Okay, so this is going to be a little different. When I reviewed the final season of Game of Thrones I did its episode by episode. Stranger Things however is on Netflix and the whole thing drops at once. But, after watching it as God intended, in one sitting using my brother's account, I don't think I can do this as a complete review. This season is so good and so full I can't fairly evaluate it as one thing. So, I'm going to go through this episode by episode, partly because I woke up super late, and partly to point out all the Easter eggs, but mostly because it gives me an excuse to re-watch it. So, this is going to be eight posts, otherwise it would go on forever.
A couple quick initial thoughts before we jump in:
Likes - Way too many count. But the top three are Mike and Eleven, Dacre Montgomery's acting, and Comrade Alexei. #JusticeForAlexei
Dislikes - Hopper, Erica
It's hard to top Season 1, it's just something special. Season 2 wasn't as good, but it was damn close. Season 3 I liked better than 2, and I think is objectively better than season 1, even if it's not as special. It's the funniest, darkest and most heartfelt season all at once, and that's one hell of a juggling act to pull off. It's an incredible piece of writing and something everyone can learn from. I'm looking at you Benioff and Weiss.
We start on June 24, 1984, four months before Season 2 starts, in a lab that mirrors the one in Hawkins, in what is obviously the Soviet Union. They have a machine that starts to open the gate into the Upside Down before it explodes, disintegrating several soldiers in the process, but they're clearly making progress; that's not good enough. A General has a man, whom I shall from now on refer to as Russian Terminator, kill the lead scientist. He then informs the next in line, who has just been promoted Darth Vader style, that he has one year. The scientist, whom we eventually learn is named Alexei (that will be important later) has one year. General and Russian Terminator walk out of the base into snowy mountains. And just in case it wasn't clear enough yet, we get ominous sounding Russian singing as the camera pans to the flag of the Soviet Union. This opening mirrors so many 80s Cold War films that I can't even begin to tell if it's a specific shout-out to a piece of work, or just a general one. But it fits with the era to an almost hilarious degree. This is not a complaint mind you, I really miss the Soviets as Hollywood villains. I even bothered to look up the song that's playing during the scene, it's not just some random chanting. It's a real song called "Red Army is the Strongest," sung by the Red Army Choir, which is so insanely 80s that I'm certain my friend Kirk could write a thesis paper on it. Say what you will about the Commies, but they sure can sing. Most likely because anyone who went off key got shot mind you, but still. Opening Credits.
One year later we're back in Hawkins inside El's room. We see cassette tapes of Corey Hart and Bryan Adams on her desk along with the book "Using Good English," something she is still clearly learning. It's blink and you miss it, but she also has Mike's name plastered all over the place, which probably isn't doing any favors with Hopper. Speaking of which, El and Mike are making out, while Hopper, in total dad mode, is grumpily watching Magnum P.I. He catches a glimpse of the kids kissing through the door and freaks out. El closes the door and Hopper starts to bang on the door, demanding to be let in, "THREE INCHES!" he yells. When the door opens, Mike and El are innocently sitting on the bed, reading. Mike has a magazine and El has a TV guide. Mike asks, "what's wrong?" Complete with a shit-eating grin. The look on Hopper's face is priceless, something Mike lampshades. El says "it was like a tomato." Mike replies, "Yeah, a fat tomato." A very clear indication that he has little to no respect for Hopper, which is going to cause some problems later. That said, considering what Hopper put him and El through last season, I can't really blame Mike for this. Respect is earned, not given. Hopper has done nothing to earn Mike's respect, just the opposite. Also, there's still the fact that Hopper sold the kids out at the end of Season 1 (even if they don't know it yet), something everyone but me seems to have forgotten.
Mike still has to leave, but he and El promise to meet back up tomorrow over the walkie-talkies. Mike seems far happier than last season, so does El. Mike bikes to the new Starcourt Mall to meet-up with Will, Max and Lucas and we get more of that glo