Stranger Things 3

It's Stranger Things 3 release day!

Oh yeah, and happy Fourth of July!

I've been up since 3:01 am watching and have just finished the entire season. In the interest of full transparency I will be rewatching two episodes a night for the next few days so they AMH can catch up to me since he had to work today. I'm hoping that by watching again, when I'm not sleep deprived, that maybe I'll pick up on a few other things.

Few shows/movies have reached this level of fandom and I happily call myself a dedicated member to Stranger Things. For me it ticks all the boxes. I was born in the early 80's and have always loved the era. While I wouldn't wear most of the styles and hairstyles today, I sure do enjoy seeing them in my favourite 80's movies. Which is another plus for me because 80's movies are my absolute fave! The Goonies, E.T, Halloween, Back to the Future, anything by John Hughes, they're just classics. And the creators of Stranger Things, The Duffer Brothers, think so too! There are so many subtle, and not so subtle nods to 80's classics. The entire series is a giant love letter to this era!

So I started watching for the nostalgia, but I stayed for the characters, their interactions with one another and the general plot. I like to think of each episode as it's own movie. They always manage to tie into the series as a whole, but each one can feel so unique. This is both good and bad. While season two as a whole was wildly received, one individual episode in particular was not, episode 7 The Lost Sister. If you've already watched both seasons (and if not, stop right now and go watch!) you know which one I am talking about.

Now after that season two finale, all our favourite characters are pretty happy and content, blissfully unaware that while The Police's Every Breath You Take plays during the Snowball dance, the Mind Flayer is looming large over Hawkins Middle. So what are the residents of Hawkins, Indiana up to when season three starts?

I'm going to stop right here.

I'm going to post some general spoiler free thoughts on the season for those that are maybe sitting at their work desk and just dying to get home today, or possibly you're stuck with family waiting for the fireworks to signal the end of "forced family time". If you're reading this, I want you to get excited about what the next few hours or days look like.

If you're like me and have already binged the entire show, I'm going to post some spoiler content down below. Skip right through to read that.

Spoiler Free Comments on Stranger Things Season 3

We have two trailers to gather information from. We know there's something up with rats, there's a new mall, the fair is in town and there is some crazy looking spider legged monster terrorizing our favourite kids.

What I can tell you, again spoiler free, is the show starts in the summer before the kids, Mike, Will, Dustin, Lucas, Max and Eleven, start high school. The usual pairings are still there, Mike/El & Lucas/Max, which leaves Dustin and Will on the outs. Steve works with newcomer Robin at the mall's ice cream shop Scoops Ahoy (Baskin Robbins has a great instore tie in. I recommend Eleven's Heaven, it's delish!) Nancy and Jonathan have a summer internship and Joyce and Hopper are everyone's favourite parents. Last season's scene stealer Erica is back and badder than ever! And you just might get another steamy interaction between Billy and Mrs. Wheeler 😉

What I can tell you is you are in for a ride. The 80's nostalgia is heightened. Anyone who thinks back to 1985 or spends a little time on Google images, this is where the neon colours and hyper-commercialism of the eighties really starts. The early 80's still had a lot of the late 70's earth tones, '85 is when it comes alive. New Coke is there, Burger King too. Even 7-Eleven gets some screen time, and my personal favourite, the cereal aisle at the grocery store. The 80's didn't invent boxed cereal, but they sure did make it an entire thing! Every cartoon, video game and toy had their own cereal.

I felt the first episode was a touch choppy, even a little awkward but the ship rights itself almost immediately. So quickly that I wondered if it was just more in my own head since it's been a year and a half since the previous season (yes that's a less than subtle dig at the creators for making us wait so long). Each episode is action packed and you really don't want to miss a thing because information does come out pretty fast. Don't watch while folding laundry, I looked away at one point and had to back up just to make sure I didn't miss anything (which I did)

There are new friendships to be excited about, Max and El are just two material girls in a material world and it's great to see them getting along so well after their first meeting back in season 2 didn't go so well.

This season is gross and gory, so I'll just warn you about that now. And I recently saw Millie Bobby Brown on the red carpet say that she recommends watching this season with some kleenex. I can confirm this to be true. And it's scary. Like make you afraid of the dark, give you goosebumps scary, which is always part of the fun.

Last thing. When you're done watching the show, stay to watch the credits on the season finale. You won't regret it 😉

Alright, that's enough spoiler free info. Stop right there and go watch Stranger Things 3 and then come back here to read the below spoiler comments.

Stop here if you haven't watched all eight episodes of Stranger Things 3

You've Been Warned

Seriously, Spoilers Ahead! 

Eight Episodes - So this season we are back to eight, instead of nine, episodes and I for one am quite happy to see they have stuck with the original team. It really does feel like The Duffers heard us all loud and clear and decided to stick with the core group and not add in any other numbered children. All that being said, I did wonder almost immediately after viewing the entire series (and after I stopped crying, see below) why they didn't include Kali 008 just a little. I don't think it was her or her character people didn't like, it was just the entire story of taking Eleven away from the core group and her venturing out on her own. Think about it, when do we really see any of the characters on their own?  They are always paired off into family/friends/lovers and that's how we like it. It follows all great 80's buddy and adventure movies. Goonies never say die, right? That movie (my personal all time fave) was a huge inspiration for this series and they never left any of the characters to fend for themselves. Happy to see this season back to the formula that works, even if I did wonder for a minute what Kali was up to.

Hopper - Oh, that was rough. I had read the night before a reviewer saying that a major character death was coming and I feared for Hopper, Mike and Steve. Not only are they probably my favourite characters on the show but I imagined their deaths would the most heartbreaking. Since the show really revolves around Eleven, I figured she was save. The rest of the D & D party, while still great, just wouldn't reduce everyone to tears in the same way. Well, it was Hopper who perished saving the world, again. Or did he? How about that end credits teaser in Russia? Did you catch the guard saying "Not the American" and pointing to a locked door? Did Hopper have time to jump through the gate and into the Upside Down before Joyce turned off the machine? Was he able to come out the other side in Russia and get captured? Are we so upset about Hopper dying that we are grasping onto any shred that he might still be alive? It very well could be another American they are referring to. But let's hope not.

Billy - What a performance! In the time that Billy has been on the show I haven't had one ounce of sympathy for him, until right at the very end. I felt bad for him when he cried saying he's sorry for the things the monster has made him do. I felt bad when the thought of his mother brought him to tears and I felt really bad when he died ultimately saving Eleven. He was such a great bad guy this season, and last, but I will admit I won't be sad that he's not returning. He is just so good at being bad, I really don't want him around! And now with so many out of the closet, I'm just glad he won't be there to pick on anyone.

Out Of The Closet - Robin wasn't crushing on Steve. She was crushing on the girl that was crushing on Steve. I can honestly say I didn't see that one coming! Robin is such a great new addition to the cast and I am really excited to see her build her friendship with Steve. And let's hope for a romantic interest for her, and one for Steve too next season!

Will is possibly out of the closet, too. There was mention in season one of Will's father calling him a name that I won't repeat (referring as being gay) and the scene with Mike saying to Will "We know you don't like girls" can either be that he really is gay, or it's just that he's so young and stunted that he just hasn't matured like the rest of his friends. Personal feeling is that Will is gay and they could explore that more next season, especially once we find out where the Byers have moved to.

Here's where I am worried about this story line. The show is really good at sticking with the reality of the 80's, which wasn't always a good time to be alive. Bullying was at an all-time high in the 80's because it still didn't have a name. It was the youth of the 80's that suffered so badly that parents and educators finally woke up, gave it a name and have spent the last 40 years trying to crush it. And bullys picked on gay kids worse than any other group.  I don't think there was a more homophobic time than the 80s & 90s to the point that gay was common slang for anything lame and music (mostly rappers) talked horribly about gay people. I am all for representing a time and place accurately, I just hope it is handled sensitively and doesn't become a trigger or worrisome content to young LGBTQ youth of today.

Eleven's Powers - Poof, all gone. Even after the endings time jump of three months, she still can't move a simple teddy bear. Let's speculate since there isn't a lot to go on. Did she deplete her powers so much that they are just all gone? Are her powers less inherited from the womb and MKUltra and maybe have more to do with the Mind Flayer and the Upside Down? Are they gone for good? Will Kali come back in season 4 to help her harness her power as she did in that controversial episode in season 2? Am I reading why too much into this?

Mileven - These two are just adorable together, no wonder we stan them so much! While I was sad to see El dump Mike, we do need to have them apart a little to build interest. Look at last season. They spent the entire season apart, yet pining for each other and we loved it! El moving away with the Byers family in the end feels quite sad. Remember this is 1985, no cell phone or Snapchat to keep in touch. Which brings me to another item...

The Byers & El Move Away - To where? How far away? Will they come back? Will there be two towns affected in the next season? How will this affect Will's relationship with the only friends he has? Can Mileven survive? How about Nancy and Jonathan...

Characters Who Just Didn't Develop - Nancy and Jonathan's story this season just seems a little flat. They start out strong investigating the rat story, but then, I don't know, they don't seem to really go any further past their little heart to heart in the car where Jonathan admits Nancy was right. Mayor Klein is a forgettable character. The way they were building him up in the trailers, I thought he would have played a larger role. Same with Jake Busey's character. From the trailer he looked very zombie-ish and again from being in the trailer, I thought he would have played a bigger role. Oh well.

All in all, I loved season 3. The Stranger Things team has a really specific body of work they draw influence from and they do it well. One of the things that keeps me going back to the classic horror films is suspense and not always showing the horror head on, letting your imagination do some of the work. The Duffers are great at showing us the main villain each year, but also building the suspense to the point that you get chills. Yes, I got actual chills this season! There is always the worry with sequels that they won't live up to the previous instances, that they've gotten so popular they will jump the shark or even worse, they put all their money into CGI and forget about a little thing called a plot and dialogue. None of those things are present this season. Let's hope season 4 and hopefully season 5 are the same.

I could go on for days, which I kind of already did on my Twitter where I live tweeted some quick thoughts during each episode. Here's where I would like to open a dialouge. You see, other than my husband, I don't know anyone else IRL who watches the show! I have tried getting all my friends, family and co-workers watching but they just haven't yet. Let me know in the comments below some of your thoughts on this season. What did you love? What could you have done without?