Review by J.T. Johnson
“Stranger Things 3” definitely takes the series into bigger territory despite still being set in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Set in 1985, the new season takes place during the Summer. There is a new mall called Starcourt, new characters to be introduced and old friends to be reunited.
Unfortunately, a piece of the Mind Flayer is still trapped in our world and something has reactivated it. The first thing it needs is a new host and it finds this host in Billy. Now, all of our characters will have to battle this new threat in one way or another.
The only real problem I had with this season was with some of the special effects, showing that the show definitely has a bigger budget. The problem is that while they look good, they don’t feel quite right in a series that wants to look like it was filmed in the 1980s just as much as it is set during the decade. Beyond that, though, I actually enjoyed this third season more than the second season (which I also loved) and I liked how much fun it looked for the actors to return.
Winona Ryder’s Joyce, for example, seems to take her new mission with great enjoyment and more confidence considering what she’s been through. She is mostly with Hopper through this season and they make a great team, even if they argue quite a bit along the way. Of course, this argumentative attitude that they both have could be masking feelings that they have for each other.
Meanwhile, Mike, Lucas, Will, Max and Eleven are trying to find the Mind Flayer when they realize that it’s back. Thankfully, Dustin also reunites with Steve for more adventures along with Robin, Steve’s co-worker and a new addition to the cast. Thankfully, Maya Hawke makes Robin an interesting and very memorable character that I’m really glad was added to the roster.
The story takes a minute to get going, but it definitely gets to the point a lot faster than in “Stranger Things 2” where it felt like they needed a little more time to find their footing. Once the story gets going, though, there is plenty of action and a wonderful new monster to challenge our heroes. There’s also a new human threat considering that the Hawkins Lab was closed up in the last season but as I am trying to stay away from most spoilers, I’ll leave it at that for the time being.
One of my major concerns was whether or not Eleven would be used too much as a crutch considering that she’s actually with the rest of our heroes this time out. Thankfully, she is important to the story and when she does use her powers, it is badass but it is never used because they wrote themselves into a corner and just needed a super powered person to get them out of a jam.
Thankfully, everyone has a role to play this season and the finale was really awesome, in particular. Also, while there were plenty of great moments that tapped into the 1980s nostalgia, I was actually surprised that they didn’t seem to depend on that as much in this season. It feels like the showrunners know that they have a cast of characters that we care about and they don’t need to depend on as many references to the decade as they did when they started.
We’re fairly certain that there will be “Stranger Things 4”, but they did a good job of making sure that this was a good standalone season. Again, I don’t want to say too much more about the season for the sake of spoilers, so I’ll leave this review by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed “Stranger Things 3” and the higher stakes that the season presented.