Couch Potato Reviews

‘Stranger Things 3’: Hawkins Has A Problem

AS EVERYTHING THAT WE POST HERE AT 17 WAVERLY- THIS CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS!!!

I just finished binge watching the third season of the Netflix hit original, Stranger Things.

Though I had planned to dissect each episode with an in-depth review, I found it to not be necessary. The eight episodes, as intended, feel like one giant eight-hour film and I think it is more beneficial to review the season as a whole.

That being said, there are some good moments for sure, but overall I find that our gang from Hawkins has a severe case of “sequel-syndrome.”

The Good 

LGBT!: It’s me guys. You know how I am. I have to give my praises for Robin joining the group as the first lesbian (and hopefully not the last. Stop tokenism ya’ll) character on the show.

Though there is no reveal yet, nor no real clue, I am curious about the fight between Mike and Will outside the house. There is a moment where Mike challenges Will on not liking girls and there is a brief awkward silence between them. It is curious that out of the six kids he is the only one to not express any kind of interest in the opposite sex. His personal plot this season focused heavy on wanting to hold on to childhood (a little bit more on that below) which could debunk this possibility, but who knows! Time will tell.

Some Real Stakes! I Think… : Ultimately the season ends with the death of Billy and Hopper (and I suppose all those people that got melted to make the meat monster). Though Billy didn’t have too powerful of a presence in his two seasons, the loss of Hopper is a big deal for the universe.

I wasn’t too into his “Rambo antics” this time around, but perhaps that was due to the fact that it was going to be his final bow in Hawkins!

I think that the series after three seasons needed something big to shake up the future, which is why I made immediate peace with his death. Yet, in the post-credit scene we find out that the Russians have “an american” as prisoner… In the name of all things strange that better not be Hopper.  Please, please, do not fall into the trap of using death as a tease just to keep fans on the edge of their seats! Death should be permanent! It is the most permanent thing that literally exists!

I believe there is more to gain by allowing him to stay dead rather than “relieve” fans with his survival.

Growing Pains: The kids are getting older! Dustin feels forgotten by his friends, Mike and Lucas are brain-dead when it comes to their girlfriends, and Will just wishes everything could stay the same.

What Will was allowed to do I really enjoyed; your teen years are all about transition and everyone does so at a different pace/ in their own way. Seeing Will wanting to hold on to the joys of their childhood was heartbreaking, but such a real element to growing up. It was something I wanted to see developed further but alas…

The Bad

Wait, But What About the Angst!: The moment Will senses the chills on the back of his neck during the rain and announces to Lucas and Mike that the mind-flayer has returned–his issues are dropped! There’s just no time for it, and we’re only here for eight episodes! I understand why the issue was sidelined and they managed to still address the nonsense between Mike and Eleven, but the rest seem to just dissipate. If the formula of the show is to remain (first couple episodes are about playing catch-up while the evil plot builds in the background) then perhaps this will be built on for season four.

Been There, Done That: This season seemed to repeat the exact format of season two; Our characters are living their lives only to be surprised that the threats from the other world have returned. The gang comes together to stop the threat and return to normalcy only to have the season end with the reveal that more threats are still to come.

My issue here, despite how the characters are logistically left scattered after the events of starcourt mall, is that season four will once again have to follow the same formula; lives are interrupted as we find out the s*** is hitting the fan again.

I don’t see how the show could introduce another format unless the gate to the upside-down were open permanently.  The format of the season made me feel like the series is stuck in a system and there really is no way out of it. Speaking of stuck…

So, About Eleven…: Yes, in season one she was the breakout star. No doubt. It touched my heart to see her this time around not only finding a normal life but embrace childhood! However, when it comes to the climax she once again is the ONLY play the group has. She destroyed the demigorgon, she closed the giant gate under Hawkins, she threw a car to kill some Russians, she used her own personal cerebro powers to find missing people and connect the dots of the mystery, she severed limbs from the meat monster, she threw the rabid flesh thing out a hospital window, she saved the group from possessed Billy by throwing him through a brick wall, and she’s broken some necks when necessary.

My complaint is not that she’s all powerful- my complaint is that the rest of the group is virtually useless and it shows. Even when she has been bitten by the monster and is down for the count she STILL uses her power to remove the meat from her leg. Even when she is down she is coming in to do some bad-ass s***.

I had hoped that Will’s connection to the Mind-flayer would develop into some kind of abilities for him, but ultimately he just gets freaked out and announces the obvious; yes Will, we know he’s activated! We can see the black veins and hear the demonic voice ourselves, thanks!

Do I wish all the kids would get some kind of powers? Yes. Not sorry. This is a stone cold pack of nerds. They would love some mother f****** abilities. Dustin named his radio system Cerebro for crying out loud! Alas, I don’t think this is something that will ever happen.

We know that (at least for now) Eleven has lost her powers. I hope that remains the case! If anything just to even the playing field with the rest of the cast and build more opportunities to shine.

What About the X-Men?: While talking about mutant powers-remember that one episode last season that was totally random and introduced other powered humans into the Stranger Things universe? No, it wasn’t my favorite episode either, but after what I consider to be just an “alright” season 3, is it time to explore that further? I find it hard to believe that the concept was introduced so randomly to not be used down the line.

Is There More to This?: We finally got to hear the Mind-fayer speak through his possession of Billy. This is the first time in the three season of the series that the upside-down  served as more than just the paranormal plague on our characters. We, somewhat, got a real villain from this other dimension and we actually had some sort of intention communicated; the mind-flayer wanted to destroy the human world but first wanted to kill Eleven before doing so.  Ok!

Other than that, in the three seasons of the series, we still don’t know much about the upside-down and what other creatures possibly live there. Perhaps that’s all intentional as the greatest element to fear is the unknown. Yet, I can’t help but feel it’s all getting a little tired.

I would hope that the fourth season includes further exploration of this other world and shows us more of what exists there. Is the upside-down really so vast and empty or is there more to it?

Conclusion…

Overall, Stranger Things this time around did not wow me. Yet, it used it’s greatest marketing alley to slip under harsh criticism- the power of America. Returning to eight episodes, releasing on the fourth of July, focusing the season around the very holiday, and bringing it’s climax to an epic battle bathed in literal fireworks allowed it to get by at the very least as something to do over the holiday weekend.

That’s how I received it!  Now, with season one sticking close to Thanksgiving, two to Halloween, and this visit around Independence Day, what festive occasion could we touch on in 1986?

Personally, with the core kids hitting fifteen, my fingers are crossed for Valentine’s Day. Yes, because the teen drama will only be funnier and because I think the show is stronger when it has the field advantage of dreary winter.

 

 

 

 

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