Yesterday, July 4th, 2019, AKA Independence Day the third season of the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things was released in its entirety on Netflix. Since the release of the first season in 2016, the show has become one of the most highly regarded shows among critics and audiences, due to its enticing and well-scripted narrative, its relatable and believable characterizations, its ambitious visual effects and beautiful cinematography, and its heartfelt use of 80's nostalgia. So well loved is Stranger Things that despite the promise of fledgling movie careers for some it's leading cast all of the lead and support actors returned for the shows highly anticipated third season.
Sadly when most franchises return for a third inning is typically when the downward spiral into obscurity begins, such as with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, RoboCop 3, Ghostbusters 2016, Sleepy Hollow, Enterprise, and so much more. Thankfully, despite an ever-maturing lead cast and a well-established concept, visual style, and narrative tropes Stranger Things 3 somehow feels like a worthy continuation of what we feel in love with in seasons one and two. Sure, there are moments were seasoned fans will be able to pre-empt plot twists before they happen, while at the same time the show has a much more linear narrative when compared to its predecessors, but with only eight episodes Stranger Things 3's pace never relaxes enough for you to care. As with the previous seasons, and examples of well-written movies and TV shows, Stranger Things 3 uses its ensemble cast of characters divided among multiple plots that weave together to create a larger, and more importantly satisfyingly overarching narrative.
As with previous seasons, Stranger Things 3 borrows elements from popular '80's TV shows and movies, but mentioning which nostalgic treasures the Duffer Brothers have plundered may be considered spoiler territory so I'll refrain from mentioning them here. However one thing I think is worth mentioning are the worthy and welcome additions to the cast that includes Robin (Maya Hawke), Erica (Priah Ferguson), and Grigori (Andrey Ivchenko). While Robins' addition to the cast gives the series one its (thankfully) few "woke" moments, and while Erica's ability to never remain quiet may grate on the nerves a little, villain Grigori is a welcome addition who emulates Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance from 1984's The Terminator.
All in all the third season of Stranger Things retains its appeal and shows that the Duffer Brothers' much cherished franchise has the promise of lasting for many more seasons as we continue to follow Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, Max and Eleven as they continue to battle the forces of the Upside Down while growing into young adults, and all while looking back at the '80s with rose-tinted spectacles.
Finally, one word of warning - expect a little heartbreak by the season's end.