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Stranger Things 3

I just finished watching Stranger Things 3 and I am FULL OF FEELINGS.

It was great, I should begin with that. I like that they followed more the format of S1 with breaking up the storylines so that everyone was in a different movie genre until they caught up with each other at the end.

I will put the rest under a cut so that I don't spoil anyone...

So, movie genre - this time, the bulk of the kids, now young teens, were in the teen movie - with relationship drama, mall montages, and very black and white capital M Monsters.

While Steve and Dustin and the Scoop Troop form their own movie - which is basically WarGames. Where it's a Communist conspiracy, but it's in something clandestine, something that a kid or a teen can discover, and all they have to be is a little bit smarter, a little bit more curious than the other kids and teens, and suddenly their caught up in a dangerous game!

Then you have the adults still in the government corruption/conspiracy genre, but this time with added 80s style Rambo/Die Hard genre... with the cop who goes solo, and breaks the law to uphold the law, and we're OKAY with it, because he is CLEARLY the good guy.

And that's when Stranger Things works best... like in S1, when we had The Goonies, Teen Slasher, and Government Conspiracy. S2... was too all over the place, I felt, and that's where it let me down. Like, do I even remember the plot? I guess S2 was about Steve leaving the Teen Slasher and joining the Goonies, where he fit better given his surprisingly too pure of a heart to continue being in Teen Slashers. And Nancy and Jonathan flirting with adulthood and joining Government Conspiracy a little too early in my opinion... and I don't even know what the rest of the kids were doing... they were more like props for other people's plots, I think. Only Elle had her own storyline about figuring out who she wanted to be in the world...so I guess that was a little "coming of age" who knows.

ANYWAY, this is about S3....

Obviously, I'm super sad about THE DEATH. I just... NOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.................. I knew it was going to happen. It was telegraphed by Hopper finally getting a date with Joyce. I was worried it was going to be Joyce, but they played the hug with Will too much for laughs rather than "this is the last time". Still, I am CRUSHED. And now the Byers have moved out of Hawkins. :(

Billy's death I'm more okay with, because he infected the fandom with his presence and suddenly no one was writing me OT3 fics anymore, and they were all writing Billy/Steve fics, which, I GET IT okay, we all saw that shower scene - but I really don't like Enemies to Lovers, and I know everyone else thinks Billy is super hot, but I think he's GROSS, because he's a GROSS ABUSIVE RACIST. And I know that he's an abused child himself, and I do have compassion for him there - and I did cry when he had his final moments of his pain being seen by El and him being able to redeem himself just a little... but for the most part, I'm like "nice motive, still murder" and any pairing he's a member of is a NOTP for me. I'm super sad for Max though, I know they didn't have the best sibling relationship, because he was abusive towards her and a gross racist who tried to beat up her ADORABLE boyfriend ... but yeah, seeing your step-brother murdered in front of you is super sad. At the very least, he didn't become part of the gross goo monster.

It goes without saying that I LOVE the flip of expectations with the Steve/Robin storyline, which turned out to be confirmed Steve+Robin - and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that Steve (again, too pure for this world) Harrington didn't react defensively or angrily when his crush shot him down after he confessed his feelings, instead he was just like "OH!... Oh.... Friends Forever then?"

I was kind of hoping that poor Will would find himself a boyfriend, but there weren't even any contenders. Maybe wherever he moves next... but I'm also afraid of him not having his friend group there for support. Again, Mike messed up once during that rain storm, but I just love that Mike is as cool as Steve when it comes to being let in on secrets (and in the 80s, you're damn right that they are secrets until they absolutely can't be anymore). At least Will still has Jonathan... during that fight in the hospital, I was genuinely freaked out that Jonathan would be paralyzed of killed with the amount he was being beat on.

I am still sad about THE DEATH. Ugh, I can't even talk about it. And I'm sad that the Byers have moved away. Are they coming back for Season 4? Do we know yet? They set it up like maybe we were going to. I really hope they do. I'm SUPER CONCERNED, because I've read some internet stuff lately about how Netflix determined that the optimal length of shows is only two seasons and they don't want to pay showrunners more money for later seasons, and... yeah... but Stranger Things is REALLY their flagship, you know? It's what got me to pay for Netflix, honestly. Without it, I would have probably have just gone back to piracy. ETA: Based on internet conversation, it's seems they are already confirmed for S4. So YAY! But also *nervousness*.

Speaking of the main death though - can I just say that I was totally shipping Alexei and that journalist dude - they seemed like they could be such great friends, and that was also taken from me. :(

I should really just stop watching shows where I KNOW they're going to kill multiple people every year. Except the first season, where TECHNICALLY they killed El, but then gave us hope that she was still alive in the end. I don't think anyone else died... unless I'm forgetting someone(?!)....oh, BARB! Geez... but still, that was an expected death that happened early on, sort of like Billy's death - I mean, they even mirrored the being yanked-down-the-stairs shot. Once you're yanked down the stairs in Stranger Things, you're toast. I definitely didn't expect Billy to live past the season. But it's differnet when it's a character that has survived S1... I think all the characters that survive S1 should CONTINUE TO SURVIVE. Is that too much to ask? Yes, yes it is.

Okay, I'll stop blathering now, this is so incoherent. Let me know what you thought in comments! If you have watched.... if you haven't watched, why did you read this?! :P

This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/580224.html.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2019 06:19 pm (UTC)
I’ve been waiting for you to finish! And now I’m heading off to rural Texas with no internet. But I will be back, and I have lots of thoughts! I’m glad you liked it. There was a lot to like.
Jul. 12th, 2019 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yes! When you get back, talk to me about ALL OF THE THINGS!

I even forgot to mention other things I wanted to talk about in the above post - but they've slipped my mind yet again. Something about Dustin? Who knows - maybe I'll have remembered by the time you get back.
Jul. 13th, 2019 09:37 am (UTC)
My thoery is "The American" in the cell in the post credits scene is....BARB. The Russians rescued her from the Upside Down!

Anyway i loved it all a lot. Totoally agree with you about how much better the storylines worked this season compared to last. My only tiny complaint was I felt that Will was a bit sidelined...other than his mindflayer early warning alerts, he didnt get much to do.

I really want a spin off with Steve and Robin working at Blockbuster and making 80s movies jokes and fighting crime!

Also never Ending Story FTW!
Jul. 13th, 2019 07:03 pm (UTC)
I think that "The American" might be Brenner. As much as Barb is fantastic, we really saw a very corpsey corpse on her death.

Yeah, I was hoping for a bit more exploring Will's frame of mind, since this is the first "adventure" where he isn't entirely compromised and has free will. But once they knew the action kicked up, it became less about how Will was coping and more about El and Mike again. I think the actor who plays Will did an amazing job of basically showing will in a 24/7 panic attack once the action kicked up though - so, in one way, I do feel like I got a "how is Will coping" story, it was just all done in silence and on the shoulders of Noah Schnapp... and the answer was "not well."

I like Steve and Robin so much... I think Nancy and Jonathan have progressed to the world of adults a little too fast, so Steve and Robin are now our conduit into the "high school senior" teenager movie... where they know the world, but they still have license to be silly, witty, and still a little too obsessed with their love lives. ie: Steve and Robin get to have adventures and be FUN. Which is a really long way of saying "Yes, I too want to see that spin off."

I had JUST seen the Neverending Story at the Rio the night before I finished up Stranger Things, so I cackled when they did that weird interlude.
Jul. 18th, 2019 06:25 pm (UTC)

Too bad Jonathan and Nancy woke up late in the first episode, because that meant Jonathan had to run to work and didn’t have time to make breakfast. < / 3 I agree with you on Nancy and Jonathan joining the Government Conspiracy plot too early in season 2. I like them together, but I thought that was all a little rushed and haphazard. I think the show has an interesting problem with Jonathan that is usually relegated to female characters, in that now that he has gotten into a relationship the show isn’t entirely sure what to do with him. During the whole first half of the season, I was like, “Have the writers forgotten that his most important relationship is not actually with Nancy, but with WILL?” Season 2 returned to that in a big way by the end of the season, but I’m not sure that season 3 ever got there. I did love how calm and gentle and straightforward he was with Eleven before he CUT INTO HER LEG WITH A HOT KNIFE OMG. Gave me some major Sam Winchester vibes. Also loved him fixing the car! (This is all feeding into the crossover fanfiction that no one has written for me yet, about John Winchester bringing his young sons into Hawkins to check out some suspicious activity. Maybe he showed Jonathan a thing or two about ignition cables while Joyce was pulling out all of Will’s old crayons for little Dean to color with.)

The male privilege vs. rich privilege conflict between Jonathan and Nancy was an interesting one. I wish they could have explored that a little more. I liked the outsider perspective on Nancy from Robin - after seeing Nancy stab Will with a hot poker and then run around with a rifle all season, I don’t see her as a priss anymore, but of course Robin would!

I do like that the Jonathan/Nancy/Steve love triangle has basically been dissolved - I was wondering where they were going to go with that, or if they were going to try to push Nancy back towards Steve. But I loved Steve with the Scoop Troop, and how the diversity in age and orientation meant that none of those four were romantically compatible and yet they made a great little team. Loved the acknowledgment that who you were in high school really has no bearing on your post high school life. Loved Robin. Steve is the sweetest, and I wish him all happiness in season 4, whatever that ends up looking like.

Edited at 2019-07-18 06:30 pm (UTC)
Jul. 18th, 2019 08:33 pm (UTC)
I completely agree about the show forgetting who is at the centre of Jonathan's primary relationship. We really only saw a glimpse of it when Nancy called Jonathan and asked if Will was safe, and Jonathan was like "WHY WOULDN'T HE BE SAFE, NANCY?!!?"

But then later, when Will is basically having a prolonged panic attack while sitting right next to Jonathan (I have so much to say about how awesome Noah Schnapp is with nonverbal storytelling) Jonathan isn't nearly as "present" to it as I would expect... now, granted, there's a huge monster stalking them at the time, but STILL.

I also wish they had explored the tension between their different upbringings/experience of the world more too... because there IS a huge gulf between Nancy's 80s middle-class experience and Jonathan's bluecollar/broken-home one. And ironically, of course, a lot of, at least the relationship stability of Nancy's homelife is actually just a thin, precarious, veneer. But it's super interesting to have two characters who are "just handed things" for different reasons - Jonathan, because he's male; Nancy, because she has wealth - and then denied things for different reasons too - Jonathan, because he's poor; Nancy because she's a woman.

I was glad though, that even the little we got, showed us that Nancy and Jonathan's relationship wasn't perfect - that she didn't leave Steve because Jonathan was inherently BETTER, or because he relationship with Jonathan was stronger. I actually think she did it because Nancy and Jonathan's PTSD manisfested in the same way, but Steve's didn't. But that's a whole other meta that I probably shouldn't get into... but it boils down to "there's a reason Nancy and Jonathan became adults, and Steve became a middle-schooler."

I've seen at least one SPN/Stranger Things crossover, and I loved it - but then I'm a sucker for baby Dean and Sam - and Stranger Things takes place in peak baby years.

I'd have loved some resolution to Robin's outsider POV on Nancy... that's the only place that storyline let me down a little. Because I wanted that moment, after Nancy showed up with Eleven to save the day at the mall, for Robin to SEE Nancy with the shotgun and have just a seconds of "Oh." But, yes, I do love to be reminded that Nancy from the outside is not the Nancy we know and love - which is also probably a huge contributor to how she's treated at work. Everyone sees a priss, when really, Nancy is take-no-prisoners-will-kick-yours-and-everyone-elses-asses.
Jul. 18th, 2019 06:32 pm (UTC)
I’m dividing these comments by character groups, I guess…

I loved the kids (NOW TEENS *sob*) this season. Though I think I love them every season. There was some course correction in El and Max’s relationship from season 2, as the writers seemed to realize that it’s more interesting to see girls be friends rather than rivals, and I think that was for the best. Everyone pairing up and leaving Dustin and Will behind...TOO REAL. Poor sweet traumatized Will. He’s quickly becoming my favorite, if nothing else because that young actor is so talented. I think it was in “The Sauna Test” that Will catalogs to the others all of the times and places that he’s felt the Mind Flayer’s presence. I’m sure that moment was just for the sake of plot, to make sure the audience was up to speed...but the caution and precision and detail of his memory really struck me. I’ve been having some weird health symptoms lately, in and out of doctor’s offices with no clear diagnosis, so every time I experience those symptoms I track them carefully and pay attention to every detail. And the look on Will’s face when he raises his hand to the back of his neck - that’s it. That’s the feeling. It’s the dread of “what is happening to me?” mixed with the urgent need to pay attention to EVERYTHING because any of it could be a clue. Anyway, that’s off topic, but I just was so struck by that actor’s portrayal, and how he infuses trauma into these little plot points. VERY reminiscent of the strongest parts of SPN, and those moments that are maybe not intentional in the script, but rich enough that you can certainly read into it because of the actors’ performances.

I think you’re probably right that Will is gay, but I think there’s also something very evocative about him preferring the comfort and familiarity of his friendships to this new world of romantic relationships. I see that so frequently with the young teenagers that I work with. Especially when he’s isolated by this trauma that none of the others can really enter into. (Except maybe El? Oh man, I would LOVE if the show explored a deepening friendship/siblinghood between them, now that they’re moving off on their own...more on that in a bit.)

I cried twice this season. First when Will tore down Castle Byers in between flashbacks to their BABY SELVES (STAB ME IN THE HEART). And then in the last fifteen minutes of the last episode, because obviously. The summer after my first year of high school, my boyfriend and one of my best friends both moved away - and I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic when I say that changed the course of my life. Empty rooms, half-packed U-Hauls, everyone hugging and crying...it’s like they tore scenes right out of my 15-year-old life. I had that EXACT conversation that Nancy had with Jonathan, wryly suggesting places we could “hide” my boyfriend while trying not to cry, complete with awkwardly swinging our arms back and forth while we held hands...they captured it all so accurately. It was a powerful sequence on its own, but for me there was a whole extra layer of realism, and now I’m crying againnnnnnnnn even though that was over 15 years ago.

Also...WOW, Joyce! I get why she would want to get out of Hawkins - but to yank both her kids away from these powerful foundations of friendship, after everything they’ve been through? Dick move. I think I needed just a couple more lines about how they’ve closed down the mini-mart where she works and she had to get a new job in another city, or something like that, to justify such a dramatic uprooting, especially when she’s always been so sensitive to Will and his needs. It’s hard for me to picture Will ever making new friends in a new place - especially since he donated his D&D books. :*( I did love that she adopted Eleven, though. That seemed so natural and right, especially if we can’t send El to Jody and her Home for Extraordinary Young Ladies. ;)
Jul. 18th, 2019 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm so glad that they did away with the El/Max rivalry and made them BFFs.

Sorry to hear about your health problems. I agree 100% about how awesome the actor's portrayal of Will is. I know there were a few complaining about the writers not giving Will enough to do - but honestly, I think the actor did SO MUCH in silence, if you just watch him. Will IS a deeply traumatized boy... and that's a lot of why (*cough*like Steve*cough*) he's trying desperately to cling to a past that doesn't exist for him anymore. If he could go back to the days of innocence, then it'd be like it had never happened, right? RIGHT?! (The answer is no, sadly.)

Also, he may know full well that Joyce wants to leave (I doubt she wouldn't let her kids know what she's thinking) and he hasn't told his friends, but is also trying to have one last good summer with them.... and ugh, it's heartbreaking. And then he spends the last few episodes just having a constant panic attack silently to the side.

I have a little sympathy for Joyce, because it's a hard decision to make. "There are monsters in this town that may kill my children" versus "my children's support systems are in this town." I remember a lot of people, when S2 was coming out, were like "why didn't these people immediately move out of hawkins?"

But, I also really do worry about Will. When we started S1, we had the Byers fairly socially isolated EXCEPT for Will... it's why Joyce had such trouble getting support, and Jonathan was considered a weird loner freak in school, to be at best pitied. Will was the only one with a group of friends that went HARD on trying to find him without question. And also have seemingly accepted him even though he "doesn't like girls" whatever that may or may not mean. (I admit that I'm basing Will's sexuality on the conversation he and Jonathan had in S1 where Jonathan assured him that he didn't have to like something just because everyone else did, and also the character brief when casting described him as a sexually-confused child).

My one hope for S4 is that, as a product of this perhaps ill-advised move, they writers might remember that Jonathan and Will are each other's primary relationship.

AND, hopefully have Will and Eleven interact more, because that's something I also think we were cheated out of this season - since it's the first season that Will and El could occupy the same space. Also, there's the fact that Will and El are the two most important people to Mike, which is something that was only TOUCHED on this season, since the main focus went to repairing Mike and El's relationship after they broke up.
Jul. 18th, 2019 06:33 pm (UTC)
Last one, and this is my biggest one. Hopper and Joyce. That is my SHIP, and I ship it hard. But I have to say, I really hated how they unfolded that relationship (could you even call it that?) across this season. I liked how he would go to her for parenting advice (which he would then mostly ignore). But the constant bickering - escalating too frequently into insults and shouting - was juvenile at best and toxic/abusive at worst. Hopper had a fantastic arc in season 1, with the heavy but earned parallels between Eleven, Will, and the daughter that he lost. I thought that transitioned into season 2 in a very believable way. He clearly cares about El, but holds on too tightly because of what he’s lost, and isolates her in the process - which may be problematic, but felt very in character. Now, in season 3, he doesn’t even know where the kids are, and when Joyce starts to worry about them he belittles her with sarcasm? I just hated how dismissive and entitled and angry he was towards Joyce, and how he didn’t show any kind of parental warmth toward Eleven until literally the last episode. In his letter he talks about missing their movie marathons and Eggo nights - but none of the previous episodes this season laid any of the groundwork for that, it was all just TOLD to us and none of it was shown.

Hopper has never been a patient guy, but he has always been No Nonsense; and in this season he was the one instigating most of the nonsense. He clearly had feelings for Joyce while Bob was in the picture, but we never saw any of that (frankly startling) entitlement in season 2. I think of one of my favorite scenes from the last episode of season 2, where Joyce and Hopper are leaning against the car outside the Snow Ball, because they can barely let the kids go to a dance out of their sight after what they’ve been through. They share a cigarette, and Joyce is still clearly grieving for Bob, and Hopper doesn’t try to take advantage of that. They are two broken people who have experienced something harrowing together, bonded by something deeper than romance. I felt like all of that was just erased in season 3. The closest we got to recognizing it was that moment in the abandoned facility where he said he knew she was looking at moving, and said he wanted her to feel safe in Hawkins. After that it was all just shouting at her and second-guessing her decisions in the most obnoxious manner. In the last episode, he told her, “We make a good team.” And I wish the show would have actually shown them being a good team, brainstorming together, disagreeing often but listening to each other and working through it LIKE ADULTS, because that would have been great to watch.

I recognized the trope that they were playing to - we fight because we can’t handle our attraction! - but I guess I just 1) hate that trope, 2) think it’s more suited to emotionally ignorant teenagers rather than grown-ass adults, and 3) didn’t think that it was in character.

Sorry for the novel. Also: RIP Alexei, forever in our hearts. You were the cutest and the smartest. May your afterlife be filled with cherry slurpees and cheap carnival prizes.
Jul. 18th, 2019 08:58 pm (UTC)
I didn't mind the bickering. I don't know what that says about me. Yes, it was annoying, but I didn't care? Also, a friend of mine and myself had a discussion about just how much Hopper seemed to be suffering from a boatload of PTSD which manifested itself into severe anger issues.

I think I didn't mind, because I felt they were parodying a lot of media in the 80/90s, Miami Vice and the renegade hard-ass cop trope - Terminator, Rambo, and all those sorts of things... and I didn't mind them using Hopper to do that - but I totally understand that people might see it as assassinating Hopper's character for a send-up that wasn't needed.

I also think that Hopper was just in denial about the kids possibly being in danger. I think he put too much stock in "El closed the gate! El's not allowed to go to large crowded areas! I have put all these rules in place to protect El, and I have successfully removed the bad influence of Mike... and so now everything will be safe and good forever, and how dare you call that into question! I do not want this tight ball of anxiety in my chest, and YOU put it there, so now I am angry at you."

I think there were a few instances when they DID show that they were a good team - but I totally understand wanting more of that and less bickering. It IS tropey (and also, it'd probably annoy me more if my sister's marriage wasn't 95% bickering and yet unquestionably a good marriage and still going strong after 20 years. So, yes, it's annoying as all heck for anyone around them, but it's also an example of how grown ass adults can be that way.) There are tropes I hate though, that were very prevalent in media, so I totally get the frustration with YET ANOTHER THING RUINED WITH THAT TROPE YOU HATE.

Pours a cherry slurpee out for our comrade, Alexei.
Jul. 19th, 2019 06:59 pm (UTC)
Putting all my comments to your comments in a separate comment, instead of replying to each individually with three separate one-line comments. IN MY HEAD THIS MAKES SENSE.

"there's a reason Nancy and Jonathan became adults, and Steve became a middle-schooler." This is fascinating! I had never considered this.

"I've seen at least one SPN/Stranger Things crossover, and I loved it - but then I'm a sucker for baby Dean and Sam - and Stranger Things takes place in peak baby years." Tell me where to find this! AO3?

"When we started S1, we had the Byers fairly socially isolated EXCEPT for Will... it's why Joyce had such trouble getting support, and Jonathan was considered a weird loner freak in school, to be at best pitied. Will was the only one with a group of friends that went HARD on trying to find him without question." Good point! I can only hope that you'll be right about Will growing closer to Jonathan and Eleven in their absence.

I recognized the Terminator/Rambo call outs, and I was fine with that. I didn't mind Hopper threatening to cut the mayor's finger off, haha. (I just finished rewatching S10 of SPN, and if I have any complaint about that season, it's that they didn't make MoC Dean dark enough. All of the "bad" stuff he did, I was like...."Eh...Hopper might have done that, too. It's not that bad.") Straight up murdering soldiers and thugs...I'm fine with that too. But you better stop shouting at Joyce! Hahaha.

All of your criticisms of season 2 are fair, especially regarding the plot pieces and the way they split up the character groups. But there were some strong emotional beats that really stuck with me, particularly for Hopper, that I missed in this season. I talked about the fight (and reconciliation) with El, and the Snow Ball. The other one that comes to mind is when Mike finds out that Hopper was the one keeping El from him, and he freaks out and starts punching him - and Hopper just takes the punches and wraps his arms around the kid until he starts to cry. Man, that killed me! I wanted to see more of that Hopper.
Jul. 19th, 2019 07:34 pm (UTC)
It makes sense to me too!

And yes, AO3 is my friend. You can just go into their search function and type in fandoms Supernatural and Stranger Things and hit that search button and BAMMO... the one I specifically found I found while scrolling the Nancy/Steve/Jonathan ship, because despite them clearly going in different directions, I'm not ready to let go of S1.

Yeah, you make a really good point about the Hopper who hugged Mike in S2 being radically different than the Hopper who threatens Mike in S3. I totally understand the criticism - and maybe if S2 was fresher in my brain before I watched S3, I too would have been like "what the heck is this!?" but because I had largely forgotten great swatches of S2 (as evidenced by my ramblings above) I think I was more able to just role with it.

Also, I knew at least one really emotionally unstable dad (and one mother) in my peer group growing up, who would have totally pulled that 180 without batting an eye... but, that doesn't necessarily make it a GOOD thing. So, I definitely agree that your criticism of how they handled his character is totally valid.
Jul. 19th, 2019 07:52 pm (UTC)
RIP your OT3! The world wasn't ready for it.
Jul. 19th, 2019 07:57 pm (UTC)
At least I'll always have Leverage <3
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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