As one of the many who binged the new season of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things over the weekend, I can easily say this season was better than season two. Not that last season was bad, not at all. Season three, however, provided a lot more depth to the storytelling. And yes, this includes spoilers. Those who have watched the entire season know that you can’t recap without major spoilers.
- Steve and Robin- While many fans assumed this would be a new love interest for Steve, such was not the case. The chemistry between the two is great. However, after a harrowing encounter with the Russians, Steve and Robin have a heart to heart talk about their feelings. This is where Robin tells Steve she’s gay. Anyone who remembers the 1980s knows that this was not a point in time that was friendly to the LGBTQ community. Robin feeling the need to hide her homosexuality fits right in with the setting of small town 1985 America. Steve’s reaction was perfect and non-judgmental. The friendship between him and Robin, as well as the character of Robin navigating Hawkins, Indiana deserves more exploration in season four.
- Girl Power- While past seasons have seen Eleven save the day time and time again, this season saw Max and Nancy assert themselves and drive not only the action, but also the narrative of the story a bit more. The friendship of El and Max was definitely fun to watch. As Eleven grows up, it shows her to be very much acclimating to teenage life. Nancy, on the other hand, had her hands full trying to make an impression at the male dominated local newspaper. Once again, showing that 1985 was a year where women had long standing battles to fight to be taken seriously. With that said, it wasn’t only Eleven and Nancy playing an integral role in saving the world. Suzie assisted to unlock the safe and it was Robin who cracked the Russian’s code. Let’s also not forget Joyce, who was left on her own yet managed to pull it all together and shut down the re-opening of the portal.
- Eleven Loses Her Power- In the finale, we see Eleven completely drained of her powers. While frightening for fans, this was a chance for the rest of the group to all rally and save the human race. I, personally, felt this was a brilliant twist by the Duffers. Having the group, and the plot, constantly depending on Eleven to save the day would get too predictable. This is a nail biter for fans, leaving them to wonder if Eleven’s powers will return in season four, or will we see Eleven have to adjust to NOT having them.
- The Redemption of Billy- Let’s be honest here, Billy Hargrove has never been a likable character. However, last season we saw a bit of his home life, which tried to explain some of his dysfunction and erratic behavior. This was a small detour last year and season two ended with Billy still being just the town bully… and Mrs. Wheeler’s crush. The mind flayer taking over Billy made sense because of his physical build and violent tendencies. What most fans did not expect was to see the emotional rollercoaster, which Dacre Montgomery did a tremendous job of portraying. Whether it was his breakdown on the sauna, or Eleven’s trip through his broken childhood, Billy had quite the journey this season. At the end of the day, it was Billy who came through and saved Eleven. The Duffer brothers surprised us with the emotional depth and humanity of Billy’s last moments.
- Hopper- Grab your tissues! The shocking conclusion saw the explosion at the mall and the “death” of Hopper. If the anguish of Joyce and Eleven, both incredibly well played by Winona Ryder and Millie Bobbi Brown, doesn’t make you teary-eyed, then you may need to check your heart. If you waited and watched the ending credits, however, you saw the Russian prison where the guard made reference to an American. We never actually see Hopper’s body. Does this leave the door open for Hopper to still be out there somewhere? Is this a cliffhanger for fans to hang on? Either way, in a finale full of slime, gore, and action, the Duffers tie it all back together with the relationships that bond the group together.
So, with Hopper possibly gone and the Byers moving, Stranger Things third season leaves a lot of unanswered questions as to how and where it will pick up next season. Will Eleven get her power back? How will the show deal with the Byers moving out of Hawkins? What are the Russians planning to do with the Demogorgon? Will we see more of Dustin and Suzie together? With the kids slowly becoming adults and the mind-flayer still out there, I’m sure there will be no shortage of material for next year’s Stranger Things binge.