Stranger Things 3: The Case of the Missing Lifeguard

Season 3, Episode 3

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One of the reasons we all fell in love with Stranger Things was not because it felt like a homage to all those ’80s movies we adore, but because it could have actually been one of those movies or TV shows from that golden era. That first scene season was like opening a glorious time capsule and while it wasn’t only the power of nostalgia that made Stranger Things so successful, it undoubtedly played a big part. The issue with this episode is that it not only veers more into homage territory, it almost feels like a bad cover version of itself. The bromance between Steve and Dustin is leaned into too heavily, Hopper continues his descent into caricature, the argument between Will and Mike is too clumsy. And yet…

And yet, when The Case of the Missing Lifeguard works, it is as good as any episode of Stranger Things. The budding friendship between Max and El has added a welcome new dimension and the scene in which they spy on the boys and discover them farting and burping is joyous. Their drop in on Billy and Heather or rather the bodysnatchers that seem to be controlling them is both effective and creepy and when Hopper eventually breaks free from the malaise that the writers have imposed on him, the episode comes into its own.

This needs to be the moment in which season three sparks into life because while the character interactions have been as good as ever, the plotting seems to have taken a step backward.

Extras

  • After being initially heartbroken with Nancy’s ridiculous decision to choose human scarecrow Jonathan over the people’s champion Steve Harrington, the fact that he is now potentially going to end up with the much cooler Robin is of great comfort to me.
  • Will Byers cannot catch a break. That game of D & D was truly tragic. Ended up having a little cry in the rain. Absolutely classic Rob Johnson behaviour there.
  • I hope this isn’t the end of Billy as we know him. It’s good to see he hasn’t lost any sex appeal though despite being seemingly taken over by a slime monster. Still got it.

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