There’s More To Life Than Stupid Boys & Other Thoughts About Stranger Things Season Three

Guys, I finally finished Season 3 Of Stranger Things and I have a lot of feelings and a LOT of thoughts…

Of course, if you are yet to finish the third season of the Duffer Brother’s science-fiction come 80’s throwback Netflix show, do not keep reading – though unintentional, I am sure the below will contain spoilers.

Our new season is again set in the fictional town of Hawkins Indiana, where our favourite gang of D&D playing misfits Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Will, their psychokinetic lab experiment friend Eleven, their group mum Steve, their bizarre families, and Chief of Hawkins Police Jim Hopper, are all doing their best to forget the events of the previous year and actually enjoy their summer vacations.

The event I am referring to of course is when Will is abducted by a disturbed Lovecraftian creature dubbed the Demigorgen, who derives from a place called The Upside Down. This Upside Down was apparently created by the nearby Hawkins National Laboratory who were secretly performing a number of supernatural experiments that led to the super casual creation of a portal to this spooky, and very unsafe, alternate dimension. Whilst Will’s mother Joyce and Chief Hopper go looking for Will after his inexplicable disappearance, one of the test subjects from the Hawkins National Laboratory, El, escapes and with her paranormal and telekinetic skills, helps the boys find Will in the Upside Down. Then, after another season of the town of Hawkins being terrorised by another tentacle monster called the Mind Flayer, El and the gang eventually close off the tear between Hawkins and The Upside Down, allowing the town to rest in peace once again.

So all should be super chill and groovy now right? The kids are able to explore their blossoming love lives, deal with the usual experiences of high school, and get back to playing Dungeons & Dragons, right?


Not only has capitalism invaded Hawkins in the form of the Starcourt Mall, but Russian Soviets have also managed to sneak their way in with technology that has the potential to force open the recently closed portal to The Upside Down, for absolutely no reason other than because they can. Big bummer.

Inevitably, the Russians meddling with the portal leads to some pretty shady stuff happening in Hawkins namely; an unnatural amount of power outages that no one seems phased by; rats eating poisonous amounts of fertiliser which only Nancy and Jonathon seem to be interested in reporting at their new internships at the Hawkins Post; and an odd loss of magnetic fields that only Joyce Byers has noticed.

Whilst all these wild warning signs are occurring, Will, using one of his two catch phrases this season, gets a tingle on the back of his neck and eventually realises ‘he’s here’ – he being the aforementioned Lovecraftian-beast from The Upside Down aka the Mind Flayer.

While on the subject of the Mind Flayer, he has taken over bad boy and middle-aged mum eye-candy Billy Hargrove, who is actively going out of his way to find other bodies the Mind Flayer can host to fulfil its mission of destroying and weaponising El, and creating total and utter destruction in Hawkins along the way.

So let’s chat about Billy for a moment; played by Australian actor Dacre Montgomery and also known as home-brand Zac Effron. Yes, his topless performance as the lifeguard of Hawkins Pool is a fantastic addition to the season, especially with all the mums of Hawkins routinely perving on him just like all of us at home, but his acting only improves as the series continues. Dacre continues to channel the acting chops of Zac Effron, but as serial killer Ted Bundy in the recent biopic, definitely nailing the utter calmness of a raging psychopath or in his case, a hideous monster from an alternate reality.

Speaking of excellent performances, Winona Ryder returns as Joyce Byer who is as wired as she had been in previous seasons of Stranger Things, and as wild as she was in the high school satire, Heathers. Despite reprising this paranoid mother character, Winona packs a little extra punch this season, perfectly playing that strong independent woman who don’t need no man, and not taking any of the shit the few remaining adult men throw her way (see Hopper who is at his worst this season). I am completely here for it and I hope this empowered Joyce continues to thrive in the next season.

Following that theme of positives, not only do we get to watch the 80’s unfold again before our very eyes this season, we also get to watch the gang grow up, even if it is slightly. With some power shots and cliché mall and makeover montages (in which I absolutely adore El’s new bold patterned lewk, very Gorman), we are transported to the 80’s, and though I was not alive during this time, there was just enough lycra, tacky perms, and clashing coloured wind suits to make me believe I was there in the Hawkins mall mid-80’s.

Some of the 80’s slang like pretty neato, dingus, peabrain, and nerd, though feeling forced at times, really brought home the era our gang is living in, re-emphasising that no they couldn’t just Google Translate the Russian code or film the Russian Laboratory in action on their iPhones and send it straight to the FBI. No. Because we are in the 80’s, the only time when this kind of horror can be rife and simultaneously ignored by society.

If the set, clothing, and slang isn’t enough to remind you we are smack bang in the 80’s, the Duffer Brothers have again thrown in as many iconic 80’s movie homages into the season as humanly possible.

We have the gender flipped scene where Billy walks past the gawking Hawkins mums to the tune, “Moving In Stereo”, just like Phoebe Cates did in Fast Times At Ridgemont High where she was sporting her iconic red bikini.

We also have Dustin crawling through the mall’s vents just like John McClane in the 1988 film Die Hard.

We also have, my personal favourite, the Russian assassin’s hunt for ‘The American’ Hopper, in what can only be described in a Schwarzenegger-style Terminator-like obsession.

But if you are looking hard you will see a butt-load more 80’s movie references from Jaws, The Dead Zone, Alien, The Shining, Indiana Jones, Dawn of the Dead, National Lampoons Vacation, The Neverending Story, Jurassic Park, Heathers, The Fly, and the very evident Back To The Future.

So whilst we are being bamboozled by 80’s nostalgia, we are also being reminded of the confusion and excitement of young love, with all of the gang except Will, exploring connections with their newly formed romantic partners; Mike and El are spending too much time kissing behind closed doors for Hopper’s liking; Lucas is learning the importance of paying attention to your partner the hard way from Maxine who is consistently dumping him; Dustin is stuck trying to convince everyone that Susie, the incredibly intelligent and hot girl he met at Camp Know Where exists; Nancy and Jonathon are facing relationship bumps after Nancy experiences sexism and rejection for the first time at their internship; and Steve is struggling to get his mojo back whilst working at the mall’s Scoops Ahoy with Robin.

So despite the actor’s growth spurts and that they have now all clearly gone through puberty, I feel Stranger Things has struggled to adapt it’s story to grow with it’s ageing cast, with the exception of this young love plot.

In summary, after pumping through all 8 episodes, including the whopping 77 minute-long season finale, and despite the frustration that does occur from watching several sets of characters each discover important information that if they actually communicated and culminated with their friends, would make discovering the truth a lot easier and quicker, I thoroughly enjoyed this season of Stranger Things.

Though I personally feel there are some strong connections to stories by Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft, Stranger Things is one of the few big television productions that is actually delivering a fresh story, not being an adaption or revival of original source material or an older series, and that in itself makes it worth watching.

As for Stranger Things Season 4, I am hoping we get to see the story open up outside of Hawkins, especially with our glimpse into the fact that the Russians are still up to no good in their homeland, as I do not think a small town could handle another disaster, honestly.

Fingers crossed we also get to discover who ‘The American’ they are holding captive is – is Hopper alive or are we finally going to meet El’s biological father be it Dr Brenner (who was the head scientist conducting experiments on El), or someone else? Hopefully we shall see.

Also, with Joyce taking her family and El away with her to a new town, how will our gang get back together for continued hijinks and Upside Down related adventures? I am hoping this will also give us a chance to see the story go beyond Hawkins.

I also feel like we may be seeing more of Dr Owens and his Department of Energy after his brief reintroduction in the season finale, will he be a help or a hindrance when it comes to shutting down experiments and the Upside Down for good?

And finally, I dearly want to see our Scoops Ahoy team in action at the Video Rental Store, and discover how the dynamic between our duo will change when owner Keith is introduced. Between Robin and Steve’s banter and the promise of reliving my childhood at Blockbuster, I believe it sounds like the comedy spin-off we need.

So I would rate Stranger Things Season 3 as a Must Watch.

– Courtie