Genre: Science-Fiction, Horror, Period
Original Network: Netflix
Original Release: July 4, 2019
One of the must-see shows of the past few years, Stranger Things goes from strength to strength with a third season that effortlessly blends its darker and horrific moment with a sense of fun in its 1980s time period. In short, this is the best season of the show to date.
Through this season, we see the show go through a genre switch that I believe will benefit it in the long term. It is fair to compare the first two seasons of Stranger Things in a sense to the first two instalments of the Alien franchise. Season one was Alien, as a singular entity stalked a handful of individuals, making the most of the heightened tension and jump scares to terrify its audience. The second season was the show’s version of Aliens, as multiple monsters appeared and the number of action sequences increased, whilst keeping the genre firmly in the mystery horror genre. Given the timespan of this show, the decision to introduce a sub-plot surrounding the Russians, that looks to get more prominent in the future, was a wise one. The scope of the Stranger Things universe expands in this season, in terms of narrative and genre, which is a good decision that will ensure the longevity of the show. However, the 1980s setting and culture continues to give it a uniqueness and this season in particular feels bolder, more colourful, and more comfortable with its identity, which shows in how high quality and watchable this third season is.
What makes this season particularly interesting to watch is that the characters are split up into several groups, each of whom have their own storyline that expands the central narrative. These all come together in the final couple of episodes and their links become clear. It is especially impressive that there doesn’t seem like a weak plot strand in the bunch, whether it is the group entering a secret Russian base beneath a shopping centre, the one investigating recent strange behaviour in local rodents, or the group trying to find answers to individuals who have recently gone missing. Whilst all of these subplots are strong, tonally they are quite different, with some facing more towards comedy and some towards horror, which seems to be dependent on the characters it revolves around (i.e.: the older characters go through more horrendous ordeals generally). It is also worth noting that there are once again a couple of new characters introduced this season, yet they are not swallowed up among the ever increasing cast, which is testament to the writing and the subplots that they create.
The episode that really made this season was its finale. Typically, a finale can go either one of two ways. It can blow the minds of the viewers, in a good way, or it is received with disappointment. The finale of the third season of Stranger Things definitely slots into the first category. Firstly, it successfully brought together all of the subplots together in a way that made sense, whilst not restricting the importance of each of them. Secondly, there were several great shots involving the central monster of this season in a shopping centre, that ranged from all out destruction to nervy moments as the protagonists hid from it. As a side note, the antagonist here was definitely a step up from what we had seen before, even if it had been hinted in previous seasons. The destructive action sequences involving this create were made to feel fresh and always exciting by other scenes featuring the infiltration of a secret military base, as well as ones that remind audiences of how successful the blending of genres in its historical setting has worked for the show. In particular, there is a scene that really brought the smile to my face, relating to “Never-ending Story”. The final stakes were high as well and was the first finale to play with my emotions across the spectrum. Finally, the last couple of scenes were done really well, and suggests a continuation of the heavier Russian involvement in the narrative for season four, which has been delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but I’m sure will be worth the wait.
Season three of the Netflix science-fiction horror series Stranger Things is the best season to date. It arguably sees the writers of the show more comfortable than ever with what they are providing with the mix of genres and its 80s setting. The writing and plotting is more daring and bolder than before, splitting the ever increasing young cast into small groups and having them involved in their own subplot before seamlessly combining them for a brilliant season finale. There are many questions still waiting to be answered for the confirmed yet delayed fourth season, but it has been given a great platform by the work that this season does. A must-watch.
Star Rating: 5/5
Thank you for reading my review of season 3 of Stranger Things. If you have enjoyed reading this post, feel free to like and subscribe to The Blogging DJ to receive email notifications when new posts are published. If you have any recommendations of shows you think I will enjoy and want me to review, please leave a comment below.