SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers for Stranger Things, Season 3.
Ed Power looks at the 10 things we learned from Stranger Things season 3.
Stranger Things is back for a third season and you’ve obviously just binged the entire eight hours and are now wondering how can you possibly fill your days until your next helping of sci-fi 80s nostalgia.
But as you sit there and blub a bit – if only Hopper had read that letter to Eleven when he had a chance! – there is also time to take stock.
This wasn’t the most ambitious Stranger Things. If you ask me, the show has become trapped in a loop and is now becoming nostalgic about itself, rather than about New Coke or Foreigner ballads.
Still ST3 has its moments. Moments that generally involve the kids running around Starcourt Mall as they were chased by the Mind Flayer’s poo monster.
There is also a wink towards the Cold War and movies such as Red Dawn. And we had an entire sequence built around a teenager singing – rather badly – the theme to the NeverEnding Story. It’s hard hate on stuff like that.
Anyway, a big drumroll please as we dive into the ten things we learned from Stranger Things 3.
If we were gathered around the kitchen table playing Dungeons and Dragons this, by the way, would be the moment where we declare that there be spoilers ahead.
David Harbour is arguably one of the biggest stars to break out of Stranger Things. Winona Ryder we had already heard of. And Millie Bobby Brown is, at 15, too young to be going anywhere soon.
So it felt logical that show runners the Duffer Brothers would kill off Chief Hopper during that confrontation with the Russians and their attempt to reopen the gate to the Upside Down.
Harbour presumably has no lack of offers elsewhere. But then came that cutscene to the Russian base in the Kamchatka Peninsula. One of the guards refers to “the American” imprisoned there. Who else could it be but Hopper?
After that nasty bit of body horror with the Mind Flayer’s monster at the mall, the telekinetic teen was seemingly robbed of her ability to manipulate objects with her mind.
She couldn’t even budge that teddy bear at the back of that cupboard. All along Eleven has been the enigma at the heart of Stranger Things.
This season, for the first time, she was allowed to act like a normal young person. Will that be her trajectory going forward? Will the Duffers find a way to restore her uncanny abilities? Or is Eleven’s number truly up?
The tension was off the charts as Will tried to play Dungeons and Dragons and Mike and Lucas goofed around (Will was wearing a wizard’s hat, which didn’t help).
Will’s dorkiness, and the fact he “isn’t interested in girls “ – cheers for your bluntness Mike – has apparently driven a wedge between him and the others. Oh and now Dustin has a long-distance girlfriend.
He was missing the entire season and his pals didn’t even notice. Maybe the fellowship of the nerds is about to be shattered.
Interdimensional beasties do have rather a soft spot for this obscure – and also, entirely fictional – American Mid-West town.
They’ve devoted three seasons of Stranger Things to trying to conquer it. But with the Mind Flayer’s latest defeat, is there a chance the focus might turn elsewhere.
To Russia, for instance, and the Soviet’s ongoing experiments?
The original and best Stranger Things monster had a surprise cameo right at the end when we discover it – or a lookalike –imprisoned in the Soviet Union and put to use gobbling prisoners.
Obviously, the Duffers showed us the creature for a reason. Our prediction: Stranger Things 4 is going to have a whole lotta Demogorgon.
Dustin singing The NeverEnding Story to Suzie. Suzie reading A Wizard of Earthsea (aka Harry Potter if Harry Potter was any good – and yes we know it isn’t an 80s reference).
Dawn of the Dead. Later period Dungeons and Dragons (they’ve moved past the red box). New Coke. The rise of the All American mall and the defenestration of the All American main street.
Such were some of the nods and winks this season. Stranger Things live or dies by its 80s nostalgia. How did the year stack up for you?
Having been possessed by the Mind Flayer – though spared being incorporated into its squidgy people monster – Billy was ultimately bumped off.
The show didn’t make too much of a fuss. But with her only living relative having paid the ultimate price for having their identity stolen by a protean horror, is Max going to be okay on her own?
The Chief is dead (alright we know he isn’t but let’s play along).
This has deprived Eleven of her father figure, Joyce of gruff-boyfriend material, and the citizens of Hawkins of their senior policeman.
Joyce and the gang have already skipped town – suggesting Stranger Things 4 will finally pull back the curtain on the wider world. But can they all get along without Hopper?
The Starcourt was sucking all the life out of Hawkins.
But it has now received quite a pummelling itself, thanks to the Mind Flayer monster and the huge slug-out that unfolded on its main concourse. Better cancel those Jazzercise classes – this mall needs a makeover.
The Duffers suffered a backlash when they put Eleven in a leather jacket, slicked her hair and sent her to hang with the other mutants in Chicago last season.
Which probably explains why year three cleaved so completely to Stranger Thing’s original blueprint.
But now that they’ve bought back some goodwill, might they (belatedly) go beyond Hawkins in series four?