The third season of the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” continues to pump out fantastic 1980s nostalgic visuals and ghoulish thrills, even though the show’s formula is starting to show through.
In the summer of 1985 in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, the new Starcourt Mall has become the complete focus of the town but is driving other stores out of business. Sheriff Jim Hopper is conflicted over the growing romantic relationship between his adopted daughter, Eleven, and Mike, while Joyce considers moving out of Hawkins after the horrors she has experienced. However, strange power surges stir up Will’s awareness of something unworldly, The Upside Down, leading Eleven to believe the entire town is in grave danger.
The third season, starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Dacre Montgomery, Maya Hawke, ups the ’80s love with long, panning shots of the decade’s technology, mall stores, fashion montages and pop culture references galore.
“Stranger Things” has quickly cemented itself in pop culture history, basking in ’80s sentimental imagery that has made the series so binge-worthy for Netflix consumers. While this season’s ride is a bit reminiscent of the show’s past (how many times can we possibly go back to The Upside Down before it gets old?), the overall plot of Eleven, her friends and the conflicting choices our protagonists have to make is compelling.
One character in particular, Hopper, might cause clashing feelings with some viewers, but that is why his arc is so interesting. Hopper is at his core a good guy, a police chief trying to protect his friends and family. In doing that, he is at times overprotective and he crosses the line. He isn’t a straight-laced, good guy all the time. It’s the uncomfortable moments in the later episodes of the season that are fascinating as a viewer and make the character more riveting to watch.
Speaking of our heroes, the main antagonists this season are Russians and they are a delicious, villainous group for the city of Hawkins to fight. With the Communist Party sneaking around the fictional Indiana town and our heroes running from Russian bodyguards and machine-gun fire, the latest season of “Stranger Things” is something out of a James Cameron “Terminator” film.
Overall, plot beats in season three might seem familiar to viewers and the show’s formula is showing, but the truth of the matter is the “Stranger Things” formula works. The bigger question is how long it can continue to work. Right now, however, fans can sit back and continue to binge this solid supernatural drama.