Stranger Things spoiler-free TV review: We came with high expectations, we weren't disappointed - nine reasons to watch season three
PUBLISHED: 15:16 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:29 05 July 2019
Eight hours of the 1980s: Stranger Things season three is a rollercoaster ride that brings back some of the momentum lost in season two. Here's a review that isn't full of spoilers for those of you that haven't blocked out the time required to binge-watch the latest outing in Hawkins, Indiana.
You have to give it to the townsfolk of Hawkins, Indiana, they're not letting annual attacks from horrific monsters stop them from keeping calm and carrying on.
Having loved season one and liked season two, the advent of season three was greeted with huge excitement in my household, with one member of the family watching the entire series within seconds of it dropping on Netflix. It took me a few hours extra and a late night, but in my defence, my son does have youth - and the summer holidays after A levels - on his side.
And even though season two of Stranger Things wasn't as great as season one, it was still really, really good - the premise is just so alluring and the 1980s setting just too delicious to resist, especially if you grew up during the decade that taste also forgot.
It seems as if writers Matt and Ross Duffer listened to the criticisms made about season two (that it veered off course,that women were under-represented, that it was sometimes difficult to keep up with the plot) and made the adjustments that the fans asked for. Season three is a very different beast to season two, although the old beasts from the past may or may not make a guest appearance.
Here are nine reasons to watch season three of Stranger Things
1) If you love nostalgia, you're in for a treat: While season two veered away from the joy of the 1980s, season three takes us right back to the decade of Madonna's Material Girl, Magnum PI, NeverEnding Story, Day of the Dead, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Terminator and The Thing - if you lived through it, you'll love it. Additionally, the series proves everything we ever thought about living in America in the 1980s, in other words that it was much better than being in Britain. Where were our phones in the bedroom? And look at Starcourt Mall, the red and blue backdrop for the action in season three - what did we have back in the 1980s?
2) The kids are all right: Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are an item, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) has a girlfriend (or does he) and this season looks at the delicate issue of balancing love and friendship. Eleven uses her powers like a normal teenager - to slam doors and defy her guardian - and joins up with Max (Sadie Sink) to find out what's happening in Hawkins, in particular relation to Max's stepbrother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery). There's far more from the friends in season three and Eleven gets a far better plotline.
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3) The monster is terrifying: I mean, probably not as terrifying as the Demogorgon from season one, because I don't think I will ever recover from watching those flickering Christmas lights in Joyce (Winona Ryder) Byers' front room as a mother tried to communicate with her son in the Upside-Down, but the Mind Flayer from season two is back, transformed and ready to wreak havoc on Hawkins with the help of two mortal allies. Its name? Er, The Monster. I don't think it gives too much away to say that it moves quickly, grows quickly, oozes quickly and gains strength quickly, but what I won't tell you is HOW it grows and who it recruits to help it.
4) There's a lot more pulp horror: Classic horror films have obviously influenced season three with elements of lots of different films to spot including The Fog, The Evil Dead, Invasion of the Body Snatchers - just look out for the scene in the Fun Fair put on by Mayor Kline (Cary Elwes).
5) It's poignant: We very much feel that the kids in Stranger Things are beginning to realise that they must leave childish things behind - if for no other reason than that their home town is annually besieged by horrific monsters they need to fight. Will (Noah Schnapp) may try to hold on to his childhood harder than the other members of the gang, but deep down he's yearning for the time he lost in the Upside-Down when the group bonded and he was alone. While the others are ready to move on to the next stage of their lives, Will feels excluded, but on the plus side at least he's not being put through hell for the third season in a row. I'd rather feel a bit left out than be invaded by a Mind Flayer. Just saying.
6) There are lots of people tackling The Monster: Nancy and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) have taken roles on the local newspaper (check out the sexism that Nancy has to deal with) and are investigating the strange goings on in Hawkins, the kids are on the trail of the goo and Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce are fighting the dark forces but everyone finds out something different so the puzzle is pieced together slowly.
7) It's fun: The sweet humour from season one is back and there's also a brand new scene-stealing character in the form of Robin (Maya Hawke) who works with Steve (joe Keery) at Scoops Ahoy, the Starcourt Mall's ice-cream stall. Robin is not only deadpan and sharp, she's also super clever and unbelievably useful - everyone needs a Robin in their life.
8) The finale is AMAZING: A full 77 minutes of craziness that leaves plenty of tantalising threads which need to be tied up in season four and the special effects bring to mind a James Cameron/Steven Spielberg visual mash-up that has to be seen to be believed. But be warned: there's a gut-punch on its way in the final scenes which may have you reaching for the tissues (although it comes after a hilarious break in the tension thanks to Dustin and his lady friend Suzie, played by Gabriella Pizzolo).
9) The two-minute post-credit sequence: Which delivers a cliffhanger and sets the scene for season four…