After an incredible first season and a lacking second season, I was genuinely curious as to where they would go with season 3. Now that I am done the season, I am very divided on how I feel.
I think that the character writing and hang-out moments are easily the best in the series. The core friend group is stronger than ever and extremely entertaining to watch. Robin is one of the best new characters I have ever seen in a TV show, played to absolute perfection by Maya Hawke. And if you would have told me during season 1 that Steve would end up being the best character on the show, I would have doubted you. But Steve is very much the best character in the show and his relationship with the kids this season was hilarious and amazing.
But for all of these positives, there are quite a few negatives. Hopper used to be “asshole-ish” but in a likable way but now he is just a complete asshole and annoying to watch. Max and Billy were decent additions in season 2 but are thrown to complete waste in this season, being used as plot devices for more interesting things to happen (same with Nancy and Jonathan). I also just don’t give a shit about the “stranger things” anymore. It was all fine and enjoyable in season 1 since it was so new but it feels tired an redundant now with the Mind Flayer being re-used as well as almost all of the concepts that we were already aware of. The next season is going to have to really go all in on a new concept for me to care about the “stranger” things aspect of the show.
And last but not least, the entire thing is muddled and needlessly complex. The first season was incredible because it felt like it was very well planned, consistent with itself and focused on what it wanted to achieve. But now we have all this bullshit with the Russians and it makes the writing feel much more cluttered. It was the same with season 2, the whole background story involving Eleven and her mom and sister felt like a huge distraction with no pay-off.
Moving forward, I would like ‘Stranger Things’ to undergo some drastic changes by challenging the formulas they have had in place since the beginning. Surprise people, make them think, make them feel. It was present in season 1 but it has been having less and less of an effect. But keep strengthening the character writing and pushing to achieve moments like the ones in this season because they were truly incredible. Also, please make a spin-off where it is nothing but Steve and Robin hanging out with the kids, no “stranger things” involved.
6/10 – Decent