Usually, it is easy to forget a breakout show after there has been a considerable amount of time that has passed by widening the gap between two seasons. That, however is most definitely not the case with Netflix's phenomenon, Stranger Things. Having released its second season almost 2 years ago, the series is back and rolling with a third season with returning characters and of course, new additions.
Given the fact that this analysis has to be spoiler-free, it indeed limits the horizons to be actually talking about the show but be rest assured, it should still be enough to give you the heads-up you need.
Continuing one year after the massacre that occurred, things have changed in Hawkins, Indiana and everybody now has a varied set of issues to be dealing with. Some people are different and some relationships are different too. Well, a tad too different for one’s liking though.
One abundantly important thing that the Duffer Brothers (creators of the show) have taken care of and even want the viewer to soak in is the fact that these kids are no longer kids per se. They are growing. Hitting early times of teenage, the plot treatment also happens in that manner which may take a while for you to fathom but it settles in surely.
Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) are indeed officially dating and even though their budding love is endearing, their incessant smooching gets off-putting after a while. Of course, to no disregard to the actors, though. Luke (Caleb Mclaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) are also dating but their relationship is rather unconventional and they continue to behave as friends first, a couple later. Dustin was one month away but is now back and claims to have a girlfriend called Suzy. “Mommy” Steve is working at an ice cream parlor and has pretty much lost his ‘playboy’ image and now, in fact, sucks at flirting with girls. We also have a new character in the form of Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve’s colleague at the ice cream parlor, who literally ia one of the coolest people ever. I wish I had a friend like her, I really do. Who we usually only term as ‘Poor Will’ is now much better and leading a normal life, but still keeps getting these flashes in between which is one of the important points in this season. Joyce (Winona Ryder) is still not quite over Bob’s (Sean Astin) death, but the biggest dilemma is being faced by Hopper (David Harbour). On one hand, to his chagrin, his daughter Eleven continues to be with Mike whom he doesn’t like much; and on the other hand, he is struggling with his feelings towards Joyce. Oh, in case you forgot, Nancy (Nataliya Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) are still together and working at Hawkins Post as interns, where the former is treated like shit while the latter is loved.
That is all I can reveal about the principal characters of the show and how they shape up for the track further. I can already feel someone who is reading this pointing out how I have missed out Billy (Dacre Montgomery). Having done that deliberately, there is a specific reason for it. The one thing I can safely disclose is that the ‘alien creatures’ attack in this season has found themselves a new target in the form of Billy. It is not a spoiler and is available to spot in the trailer. It is Billy indeed and this time, as the source is an adult (pretty much), the danger and the wrath is much bigger than ever.
In spite of having odds against it, Stranger Things 3 manages to still make the formula seem interesting. There is a constant factor of predictability here, as you know there is going to be a new monster, a new victim, a new conspiracy involving authorities; all that is continued this time too. But even then, the show’s quaintness, constant use of levity in several matters and some phenomenal jump scares make this season a certain winner in pretty much all the senses.
It is not that this season doesn’t have loopholes because it sure does. The constant service to American consumerism is one and apart from that, there are moments when you feel there is way too much going on and too less time. Things do seem rather convoluted with over 4 or 5 parallel storylines going on that it will get a tad strenuous to catch-up. That is so much that at times, you feel the actual gravitas of a budding plotline is left on the fringes and the visual aspect takes over trying to cover-up a fizzling scene (An obvious mistake Game Of Thrones did, only way more constantly.) But every once a while, the reticence of the series is brought back that manages to get your eyes and brains glued again.
Stranger Things 3 may have things you won’t be ready to accept too soon but it will still serve the die-hard fans out there, who want things to be ‘Stranger Things-y’. For the rest of them, these changes will be a welcoming sight discarding the stagnant base plot and several scenes will also serve as a moment of introspection for all of us.
Rating - **** (4/5)
All the episodes of the third season release on Netflix on July 4.