Another year brings in the new season of Stranger Things, with Eleven, Mike, and the
rest of the gang taking on the latest threat from the dreaded Upside-Down – provided
some adorable relationship drama doesn’t distract them too much.
Stranger Things 3 picks up a couple years (a year?) after the conclusion of Season 2,
with our favourite Hawkins’s residents emerging into an 80’s fuelled adolescence. Yet
thankfully, the integrity of the characters and undeniable charm of the show has
remained intact. Season 3 begins with Dustin returning to Hawkins from his summer
science camp, and weird monsters predictably returning from the Upside-Down. The
show knows its winning formula, and it sticks to it – throwing each character on bizarre
side quests that involve secret Russian military bases, exploding rats and the town’s very
own Terminator. However, these niche and disconnected plot points all manage to
collide to form an absurd and delightful narrative, that absolutely keep our attention
captive and our Netflix subscriptions renewed.
Millie Bobby Brown returns to her breakthrough role as the super-powered ‘Eleven’ and
is once again a joy to watch. Unlike her separation from the gang for much of Season 2,
she is very much the glue of Season 3. From the get-go Eleven spends most of her time
defying Hopper’s house rules, joking, fighting, and dropping brilliant one-liners with
Mike and the gang. Whilst the entire cast of characters are portrayed flawlessly once
again, a standout performance is Dacre Montgomery’s ‘Billy’ who returns as a kind of
secondary villain. The writers develop an increased focus on his past, and succeed in
giving more depth given to his character, creating a role which shines as one of
Stranger Things 3’s highlights.
As one of Netflix’s most popular shows, the show’s budget has obviously increased from
the previous two seasons, but this also creates problems within the series. Whilst
Stranger Things is not definitively within the horror genre, it relies on jump-scares and
array of grotesque creatures, such as Season 1’s terrifying Demogorgon and Season 2’s
infamous Mind-Flayer. Even though the horror was noticeably reduced during Season 2,
it was still a very present aspect of the show, with unforgettable scenes such as the
exorcism of Will Byers, and the return to Hawkins’s Lab. While the third instalment does
have tense moments, Stranger Thing’s trademark horror has largely disappeared –
replaced with expensive, overhyped action sequences that don’t hold to the same level
of suspense. Narratively, the plot tends to recycle its storylines, particularly involving
the gate to the Upside-Down and its malevolent inhabitants. Although given the cult
status of the show, it is difficult to see a drastically different way to successfully
approach an already super popular format. However, despite some pitfalls in the
writing, the show is supported by a cast of well-r
ounded characters who the audience continue to wholeheartedly support with a massive internet fandom, Twitter hashtags,
and endless memes.
Despite not being as strong as its earlier seasons, Stranger Things 3 is still a fun, tense
and emotional watch, adding iconic developments to the Stranger Things canon (Scoops
Ahoy anyone?). Episode Four is especially
strong, and has and potentially the best
break-up scene on TV ever – making us fall even more in love with the entire cast of
characters. While not being the Season 3 that fans perhaps expected, the show brings it
trademark of hilariously eccentric twists, kitschy scares and hard-hitting family drama.
Continuing in a strong dedication to 80’s aesthetic and fashion, which ignited a wave of
cultural obsession, the show brings new delights in an old but beloved format.
Undeniably, it solidifies itself as one of the best shows on Netflix, and certainly the most
Film and Tv Editor