The phenomenon that is Stranger Things returned to Netflix recently for its third series and a further eight episodes (or chapters as creators, writers and directors The Duffer Brothers call them).
The first thing to mention is that despite it having been just three years since Stranger Things first hit Netflix, the boys and girls have grown up a lot since 2016.
This is very well taken care of by the Brothers as most of the boys are starting to get obsessed with women: Mike, Finn Wolfhard (“It“, “Carmen Sandiego (TV)”), is heavily involved with Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown (“Godzilla: King Of The Monsters“, “Intruders (TV)”), and Lucas, Caleb McLaughlin (“Blue Bloods (TV)”, “Shades Of Blue (TV)”) is now involved with the feisty Max, Sadie Sink (“Odyssey (TV)”, “Blue Bloods (TV)”).
Even Dustin, Gaten Matarazzo (“The Blacklist (TV)”), who is back from his geek, tech camp, now has a girlfriend, albeit she’s in Utah and not everyone believes she’s real.
This leaves Will, Noah Schnapp (“Snoopy And Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie”, “We Only Know So Much”), feeling left out. He just wants to continue playing Dungeons & Dragons in Mike’s basement, like the old days, but Mike and Lucas just want to talk about girls instead.
Season three is a few tales in one really: On the one hand you have Dustin who teams up with Steve Harrington, Joe Keery (“Molly’s Game“, “Slice”), now working at ‘Scoop’s Ahoy’ ice cream parlour with Robin, Maya Hawke (“Little Women (TV)”, “Ladyworld”), when he intercepts a Russian radio transmission whilst trying to reach his girlfriend in Utah.
Together, the trio embark on deciphering the radio message, solving where it is coming from and trying to understand what it actually means.
Meanwhile lifeguard Billy, Dacre Montgomery (“Power Rangers”, “A Few Less Men”), is turning heads at the local swimming pool, especially amongst the moms and Karen Wheeler, Cara Buono (“Mad Men (TV)”, “The Sopranos (TV)”), in particular. But his encounter with the returning Mind Flayer means his interest in people isn’t all it seems.
Nancy, Natalie Dyer (“Velvet Buzzsaw”, “Yes, God, Yes”), and Jonathan, Charlie Heaton (“Shut In“, “Casualty (TV)”), are now working at the local newspaper. She as the office dogsbody trying desperately to get them to allow her to write a story, and he the newspapers photographer.
Nancy hears about a strange case of rats eating chemicals and behaving stranger than rats normally would. Despite her best efforts she can’t get the newspaper to let her run with the story so takes it upon herself to do so, with Jonathan in tow.
This leaves our group of Mike, Lucas, Eleven, Will and Max who wind-up on a collision course with Billy in his new cold-hating state. Though even this group splits up as Eleven dumps Mike and her and Max begin doing more together like shopping at the local newly built mall.
As if that isn’t enough, you then have Joyce, Winona Ryder (“Heathers”, “Edward Scissorhands”) and Hopper, David Harbour (“Suicide Squad“, “Hellboy“), who are on a journey of their own. They’re trying to find a mysterious de-magnetising machine somewhere in Hawkins which leads them to kidnap a Russian scientist Alexei, Alec Utgoff (“Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation“, “San Andreas“), and picking up our old conspiracy theorist friend Murray, Brett Gelman (“Fleabag (TV)”, “American Dad!”).
Somewhat inevitably all these stories are interconnected and intertwine and end up converging in the final few episodes with plenty of pay-offs for things that have been setup throughout.
The whole season is very funny and very gripping, there’s even a musical number if that’s your thing (which is funny and leaves person singing open to some royal piss-taking later).
There are plenty of nods to other films and TV shows of years gone by, we even have a Terminator-esq bad-guy in Andrey Ivchenko (“Scramble”, “XXX: Return of Xander Cage”) wondering around after Joyce and Jim.
There are plenty of surprises throughout the season as well. As per season two, not everyone will make it and there’s a scene at the end to keep things open for season four.
Stranger Things Season Three is very, very good, continuing the excellent work The Duffer Brothers have done to-date. Keeping the suspense, the comedy and the thrills for three seasons is no mean feat but the Brothers manage it. I am getting nervous about a fourth season though, but hopefully I have no reason to be.