Stranger Things 3: Tokyo Drift

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Please forgive my title. Whenever I see a sequel or a spinoff I always try and give it the ‘Electric Boogaloo’ treatment or assign it a title from one of the many Fast & Furious Movies. It’s a disease that I will not be seeking help for because it makes me laugh every time.
Anyways, I’m here to tell you about the majesty of Stranger Things 3. I won’t lie, I wasn’t that hopeful going into this season. I mean, how many times can the demigorgon or the mind-flayer terrorise the town of Hawkins without the townsfolk or the people of America taking notice. Every year there was a new story explaining away the deaths of a significant number of members of the community. I think, then, that you’ll forgive me for not waiting with baited breath for Eleven and her comrades. I think, then, that I should hold my hand up and apologise because it was the best season yet.

This season expanded its horizons. The younger kids are growing up and pairing off while the older kids are trying to figure out what to do with their life. The danger has moved away from Hawkins lab and migrated to the Starcourt mall while it is no longer just corrupt Americans that Hopper and the gang have to fight. The Russians have found their own source to the Upside-Down and are trying to break in. It’s what will break out as a result that will be the problem.
I really enjoyed the fact that they explored the kids development and showed them as they tried to navigate relationships and girls. I didn’t care for all the smooching they showed between Mike and Eleven but that’s just me. There are several hilarious scenes between Mike and Lucas in which the latter tries to explain how girls behave when he has no clue himself. He just has a girlfriend for a few months longer than Mike.
This season delved deeper into Hopper and Joyce’s will they/won’t they charade, with comical results in the form of Murray Bauman, the eccentric man who sheltered Nancy and Jonathan in Season 2.
This season also packed some serious emotional punches. While the last two seasons seemed formulaic almost, in the fact that I knew there was no credible danger to the main cast members, this year they differed from type and really let loose with the deaths. I’ll go into detail later.
Overall, a fantastic season and one that will live long in the memories of fans. Unless, of course, you binge watched it and have forgotten most details as it all turns into one massive blur of character, plot and theatre.

Breakout

D’Acre Montgomery, known for his portrayal of Jason in Power Rangers (2017) gave a powerful performance as the tortured Billy. In Season 2 we just saw an angry young man intent on fighting with the local guys and making out with the local girls. He was a colossal douche to his little sister, Max, and was generally unlikable. He was never involved in any of the dealings with the monsters and to the best of my recollection was just used as a device to get the kids to stand up for themselves.
He arrives in season 3 as the hunky lifeguard at the pool. He is the eye candy for every single female in there, especially Mike and Nancy’s mom. He has the town of Hawkins and every female in it at his feet. Unfortunately, he is infected by the mind-flayer and used to do the monster’s dark bidding around the town. His turn as the demented destroyer that Billy evolves into is mesmerising and there seems to be no way out for Eleven and the gang. His final scene in the final episode is beautiful, yet devastating to watch. Montgomery already has plenty of credits under his acting belt but he really showed his acting chops throughout these eight episodes.

Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things (2016)
Dacre Montgomery as Billy

Millie-Bobby Brown turned in another electric performance as Eleven, or Elle. I didn’t see her in Godzilla because I had no interest in the movie, but I heard nobody really came out of that movie looking great. However, if she goes on to other shows and features while putting in the types of performances she has while playing the pre-teen superhero, she will be one of the best actresses of her generation.
In the penultimate episode she is almost struck down and must rely on her friends to save her. Her depiction of unbearable pain and despair was so real that I almost forgot it was a t.v. show for a moment. The agony was etched onto her face and just showed that as well as being the best character in the show, bar Hopper, she is the best performer.

Sadie Sink and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things (2016)
Millie Bobby Brown and Sadie Sink as Eleven and Max

Final Goodbye?

I told ye that I would go into detail about the emotional punches that are landed on your heart and soul throughout this season. It was tough guys. It was like Game of Thrones Season 3 when most of the Starks die. Except a bit more lighthearted throughout the rest of the show and not all doom and gloom.
In the final episode, as the final battle with the shadow monster rages on elsewhere, Joyce and Hopper have a chance to end it once and for all. Due to Russians and other unforeseen circumstances, Hopper gets caught on the wrong side of an explosion that will close the gap between worlds forever. Our Dad-bod hero is gone and it seems like there is no way back for David Harbour in the show. It wasn’t his death that got me, although that was devastating; it was his final look at Joyce and into the camera and the emotion that he showed. As his eyes welled up a chill went up my spine and I realised that Hopper had no way out. He would finally give his all to save Eleven, Hawkins and Joyce.
Now, there is a cut scene at the end which shows a prisoner being sacrificed to one of the demidogs from season 2. The scene is set in Russia in a military compound and as the guards approach a certain cell that is blocked from view, they say, “No, not the American.” Certain speculation has gone up online in which the ‘American’ could be Hopper who was somehow rescued from the blast or miraculously survived.
If the Police Chief is to return in the next season, he would have to be changed somehow by the blast and would not be himself. It could be a totally different American but for the moment we have to believe that Harbour will return for another outing as chain smoking legend Jim Hopper.

Winona Ryder and David Harbour in Stranger Things (2016)
Winona Ryder and David Harbour as Joyce and Hopper

What Next?

Will, Jonathan and Joyce are moving away from Hawkins and Elle is going with them. The rest of the gang are staying put. How will the story be played out next time? We know there is a creature in Russia used to eat prisoners and that that creature will most likely facilitate the spread of the monsters again.
Despite the explosion and the inference that the portal to the Upside Down is gone forever, we get no verbal confirmation that this has happened.
Where did the Russians get the demidog?
Will Elle get her powers back? Does she even want them back? She has a chance at a proper normal life now. Well, as normal as being psychologically tortured up until her teens, not getting a chance to know her mother and losing the only caring father she ever knew can be.
Will Mike grow out of being a shithead teenager? Pressing questions indeed.

Verdict

A solid 8/10 for this season. Loses a few marks for all the smooching I was subjected to and that we didn’t get to see more of Wheeler’s mom in a swimsuit. I am but a man.