A year has passed and things are relatively peaceful in Hawkins, Indiana. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is still in hiding with Hopper (David Harbour) although she is spending most of her time with Mike (Finn Wolfhard). Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are both working at the local newspaper, which seems to be exclusively staffed by chauvinist pigs. Steve (Joe Keery) is selling ice-cream in the new mega Starcourt Mall with his former classmate, Robin (Maya Hawke). And Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is driving all the MILFs crazy as a lifeguard at the local pool. But things in Hawkins never stay quiet for long….
Joyce (Winona Ryder) has noticed that the magnets keep falling off things, Billy is acting really weird, Will (Noah Schnapp) can still sense the presence of the Mind Flayer, there are weird coded Russian messages being picked up in the mall and what on earth is up with the town’s rats?
While I found the second season of Stranger Things a bit flat, I really loved the third one. The whole idea of a massive Russian conspiracy in the mall is so magnificently 80’s and I am here for it. As is the kind of invasion of the body snatchers vibe that is going on with the Mind Flayer. Combined with the epic fashion and epic synth soundtrack it captured the zeitgeist of the era perfectly.
While I know some people feel like the focus on the relationships in the third season wasn’t what they were looking for from a sci-fi series, I felt like it elevated the action, body horror and monster attacks to a deeper level. I loved seeing the impact of the kids growing up and how that impacted their relationships with each other and their parents. I also really enjoyed seeing a friendship build between Eleven and Max (Sadie Sink) and seeing Eleven have some fun and get to be a teenage girl. Even better is the weird little gang that emerges when Steve, Robin, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas’ (Caleb McLaughlin) little sister, Erica (Priah Ferguson) get together. Steve’s character growth is one of the most enjoyable to watch out of the whole cast.
There are some excellent new characters in Alexei (Alec Utgoff) and the slimy corrupt Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes) and getting paranoid Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) more into the mix was excellent. He steals every scene he is in.
The only kind of bum note for me was the relationship between Jonathan and Nancy. They don’t have a lot of chemistry and I just found them a bit boring. I mean Jonathan is fine but Nancy is such a firecracker that you kind of wish she’d spend some time on her own just being a badass rather than always being in a relationship. She’s seventeen, she needs to go out and experience the world.
There are plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout but the final episode is both edge of your seat exciting and utterly heartbreaking. It felt like a fitting end but it seems that a fourth season has been commissioned. I am not sure more there is to explore except possibly the origin of Eleven’s powers. I guess we’ll see.