From drawing to screen, Stranger Things 3 brings “The Mind Flayer” to life in a spectacular way.
This post for Stranger Things 3 contains spoilers.
In this third season of the phenomenal Netflix original television series, Stranger Things 3 (2016—, created by The Duffer Brothers) brings back the amphibian-like monsters and takes audiences on an action-packed and special effects-filled adventure in the summer of 1985.
With only eight episodes in total, Season 3 felt rushed and fast-paced, as there wasn’t much screen time that went into the kids’ lives apart from the episode where Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven “El” (Millie Bobby Brown) broke up. This season felt entirely focused on uncovering the Russians’ plan and closing “The Gate” for the second time.
Amidst all that monster hunting, the show’s setting is particularly impressive as the 1980s is my most favourite era ever. The 80s Easter eggs that are in the movie are incredibly overwhelming. From the movies, to the props, to the costumes—it all reflected the era and created this nostalgic viewing experience for audiences and we all know that nostalgia fares particularly well for Netflix.
Season 3 is definitely by far the best season visually and cinematically, but in terms of character development, I feel that this season failed to smoothly continue old character arcs and fully flesh out the characters who were introduced in Season 2. However, with new characters joining this season, Stranger Things’ writers prove that they can bring in likeable characters to replace the old beloved ones.
Stranger Things 3 also seems to be subtlely feministic, as it featured women in the frontline. In each subgroup such as Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Chief Hopper (David Harbour); Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve (Joe Keery), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Erica (Priah Ferguson); Mike, El, Will (Noah Schnapp), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink); Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton)—there is something in common with these subgroups and it is the fact that there is at least one female character in each group and the female characters are proven to be the ones who are right about everything that is happening in Hawkins, Indiana.
It’s also clear that The Duffer Brothers certainly took audiences’ feedback of previous seasons seriously, as the adventures of Steve and Dustin continue in Season 3 after audiences adored Steve’s babysitting skills in Season 2. Additionally, a minor character like Lucas’ younger sister Erica is brought back this season in a major way because audiences loved her from the first moment she appeared on-screen. Her snarky and snide remarks, though rude, are beloved and praised by everyone on the Internet. However, as much as Erica was entertaining to me, I found her character to be really obnoxious for a 10-year-old. And even though this is all fictional, it certainly wouldn’t benefit IRL parents when their own kids start acting bitchy towards people.
Another new character introduced this season is Robin—who basically stole the show with the following coming out scene.
And her character is so popular that even Netflix’s official UK & Ireland YouTube channel uploaded a meme-certified compilation video of why Robin is iconic. This also shows how popular the new characters are, as Netflix is actively creating memes out of these characters to publicise the show (not that Stranger Things even needs the publicity).
I really don’t know how the Stranger Things writers do it, but for every season now, they have consistently brought in new cast members who are so lovable even if they are short-lived characters. In the first season, it was Barbara “Barb” Holland (Shannon Purser) #JusticeForBarb. Last season, it was Bob Newby (Sean Astin). And in this season, Dr. Alexei (Alec Utgoff), who plays a Russian scientist kidnapped by Hopper and Joyce, gets to be the short-lived character that audiences fall in love with. Even though Alexei has minimal dialogue, his actions are so adorable that I can’t help but sob when he meets his own demise in the later episodes.
As for Hopper, who has been around since the beginning of this show, his character arc in Season 3 really fell flat and became extremely infuriating to watch. I found his physical and emotional rages to be a tad overwhelming for me to watch as a viewer. I could feel his anger—that’s good for Harbour’s part because it means that he is a good actor—each time he lashes out on the people around him and I found his character’s behaviour to be so unhealthy especially since it doesn’t even 1. Set a good example for his adoptive daughter El, 2. It makes people resent him. Hopper may have a tragic backstory—his daughter died and his marriage failed—as explained in Season 1, but his backstory doesn’t justify his extreme anger in this season. Vulture and Nerdist published excellent analyses about Hopper’s uncalled for anger in Season 3; the articles are great reads and gave me a better understanding of Hopper as I reflected on the character after watching the season last weekend.
As for Mike, whom people on Twitter have already @ me about how he is the annoying character in Season 3, TBH I didn’t really care for it because the central focus of this season was not him and has not been him since Season 1. I feel that because he’s a teenager, there’s some leeway that audiences need to give for his character’s behaviour, and if you were to ask me who’s the biggest asshole this season, my vote goes to Hopper because he’s a full-grown adult with some serious anger management issues.
And for Billy (Dacre Montgomery), who was teased in the trailer to be controlled by the monsters, as predicted and expected, died a tragic death this season. His death was not surprising at all to me, as his character was developed throughout Season 3 to be under the control of “The Mind Flayer”. Montgomery described his character Billy as being “multi-layered”, but I beg to differ, as IMHO Billy’s story arc this season felt rushed and purposely written in to complement the main story of this season.
At the end of Stranger Things 3, things are left uncertain for Hopper as it is presumed by everyone in town that he died in the explosion. However, an end credit scene in Russia hinted that the Russians have captured an American as a hostage, and of course most people would assume it’s Hopper. However, my own prediction for the character would be that he jumped inside “The Gate” to avoid the explosion and the unconfirmed Season 4 will show the gang trying to save him. As El’s powers are on hiatus now, it would make sense for a time jump to occur should the show continue one final time. And like in Season 2 where she tried to communicate with Mike, it would show her trying to use her powers to communicate with Hopper.
It definitely won’t be a surprise if Stranger Things gets a fourth season because, despite the streaming wars that Netflix was embroiled in recently, the leading media company seems to be doing just fine as its own original television series Stranger Things 3 broke viewership records.
Netflix US (@netflix) July 08, 2019