TV Review: Stranger Things 3

It’s been a bit of a wait – nearly two years – for the latest series of Stranger Things, and so, like pretty much everyone else, Geth and I inhaled the series over the course of last weekend. The series is set in July 1985, nine months after we last saw the characters, and so there’s a lot of focus on growing up and coming-of-age themes amongst all the monster-fighting.

Here be spoilers, obviously!

Stranger Things 3

The first three episodes are a little slow with the plot, as the main aim is to explore the relationships among the characters. Geth found this frustrating, but for me it was so important, because it established a close female friendship between Eleven and Max. I had been unhappy with the portrayal of their brief interaction in series two, in which Eleven at first mistakes Max for a competitor for Mike’s affections and later blanks her upon returning to Hawkins, as I felt it was playing up to all the typical stereotypes about female characters always being really competitive and catty with each other. However, their friendship in series three is absolutely lovely – I could have watched at least another two episodes of them hanging out at the mall together – and bodes well for future instalments of the show.

The main plot of the series introduces a gloriously late-Cold-War-era ‘Red Menace’ threat to the ongoing saga of the gate between Hawkins and the Upside Down, with the Soviets having established a secret underground base under the town’s new mall in order to re-open the gate. This is about as silly as it sounds, but it’s a lot of fun to watch. During the series, different groups of characters follow four separate subplots that only really come together in the last couple of episodes. I would have liked to see these interweave more closely, but the payoff in the finale is as epic as can be wished for.

One of the subplots involves a ‘body snatchers’ theme, with various Hawkins residents being taken over by old nemesis the Mind Flayer. I was expecting more to be made of this, perhaps with those taken over using their positions of influence for nefarious purposes, but it wasn’t to be. I think there was just so much going on in the story that there wasn’t really room for it.

I had got the wrong end of the stick in that I had misheard somewhere that series three was supposed to be the last one (there’s actually going to be a fourth and possibly a fifth) so I was taken aback by the cliffhangers at the end of the finale. Looking forward to seeing what happens with the Russians in Kamchatka and their pet Demogorgon!

I am also absolutely certain that Hopper is not dead. That was a textbook ‘not showing a body’ ending. Whether he’s the American prisoner mentioned by the Kamchatka guards, though, I am less certain about.

And finally, I will never watch the video for Limahl’s The Neverending Story in the same way again.*

*I will also never watch the accompanying film The Neverending Story ever again, but that was a decision I made many years ago. Fellow people who prefer not to suffer horse-related trauma will know what I’m talking about.

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