Releasing on July 4th on Netflix, Stranger Things: Season 3 delivers another strong season proving the first two seasons were not a fluke by the Duffer Brothers. If I had to describe this season in two words it would be bold and efficient. This all stems from how well written the story is to feel like nothing is fluff while still taking time to develop the story-lines of several characters. This is highlighted with newcomer Robin, played by Maya Hawke, who works with Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, at Scoops Ahoy. Robin’s character bounces well off of Steve and Dustin, actually stealing many scenes she’s in with both characters.
Speaking of Robin’s character, Stranger Things makes the interesting choice of revealing that her character is gay after Steve confesses feelings for her. They announced her character would be LGBT during production so for those tracking the series it wasn’t a surprise. I felt the execution of the scene was as well as I could expect it to be, with Steve’s reaction being supportive. I hope the Duffer Brothers build more on Robin’s character in future episodes as she is a great character and brings diversity to the show. It’s also nice to see a new female character added that doesn’t quickly become paired with a male lead.
The performances of David Harbour and Winona Ryder are stellar as always. While Harbour does a great job playing Hopper, it would be great to see the character go a different direction in season 4. The character is always drinking, smoking, and has a hyper-aggressive temperament. This doesn’t make him a bad character, but after three seasons of Hopper behaving as such, it’s time to have the character develop fully into the mature man he’s shown flashes of.
For the cast of teenagers, led by Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, their chemistry is as good as ever. They feel like authentic friends, although we never get to properly see their friendship absent of drama and inter-dimensional danger due to how tight the show’s story is with multiple plots all leading to the final two episodes.
These multiple plots are well-organized and absent of a “fluff episode.” There are moments you could call “fluff” but by the end of the episode, you can’t help but feel as if everything was important. This is both a positive and in some ways a negative. The positive comes from the fast-paced story that keeps you engaged the entire time, a perfect quality for those that decide to binge-watch the season. The negative of this comes from the season never taking a breath. If the season was a few episodes longer this could have become an issue.
The music choices in the season, including the “Dusty-Bun & Suzie-Poo” duet of Never Ending Story, was well selected. The show does a good job reminding you on the setting when certain songs are implemented into scenes. For the actual score itself the music is well utilized to enhance the multiple thrilling scenes. This is especially highlighted with Billy, played by Dacre Montgomery.
Billy is primarily seen as the Mind Flayer’s host this season, leading efforts to construct an actual flesh-version of the inter-dimensional being. While Billy could have been left as he was developmentally from season 2, the Duffer Brothers instead explore the “why” behind Billy’s personality. Without spoiling those details, it’s tragic, and makes rewatching his scenes in season 2 more rewarding.
The first half of the season was a bit slow to get things going, taking time to set up each plot line. Once those were established, however, the season commences a race to the finish which is rewarding to the viewer. The ending will cause people to ask questions until season 4 is released and could signal a fresh direction for the Netflix original. Overall, this was the best serving of Stranger Things since season 1. If rumors of season 4 being the last season are true, I’m eager to see how this show concludes!
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