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'Stranger Things 3': The Return Of A ‘Stranger’ 1985

If there was any doubt about the popularity here in the Philippines of the Science-Fiction/Horror web series Stranger Things; that doubt was pretty much laid to rest when Netflix, the streaming service that carries the series, mounted a special preview of Stranger Things 3. Held at a Central Square cinema, the 1st episode of this third season brought a plethora of early bird fans eager to enjoy the expansive set-up Netflix had conjured up to celebrate the fact that finally, after two years, an 8-episode Season 3 could be streamed starting  July 4. Several fans dressed up as characters from the series, and were audibly gushing over the installations and booths created for the evening.


Photo by Netflix / Magic Liwanag



This Duffer Brothers creation, a runaway global success, last streamed in October 2017 when Stranger Things 2 ‘dropped’; so its been a long wait to watch what’s next in store for our friends from Hawkins, Indiana. If the first season was set in 1983 with the  mind-boggling abduction of Will Byers, and the second season was set in 1984; this Season 3 is set in the glorious Summer of 1985. And of course, the gang is back: Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Max (Sadie Sink).

Stranger Things has been so successful because of its blend of Sci-Fi, family and small town drama, coming of age elements, the friendship and camaraderie, and swathes of horror. That you add in nostalgia because of the 1980s setting is sheer genius, as it gave older viewers that gift of readily associating with the series, while the younger audience were still enthralled by the main cast of young teenagers. It’s best described as the Spielberg of E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind meets The Twilight Zone via Stand By Me. 


For the older fans, one of the compelling reasons for watching the series has been the obsessive attention to detail when it comes to time and place. There’s the musical soundtrack (for Episode 1, the Corey Hart fans still out there, will be over the moon), and you’ll love how the Starcourt Mall Cinema has a Back to the Future movie poster in the lobby. They’re drinking the New Coke by the public swimming pool, and you’ll catch a glimpse of Dustin’s Farrah Fawcett hairspray can - sage advice given by Steve (Joe Keery) in Season 2.

The episode opens in a clandestine Russian laboratory where they’re tinkering with a portal to the Upside Down; and I would surmise this would have something to do with how in Season 1, mention was made of how El could be a Russian agent. There are big rats that go berserk, and start on some malevolent mission - possible foreshadowing of what will soon be this season’s big threat to the town of Hawkins. So that’s our foretaste of where the supernatural, horrific, and paranormal will emanate from.

But of course, Stranger Things can also chalk up its success to the very real human relationships that are displayed episode after episode. Eleven and Mike are truly well into their relationship, and it doesn’t sit all that well with new El's 'dad', Jim Hopper (David Harbour) - who can’t abide by all the kissing that puppy love brings. He turns to Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) for advice, and it’s hinted at that something may soon develop between the two adults. Lucas and Max are having their own fling going, and the return of Dustin is accompanied by the news that while away, he also started his own ‘affair’ with Suzie, who lives in Utah.


Among the older teenagers and young adults, taking a turn at the spotlight in Episode 1 would be Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), local tomcat on the prowl, ready to take advantage of the lonely older women of the town. And waiting in the wings in Season 3 will be new cast member Robin - of interest, because she’ll be played by Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. 

Stranger Things Season 3 is sure to be the runaway success story of Netflix in July, as fans have been eagerly anticipating this next chapter. And with such a promising start via Episode 1, it’s good to know that the Duffer Brothers still have a lot of ‘gas in the tank’. Today, July 4, is the red letter day.

Images courtesy of Netflix