I was not able to start watching Stranger Things 3 the day it came out. Blowing stuff up on the 4th of July seemed more important than another tv binge. And, to be quite honest, I had been disappointed with the second season. I figured I’d get around to it eventually, but was in no great rush. It wasn’t that I hated it, but I just hadn’t been blown away like in season 1. Then social media started buzzing with how great season 3 was. Spoilers were everywhere, and I knew I needed to start it soon. So Sunday night I gave in and started it up. And once I started I didn’t want to stop. I had two days at work running on little sleep, but finally knocked out the last episode Tuesday night. I found myself very sad that it was over too. Season three was far superior to season two, and I need season four to come out like now. There are going to be lots of spoilers here so if you haven’t finished yet please do that first. I don’t want to be responsible for ruining your summer fun. If you are all caught up then come along while I run down what was good, and maybe not so good about Stranger Things 3.
Early spoiler: there was much more good than bad.
Steve’s Story Arc
He’s come a long way from since simply being Nancy’s douchebag boyfriend in season one. After getting thrown over in favor of Jonathan in season two that could have been it for him. Instead he helps the gang fight Demodogs, and becomes a good guy. In season 3 he’s gotten taken down even further as he couldn’t get into college, and is stuck working in an ice cream store in the new mall. Steve is now friends with the kids, and spends his time wearing a silly sailor suit and looking out for them. He helps unravel the Russian plot, and is even tortured by them. I had thought (I’m sure like many people) that he’d end up with Robin, but even if he doesn’t get the girl he at least has an age appropriate new best friend. His development and story was one of the best parts of the new season. And speaking of development…
The Kids Are Growing Up
They couldn’t stay children forever. This season is all about the pains of puberty for them. Lucas and Max are together all the time. Mike and El can’t stop making out. Dustin has a long distance girlfriend (who is surprisingly real), and is also busy helping Steve with the Russians. This leaves poor Will out in the cold much of the time. He either isn’t ready for girls yet or he just isn’t into chicks. He just wants to play D&D, and doesn’t understand why the others guys don’t want things to stay the same. After what he’s been through you gotta feel for the kid. It was nice to see El becoming a real and true person in her own right even if her girl time at the mall with Max dragged on a little much for me.
The New and Side Characters
Even if Robin didn’t want to bang Steve she was a great new introduction to the cast. She’s smart, funny, and doesn’t take any crap. I started off hating Erica, but she quickly proved her worth by helping Robin, Dustin, and Steve in the mall. Murray is another character I was happy to see more of this season. He’s been a funny addition ever since he helped Jonathan and Nancy hook up last season. Billy got to be much more than a creep hitting on MILFs. He was possessed by the Mind Flayer, got a lot of people killed, and then died heroically. Not a bad end for someone we thought was a total dick-bag. And I was just starting to really like Alexei when he was murdered by that Terminator-looking guy. Very sad, but at least he won a prize at the fair.
The Mind Flayer
The shadow creature Will kept drawing in season two looked fairly creepy. I really wasn’t sure how that thing would look when brought to life. It looked fucking terrifying! I mean not at first, but it was huge and freaky by the end. I liked it’s evolution too. From simple possession, to a mass like The Blob, to bizarre amalgams like the creature in The Thing, to full on horror movie nightmare. It was cute that Nancy was worried about the people who’d been taken over getting killed when they fought the Mind Flayer. Bitch you saw people get liquefied! You know they are not coming back from that. The monster was tough enough that they all should have died, but managed by everyone splitting off again into different jobs. I feel like most characters spent more time apart than together this season. That really wasn’t a bad thing though. They wouldn’t have won if everybody hadn’t been off gathering all the different pieces of the mystery.
So what wasn’t great? Not too much really. I just have a few minor gripes. Such as…
What the hell were they trying to do? I get that they were opening the gate, but why? What exactly was in all those cylinders? Was the prison during the end credit scene a separate gate facility or where they sent the stuff they pulled out of the Hawkins gate? What was their endgame? Alexei could have answered at least a few of these questions, but they were too busy asking how to ask why. I understand that Russians are perfect 80’s bad guys, but I would have liked a little more than “they’re evil Russians” as the motivation.
He spent season one off the rails, pulled it together, and then started coming off the rails again in season three. He was jealous, possessive, and manipulative. He’s obsessed about protecting a kid he left waffles in the woods for, but thinks of her as his. He’s shitty and threatening to Mike, and he flips out on Joyce. They only had a date in his head, but he acts like she owes him something. She’s still getting triggered about the death of Samwise last year. That’s not enough time to get over seeing someone you love torn apart be Demodogs. Joyce should not have offered to go on a real date with him at the end the way he was acting the entire rest of the season. Yeah, he sacrificed himself (probably not really though), but that was certainly not his original plan.
So four great things, and two not as great things. They weren’t even bad things, just stuff I would have liked to see done a little differently. I don’t know how they’re going to get everyone back together for another season, but there damn well better be one. I would encourage everyone to go to Gwinnett Place Mall to see the Starcourt Mall set, but I just read that they’re tearing it down. I’m glad I got to see it last summer. I just wish they’d let us take pictures inside. Since the mall was destroyed I doubt that set is going to go back up either. Everybody just keep an eye out for any potential season four shooting. They haven’t confirmed another one yet, but they have to make one now. They just have to!