As most might be aware by now, Stranger Things 3 has been streaming on Netflix since the 4th of July. Audiences return to Hawkins in 8 brand-new episodes, a year after the events of Season 2 took place.
The tone of Stranger Things’ 3rd Season is pretty much the same as you’d expect out of the series – character-centric drama set in the 80s, with an underlying horror throughout the season that eventually (and literally) rears its ugly head, that all the characters band together to defeat.
With new romances and character dynamics to explore, coupled with a sinister new evil to defeat, all while 80s pop-culture references get thrown into the mix – it all comes together to make one fun season, in true Stranger Things fashion.
On that end, horror is definitely one of this season’s highlights. Season 3’s grotesque alien of an enemy is much more insidious than the ones in the first two seasons – in the sense that there are faces given to this evil force. This, of course, allows for a more constant build-up to the eventual, horrific big reveal. This is made even better by the special effects, which all come together spectacularly as part of the season’s finale.
That, and this season’s writing for its characters is fantastic – especially where its new protagonists are concerned. We’re introduced to Robin this season – Steve’s moody, intelligent co-worker at an ice-cream parlour, added in to act as his foil. Within 3 episodes, I adore her more than half of the existing characters in the series, and by the end of the season, she’s easily one of my favourite characters in the entire show.
If there’s any gripe I have for this season, though, it’s that the writing for some characters is neglected entirely. While certain characters get fleshed out and get better development this season (Steve, Nancy, Max and Eleven, just to name a few), a couple are neglected in the process. Namely, Will Byers. Having been tormented by just about every creature from the Upside Down that’s been introduced throughout the show, it’s unfortunate that he’s been reduced to touching his neck this season – especially after having some semblance of development in about episode 3.
Apart from that, and the plot getting a little draggy within the first few episodes, the season does well to juggle the problems and perspectives of various characters simultaneously. In fact, Season 3 ended so well that I’m not sure how to feel about the teaser for Season 4 at the very end. While it’ll be interesting to see how Season 4 tackles the problems (and emotional issues) left in the wake of Season 3, it also feels a little unnecessary in hindsight.
All in all, Season 3 is a nostalgia-infused whirlwind that ends with an epic, emotional finale. If I had to describe it, it brings about feelings of summer: it’s highly anticipated, and there’s a lot of excitement involved as you’re enjoying it, but it passes quickly, and you’re back to reality before you know it.
Stranger Things is streaming on Netflix now.