For those who have stayed on the “Stranger Things” bandwagon these past three years, July 4 was more than a day to celebrate the nation’s independence. It marked the long-awaited return of the Netflix original series “Stranger Things,” this installment dubbed “Stranger Things 3.”
I resisted the urge to binge the entire season in one day. To my credit and delight, it took me five days to finish the wonderfully creepy, and perhaps a bit far-fetched, season.
For people who haven’t watched the first two seasons, “Stranger Things” follows the lives of some unlucky residents of Hawkins, Ind., in 1985 who manage to solve mystery after mystery as they struggle to understand how they’re connected to government conspiracies and supernatural creatures that have found their way into the small town.
I thoroughly enjoyed Seasons 1 and 2, and was overjoyed at the prospect of another group of episodes, which did live up to my expectations, despite a few missteps.
Ten minutes into the new season, my confusion factor was off the charts. I worried that I had missed a significant scene from Season 2 that would explain this new plot line. But, alas, I just had to stick it out. Boy, am I glad I did.
“Stranger Things 3” would not be the highly watched show that it is without its incredibly talented cast. The show stars Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, a larger-than-life character who saves the town of Hawkins from evil by moving objects with her mind. Eleven, along with fellow teens Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Will (Noah Schnapp), Max (Sadie Sink), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) work together, most often on walkie-talkies, to keep the mysterious realm known as the Upside Down from overtaking all of Hawkins. Throughout the series, these characters have grown from Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed kids to becoming mall-going teenagers of the 1980s — who have also fought the malevolent entity known as the Mind Flayer on several occasions.
It’s at the Starcourt Mall that Dustin finds himself working with Scoops Ahoy employees Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) to solve a mystery beneath their feet.
Other important duos in season three are Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), now newspaper employees who take their reporting duties to the next level, and Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder), who finally reveal their feelings for one another after a crazy road trip.
Initially, I was upset to see that Billy (Dacre Montgomery) had a major role in this third season. I did not like his character last season, but I was pleasantly surprised with his new role (though he ends up being the most frightening presence of these most recent installments).
One of my favorite aspects of “Stranger Things” has been the variety of plot lines and associated character groups. There are at least four separate stories occurring as each respective group of characters all experience Hawkins and the Upside Down differently. But, in the end, they all solve the mystery simultaneously and help out each other along the way. The multiple plot lines make for an attention-grabbing show with plenty of situational irony to keep the audience on its toes.
“Stranger Things 3” is a roller coaster of emotions, from pure confusion, to OMG don’t go in there, to tears of joy (and, well, tears of fright, too). Though the season has a few cheesy and unnecessary moments, it is a well-done continuation of the amazingly terrifying show that is “Stranger Things.”