TV Review: Stranger Things 3!

toutMINOR SPOILERS

Once again, it’s time to head on down to Hawkins, Indiana for another trip to the Upside Down with our pals from Stranger Things. The third season was shrouded in secrecy, so much so that Netflix reportedly gave out a bulleted list of plot points that reviewers couldn’t talk about,and I really think that decision paid off. There’s plenty of fun surprises in store for the third go around with Will, Mike, Eleven, Dustin, and Lucas, and while the cast keeps growing, show runners The Duffer Brothers amazingly keep the plot moving at a relatively quick pace.

Picking up a year after the events of season two, Stranger Things 3 finds Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) in the throes of young love, Chief Hopper (David Harbour) struggling to be the parent of the telekinetic preteen girl with superpowers, and the rest of our ragtag group of kids enjoying the dog days of Summer. With a new mall opening up in Hawkins, every one is taking in the 80’s ambiance, but it isn’t long until strange things start happening in town again (see what I did there).

One of the things that stands out about Stranger Things 3 is the sheer amount of story beats that happens in it, and how many characters the Duffer Brothers juggle. Running at a mere eight episodes (a luxury when it comes to some other Netflix shows), there’s not a moment that is dragged out unnecessarily or bogs down the series. It’s really all killer, no filler, though I have a few nitpicks about some of the 80’s callbacks and references, which seemed more like “hey, remember this thing?” instead of used as setting up the atmosphere of the show.

There’s also a few frustrating moments with Eleven, who bounces between being a somewhat normal preteen girl to being incapable of forming complete sentences, sometimes within the same scene. I totally understand that this tracks when you consider her backstory, but at the same time, if Eleven has been hanging out with Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas for so long, wouldn’t she have picked up on a lot of normal speech patterns by now? Granted Hopper keeps her under pretty strict house rules, but the fact that she still doesn’t understand certain things about the world around her seemed really odd to me.

Regardless of that, there’s a lot of stuff that really works with this third installment. For starters, the addition of Robin (Maya Hawke) to the cast as Steve’s co-worker at Scoops Ahoy is really great, and Hawke is effortless in her portrayal of the cool girl in a role that easily could’ve been hated as the “new addition” to the cast. The regular cast is also great as well, and the fact that a lot of our core group of characters are separated for a large chunk of the season is something that should have driven me crazy, but ended up being really inspired and leads to an awesome payoff.

At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Netflix and the Duffer Brothers would have just coasted on the success and goodwill of the previous two seasons and just cranked out a retread of the previous plots of the last two seasons. But they actually took the time to craft something new, and it really pays off with a very strong season that leads to some interesting places for the inevitable season 4…whenever that hits.

VERDICT: A-

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Posted on July 14, 2019, in TV and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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