Stranger Things—Season 3

stranger things season 3 poster review
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Back from a bit of a sophomore slump, good visuals

Like the show better when the gang is all together

The Mall Is Open…Stop on By!

Time is passing in Hawkins, Indiana, and with the gateway to the Upside Down closed, things for Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink), Will (Noah Schnapp), and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) seem to be calming down.  Karen (Cara Buono) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) find their internship at the local paper could be a gateway to bigger things while Steve (Joe Keery) works with his new coworker Robin (Maya Hawke) at Scoops Ahoy at Hawkins’ new Starcourt Mall.  What the people of Hawkins don’t know is that under the Starcourt is a secret Russian laboratory and that the gateway to the Upside Down might not remained closed long!

stranger things season 3 episode 4 the sauna test cast

The gang’s all here…sort of…sometimes

Stranger Things—Season 3 is a sci-fi action-adventure horror show.  The season premiered on Netflix on July 4, 2019.  The season won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing for a One Hour Comedy or Drama Series (“The Battle of the Starcourt”) with nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“The Battle of Starcourt”), Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Music Supervision (“The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”), Outstanding Special Visual Effects (“The Battle of the Starcourt”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for a One Hour Comedy or Drama Series (“The Battle of the Starcourt”), and Outstanding Interactive Extension of a Linear Program (“Scoops Ahoy:  Operation Scoop Snoop”).

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The Most Dangerous Man in the World

I loved the first season of Stranger Things, but felt Stranger Things—Season 2 had a bit of a sophomore slump (I’m still angry about the trip to Chicago episode).  Stranger Things—Season 3 had to lure me back and with a second viewing (to refresh on the series), it is still strong…but a bit drawn out.

The season feels a bit fractured because throughout most of the season, the cast is fractured.  Part of the charm of Stranger Things is that the kids feel like a team and a family and it feels bad to have them fractured.  Like a real family, new members are added and you have to learn to accept them like the expanded role of Max (Sadie Sink) and the addition of Lucas’s sister Erica (Priah Ferguson).  In good fashion the show and “family” gets back together at the end…it just is a bit of a trip.

stranger things season 3 episode 4 the sauna test cant spell america without erica priah ferguson

Can’t spell America without Erica….

The stories aren’t all equal.  I love the adventures of Erica, Robin, Steve, and Dustin at the mall, and Eleven and Max’s attempt to uncover the mystery of Starcourt Mall is interesting, but I think Nancy and Jonathan’s reporting mystery is bit tiring along with not much for Lucas, Will, and Mike to do once they are cut off from Eleven and Max.  Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) also have a solid adventure, but it feels like their part of the series should be a bit smaller since the series is largely about the kids.

The Billy character (played by Dacre Montgomery) is also a good edition.  He plays the classic 1980s “hot” bad guy that is a bully along the veins of a Kieffer Sutherland, but unlike someone like Sutherland’s Lost Boys character or his Stand by Me character, Billy has an explored and legitimate reason for being the “bad boy”…which is a nice twist (but not very ’80s TV movie which played more in stereotypes).  He has a nice full arc.

stranger things season 3 episode 8 the battle of starcourt flayed monster

The Mind Flayer wants to talk to you about your eternal soul

Visually, the series continues to impress.  The special effects of the series are equivalent (or even better) than a big screen equivalent.  The movie has some straight monsters with the Mind Flayer but it also has some nice visuals involving the visions of Eleven and trips into the netherworld she does…plus, retro 1980s and action sequences.

Stranger Things—Season 3 shows an improvement over Stranger Things—Season 2.  It shows that the plans for the series are bigger than they might appear and the plot (and cast) keeps expanding.  On the flipside, I do kind of miss the simplicity of the first season of the series.  With a huge gap between Stranger Things—Season 3 and Stranger Things—Season 4, you’ll be waiting for a return trip to the Upside Down.

Stranger Things—Season 3 Complete Episode Guide:

stranger things season 3 episode 1 suzie do you copy dustin gaten matazzo

“Suzie, Do You Copy?”

3.1       Suzie, Do You Copy? Released Date:  07/04/19

The Soviets experiment with the Upside Down but with no success.  One year later, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) find themselves developing their relationship, and Hopper (David Harbour) finds he can’t deal with it.  Joyce (Winona Ryder) misses Bob Newby (Sean Astin) while Nancy (Natalia Dyer) works at paper and tries to get a step up with a tip.  Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) returns to Hawkins from science camp with a reveal that he has a girlfriend, but his attempts to prove Suzie’s existence makes an unexpected contact.  Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) works at Scoops-Ahoy at the Starcourt Mall and discovers that it isn’t the women attracting job he hoped.  Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) works at the pool to the women’s joy, but a planned date with Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono) hits a snag when Billy finds himself under attack.

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“Mall Rats”

3.2       The Mall Rats Released Date:  07/04/19

Steve and Dustin try to translate the Soviet transmission Dustin recorded, and Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) reveals she could help.  Nancy and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) investigate a complaint about rats which seem to be out of control.  Hopper celebrates braking up Eleven and Mike but finds Hawkins’ mayor Larry Kline (Cary Ewles) is facing protests over the problems caused by the Starcourt Mall. Max (Sadie Sink) takes Eleven to the mall and tries to give Eleven her own personality.  Billy suffers from his trip into the Upside Down and has visions…leading terror.  Joyce goes to Scott Clarke (Randy Havens) for help about the magnet’s problems but accidentally disappoints Hopper.

stranger things season 3 episode 3 the case of the missing lifeguard heather holloway francesca reale

“The Case of the Missing Lifeguard”

3.3       The Case of the Missing Lifeguard Released Date:  07/04/19

Steve and Dustin search for Soviets at Starcourt Mall, and Robin gets a clue to what the message could be.  Nancy’s attempt to bring the story to the paper runs into sexism.  Eleven and Max investigate Billy and learn of a missing lifeguard named Heather Holloway (Francesca Reale).  Joyce and Hopper return to Hawkins National Laboratory for evidence of something happening.  A nighttime stakeout of the mall could reveal danger to Steve, Dustin, and Robin while Eleven and Max’s search for Billy could lead to exposing themselves to danger.

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“The Sauna Test”

3.4       The Sauna Test Released Date:  07/04/19

Nancy and Jonathan investigation leads to their termination, but they don’t realize that something more is behind their firing by Tom Holloway (Michael Park).  Will (Noah Schnapp) reveals he thinks that the darkness is still in Hawkins, and Hopper and Joyce try to track down the man who jumped him by going after the connection to the mayor.  Dustin, Robin, and Steve’s attempt to get into the Soviet controlled portion of the mall hits a wall…forcing them to turn to Lucas’s sister Erica (Priah Ferguson) for help.  Billy walks into a trap and show the Flayed’s power.

stranger things season 3 episode 5 the flayed monster

“The Flayed”

3.5       The Flayed Released Date:  07/04/19

Erica, Dustin, Robin, and Steve find themselves trapped in the Russian base hidden under Starcourt Mall.  Nancy and Jonathan learn that more is happening in Hawkins then they suspected and investigate their boss and his ties to Billy.  Hopper and Joyce are saddled with a Russian hostage named Alexei (Alec Utgoff) and trying to expose the Soviet ties.

stranger things season 3 episode 6 e pluribus unum robin steve maya hawke joe kerry

“E. Pluribus Unum”

3.6       E. Pluribus Unum Released Date:  07/04/19

Steve and Robin are prisoners of the Soviets as Dustin and Erica try to get help.  Hopper, Joyce, and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) learn what the Russians are up to under the mall and seek to end it.  Eleven debates entering the mind of Billy to find the location of the Mind Flayer and finds herself in Billy’s past.  The Mind Flayer summons its followers and expands its growth.

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“The Bite”

3.7       The Bite Released Date:  07/04/19

It is the 4th of July, and Hawkins is celebrating!  The Mind Flayer is after Eleven and a confrontation could prove deadly.  Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica hide out in the mall and try to avoid the Russians while Steve learns a secret about Robin.  At the carnival, a showdown with the Russians is coming, and Hopper, Joyce, Alexei, and Murray are caught in the middle.

stranger things season 3 episode 8 the battle of starcourt hopper david harbour

“The Battle of Starcourt”

3.8       Battle of Starcourt Released Date:  07/04/19

Eleven’s infection by the Mind Flayer makes her a liability as Murray, Hopper, and Joyce try to destroy the portal.  As Billy traps Will, Jonathan, Nancy, Max, Lucas, and Mike in the mall, Dustin, Robin, Steve, and Erica try to reach Dustin’s communication tower…which could mean proving Dustin’s true love exists.  With time running out, the rift between dimensions must be shut down forever!

Related Links:

Stranger Things—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Stranger Things—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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