By Dave B.
In the third season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, the gang is growing up and romantic relationships test their bonds of friendship. Meanwhile, a secret Russian experiment threatens to unleash the Mind Flayer upon the world. Can the Hawkins crew re-forge their bonds in time to save their town and the world?
I have mixed feelings about this eight episode season of Stranger Things. It’s undoubtedly entertaining and extremely easy to binge watch. The story is interesting and the addition of Maya Hawke to the cast as Robin, works perfectly. She’s a gem. The show is also quite emotionally moving, particularly the final episode. It manages to be dramatic and heartbreaking in ways that fit well with the story.
But for me, there’s definitely something a bit off in Season Three. It’s hard for me to nail down, because it’s more of a feeling than an objective observation, but the episodes don’t always feel “crisp”. The show manages to avoid any major and inexplicable detours such as Season Two’s awful “The Lost Sister” episode. However, for almost the entirety of this season, the cast is separated from each other, both literally and figuratively. Some of the interpersonal dynamics that viewers have grown accustomed to in previous seasons are gone just due to a lack of proximity between the characters. Yes, that’s a good representation of growing up, but it also increases the number of moving pieces in the plot. In some ways, viewing Season Three is like watching three distinct shows. Also, I personally almost always find teenage emotional drama to be overwrought, boring, and ultimately poor for a show’s pacing. Stranger Things definitely suffers from a bit of that problem.
Ultimately, my issues with this season of Stranger Things don’t diminish the show’s entertainment value. It’s still easy to lose oneself in the world of Hawkins and that’s why we watch the show. There are some real bright spots in Season Three, I definitely recommend watching it, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the writers do for Season Four. But I also feel that the show is at an inflection point: it’s often sprawling instead of focused which is kind of weird for a show that takes place in a small town and frankly, this season’s emotional resonance doesn’t always make up for the fact it’s large cast and multiple plotlines don’t always feel like they do all of the characters justice.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.