It’s been a few weeks since the launch of the long-awaited Season 3 of “Stranger Things,” the show that seemingly swept up television viewers young and old when it first aired in 2016. Expectations were high and the wait unbearable at times, but the new season is out now and it’s just what fans were expecting.
Try as they might, these kids cannot live normal lives. They try. They always try, but it never seems to pan out. Like the last two seasons, the new season of “Stranger Things” starts out with the main characters dealing with normal things to which the average viewer can relate.
Steve struggles with his lady-killer reputation caused by his sailor uniform at Scoops Ahoy, an ice cream stand at the Starcourt Mall. Late-bloomer Will just wants to play Dungeons and Dragons, but his friends are too busy with girls to entertain him. Max and Lucas are the on-again-off-again teen couple trying to figure out what this relationship thing is, anyway.
Nancy and Jonathan are interning at their local newspaper, where Nancy must navigate the misogynistic predominantly-male staff. Dustin just got back from summer camp where he met his brilliant, “hotter-than-Phoebe-Cates” girlfriend, Suzie with a “z.” Mike and Eleven make a habit out of ditching their friends for makeout rendezvous, where Hopper’s three-inch open door policy seems to go blissfully unheard.
When he’s not policing the town or Mike’s distance from Eleven, Hopper is trying to set up a date with Joyce, who works at the struggling convenience store that is about to close due to the new mall in town, Starcourt.
All normal stuff, but these trivial struggles are as far as normality extends for these small town teens fated to defeat Demogorgons and uncover secret government operations in their own backyard. Strange things start to happen when magnets suddenly fall off refrigerators, rats start eating fertilizer and Dustin and Steve intercept a secret Russian code through radio interference.
You’d think that after what these kids have been through, they would attribute anything out of the ordinary that happens in their town to the Upside Down and the portal gate that Eleven closed at the end of the previous season. They didn’t connect the strange happenings to their previous encounter with the Upside Down until the fourth episode. Whether the characters were oblivious or rooted in deep-seated denial, you can’t help but wonder why the viewers had to go halfway through the season knowing that the Mind Flayer was back before the main characters did.
As in previous seasons, at first the group of main characters is separated into several smaller groups that find and investigate abnormal happenings in their small town of Hawkins, Indiana. Then, the small groups of friends and accomplices come together more than halfway through the season, share their findings with the others, realize everything is connected to the Upside Down and create a game plan that involves the adults going out and saving the day while the kids go someplace safe.
Naturally, the kids never get to the safe place because either the creature finds them, or they decide they need to help the adults. They defeat the Mind Flayer together and then try to live normal lives again.
The formulaic plot is no different for this season. The group of main characters is divided into three teams: Steve, Dustin and Robin discover the Russian radio interference, Joyce discovers the demagnetized magnets and convinces Hopper to help her investigate, and Nancy and Jonathan discover the fertilizer-eating rats. You’ll never guess, but they’re all connected to the Upside Down portal.
Predictability aside, the third season of “Stranger Things” delivers what its fans wanted. In other words, it satisfies expectations. The chase, the fight, the characters they know and love have maintained the consistency that other shows often lose, especially when it comes to child actors continuing a show through their adolescence. If you were to watch the three seasons back to back, it would seem as one fluid story from beginning to end. The main telltale sign of the time frame of the story would be the main characters’ physical growth throughout the seasons.
Along with the characters’ growth comes the sentimental realization of their aging. Will’s nostalgic flashbacks in the Byers Shed make the viewers realize how they’ve grown along with the characters since the very beginning of the show. It’s been three years since the first season aired and the growth and evolution the characters have undergone is an emotional tug to the heart. It makes the viewers realize how far they have come alongside the characters since the first season and how much has changed since the kids defeated the Demogorgon the first time.
The third season of “Stranger Things” also stays true to its previous character list. The only new character introduced is Robin and that decision was a big success. Robin scoops ice cream at Scoops Ahoy with Steve and is harassed daily by Erica, Lucas’ little sister, for ice cream samples. She joins Dustin and Steve in deciphering the Russian code they stumbled upon when Dustin was trying to radio his girlfriend in Utah. And by that, I mean she single handedly deciphers the Russian code after Dustin and Steve’s repeated and unsuccessful attempts.
As far as high school clique representation goes, Robin’s addition to the group of main characters brings it full circle. You’ve got the jocks and the popular kids, represented by Steve and Nancy, then later Billy in the second season. The nerds, of course, are the focus of the show and Max proudly stands for the tomboy skater girls. Now, with Robin’s addition, theater geeks rejoice as she rises to the occasion and makes breaking into a Russian spy facility look astonishingly simple.
For now, the Russian spies have been stopped and the grotesquely gooey creature destroyed. Hawkins can rest at ease, at least until the release of the fourth season of “Stranger Things.”
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