Stranger Things returned to Netflix earlier this month with season three. After a disastrous second season, we return to Hawkins for the summer of 1985 and catch up with all the members of the gang. The kids have grown up: Will and Eleven are still going strong (maybe a bit too strong for Hopper’s taste), Lucas and Max have established themselves as the old married couple, and poor Will is left alone still wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons as the bromance between Steven and Dustin is blooming and Nancy and Jonathan get jobs at the local newspaper.
As our characters are enjoying a well-deserved summer break between the public pool and the newly opened mall, the Mind Flayer also is recovering and looking for a new host. With its usual “more ‘80s than the ‘80s” aesthetic, this season of Stranger Things continues its excursion into the tropes back catalogue, picking out Terminator, evil Russians, Magnum PI, and not-so-subtle product placement for New Coke. But besides these constant nostalgia-jerking references, in Stranger Things 3 the Duffer Brothers show that they have taken in the catastrophic feedback from season two and have returned to what made the first season Netflix’s headline show: it is all about the adventure.
Though the balance between comedy and drama is masterfully stuck (if you didn’t bawl your eyes out at the finale you are a flayed) and there is some very well-executed character development, some of the characters are lost to the pacing of the show. The entire Byers family – who, granted, were at the forefront of the first two seasons – are relegated to the sidelines and become mere plot devices. Jonathan becomes Nancy’s chauffeur, Will acts like an alarm bell for when the Mind Flayer approaches, and Joyce seems to have forgotten about her sons completely and joins Hopper as a good cop to his bad cop.
But while the whole plot line of Eleven’s “siblings” is being brushed under the carpet might not have been the wisest choice, the hope remains for season four to give this plotline the development it needs and give the show the well-executed ending it deserves.
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