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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Stranger Things 3: Growing Up



An excellent third season of Stranger Things - in fact, my favorite of the three so far - which couldn't be more timely in this age of Trump and Putin.   In the 1980s, the Russians were the Soviets, but they occupy the same place in Western popular culture - adversaries - and so they make great villains along with the monsters that the breakthroughs to the other dimension engender.

And all of our team were in top form.  Dustin's as sharp as ever, this time with a girlfriend, though his friends doubt her existence.   El's superpowers are formidable, though not unlimited, and she's falling in love - with Mike. His sister Nancy makes a cool and on-target reporter, and a good couple with Jonathan.  As always, there are at least three plot lines developing at the same time, peopled with interrelated characters, and converging well, if bruised, at the end.

The most compelling relationship is between Joyce and Jim, though it's hardly as yet a relationship.

Joyce lost Bob to the evil in Season 2, and she's wary of a new relationship.  Jim's not exactly her type.  But there's a chemistry there, which makes it all the more heart-wrenching when he's apparently killed in the Season 3 finale - a grievous blow not only to El, his beloved daughter, but Joyce.

Except - well, I and millions of fans don't think he's dead.  I never think a character is dead unless I see his or her head blown apart.  Jim just disappears when Joyce destroys the portal.  And in the coda, we learn that those nasty Russians have an American prisoner (unseen).   Since no one else from Hawkins has gone missing, I'd say Jim's survival would not only be most welcome, but is wide open.

The series is growing up well.  It's good to see the gang getting beyond their board games.   Cars have replaced bicycles as the most onstage mode of transport.  The sexuality is handled in an intelligent way, including an important character who turns out to be gay.   All of this adds up to a great foundation for a Season 4, which I look forward to seeing as soon as possible.

See also Stranger Things 1.1-1.5: Parallel Horror ... Stranger Things 1.6-18: Lando to Fringe ... Stranger Things 2: Bigger, Better


more parallel worlds ... "flat-out fantastic" - says Scifi and Scary

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