So it’s been a month since the release of the jam-packed third season of Stranger Things but it hasn’t taken the show this long to break Netflix records. During the first four days of being available to stream, over 18 million fans had already watched the entire season! That’s mad!
People were clearly eager for more mystery, comedy and horror, and eight episodes bringing back our beloved characters and all the drama and monsters from the first two seasons (plus fireworks this time around) seemed just perfect for a weekend binge.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed season 3. The enhanced character development, the threat, the updated jazzy costumes, the coming of age vibe. It had everything for me.
So today I thought I would talk about the 10 greatest aspects of Stranger Things 3, in my opinion. Let us know what your favourite ideas/plots/moments were in the comments!
1. The light, summery feel of the whole season
Something which makes Stranger Things 3 different from the last two seasons is that this season is set in the summer, on and around the 4th of July. We find our dark, dingy, rainy, creepy forest which dominated Season 1 and 2 replaced with a bright swimming pool, a fluorescent mall and vibrant costumes.
Although the last two seasons were set on the cusps of autumn and winter, in the months between Halloween and Christmas, making everything seem all the more cold, dark and eerie, it was great to see a switch up this year with the story told amidst ice creams, fireworks and the summer sun.
This kind of reinvention means we’re less likely to get bored of the show, and tropes and scenarios won’t be repeated over and over again. Also, as the characters are on summer break, they are torn away from the safety and comfort of their school which emphasises how the kids are growing up and being forced into adolescence.
This decision definitely made Season 3 of Stranger Things feel fresh and lively, as well as visually brighter and more diverse. However, if you enjoy the horror aspects of the show, you may feel like the small segments of Season 3 that did dedicate themselves to being dark and scary were not enough to fulfill your expectations. Netflix can’t please everyone I suppose!
2. The “Dream Team”
Tell me one thing that this team doesn’t have!
Steve makes up for his lack of intelligence by bringing the self-sacrificing and protective leadership role, Dustin brings the objective, analytical, scientific brain, Robin brings her smart and creative mind meaning she is able to think outside the box, and Erica is sassy and confident enough to say and do anything that the others are too scared to do – plus she’s a nerd!
How could you not love them??
This makeshift family spend the majority of Stranger Things 3 underground in the Russian’s top secret bunker. Steve and Robin’s friendship grows, Erica gets more of the spotlight and Dustin, after feeling abandoned by his friends, shows that he has a level of maturity and responsibility way above his age. They all need each other, and they also create arguably some of the funniest scenes from the show.
3. The Star Court
What was so amazing about the new Mall in Hawkins was that the bright array of stores and products dashing across our screens were so loud and overwhelming, that it made us feel as though we were one of the kids on the show.
As well as this, The Starcourt allowed for a vibrant new set piece which became very important to the plot of Season 3 as well as the climatic last episode where the final showdown takes place. Having this prominent new setting further enforces a re-energised atmosphere to prevent us getting bored. The introduction of the mall also heightened tensions within the community of Hawkins due to the threat to local businesses, which made the season feel all the more genuine to the 80’s era.
4. The El and Max Friendship
The relationship between El and Max did so much more than just allow us to explore a female friendship which is something we haven’t seen yet from the show. Having these two characters bond so much during Season 3, and interact just as kids – shopping, eating ice cream, not desperately trying to save the world – made both El and Max stronger.
El was able to understand and become comfortable in her independence, confident that she didn’t need anyone, including Mike. She had time and space to flourish in her own personality, her likes, dislikes, hobbies, emotions, and it’s the first time we see her character happy. Feeling safe and relaxed for the first time in her life, El refuses to run or hide any longer and her persona becomes bolder and more influential because of this.
Max’s character also goes through a massive development in Season 3. Although she was always outspoken, Max was relatively reserved and introverted when she was first introduced to the show in Season 2. She hesitated when confronted with the idea of being friends with Mike and the others, she distanced herself, was slightly aggressive towards strangers, and it took her a while to fully trust anyone.
With that being said, Season 3 Max feels like a completely different person. With El being someone who needed advice, guidance and confidence-boosting, Max assumes the responsibility and takes El under her wing. Season 2 Max would never have got that close to a girlfriend, but here she truly opens up to El and supports her in all her endeavours. It’s truly a beautiful character and friendship arc.
5. Jon and Nancy being powerful af #CoupleGoals
We all love Nancy and Jon (right??) but Stranger Things 3 brought their love to a whole new level, and not in the way you might have expected.
When Nancy sets out on a mission to discover why the rats in Hawkins are acting strangely, it causes a small rift between her and Jon, who doesn’t want to get fired from their summer internship at Hawkins Post by breaking the rules. The couple argue but ultimately agree that they are inevitability going to have different opinions and ideas, a result of their differenting background, upbringing and individual desires, and that’s okay.
Aside from this, Jon and Nancy’s relationship in Season 3 allows for an exploration of sexism and classism in the 1980s as both characters feel disadvantaged because of who they are. Nancy isn’t taken seriously by the managers at work, and Jon feels he can’t rebel against authority because he has seen how poverty has affected his family and he values and appreciates his position at the Hawkins Post, something which Nancy can’t understand as she was raised in a relatively wealthy household. Similarly, Jon can’t fully comprehend Nancy’s struggles of being a working woman trying to be heard in an office of men who don’t want to listen.
Both issues are important and both Jon and Nancy realise that, even though they can’t fully understand what the other is going through, they can fully support each other. Nancy’s storyline also leads to an incredible scene between her and her mum, Karen. This was a great moment where we got to see two strong female characters discussing what it’s like to be a outspoken, fiesty women in the 1980s.
6. The Biggest Plot Twist in TV History
C’MON who saw this coming??
After pushing Steve and Robin as close together as possible (physically and emotionally) during Season 3, the writers had us all shocked when it is revealed at the end of the season that Robin is gay.
As well as adding representation, Robin’s sexuality was also revealed in such an interesting and clever way. Obviously, we had all assumed Steve and Robin would become romantically involved, given how much they liked each other. So, when we discover that Robin is gay, it’s a shock and we instantly feel guilty and embarrassed for assuming her sexuality, which is exactly how Steve feels in that moment when Robin tells him. Similar to how the director made us feel small and in awe of the mall just like the kids on the show, the writers here have made us feel as surprised and silly as Steve feels in that scene.
It was a great twist and it paves the way for a beautiful friendship between Robin and Steve, which we will hopefully see more of next season!
7. Dustin finally finding love
The adorable hopeless romantic, Dustin, has never really been lucky with girls. From being rejected by Max, to having no one to dance with at the Snow Ball, but it seems he has finally found somebody to love in the form of Suzie, a very smart and beautiful Mormon girl who Dustin met at science camp.
It was a rough start as Dustin has trouble communicating with Suzie who lives in Utah, using his own satellite radio, which causes pretty much every other character to believe he’s lying about his new girlfriend. However, it all works out in the end in the form of a beautiful rendition of The NeverEnding Story theme tune over the radio waves.
It’s obvious that Dustin has found the perfect nerdy (and musical) girl for him, and it’s about time! We all know that Dustin deserves happiness – he is “the only reasonable one”!
8. The characters the show made us care about
Stranger Things has a habit of taking generally hostile, unlikable characters and turning them into fan favourites through gradual development (*cough* Steve), and Season 3 was no exception. You would think that we would hate all of the creepy, stereotypical Russians who are trying to rip a hole between dimensions, however there is one guy that’s not so bad.
Alexei, one of the Russian scientists who is captured by Hopper and Joyce for information on what he has been working on, became an important part of Season 3. A lot of fans took this cheeky and yet adorable man into their hearts, and the reception has been very similar to the “Justice For Barb” movement.
After being not-so-heavily intimidated by Hopper and Joyce, Alexei agrees to help them by telling them everything he knows, with private investigator Murray offering his translation services. Alexei and Murray bond over the love and freedom of America during the 4th of July, however, being recognised as a traitor, Alexei gets shot by his own people and dies cold and alone, unable to fulfill his dream of moving to the US. A devastating scene for everyone, full of wasted potential.
However, it’s not just the dorky Russian spy who redeems himself. Billy, a character we all hated last season, gives us an insight into his relationship with his abusive dad, which explains his own aggressive personality, and even achieves redemption when he sacrifices himself to the monster in order to save El and the rest of Hawkins. Stranger Things definitely goes out of its way to make us deeply care for the characters.
9. The Concoction of ALL THE GENRES
Stranger Things 3 did something amazing by dividing up the growing ensemble cast into multiple storylines. This not only kept us desperate to keep watching but it meant the producers could incorporate several different genres that would keep almost every type of audience satisfied and intrigued.
The “Dream Team” (Steve, Dustin, Robin and Erica) and their subplot felt like an undercover, spy, heist film, but if you want more of an investigative, murder mystery, Jon and Nancy have got you covered! Meanwhile, if you prefer action, Hopper and Joyce are enjoying lots of gunfire and combat as they desperately try to outrun a Terminator-like character.
However – have no fear – the full-on cosmic horror of the first two seasons are still consistent with Mike, Lucas, Will, Max and El as they discover that The Mind Flayer is back. There’s even a bit of a demonic, psychological horror going on with Billy’s storyline as his mind slowly gets taken over by the monster. Amongst all of these themes, there’s also room for a sprinkle of romance and teenage situation comedy. It definitely doesn’t get boring, and the merger of genres works so well!
10. Someone is definitely not dead
Hopper’s death was one of the most shocking and saddest moments of Stranger Things 3 and, with deep connections with Joyce, El and the rest of the Hawkins’ gang, his death leaves a giant hole in the show, one which may never be repaired.
But…let’s be honest, we all saw that end credits scene. Does this mean that Hopper didn’t die during the blast that destroyed the Russians’ machine? He might still be alive, imprisoned by the Russian enemy?
It’s definitely a possibility that has almost been confirmed with the amount of speculation surrounding Hopper’s whereabouts. We don’t see Hopper’s dead body, and we don’t see him disintegrate, so there is every chance that he is out there somewhere (potentially escaping from the blast via The Upside Down), waiting for that day when he can reunite with El and Joyce.
However, if Hopper isn’t “the American” in the Russian prison cell, there is one more alternative to who it could be. Dr Brenner.
A return of the manipulative, sinister antagonist from the first season, who’s corpse we technically didn’t get to see after he was attacked by the monster during the Season 1 finale, would be pretty cool, especially considering his hold over El. Brenner is pretty much El’s worst nightmare, and the reason for all of her pain and suffering when she was growing up. He’s also responsible for everything our characters have gone through, as it was his lab that crossed dimensions for the first time. Going into Season 4, it would be pretty great if Brenner made a dramatic return.
What were your favourite moments of Stranger Things 3? Let us know in the comments