Stranger Things Season Three

Stranger Things is something I came to later than most. The hype began and I put it on my list of things to watch. Eventually season two came out and I thought, “no better time to start”. I enjoyed it, there was nothing ground-breaking, simply a show that did all the little things right and told a good story along with it. Bit rough in places, but what show isn’t?

When season three came out, I was in a similar spot. I put on the list of things to watch and I inevitably caved because it’s popularity now means that spoilers are everywhere. I enjoyed the previous seasons, but I didn’t love them. Other than a few minor spoilers, I went in as blind as most would to season three but without the rushing enthusiasm of a big fan. Despite this I had questions: What will this third instalment of the Stranger Things story entail? Will it match the quality, humour and lovable nature of the characters it created?

The simple answer: Yes. Season three feels slightly different than the first two because it has more to tell and more characters to tell it with.  Season two introduced a new main character in Max, but gave bigger roles to season one’s recurring characters, most notably Steve Harrington. Season three continues in this fashion, introducing Robin, and providing Billy and Erica more screen time to create what ultimately becomes quite a large ensemble adventure.

Due to the large size, this season is almost entirely split into three main parties, each unravelling different parts of the mysteries within Hawkins as well as combatting their own issues along the way. This makes the start of season three a little stilted. A consequence of telling a complex, ensemble story in the time allowed. Season three is only eight episodes, one fewer than season two’s nine, and so the opening part of the season is setting up what is to come because of the larger cast.

What follows the slow start is simply the quality we have come to expect from Stranger Things up to this point.  This season manages to interweave character issues better than before, as the distance and time between characters seeing each other adds further depth to their individual struggles. The characters all naturally progress from season to season, with only Hopper seeming a little forced in his development. Stranger Things overarching story about the Mind Flayer is good, but it is the characters that make the show compelling. The show may overuse some of its tropes during this season, the most jarring being the romantic subplot between Joyce and Hopper which unfortunately feels like a carbon copy of Nancy and Jonathan’s season two arc. That particular subplot brings some comedic value but really hurts from being so similar. However, I think it speaks volumes that despite these minor gripes season three feels substantially different than its predecessors due its other character developments.

In the end, season three is worth watching despite the minor flaws it has. Each parties story unravels nicely, with threads coming together in a way that makes the whole thing feel complete. It’s a natural progression of the story that deals with new challenges, new emotions, provides new satisfying additions to each character and still manages to be creepy and heart-warming at the same time.

A special note should be made of the VFX artists for this season. Five studios took up the task for season three: Crafty Apes, RISE, Rodeo FX, Scanline VFX (Munich | Stuttgart), and Spin VFX. The work created by these folks are what make the world of Stranger Things feel so eerie and this season takes it to a new level. The previous seasons had great VFX, but the way it is used in this season combined with what looks like even higher quality standards help to produce some particularly gruesome effects.

We always ask the question of “Is this going to hold up to the previous instalment?” no matter the media type. Stranger Things season three, likes its first two seasons, is not ground-breaking, but it doesn’t try to be. It adds to more to the story, its characters, and world with a quality that is unwavering. Simply put: if you enjoyed it before, you will enjoy it again.


Words by Rhys Campbell

The Good Place Season Three

The Brainy Bunch are back for a new season in Netflix’s ‘The Good Place’.

‘The Good Place’ follows demon architect Michael (Ted Danson), Janet Janet (D’Arcy Carden), Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil), and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto) as they journey through the afterlife to become better people.

Now if you remember, season two finished off resetting everything that has happened so far and putting our four favourite humans back on earth to try setting them on a path to a better afterlife.

Michael and the Judge have agreed to save Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason at the moment of their original deaths in order to see if they can become better people with the knowledge they could have died.

This causes a small spike in the amount of good all four put into the world, they face their flaws to try to become better people… for about six months.

Things start going wrong as they always do in life; it never feels like the amount of good you have to give is enough for anyone, and if you aren’t getting noticed – what’s the point? After a while our four humans fall back into their ‘bad’ lifestyles and Michael can’t help but intervene.

After things go off the rails for the humans, Michael concludes that the only reason they started to get better in the afterlife, was because they were altogether for support. Michael gives them all a little nudge, and at soon they are all together again – a nice happy ending, right? Wrong!

With Michael and the Judge’s original plan failing, the gang try to find another solution to their inevitable eternal damnation, investigating just what The Good Place is, who has gotten in, and how did they get there.

Each episode this season always feels packed to the brim with lessons about philosophy and ethics, something the first two seasons have revealed as the main themes for the show. Chidi and Michael often guide the others through these lessons about morality and the reasons behind why something can be inherently bad or inherently good.

If you have enjoyed the struggles thus far of our friends as they search Earth, the afterlife and Janet for morality – you will be happy to know ‘The Good Place’ still has surprises for you.

 


Words by Joel Tuckwell

 

Joel is a twenty-two year old with a passion for art and animation. He likes to think of new ways to do things and works with computers. One day he hopes to have a pet pig named Pudge.