FRED Watch Quickie TV Review: Stranger Things Season 3 (2019)

STRANGER THINGS SCOOPS IT FOR A THIRD TIME!

I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s series is the third season of Stranger Things

21 Laps Entertainment / Monkey Massacre / Netflix

In the summer of 1985, the new and contentious Starcourt Mall has become the focal point of Hawkins. Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is conflicted over Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) budding relationship, while Joyce (Winona Ryder) considers moving out of town for better prospects.

However, strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s (Noah Schnapp) awareness of something otherworldly, while Eleven and Max (Sadie Sink) sense something is off about the town’s residents. Despite having closed the portal to the Upside Down, the girls fear that they are all in danger from it still…

I’d say it’s official: Stranger Things has replaced Game of Thrones as the world’s most popular TV show. Season three has already become the most watched thing on Netflix and, at the time of writing, has only been out for a week. But there is good reason for this. The two-year wait between seasons was a long one, so anticipations and expectations were high. And given its completely natural binge-ability, it really feels like an eight-hour movie, and one that is paced extremely well. Also, we are addicted to the nostalgia fix Stranger Things is more than happy to provide. It offers so much more than just basic escapism like other films and TV shows do; for many it returns them to their childhood and brings happy memories flooding back. But enough of why Stranger Things is so successful, let’s get into the nitty gritty of season three…

The creators of this excellent series, the Duffer brothers, are in complete control and know exactly what they’re doing. The big challenge this season, a part from finding a new way to enter the Upside Down, or rather the Upside Down enter our world, was dealing with the kids growing up. It’s been less than a year since the events of season two, yet so much has changed. The older kids, Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), are all graduated from high school and working adult jobs. Well, as adult as one can get dressed as a sailor working in an ice cream store. Here is where we meet the wonderful Robin (breakout star Maya Hawke), the perfect foil for Steve’s ego and just an amazing character in her own right. Hawke is definitely a major highlight of season three, which is no surprise given her famous parentage: Mum is Uma Thurman and Dad is Ethan Hawke. Keery is hilarious as Steve Harrington in this environment, trying and failing miserably to pick up girls, and I love his budding bromance with young Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). Steve’s career path aside, this season did so well in reiterating why Nancy and Jonathan got together. Now both interns at the local Hawkins newspaper, the pair make an excellent journalistic team as well as a romantic couple, with both actors absolutely crushing it with their performances. Despite appearances, there are no damsels in distress in this show, with Dyer’s Nancy taking that trope and shoving it where the sun don’t shine.

As for our younger heroes, puberty is definitely happening, and the Duffer brothers have truly captured the innocence and awkwardness of it all. El (Millie Bobby Brown) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) are now an inseparable couple, much to the chagrin of all their loved ones, especially temper-prone Hopper (David Harbour), who is now in full parent mode as El’s adoptive father. Brown and Wolfhard make an endearing on screen team, with the actors capturing the highs and lows of teen romance perfectly. Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) pair off as well, but are less intense than El and Mike. Hell, even Dustin gets a girl in the form of Suzie (Gabriella Pizzolo). This, unfortunately, leaves poor Will (Noah Schnapp) alone and he only ever wants to play D&D. Given everything that Will has been through, you really feel for him this season and kind of start hating the rest of the gang a bit for pushing him to the side. The entire essence of high school is portrayed wonderfully.

The story of this season is so well written, as it is told through three separate sub plots that all link up in the season’s final episode. The combination of Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper was so entertaining, and their dynamic was thoroughly enjoyable. Joyce herself has come such a long way from the hysterical mother she was in season one and it is so good to see her become stronger through all these tragic experiences. Speaking of character growth, Billy (Dacre Montgomery) had a really surprising arc this season and your thoughts on him as a character will definitely be changed by the time the final credits roll. Big bad Mind Flayer’s physical presence was terrifying to be sure, but it felt so much more foreboding and sinister when in its shadow form in season two. Nevertheless, the evil creature was once again an epic villain, leaving so much more destruction in its wake than ever before.

There is so much to love within season three, including things beyond the acting and story. Of course the nostalgia is at an all-time high with this season, as the fashion and pop culture references take full advantage of the 1985 setting. Standouts include El and Max’s mall shopping spree (I seriously love those outfits), the music naturally, and the cinema in the mall, showing classics like Day of the Dead, Cocoon, and of course one of 1985’s biggest films, Back to the Future. Watching Stranger Things is basically like travelling through time as it is, and I cannot wait for season four to bring us straight back to that decade we all love so much. 5 / 5

 

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, Priah Ferguson, Cara Buono, Joe Chrest, Andrey Ivchenko, Brett Gelman, Cary Elwes, Peggy Miley, Jake Busey, Francesca Reale, Michael Park, Alec Utgoff, Rob Morgan, John Reynolds, Arthur Darbinyan, Misha Kuznetsov

Directors: The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, Uta Briesewitz. | Writers: The Duffer Brothers, William Bridges, Kate Trefey, Curtis Gwinn | Producers: Dan Cohen, Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Rand Geiger, Shawn Levy, Iain Paterson, Emily Morris, Curtis Gwinn, William Bridges, Paula Kramer | Music: Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein | Cinematographer: Tim Ives | Editors: Nat Fuller, Dean Zimmerman

 

Available: Netflix

Let us know what you thought of this season in the comments!

 

I’ve been a Kendall Richardson and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.


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