Geeklings, I hope your Fourth of July celebrations are going well. Hopefully, you didn’t just have yesterday off and you’re having yourself a bit of a long weekend like yours truly. A long weekend filled with sun, swimming water, BBQs, and Stranger Things!
That’s right, after a year and a half wait the third season of Stranger Things is finally here and of course, it falls on a massive summer holiday when it’s deemed socially unacceptable by your fiance, family, and friends to stay inside for eight hours to watch a television show. Laaaaaaame. That’s not to say that we haven’t been able to watch any of this third season, in fact, I’ve secretly kind of enjoyed watching it in dribs and drabs as it’s allowed me to extend the journey a little bit more. And you all know I want to stay in Hawkins as long as humanly possible.
It’s this slow watching that also allows for some extended writing here at I Am Geek. Due to the fact that I don’t have time to write a bunch of think pieces and the fact that a larger portion of the internet has already seen the entire season, I just thought I’d give some quick reactions to what I’ve seen thus far and do that until the season is finished. Then I can hit you guys with my season review. Which means a bunch of new Stranger Things content for you guys. My Fourth of July gift to you all!
Before we jump into this, beware that there are some S P O I L E R S ahead so if you haven’t watched the first three episodes then don’t read onward. If you have though, let’s start talking!
- After two seasons of hinting and loose talk about the Russians, it appears that we’re going full Cold War this season, and instead of the race to space, we’re racing to weaponize the Upside Down. Opening the season in Russia opens this world up immensely, but in a very contained way, if that makes sense. The Gate the Russians were trying to create was very Hawkins like and instantly ties our little town of Indiana to Moscow. I also really enjoyed the fact that this shows that the Upside Down isn’t just in Hawkins. This is a worldwide parallel universe type deal. It really makes the Upside Down more dangerous and massive. Makes you wonder what other breaches have occurred throughout the world.
- The first episode does a great job of checking in on all the different characters while showing us the state of Hawkins. The Duffer Brothers move seamlessly from one area of town to the next using our characters as proxies as we see the effects of the new Starcourt Mall on this small American town. It’s a fun way to check in on everyone while getting an overall feel for what’s ahead.
- I’m just going to be upfront here, I’m shipping Robin and Steve. Not because it’s so painfully obvious that the two are going to fall for each other but because Robin is so kickass. Whenever an established show tries to introduce new characters it can often feel forced and out of place. Look at LOST with Nikki and Paulo for further examples. Robin feels completely in place in this world and I love how much she busts Steve’s chops. Great introduction to an awesome character. Her natural use of the word “dingus” should be celebrated.
- It’s sad seeing the fracturing of the Party. A part of that is the kids getting older and finding different interests, but it’s still tugging at the heartstrings. No more so than with Will Byers… man, I just feel for this kid. The two (of the three) times I’ve gotten choked up this season has involved Will and how his dealings with the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer have kind of put him at a different growth level than his friends. Mike, Lucas, and Dustin have been battling the Upside Down together and kind of grown at the same pace while Will has been playing catchup. His need to play D&D just crushes me because this is a kid who just wants to have his friends and feels like he’s losing him. Episode three is especially tough. I relate a great deal with Will Byers.
- Hopper is interesting this season. I was surprised to see him with full gut, especially after all that Hellboy work, but it’s obvious that he is struggling with being a parent to a teenage girl who just so happens to move stuff with her mind. The first two episodes kind of use Hop as comic relief in a way, which is a different way of viewing him, but episode three starts to give us the Hopper we’ve grown accustomed to. The one who kicks ass and takes names… if he hadn’t gotten soft that is. Hopper so desperately needs to believe that everything with the Hawkins Lab is over that he lets himself go. This leads to him getting his ass kicked by the angry Russian muscle. I’m curious to see how Hop responds.
- Then throw in the Joyce factor. We’ve all been shipping Hopper and Joyce since the series started and it’s fun seeing Hop go into full courting mode. Even though he gets stood up because Joyce is trying to find out why the town’s magnets aren’t working with Mr. Clarke. The conversation that the two have in episode three is outstanding and sure to drive shippers crazy. Looks like Joyce is trying to put all the Hawkins Lab and Upside Down stuff behind her as she’s getting ready to put her home on the market. Hopper just wants her to feel safe in Hawkins. An excellent scene with a killer Joyce joke to cap it off before things get tense.
- With that being said, I love how Bob still has an impact on this series. The fact that Sean Astin returns for a throwaway memory scene is outstanding. This is a character that truly made an impact and I miss him. He was a god damned superhero. Justice for Bob!
- Mike is a jerk. Could you imagine talking to your girlfriend’s father that way?! The fact that Hopper doesn’t shoot him is incredible. I think Mike has this sense that no one can touch him because El’s his girlfriend. Well, she was. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike adapts to life without telekinetic backup.
- Speaking of Eleven, her relationship with Max has been great. I do wonder where she got the money to buy all those new clothes at the mall, but it’s nice to see Eleven exist outside of the Party. Plus, Max and Eleven are working a case together. The case of the missing lifeguard.
- Which leads us to Billy. Not much has changed with him. He’s still an asshole and his possession by the Mind Flayer has been excellently orchestrated. My fiance has pointed out that each of these first three episodes ends with Billy showcasing his building threat. Either him being taken by the Mind Flayer or feeding a lifeguard to the Mind Flayer or attacking said lifeguard’s family. Billy/Mind Flayer is being slowly built up and he’s scary. I hated seeing the girls in his bedroom. Made me nervous. The bathtub full of ice was a nice reminder that these creatures like it cold. Must be tough during summer in Indiana.
- The Mind Flayer/Billy learning Eleven’s name was awesome as we build to a rematch there, and its memories of the Gate being closed really gave the Mind Flayer a sense of an actual force rather than just a monster. This thing has thoughts and memories which can’t be good for Eleven or Hawkins.
- What’s the Mind Flayer’s objective here though? It seems that Billy and the crazy exploding rats that turn into goo monsters (another tool of the Mind Flayer) aren’t actually looking to eat the people of Hawkins but turn them into Upside Down creatures. If you remember from season two, these things act with a hive mind and it would appear that the Mind Flayer is building some sort of an army. Oh, I loved that image of Billy in the Upside Down staring at his doppelganger. It was weird seeing people in the Upside Down. Like people who might live there?
- Everything with the newspaper and Nancy makes my blood boil. The show has done a great job of establishing Nancy as a strong character who goes into action. I would argue that she’s much tougher than Jonathan. With her, on this rats case, it’ll be interesting seeing these stories sync up. It’s only a matter of time. That’s if Jonathan and Nancy aren’t attacked by the now possessed old lady eating fertilizer in her basement. Also, why fertilizer?
- Stranger Things’s ability to tickle the nostalgia buttons is effortless. Every store in the mall brought a different emotion. New Coke shows up and doesn’t really feel like product placement. Posters. Music. TV shows (I see you Hopper and your clearly inspired mustache). It all feels natural and never forced and I love that about this show. The Duffer Brothers are fantastic at this.
- Robin, Steve, and Dustin chasing Russians. I could watch this as a spinoff and be completely at peace with it. What could armed Russians possibly be delivering to a mall food court Chinese restaurant? Are they being mind controlled by the Russian Mind Flayer? Are they working with the Upside Down? Or have they decided that Hawkins has an easier doorway to the Upside Down then Russia?
- With that being said, Dustin and Steve are my favorite friendship. By far.
- I’m very much looking forward to more of Erica. “Isn’t it time you died” made me laugh out loud. This kid has so much sass and seems primed to join the Russian hunter’s party.
- Mrs. Wheeler… yuck. That is all. Well, I’m glad she made the right call.
I think that’s about it for initial thoughts. Three episodes in and I’m already loving this third season. It’s just great returning to Hawkins for a bit. I’ll be back at some point soon with a breakdown of the next few episodes I’m able to work in. In the meantime, how are you guys feeling about this season thus far? Only comment up to episode three or throw me a line over on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll see you guys soon, it’s time for me to be social for a bit. Ugh, but Hawkins…