The following is a spoiler-free review of Stranger Things season three.
The highly-anticipated third season of Netflix’s Stranger Things has finally landed, delving deeper into the beloved characters and further exploring the mysterious town of Hawkins. Stranger Things season three is the series’ best offering yet, giving fans another terrifying adventure with the iconic group of heroes.
There’s a lot to love in Stranger Things season three, but the adolescent heroes continue to be the most entertaining aspect of the series. The core group of characters have undergone a great deal of change since Will was first trapped in the Upside Down, and the latest batch of episodes takes the necessary time to explore how each character has evolved since we last saw them. Admittedly, it’s tough to see how certain friendships have changed since the season two finale, however, the way the Duffer Brothers have deconstructed specific friendships and characters is undoubtedly the highlight of the entire season.
It’s always worrying when a beloved show introduces a handful of new supporting characters, but thanks to excellent writing and an incredibly tight narrative, Stranger Things manages to make us care about the newer characters. Maya Hawke’s Robin, who works with Steve at Scoops Ahoy, is easily the most exciting addition to the already stacked cast, bringing a unique charm to the series while perfectly blending in with the pre-existing characters. The season also introduces a new human villain named Grigori, who feels like he was plucked from the first Terminator movie and dropped into Hawkins. While the character isn’t given much to do in terms of dialogue, his intimidating physical presence and terrifying Russian accent make him one of the scariest and most exciting additions to the series.
From the Demogorgon to the Mind Flayer, the first two seasons of Stranger Things gave us some of the most iconic and terrifying TV monsters of all time, and the latest season delivers what is undoubtedly the series’ most horrific and memorable creature so far! Without spoiling any of the gooey details, the new monsters infiltrating Hawkins are unlike anything the show has produced in the past, giving our heroes a unique and utterly terrifying new enemy. Watching the season, it’s clear that Netflix has spared no expense when it comes to bringing the uniquely horrifying monsters and epic action sequences to life. Many of the large-scale action scenes, most of which occur in the second half of the season, look and feel like they were created with the same budget as the year’s biggest blockbusters (looking at you Avengers: Endgame), proving yet again that television is no longer films weaker little brother.
Fans of the series, especially those who grew up in the 80s, will undoubtedly be excited to hear that Netflix and the Duffer Brothers have maintained the Spielberg-esque style of the series. Feeling more and more like a classic Spielberg film or a beloved Stephen King novel, the latest season of Stranger Things strikes the perfect balance of heartwarming comedy, charming nostalgia and genuine horror.
What Didn’t Work?
When it comes to elements of Stranger Things 3 that’s don’t completely work, my biggest issue is with the repetitiveness of the storytelling. Without going into the spoilery specifics, I’ll say that the season touches on a lot of the same themes and storylines as the first two seasons, leaving us to wonder how the series will continue to give us new and exciting adventures in season four.
It’s also worth noting that while the season delves deeper into most of the major characters, especially the younger bunch, the tighter narrative leaves a few key players on the sidelines. More than anybody, however, Nancy and Jonathan felt like an afterthought this season, almost as if the writers were giving them something to do in the background while focusing on the more exciting characters. Thankfully, the second half of the season brings most of the storylines together, stopping Nancy and Jonathan’s weaker narrative from truly impacting the season.