Anghus Houvouras shares his disappointment with Stranger Things season 3…
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the words to describe what particular elements of a creative endeavor felt disappointing. Other times it’s incredibly easy.
The third season of Stranger Things was a depressing mess which exposes the flimsy foundation the series is built upon which includes 80’s era nostalgia, pop-culture references and every horror/science fiction trope in existence. The other ingredient is extremely likeable characters who end up being exceptionally watchable in spite of the copy+paste plot that has been provided for them in the third season.
Things in Hawkins, Indiana haven’t gotten any stranger over three seasons. We’re still dealing with the same villainous entity, the same heroes and marginally different villains. Generic Government cronies have been replaced by Soviet stereotypes. The series is suffering from a crippling case of sequel-itis running its cast through the paces as it moves towards an all-too-inevitable conclusion.
There’s part of me that’s been feeling this way since the second season, when I quickly realized the show reshuffled the creative deck and played the same cards. The third season has calcified my belief that the show only has lateral moves left to play and updated references to include.
Stranger Things is what happens when you turn Easter eggs into a television series.
The second major issue I had with the third season is very simple: Dramatic irony. For viewers, the plot for entire third season is pretty much revealed in the first episode and a half. The villain, the new host and the entire Russian involvement is all pretty much laid out. The next five episodes are spent catching the characters up with what the audience is already painfully aware of. Joyce (Winona Ryder) is still going on and on about magnets losing their properties when everyone watching knows exactly what is being powered up underneath the Starcourt Mall.
The first season was replete with mystery and tension while building to a satisfying conclusion. The third season is an absolute mess with every major reveal happening so early on that you become impatient waiting for your characters to figure out in episode five what you were well aware of in episode two.
There’s also some weird tonal choices. Max (Sadie Sink) learns that her brother is possessed by our evil friend from the Upside Down. In the next scene, she’s at a hospital goofing around with her friends like it’s no big deal. Simply because the show has to change gears into the pubescent romance plot. How can she worry about her brother when she has to deal with those throbbing hormonal urges? GIGGLE GIGGLE GIGGLE.
The first season of Stranger Things is an excellent bit of homage and escapism. The third season is an absolute mess that feels like a poorly rendered photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. The further away the Duffer Brothers get from the first season, the flimsier the creative structure feels.
I was hoping the third season of Stranger Things would be a return to form for the series. Instead, it was a brutal disappointment.