Season 3, Episode 1
Strange things are afoot in Hawkins, Indiana. Rats are exploding, something is stirring inside Will Byers and, perhaps most disconcertingly of all, Steve Harrington’s luscious, flowing locks are being trampled on by a stupid fast food hat that bares the legend Ahoy…
Before we get to Hawkins we have a particularly dark cold open that takes place in Mother Russia that suggests that the goddamn ruskies have also found a way to break through to a dimension of unspeakable evil. One of the reasons that the Harry Potter franchise became so successful was that the writing grew up with their audience. Likewise, in Suzie, Do You Copy?, the image of a bunch of Russian scientists in gas masks erupting into nothingness is as sinister as Stranger Things has ever been.
The pitfalls of working with child actors over a long period of time is that you always take a gamble with your casting. See Stark, Brandon or that annoying kid from Boyhood. It is ironic then that the character that has changed the most since we last saw him is Hopper – who’s hard living lifestyle has finally caught up with him in the shape of a receding hairline and a beer gut. Hopper is the beating heart of this show and while his exploits in trying to stop the sickening relationship between El and Wheeler are funny, the show must be careful not to turn it’s best character into a caricature.
Everyone else is pretty much where we left them. Nancy is still living out her second prize life with Jonathan (instead of my boy Steve Harrington), Joyce Boyers is still broken up about Bob’s death and Dustin is still the same goofy kid we fell in love with first time round. This familiarity breeds anything but contempt however with the central theme of the first episode being if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The story has clearly moved forward but episode one of season three still feels very much like Stranger Things.
- I loved how the show presented Dustin’s month long absence as a massive deal. When you’re a kid a month feels like a lifetime, especially during the summer when new friendships are formed and old ones reaffirmed.
- Hopper is right to be cautious of El and Wheeler. Every scene involving those two damn lovebirds made me feel a little ill. This is either something to do with my cold, dead heart or a deliberate move on behalf of the showrunners but either way, it shouldn’t be allowed to continue.
- Nice to see Billy is still living his absolute best life as a housewives choice and lifeguard. The human cost of his sexiness did feel a little sad as Mrs Wheeler looked over at her sleeping husband.
- A solid if unspectacular start from season three then. I’m predicting a BIG episode next time.