Acceptable In The 80’s
Season 2 of Stranger Things was a bit of a mixed bag at times. Despite having all the ingredients for an exciting season, the methodical pacing and questionable stand-alone episode featuring Eleveb ultimately caused it to pale in comparison to the first season. Returning for a third season, Stranger Things gets off to a bit of a bumpy start, despite some promise late on this episode.
The episode starts in June 1984. Russian scientists and military personnel are busy with an experiment in a secret lab. They start an electromagnetic machine that fires at a gate, the same one previously closed by Eleven in the last season. However, the experiment becomes unstable and several workers are killed. The Commander then gives the lab technicians one year to fully open the gate.
We then jump forward one year later where we catch up with our group of kids, now budding teenagers. Hopper is having a hard time coping with Eleven and Mike being constantly together. Hawkins has a new mall, Starcourt, where Steve works in an ice-cream parlour. Will, Lucas, Max and Mike arrive soon after and he lets them in the cinema for free via a back door entrance. In the middle of the movie, the power goes out all over town whilst hundreds of rats scurry across the landscape.
While Nancy and Jonathan run late for their new job at the local newspaper, Dustin returns home from a month away at summer camp. After meeting back up with the others, he shows his friends what he’s been working on all summer – a radio tower so he can talk to his girlfriend Suzie.
Billy returns this season, working as a lifeguard at the outdoor swimming pool, much to the pleasure of the Hawkins mother’s and in particular, Mrs Wheeler.
While Hopper seeks advice from Joyce about Mike and El, the band decide to go and build Dustin’s radio tower. Halfway there, Will and Eleven decide to go off on their own, much to the annoyance of the rest of the group. We then see more rats gathering in an abandoned factory but as they clump together, they all start exploding into a goo-like substance.
After multiple unsuccessful attempts, Dustin is unable to hear from his girlfriend, prompting his friends to leave him for now. However, just as they leave Dustin intercepts someone speaking Russian which happens to come from the same Russians early in the episode.
Later that night, Billy crashes his car after something falls on his windscreen. As he gets out the car, we see that he’s near the same abandoned factory where we saw the rats. Suddenly, something grabs him and pulls him inside. The episode then ends with Joyce having dinner alone and reminiscing about Bob while in the kitchen, the magnets on her fridge all fall the floor.
Stranger Things returns with a pretty good opening episode, one chock full of the usual 80’s nostalgia, humour and horror found in the previous seasons. While the episode does set the scene nicely, the constant barrage of 80’s music feels a little forced this time around. However, the special effects are still on point and seeing these characters again after a year hiatus is certainly welcome.
With returning charm and wit, Stranger Things gets off to a good start, even if the first episode is a little rough around the edges at times.