Creators: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder
Seasons: 3 (2016, 2017, 2019)
It’s the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, Indiana. School’s out, there’s a brand new mall in town and the Hawkins crew are on the brink of adulthood. Love is in the air and this changes the group dynamic. Summer romances ensue between Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), not to mention Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink). The young adults, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) begin internships at the local paper. The kids struggle to grow up without growing apart.
Meanwhile, another threat looms from the world of of science-labs and white coats. Russian scientists have malicious plans for the town of Hawkins. Those who recall the final shot of season two will know that the giant, otherworldly spider creature, The Mind Flayer remains trapped but unharmed in the world of the Upside Down. Thanks to the white-coats, he escapes to terrorise the people of Hawkins yet again and it’s up to our gang of heroes, both kids and adults, to save the day.
Season three of Stranger Things is filled with the joys of watching the Hawkins kids grow up in front of your eyes, even though a part of the process involves romantic attachments that add some distance between close friends. This season doubles down on the stories of the relationships between the characters in the group. The dynamics are often charming and the focus shifts back to the action and intrigue before things get cheesy. Once the monsters show themselves, they become the first priority in three diverging narratives that come together in a satisfyingly bittersweet finale.
The 1980s setting brings a new look to the show as well. The new episodes are bright and exuberant in their visual style, especially when compared to the moody, muted colours of the last two seasons. The change of scenery is delightful.
The young actors deliver mature performances. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), in particular, has some of the more traumatic sequences that allow her to show her undeniable talent.
In this season, the makers have unleashed full-on Aliens-level action and special effects. The gimmicks in previous seasons seem tame by comparison. Action junkies will love the elaborate and disgusting digital creatures, the chase sequences and leveling of forests and buildings.
Oozing with both nostalgia and blob monsters and packed to the brim with heart, Stranger Things season three is a welcome return of Netflix’s popular sci-fi series. It’s made more special as fans have had to wait for two years since the previous season.