So I will admit that I am a bit late writing this series. I guess that is what happens since my blog is more focused on anime then anything else AND the decision to about Spider-Man: Far From Home first. Then again, I am going to be late when I write about Good Omens soonish. Not next week, but it will inevitably appear on this blog soonish. I think I’m late on posting about everything in general because Neon Genesis Evangelion has been streamable on Netflix for a month now and I plan on talking about that at the end of August. Maybe I should call my blog Fashionably Late Anime Reviews? Still, I can’t help but think about how having more time allows the series to sink in more into my head and I can give out better thoughts then instantaneous first reactions where I go “isn’t this amazing”. I think that is the key to how I write everything on here. The old fashion of laziness or taking my time and getting to it eventually.
Anyway, I think I should talk about Stranger Things Season 3 now.
Season one of Stranger Things was ground breaking. While carrying the 80’s aesthetic as far it can go, it was like if Steven King’s and Steven Speilberg’s sort of stories where kids (Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin) on bikes, older teenagers (Nancy, Steve, and Jonathan), and some adults (Chief Hopper and Joyce) fought against eldritch beings from destroying the little town of Hawkins. Will was taken away into the mysterious upside down, the kids gained a female psychic friend named Eleven somehow, and they fought off a DND being called the demogorgon from destroying everything. They also found Will again. Poor guy will never be the same because he is filled with bad upside down things. Things that were fought against in the rushed and not as well thought out, but still season two. A mad scientist lab open a portal to another realm has been stopped, Eleven is back from discovering more about her origin, and Will is saved for now.
This is very bad summary and review of the first two seasons, but it’s good enough to at least give you some sort of summary about what Stranger Things is about so I can talk about Season 3 in full context. Hopefully you people who haven’t watched stranger things have a better idea about what the show is about now.
Less then two years later, Season Three isn’t a Halloween venture. It came out on the Fourth of July, so it’s tone is different. Much more action adventurey, which is fun. Other things have changed too. Each kid has grown up a little bit into their awkward teens. Will still wants to play DND like he did when younger, but his three team mates are more interested in girls now. Mike spends lots of time with eleven, Lucas is dating Max who came from last season, and Dustin met someone at science camp. Nancy and Jonathon have jobs before heading to college working for a newspaper where Nancy has to deal with day to day sexism at the office. Steven never made it to college and works at an ice cream at at the mall. Hopper and Joyce haven’t changed much though, but maybe they’ve gotten closer. The first two episodes characterizing these things are a little slow, but they are a necessary part of explaining of how time has passed. Something necessary to give season three a sense of realism before the plot appears. Or should we say, the new Hawkin’s mall, the appearance of the Russians, and the remainder of the mind flayer from last season going out for revenge.
So yes, Stranger Things is as American as it gets in order to celebrate the Fourth of July. It involves saving the world from the Russian military presence that somehow made it to Hawkins to build a mall with a secret laboratory underneath it. Also, the Mind Flayer is still around on top of that with zombies and other strange things, there’s a lot to cover in eight episodes. What’s amazing about Stranger Things’ third season it how it goes about all of this in a coherent manner. All the bicycle kids, besides Dustin, investigate one part of the Mind Flayer mystery because they know, through eleven’s powers. Nancy and Johnathan work on the other end of that mystery to discover how people are being taken over. Eventually they connect together to put a more unified front against the Mind Flayer.
At the same time, Dustin, Steven, Lucas’ sister, and a new character Robin, figure out the Russian messages coming from the mall and investigate their secret, underground base while Hopper, Joyce, a new crazy man, and a captured Russian Scientist figure out the mystery on the outside while trying to escape a Russian terminator clone deal with Hawkin’s lousy mayor. Those two groups connect together and eventually meet up with the complete Mind Flayer group to fight off everything. It’s crazy how efficient it all is, but I love it. Everyone knows what is going on, no more exposition is needed, and since they’ve fought super natural things for two seasons now, each person knows what job they have to do. All of this without lacking any sort of characterization from any of our good characters? How? Well…
Stranger Things Season 3 has a particular focus on pairs and couples. Some In a romantic way, others in a non romantic way. It works because it allows each person a chance to bounce off another in creative ways and also form partnerships that are sometimes completely unexpected ways. Dustin and Lucas’ sister working together was completely unexpected and helped develop their characters further. Nothing romantic there, but there didn’t need to me. Same for Steven and Robin working together. I’m glad the two became good friends. That doesn’t mean that romance doesn’t make its way into the fold. For example, Mike and Eleven discovering their boundaries and their love for each other while all this craziness is going on is major part of this season. And there is another one like Hopper and Joyce having some U.S.T. or Unresolved Sexual Tension for each other as they try to escape the Russian Terminator guy. The simple action of added groups together to join together to just have a group of four allows partnerships to change up, adds more character interactions to the fold, and just so much more.
I keep running through my thoughts of season three compared to the previous two and while the first season was completely ground breaking, season three might be my favorite season of Stranger Things. The reason being how well thought out it is. I’m pretty sure that the Duff Brothers looked at how season two came out, took a look at it, and took the time to create a very well thought out narrative and plot structure and how to advance it’s characters at the same time. Season Three was the answer to that. Nobody was left out unless the narrative wanted them to feel that way, everyone had a specific role in the story so nobody was useless, and it kept a very solid pace once it started going.
Despite all of that, I still can’t say that it’s perfect season. I still think the monster CG is kind of awkward, I have some questions about how the Russians made it inside the middle of nowhere USA during the Cold War, and I probably have so other things that I’ve forgotten about, but I can over look a lot of this because of how great the execution is. So many things were on point here from acting to settings to drama to almost everything else. I can’t wait for season four.