It’s been a little under two years since we last saw the Stranger Things children, but they all look like they are old enough to have their own mortgages now. It’s almost disconcerting seeing them so old. And that is the theme of the first couple of episodes. As Mike yells at poor Will: “They aren’t kids anymore!” (or something in that ilk). Elle and Mike are happily being happy (much to Hopper’s chagrin), Max and Lucas are making up and breaking up, and even Dustin found a girl at his science camp. Will just wants to play D&D with the guys, but even he understands that those days are behind them.
Of course, the show isn’t just about young love (although this season does focus a bit TOO much on relationships), it’s also about the mind-flayer and the way in which it has found a way back through the Upside Down. (It’s the Russians.) This time, it isn’t just a monster made of black smoke, though, this time, it is much, much worse.
This season is 80s nostalgia overload in more heavy-handed way than previous seasons. From bright mall shopping montages to a baddie straight out of The Terminator, to the theme song of The Never-Ending Story to “Hey, remember New Coke”, it doesn’t let you forget the decade for even a second. Other nods include Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Red Dawn, and Back to the Future (more than a nod, that one).
What I loved about this season:
- Robin — Steve’s coworker at the ice cream shop in the mall is funny and smart and looks exactly like what you would expect the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman to look.
- Hopper struggling with Elle growing up. He just wants his little girl to be a little girl.
- Those 80s colors — alright I’m a sucker.
What I didn’t love:
- The many, many romances slowed the action way down. This season plays like an extremely long movie. As such, I understand the need for the various B stories, but between Elle and Mike, Lucas and Max, Jonathan and Nancy, the potential of Hopper and Joyce, and the potential of Steve and Robin, it was just a lot.
- The over-exaggeration of the boneheads in Nancy’s office. Yes, it was the 80s and Nancy was an intern, but the sexism was overplayed (although, hey there, Jake Busey).
Spoilers (kind of):
I won’t go into the ending in detail, but man did I sob like a baby for the majority of the over hour-long final episode. I’m sure you know this already, but watch past the credits for the next season set up.
Netflix has yet to officially renew ST for a fourth season, but they would be nuts not to. I’m curious to see where they will go from here, but I’ll obviously be along for the ride if/when they do — and hopefully the kids will still be kids.
Overall, it was awesome to be back with the old(er) gang. I tried to stretch the episodes out but still only managed to make it last a week. Oh, well.