Title: Stranger Things Season 3 Review
Air Date: July 4th, 2019
Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural fiction, Horror, Mystery
Netflix dropped Stranger Things season 3 on their platform during Independence Day in hopes of enticing us all to take time out of our firework-heavy schedules to sit down and binge. And, it worked. At least for me anyway.
Stranger Things season 3 picks up a few months after the end of season 2. Things have changed for the town of Hawkins and this applies to some of its residents too. Mike, El, Max, Lucas, Nancy, Jonathan, and Hopper want to move on with their lives after their terrifying adventures. Then we have people like Will, Joyce, and even Steve to a certain degree who are still stuck in the past, whether that be because of trauma or nostalgia.
Speaking of nostalgia, if you are an “80s kid”, you will definitely recognize a few references. Some of these nods are subtle but the majority of them were just blatantly in your face (For anyone who has seen this season, I’m definitely talking about the New Coke stuff). There’s even a character that is a walking reference to a classic 80s movie. To be fair, these in-your-face references have been the norm for this show since season 1 so I’m not going to knock it for trying to pull on a generation’s heartstrings.
Got off track there for a second. Where were we? Oh yeah, the concept of moving on. I really enjoyed the whole moving on/stuck in a rut dynamic for the characters. It felt realistic. That’s how life is for a lot of people. Some people move on while others get stuck reliving the past. Joyce is still dealing with the trauma of Bob’s gruesome death, Steve is trying to cling on to his high school glory days, and Will just wants to play Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. They are all unable to move forward for different reasons and I thought it was pretty compelling. They definitely could have given Will more to do this season though as it seems that any storyline that could have involved him was dropped by episode 4 or 5.
Story-wise, Stranger Things season 3 was just okay. I didn’t love it. There were definitely a few major complaints, particularly with the Scoop Troop arc, but all of the story threads were fairly entertaining.
Even though I have a few issues with Dustin, Steve, and Robin’s storyline, this group was definitely the MVPs of the season. Steve Harrington is an amazingly well-written character and his big bro type of relationship with Dustin continues to be one of the best creative decisions this show has made. Joe Keery (Steve) and Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) have excellent chemistry together and you buy into their friendship immediately due to it. You would think the idea of adding new characters to this dynamic would completely ruin it. Turns out, it made these scenes even better.
Although Dustin and Steve were fantastic, the real standout performance this season has to go to Maya Hawke’s Robin. She was the newbie to the cast but it really didn’t feel like it in the slightest. Her character quickly fit in with the story and you just go with it because these three characters together are just comedic gold. They also have a few excellent dramatic scenes together as well. The show then adds Priah Ferguson’s Erica Sinclair to the mix (Lucas’ sister) and, like Robin, slid right into the group seamlessly.
Billy, played by Dacre Montgomery, was another standout worth mentioning. In season 2, Billy was this one-note character who was abusive to his sister and kinda psychotic. His character got more screentime this year and was more developed, garnering some legitimate sympathy along the way.
The rest of the kids don’t really have too much to do this season, outside of relationship drama, and that’s a shame. It doesn’t help that I just didn’t care about what was going on as it all seemed like temporary drama to bide time until we got to the monster.
In terms of horror and overall suspense, I think Stranger Things season 1 and season 2 were both better. However, season 3 has the grotesque stuff nailed down. Luckily, I wasn’t eating while watching any of the episodes this thing appeared in because… well, you all know why. The monster this season was cool, even if it was completely disgusting. Its ability was extremely threatening as well.
My biggest problem with this season is its formulaic structure. Now, as some of you may know, I also review shows like Arrow and The Flash for the site. I love these shows but they are very repetitive and it is a bit annoying at times. However, they are CW shows on network television. For a Netflix show that takes a full-year plus to release a season, I wish it wouldn’t feature a similar issue as those shows. If you have seen Stranger Things season 1 and 2, you know how it works. Everyone gets separated, splits off into groups, they all get tied into these crazy storylines that are all somehow connected, and they eventually all group up by the season’s end. I’m not sure how you would switch it up but I don’t think this formula can go on successfully for another 2 or 3 seasons.
I know it seems like I’m harping on a lot of negatives here but there is a lot to love about Stranger Things season 3. The characters were great and that’s what will always keep me coming back regardless of problems with the story. Most of the comedy worked and there are a couple of fantastic one-liners you’ll remember after binging. The emotional beats will definitely resonate with you as you’ll be dying from laughter one moment only to be floored with sadness the next. Finally, there are a ton of surprises throughout despite the formulaic outline.
Verdict: So, for all of you who haven’t seen Stranger Things season 3, I would say check it out as soon as possible. I don’t think it’s the show’s best season yet but it certainly isn’t bad by any meaning of the word. Some of the storylines work. Some are just okay. You can say the same for the characters’ arcs and the 80s references. And that’s fine. It is still a very enjoyable 8 hours of quality television filled with hilarious and intense moments. I hope that the show changes the formula up a bit for season 4 though as I think the repetitive structure will start to annoy some people if it continues.
- The entire Scoop Troop team
- Billy and Robin were the breakout characters this season
- Very comedic season
- Emotional moments that will bring a tear to your eye
- The visual effects
- Loved the monster this season
- These characters are still awesome
- Not all of the storylines clicked this season, particularly the Scoop Troop arc
- The show is becoming a bit too formulaic in how it handles splitting characters off and their storylines
- Although all of the characters continue to be entertaining, most of them do not have a chance to shine this season
Avid gamer and placeholder of what is now the worst selfie of all time. Mostly an Xbox/PS4 player but I have been known to destroy friendships in Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.