fans, I have been waiting for the latest season and, just a week ago, the third season of Stranger Things was released on Netflix. So you bet I watched the entire thing in record speed! But was it worth the wait?
I will say that, as someone who was looking forward to the latest season, I really liked Stranger Things 3. However, it did take a while for me to fully enjoy it. I’ll get into more detail later but I will say this upfront: Stranger Things 3 is still really good and one of the better shows out there.
Now, if you’re afraid that I’ll go revealing major plot points because I said I’ll delve into the details, it’s not like that. I will make this entire review a SPOILER FREE review because, even though I binge watched the entire season, I know there are some people out there that would like to take their time watching it. So, yes, this is a SPOILER FREE review.
Stranger Things 3 takes place in 1985 in the small town of Hawkins. Eleven and Mike are “going steady,” making Jim Hopper, Eleven’s guardian and adoptive father, really nervous. When Will feels the familiar presence of the Mind Flayer and Dustin accidentally comes across a secret Russian radio message, things start to go crazy all over again.
Okay, that sounds like a really lame summary but, like previous seasons, Stranger Things 3 has a lot of stories that are happening at the same time and this season is no exception. However, the connection between them do seem a little bit far fetched. It’s odd for me to even state that the way these plots are intertwined do seem kind of forced. It all does kind of make sense by the end but it kind of feels like the Duffer Brothers had to do a bit of stretching to get them to make sense.
Stranger Things 3 does also feel somewhat tonally different than the previous two seasons. There was always a darkness to the previous seasons that somehow mixed well with the goofy and lighthearted ’80s vibe of the show. This season does come off as more upbeat by comparison. It feels more fun but, in effect, kind of loses the grimness and seriousness from the other two seasons. It’s not a bad thing as some of the plots do capture the mood of old movies and television sitcoms of the ’80s, which is what the Duffer Brothers are going for. It’s just different.
This season also takes some time to really pick up and actually delve into the main plot. The first two episodes feel like their just setting up for the events to come as nothing really happens then. It uses this time to refamiliarize ourselves with the town of Hawkins and the main characters. Now, this does mean that your enjoyment of this season is totally dependent on having seen the earlier seasons… but then again, if you’re watching Season 3, why haven’t you watched the previous two when it’s on Netflix as well?
Things do start picking up after those two “setup” episodes and we get to the main plots. Like in previous seasons, there were some subplots that I kind of didn’t care for. Of course, as this is a SPOILER FREE review, I won’t reveal what they are. But I will tell you that my favorite sub-story revolves around Dustin and his conspiracy theory in the mall. It’s just so outlandish and crazy but it totally feels like something from an ’80s flick.
The worst one involves Mrs. Wheeler. Thankfully, that story is wrapped up really quickly as it has utterly nothing to do with the overall plot. It’s also happens in the two episodes, which might have been added to pad the length? That’s what I thought, anyway. The best thing I can say about her storyline is that it’s not as bad as the episode in Stranger Things 2 where Eleven goes to the city and finds other kids with psychic powers. Man, that episode sucked so hard and almost destroyed the entire season!
Once again, the cast of Stranger Things hit it out of the ballpark with their acting. In fact, I can’t really say if anyone gave a standout performance because everyone is so outstanding here! The regular cast is great and the couple of new characters that are introduced are given enough time to shine. Heck, even the science teacher, who’s only in it for a few minutes (because this season is set during the summer break), was fantastic!
I do have to question how some of the characters have developed. Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven has grown so much since the first season and it’s great to see her mature more. Will Byers come off more mature as well; he’s not the whiny kid he was and he does have a minor story arc which is, while not all that satisfying, talks about growing up.
While those characters do come off as really good and developed, some of the other characters have, well, devolved. Chief Hopper feels more boorish this time around. Joyce Byers is more hysterical and overreacts most of the time. The worst to get it is Steve Harrington. He’s basically the comedy relief. They all still retain their traits from the previous two seasons but they’ve been magnified to a ridiculous degree. Oddly enough, these changes to the characters does mimic lots of movie sequels that came out during the time period. Just take a look at how insane and goofy Rocky III and IV are when compared to the more serious tone of the first two Rocky films! That’s what happened to them. Suffice to say, I’m not really all that mad at what they did to them. I rather liked the character, in fact.
Overall, I really liked the third season of Stranger Things. However, you really have to get over that hump that is the first two episodes. Once you do, it’s pretty much smooth sailing. While Stranger Things 3 does feel a little bit more campy and disjointed that the previous ones, it’s still better than most shows out there is definitely worth watching.
Have you seen Stranger Things 3? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!