Things get even more shit for Hawkins, Indiana, in the third season of 80s-inspired sci-fi mystery series Stranger Things. Will Byers may be back from both the Upside-Down and the clutches of the Mind Flayer, but there’s something even more sinister lurking in the shadows of the once-sleepy town.
Everything is bright, shiny and covered in sweat as the show enters the summer of 1985 and Hawkins gets a brand new mall, the new hot spot for teens all over town. Those teens include the ST gang, the former bike-riding kids we know and love, and with the shift in age comes an entertaining shift in priorities (mainly kissing girls). Mix those growing pains with the horrors that come out of the Upside-Down and you get almost eight hours of glorious, non-stop fun.
The new season isn’t perfect: a few highlights from earlier seasons are used again, but some feel old already. Eleven continues to use blindfolds and white noise to create sensory deprivation experiences to spy on people like it’s nothing, Nancy and Jonathan’s budding relationship no longer inspires emotion, and Will is still deeply unhappy but his wellbeing isn’t quite as concerning as it has been in the past.
However, there are still plenty of old tricks that only get better the deeper into the series we get. The possibly-romantic tension between Hopper and Joyce is even more delicious, the monsters are bigger, better and grosser, and the friendship between Steve and Dustin, which ended up being one of the best surprises of Season 2, is still on the up, with Joe Keery and Gaten Matarazzo lighting up every scene they’re in.
These season occasionally suffers from pacing problems, with a little bit of plot taking a few episodes to play out, and a lot of the plot happening in the space of a day. But it’s still great at filling the scenes that lack story with heart and humour, both of which the cast has by the dozen. One of Stranger Things’ best qualities is its characters, and with each passing season finale it gets harder to say goodbye.