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Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

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Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x01 - Chapter One (18) - Suzie Do You Copy

INTRO: Stranger Things 3 goes in a different yet fun direction, set in the summer and featuring a lot of love.

SUMMARY: In June 1984, Soviet scientists attempt to force open a new gate to the Upside Down. One year later in Hawkins, the popularity of the new Starcourt Mall has forced many local businesses to close, angering townspeople. Mike and Eleven have begun a romantic relationship, much to Hopper's chagrin; he later threatens Mike into agreeing not to see her. Dustin returns from summer camp and sets up a radio tower to contact his new girlfriend, Suzie, where his friends ditch him, and he instead intercepts a Russian transmission. Will privately senses that the Mind Flayer may still be alive. Rats congregate in a mill and explode into an organic mass. On his way to a sexual encounter with Mrs. Wheeler, Billy is run off the road by an unseen creature and dragged inside the mill.

REVIEW: The opening of each season always invokes a sense of intrigue and mystery, and here there is no exception: Russians building something sinister, and have discovered the upside down and intent on experimenting with it. But back in Hawkins, everyone is growing up, and summer has swept the small town hard. All the cute kids from the first two seasons are noticeably older, with Mike & Eleven opening the episode with a game of tonsil tennis. Very adorable scene of them being in a couple. You also have Dustin returning to Camp bragging about a new girlfriend he met there, and attempts to contact here via a hand made antenna. He fails, thus raising suspicions among his friends, though he does on the other hand manage to intercept a Russian transmission at the end. With Nancy & Jonathan, their story begins as them interning at Hawkins Post, where Nancy is subjected to some unpleasant sexism which is very heartbreaking to watch. Things fare little better for Steve as he works for Scoops Ahoy with a rather sassy yet fun co-worker Robin. With Steve, post high school life is a challenge for him, with attraction for girls a tad more difficult than before and Robin having a lot of joy rubbing it in his face. We then have Jim Hopper who is struggling to content with Mike & Eleven. He attempts to talk to the two of them, but never goes well. Though Joyce becomes a voice of reason for Hopper, with those romantic tensions still bubbling. Yet Joyce still does miss Bob, and still not over his death from the last season. Lastly there is Billy & Karen, a fun small subplot carried over from the last episode with a lot of flirting and the possible tease of an affair. As Billy & Karen arrange for a liaison, Billy is suddenly kidnapped by what is revealed to be The Mind Flayer with a cliffhanger ending set up. This episode is strong out of the gate, with the summer theme a new fresh feeling for the season, and a great use of 80s music too to make the episode come even more alive than usual. All in all a strong opening episode all around.

RATING: 89% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x02 - Chapter Two (19) - The Mall Rats

INTRO: Steve & Dustin reunite to dissect Russian codes, Mike & El have a tiff and The Mind Flayer gathers strength.

SUMMARY: Billy escapes the mill after the creature induces a vision of the Upside Down, where he meets a doppelgänger. Tormented by further visions and voices, Billy is guided by the creature into kidnapping his fellow lifeguard Heather Holloway and bringing her to the creature. Nancy and Jonathan, working as interns at the Hawkins Post, investigate the home of Mrs. Driscoll, an elderly woman concerned about rabid rats eating her fertilizer, and they overlook one of the rats exploding. Max and Eleven bond to distract themselves from Mike and Lucas while shopping at Starcourt; Eleven breaks up with Mike after he lies to her to avoid seeing her after Hopper threatens him. Joyce investigates a strange loss of magnetism among objects at her home and workplace, accidentally standing Hopper up for a date. Dustin reunites with Steve, who works at the mall's ice cream parlor with Robin, a former classmate; the three translate the Russian radio message and determine that it must be a code.

REVIEW: Billy becomes possessed by the Mind Flayer, and with that comes all the standard symptoms inherited from the last season, mainly a complete hatred for sunlight, and a merging split personality that merges within him. Setting up the Mind Flayer’s plan, he kidnaps co-worker Francesca for The Mind Flayer to consume. Back to the kids who are having fun being kids, though things get slightly sour when Mike lies to Eleven about seeing her after pressure from Hopper. This leaves Eleven confused and concerned, and ends up confiding in Max. They then decide on a girls day out at the mall, and have fun in the process. This is represented via a montage to Material Girl by Madonna with Eleven trying on new clothes and thus finding a new look. She also has some fun with her powers much like the last episode. However, Mike & Eleven run into each other, and after some exchanges, Eleven dumps Mike’s ass in the process despite the major misunderstanding between the two. With Nancy & Jonathan, they decide to take initiative and investigate the rats, seeing some of them mutating somewhat, which as we later discover is all part of the Mind Flayer’s plan to take physical form within the real world. Steve also reunites with Dustin and shares with him the mystery Russian recordings he heard in the previous episode. Robin decides to team up with them given her knowledge of Russian, as they discover a deeper mystery brewing. Joyce & Jim continue to hang out, with Jim on cloud nine following the fallout of El & Mike. He suggests dinner with Joyce which she kind of accepts, but then her curiosity with unworking mags which takes her to Mr Clarke for advice and understanding of what is going on. She as a result misses her date with Jim, which makes me feel for Jim at the end of the episode. Again, another strong episode. I love how fun this episode is compared to previous, as the colour and glamour of the 80s are in full throttle in this episode. El gets a new look and the material girl montage is gorgeous and fun to watch. I love the El & Max friendship also, it develops naturally throughout the season. You also have Mayor Kline introduced which is an excellent sleaze villain. But yes this episode is solid and continues the strong opening of Season Three.

RATING: 95% - A





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x03 - Chapter Three (20) - The Case Of The Missing Lifeguard

INTRO: El & Max continue to bond, Billy's powers grow, Nancy & Jonathan go investigating, and Will cannot let go of the past.

SUMMARY: Eleven uses her powers to spy on Mike, and later Billy, who senses her presence. She and Max discover that Billy has gone missing. Nancy and Jonathan find reports of missing fertilizer and strange behavior among rats across town, and they discover Mrs. Driscoll herself eating fertilizer in her home. Will fights with Lucas and Mike while they are upset over Eleven and Max. Robin decodes the Russian communication, pointing to a shipment arriving at Starcourt that night; she, Steve, and Dustin spot armed Russian soldiers making the delivery. Joyce convinces Hopper that the demagnetization stems from an electromagnetic device at the abandoned Hawkins Lab; when they investigate, Hopper is attacked by Grigori, a Russian soldier. Max and Eleven track down Billy and Heather at the home of Heather's parents; after they leave, Billy and Heather subdue her parents, which Will senses, making him realize the Mind Flayer is alive.

REVIEW: El & Max continue to bond away from the boys, using El’s powers for some fun innocent games. But then things turn sinister when they come across Billy killing Francesca, resulting in them seeking to investigate further. El returns to the upside down again, and it is there that Billy sees El through. Following more investigating, El & Max seem to find Billy having dinner at Fran’s house with her parents, but once they leave, Billy’s sinister plan comes into motion as The Holloway Family are killed in a very creepy cliffhanger. The boys on the other hand get coaxed into a game of Dungeons & Dragons even though Will is the only one in the mood. However, when things go awry, Will gets upset and leaves, smashing up Castle Byers in a sad scene yet at the same time sensing the return of the Mind Flayer. Joyce & Hopper continue to investigate their problem also, forced to return to Hawkins Lab as a result. During a chat, it is revealed that Joyce plans to sell up and leave Hawkins. Hopper then comes across a Russian assassin, and they battle resulting in Hopper getting his ass kicked as a result. Then there is Steve, Robin & Dustin who continue also with their Russian problem, cracking codes and discovering how to find the source of what is going on. With Nancy & Jonathan, Nancy still struggles with the sexism at her work, but decides to go rogue and investigate what is going on with Mrs Driscoll, only to discover that instead of the rats, she is in fact eating the fertiliser. In turn, it’s another solid episode. I really enjoy El & Max’s friendship here in this episode as they took the main focus, which as a result the boys lacked good material this time around. I found it a bit pathetic for Will to keep being attached to Dungeons & Dragons when it is clear that the boys are growing up and their interests starting to change. There’s a lot sadly lagging in this episode with nothing really that unique apart from the section with Dustin, Steve & Robin.

RATING: 84% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x04 - Chapter Four (21) - The Sauna Test

INTRO: Things go up a notch when The Mind Flayer's plan starts to take form, and Eleven faces a terrifying battle against a possessed Billy.

SUMMARY: Billy and Heather bring her parents to the mill, where they are possessed by the Mind Flayer (now a physical creature composed of flesh from the rats). Hopper recalls Grigori meeting with town mayor Larry Kline; he and Joyce force Kline to reveal that Starcourt Mall is a Russian front buying abandoned properties across Hawkins. At Starcourt, Dustin, Steve, and Robin, alongside Lucas' sister Erica, discover that the mall's loading dock is an elevator, which traps them beneath the mall. Nancy and Jonathan are fired by their boss (Heather's father) for harassing Mrs. Driscoll; Nancy visits Mrs. Driscoll at the hospital out of suspicion and watches her become possessed by the Mind Flayer. Will reveals his connection with the Mind Flayer to Mike, Lucas, Eleven, and Max, speculating that it has possessed Billy. They devise a plan to trap Billy in the pool's sauna to confirm he is possessed, but Billy escapes and nearly kills them until Eleven subdues him. Billy returns to the mill, where dozens of townspeople have since been possessed by the Mind Flayer.

REVIEW: Joyce & Hopper both recover from their encounter from The Russian, and connecting the dots, they end up interrogate Larry Kline, the mayor. Hopper beats him to a pulp, and obtains crucial information regarding Russian activity in Hawkins. Through searching in old abandoned buildings, they encounter proof that Russians are indeed in Hawkins. Following the previous episode, Jonathan & Nancy are fired from the paper. The following scene shows them having an argument from different perspectives: Nancy’s sexism vs Jonathan’s classism. Back at home, Karen comforts Nancy when she needs her mum most, advising her not to give up on the story. And she doesn’t, going into the hospital and sees Mrs Driscoll turning into a monster. Regarding Russians, Steve, Robin & Dustin continue to investigate further. With Robin’s quick thinking, they decide to use the air vents to investigate further, and that is when Erica, Lucas’s little sister is recruited. With her size, she crawls through the air vent to activate the secret elevator that goes down into the mall. With the rest of the kids, they instigate a code red and begin to investigate Billy. What follows is a brutal, violent and quite scary battle within the swimming baths between the kids and Billy. Eleven uses her powers, but she herself is almost killed in the process. However, she survives barely, and Billy is forced to flee. This is another strong episode. The climax in the swimming baths is great, a very intense and scary battle. The other stories also plod alone really well, with strong social commentary in some stories there and then. Clever and fun episode.

RATING: 89% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x05 - Chapter Five (22) - The Flayed

INTRO: Things go up a anotch as the citizens of Hawkins prepare to battle a fully formed Mind Flayer.

SUMMARY: Hopper and Joyce search one of the abandoned properties, discovering a hidden laboratory. Grigori arrives to kill them, and they narrowly escape with a hostage – a Russian scientist named Alexei – in tow. Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica arrive in a Russian lab underneath Starcourt and hide from Russian soldiers unloading crates from the elevator. Attempting to find a communications room, the group discovers a large testing area where scientists try to force open a portal to the Upside Down. As Alexei does not speak English, Hopper and Joyce take him to Murray – the only Russian speaker they know – to translate. Grigori tries to follow them but loses the trail. Nancy and Jonathan regroup with Will, Mike, Lucas, Eleven, and Max and then theorize that Billy and Driscoll are both possessed by the Mind Flayer, who uses them to "flay" (possess) people to create an army. The group decides to visit Driscoll at the hospital to learn more, but finds her gone. They are attacked by Tom and Bruce, who are now of the Flayed that dissolve into a single organic mass resembling the Mind Flayer after Nancy and Jonathan kill them.

REVIEW: Joyce & Hopper discover the Russian base, finding a geeky Russian from the opening of the first episode, and plan to kidnap him. Yet the beefcake Russian arrives and Round 2 between Hopper and The Russian take place. Hopper & Joyce both manage to escape with the captive, steal a flashy 80s car and go to the one person who can speak Russian: Murray! Steve, Robin, Dustin & Erica are going down a very fast lift, and encounter the Russian base in person, under the Starcourt Mall. It is down here that Steve finally wins a fight, beating a Russian soldier out cold. And whilst down there, they discover the device seen in Episode One, which is planning to reopen The Upside Down. The Kids story merges together with Nancy & Jonathan’s, as they begin to piece together the return of the Mind Flayer. They then agree to return to the hospital, in which Nancy & Jonathan have intense scenes fighting the possessed journalists. After their deaths, they merge into gloop and thus help The Mind Flayer continue to come together, with a cliffhanger of The Mind Flayer getting larger. Eleven & Mike also start to build their bridges from their fight earlier in the story. Again, another strong episode, with a really fun and exciting climax with Nancy & Jonathan against the journalists. This story and season overall is coming together wonderfully nicely.

RATING: 93% - A





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x06 - Chapter Six (23) - E Pluribus Unum

INTRO: Things go up a notch as The Mind Flayer continues to grow, and Eleven makes a breakthrough with Billy.

SUMMARY: Eleven, who had just then reconciled with Mike, uses her powers to incapacitate the Mind Flayer, forcing it to flee to the mill. In the Russian lab beneath Starcourt, Steve and Robin are captured, drugged, and interrogated, but Dustin and Erica manage to rescue them. With Murray translating, Hopper and Joyce hold Alexei hostage, forcing him to reveal that the Russians are attempting to access the Upside Down and that they are opening a portal beneath Starcourt. Hopper calls Owens to warn the U.S. Government of the threat, but Joyce insists they return to Hawkins immediately, fearing that their kids may be involved. Grigori corners Kline at Hawkins' Independence Day fair, demanding he step up efforts to find Hopper. Mike inadvertently admits his love for Eleven. To find the Mind Flayer, Eleven uses her powers in an attempt to psychically communicate with Billy, learning of his troubled childhood and finding the Flayer at the mill. Billy senses Eleven's presence, giving the Mind Flayer access to her location, and reveals that the Mind Flayer plans to kill her to avenge her closing the gate. The Flayed converge on the mill, dissolving into an organic mass and merging with the Mind Flayer.

REVIEW: Joyce & Hopper continue to interrogate Alexi, the Russian they captured in the previous episode. With Murray’s assistance, they discover The Russians intent to reopen the gate closed in Season Two. As a result, they call Hawkins Lab for help and decide to return to Hawkins to rescue the children in the eye of the storm. Steve, Robin, Dustin & Erica are discovered by the Russians which results in them attempting to flee, though only Steve & Robin are captured and then drugged. Luckily, Dustin manages to save them and they plan to escape from the underground back to the surface in the mall. Meanwhile, The Kids plus Nancy & Jonathan are trying to locate the source of the Mind Flayer. As a result, they tap into Billy’s mind, and reveal the traumatic childhood he endured that made him the sociopath he is today. El though manages to discover The Mind Flayer’s plan in a gripping climax that reveals their location and sets up an intense battle with The Mind Flayer at full power. Again, another very good episode with great build up all over. The last five minutes are terrific, containing a gripping conclusion and setting up a fantastic climax going forward.

RATING: 89% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x07 - Chapter Seven (24) - The Bite

INTRO: The Mind Flayer begins to wreck havoc on the town as Russians storm the 4th of July parade, and El's powers start to weaken.

SUMMARY: Eleven and the others determine the Mind Flayer is coming for her, since she was the one who previously closed the gate. Will senses the Mind Flayer approaching. The Mind Flayer attacks and injures Eleven before they flee. Dustin and Erica drag a drugged Steve and Robin to the movie theater in Starcourt. Eleven's group breaks into a supermarket to help treat her wounds and gather more supplies. Dustin contacts them over a walkie-talkie to try to explain the situation before he loses battery power. Eleven uses her powers to find Dustin, and the group takes off for the mall. Steve admits that he has feelings for Robin, but she comes out to him as a lesbian. Hopper's group makes their way to the fairgrounds in Hawkins to find the children, where they are spotted by Kline, who alerts the Russians. Grigori fatally shoots Alexei in front of Murray. Murray, Hopper, and Joyce evade several Soviet agents and learn the agents are looking for the children at the mall. Eleven's group arrives at the mall in time to stop the Russians from shooting Dustin's group. Eleven collapses in front of the children, her wound pulsing.

REVIEW: The Kids, Nancy & Jonathan are all hiding in the cabin, battle ready for the oncoming Mind Flayer. And when he attacks, he attacks hard, with ferocious physical attacks, even managing to bite Eleven in the leg. It’s too overwhelming and everyone ends up retreating and they travel to a nearby food store. It is there that Mike ‘attempts’ to tell El his true feelings, however Dustin manages to get in touch after so long and it is agreed to head to Starcourt Mall to rally and form a plan. Steve, Robin, Dustin & Erica manage to escape the Russian compound, though Steve & Robin are still drugged. Eventually it wares off and it is there that Steve & Robin have a heart to heart where Robin confesses that she is gay, something that Steve reacts really well to. Dustin making contact with Mike ultimately saves his team as El manages to kill the Russians, though at a cost of her bite worsening. Joyce, Hopper, Murray & Alexi all head to the funfair to find Larry, though in the process Alexi is murdered by beefcake Russian. Hopper battles them all to get everyone away from safety, in what is a great fun action sequence that involves a fun house and Joyce laying a fun right hook at the Mayor. Again, really liked this episode a lot. So much fun happening around the episode, with the funfair sequence absolutely terrific. I also love as always with Stranger Things everyone reuniting again for the big finale.

RATING: 97% - A





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

3x08 - Chapter Eight (25) - The Battle At Starcourt Mall

INTRO: The ultimate battle between children and mind flayer begins.

SUMMARY: Eleven rids herself of the piece of the Mind Flayer embedded in her wound, rendering her powerless. Hopper's group arrives, and plans are made to take Eleven's group to safety. At the same time, Hopper, Joyce, and Murray destroy the machine, with Dustin and Erica navigating them from his radio tower. Billy and the Mind Flayer trap Eleven's group at the mall. The others attack the Mind Flayer with fireworks as Eleven frees Billy from its control. Billy sacrifices himself to protect Eleven, Mike, and Max. Hopper fights and kills Grigori, getting trapped with the machine in the process. Out of time, Joyce is forced to trigger an explosion, closing the gate, with Hopper seemingly being disintegrated in the process. The Mind Flayer's physical body dies as Dr. Owens arrives with military forces. Three months later, the deaths are covered up, Starcourt is destroyed, and a disgraced Kline is arrested. The Byers family and a still-powerless Eleven prepare to move out of Hawkins. Mike and Eleven confess their love for each other and make plans to meet at Thanksgiving. In Kamchatka, Russian guards are instructed to feed a prisoner, but "not the American", to a captured Demogorgon.

REVIEW: Everyone is once again united at the mall, and begin forming a plan to once again close the gate but within the Russian base underground. Joyce, Murray & Hopper agree to gown down to close it completely, and disguise themselves as Russians once down there. Hopper finally has a final battle with Beefcake Battle, and kills him a very gory set piece as he gets sliced by a huge machine. Sadly though, it puts him in a position where he has to sacrifice himself seemingly to close the gate. It’s devastating for Joyce, and her grief makes her decide to move her and her family to leave Hawkins. Steve, Robin, Dustin & Erica then decide to steer The Mind Flayer away from the mall to give the adults a chance, but a moment is required where Dustin gets in contact with girlfriend Suzie, in which she finally answers. However in return comes Dustin & Suzie’s duet of The Never Ending Story which was divisive among fans, but I personally found this to be hilarious overall. The Kids, Nancy & Jonathan are forced to stay in the Mall, battling both The Mind Flayer and a possessed Billy, who attempts to kill Eleven by having The Mind Flayer feast on her, however Eleven makes a final attempt to get through to him which works, allowing him to sacrifice himself to save everyone. Then we have the aftermath which is more of a downer this time than before, with Joyce, Will, Jonathan & Eleven all moving away to start a new life. Eleven finally reads the letter Hopper wrote for her, which is a downright tour de force performance from Millie Bobby Brown in that scene, I loved that scene. She also tells Mike she loves him, confirming that she overheard Mike say it himself a few episodes ago. In a way, The Byers family moving away is the end of an era for Stranger Things as I can imagine the show goes into deeper darker territory going forward. The Post credits scene sees The Russians reveal that they have Demogorgans in their prison, and perhaps a certain Chief of Police too. Overall, another perfect finale though this one is more intense and fun and ultimately leads the story into new territory into Season Four.

RATING: 98% - A





Stranger Things - Season 3 Retrospective

STORY: Season Three just has a more fun relaxed story this time. Less of the horror and more of the 80s aesthetic which I think works really well, and makes it a more colourful and exciting watch. Introducing the Russians also really expands the world more and making the viewer realise that the threat of the upside down extends beyond Hawkins. Change is really the major theme this season which many of the characters facing a major change in their lives and the choice like a crossroads giving the characters a distinct choice with no turning back. It's also just more colourful, more happy, the romance fizzling in the air with several potential couples. It easily became my favourite season of the series, with a very excellent and easy story to follow.

CHARACTERS

Eleven & Mike: We now finally have our Mileven together, with literally the first scene of them snogging on the bed. Cute and a good opener to the season, as the chemistry shines brighter than ever between the two. Yet this season throws some barriers. Because of Hopper, Mike is forced to lie for the first time sending Eleven’s world into disarray slightly. Seeking solace in Max, Eleven finds female friendship and ‘dumps Mike’s ass’ which is hilarious. Mike & Eleven get through their issues and come through the season stronger than before. Great moments in the season were scenes between Eleven & Billy, with El’s terror very visible on screen whenever the two were together. The end of the season also sees El lose her powers yet very confident in her love for Mike. Props also goes to the fun funky fashion that El has this season.

Hopper: Hopper has a challenging season here. A lot of toxic attributes come out here, such as lying to Mike & El, his aggression coming to the fore, and an air of unpleasantness lingering through the episodes. A proposed date with Joyce goes awry which sets up the tension between Joyce & Hopper throughout the season. His fashion invokes Miami Vice vibes throughout with the loose yet coloured shirt. He plays the action hero template this season, with various fight scenes throughout the story with one mainly with an Arnold Schwarzenegger rip off. The end of the season sees Hopper seemingly sacrifice himself to save the town, although one would believe differently come Season four.

Joyce: She is a bit more goofy and silly this season, rather than more paranoid than before. Her story is ignited by magnets that don’t work, which sets off her curiosity to new heights. Teaming up with Hopper, they follow a trail which ultimately gets them involved with a Russian conspiracy at the heart of Starcourt Mall. Winona Ryder is of course great as always, becoming more determined and heroic as well as developing lingering feelings for Hopper.

Will: Will very much takes a back seat this season to other characters. He goes through a very harsh adjustment to teenagehood, with friends more interested in their partners than games, and him perhaps grappling with something deeper within himself. There’s also still that Mind Flayer connection lingering within him that comes into play at several points throughout the story.

Lucas: Again, very much in the background this season, with very little to do throughout as him and Max’s romance are in the back burner. Though he does have his moment with the firework assault in the finale.

Max: I love Max’s blossoming relationship with Eleven as they do really create a strong bond throughout the story, with fashion montages and galore. Her conflict though over her friends and Billy could’ve been better explored I think.

Dustin: Dustin returns from camp with news that he has a girlfriend, which everyone is quite sceptical of. His friendship with Steve Harrington continues to develop as well as forging friendships with Robin Buckley and Erica Sinclair. Being isolated from his others, he really shines better as an individual and comes through with support from Steve & Robin.

Steve & Robin: Steve is given a fun new sidekick in the form of Robin Buckley, a quirky exciting new addition to the show played wonderfully by Maya Hawke. They both work at Scoops Ahoy, an ice cream parlous and are on the other side of the Russian story, deciphering codes, discovering secret hideaways, and go through an ordeal of being drugged and suffering hallucinations too. Ultimately the friendship is very heartfelt and it ends stronger than it begins in Season three.

Nancy & Jonathan: Both Nancy & Steve enter the working world with the school newspaper, in which Nancy endures a tough time with her sexist coworkers that only see her as a food collector or message receiver. Nancy then begins investigating strange rodent issues in the town which ultimately leaves to unveiling the Mind Flayer’s plan and teaming up with the younger characters to combat it as best they can. Jonathan assists, though to a lesser degree than Nancy.

Erica: She’s sassier than ever this season, beginning with own little entourage before she joins with Steve, Robin & Dustin in uncovering Russian bases under the mall. She is crucial in this story, and ultimately has some great lines and fun outfits throughout.

Murray: Murray returns and is even more zany than he was last season. Now he works with Hopper & Joyce in cracking Russian codes, and rumbling the Russians plans with Hawkins. He speaks fluent Russian, and is way more funny here than before.

Billy: Billy’s role in the story goes in a different direction as The Mind Flayer takes hold of him in a vicious manner. He’s still villainous, very ruthless, scary strong and a physically intimidating prescence throughout the story. His death scene is strong and powerful, and ultimately will go to have an impact on Max later down the line.

The Mind Flayer: Finally, The Mind Flayer arrives in our world with a new way to invade. Taking mind control of certain people, his manner is of human and rat flesh, creating a gooey flesh for himself and being a major threat to the characters throughout the season.

Holloway Family: A recurring family that represents the preppy rich family from that period, and are sadly one of the more prominent victims of the Mind Flayer.

The Russians: They really are cartoon fun in this season, much like out of 80s movies themselves, almost stock like in their villainy, nothing really that scary or intimidating. Grigory is very much based on a mix of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ivan Drago, though lacking any sense of fear factor whatsoever.

Suzie: The fun joke throughout the season pays off in the finale with Suzie’s reveal, calling Dustin an affectionate nickname of Dusty Bun, along with a Never Ending Story singalong which I just found so hilarious the first time I saw it. A fun little cameo to feast on.

Sam Owens: A small cameo in this season, but he does come in the clean up the mess at the story’s end with a fun cool US army. Nothing exciting, but his role does get big again in Season 4.

OTHER: The 80s references come off a lot stronger here in this season, more in your face and vibrant and striking. You also have more distinct 80s costumes thanks to the introduction of the mall and all the fashion ready made available to our characters. Yet, this season lacks the scares of the first two and the horror element is somewhat eroded as a result. But still, a ridiculously fun season with strong character arcs, story moments and just so much visuals to feast upon to make this a rollercoaster of a watch.

RATING: 92% - A





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

4x01 - Chapter One (26) - The Hellfire Club

INTRO: After a break from TV reviewing, I return to finish my Stranger Things marathon and venture into the laest season of the show.

SUMMARY: In a flashback to 1979, Dr. Brenner is experimenting on children possessing supernatural abilities until a mysterious incident kills all of the children except Eleven. In 1986—eight months after the events at Starcourt Mall—Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven have moved to California, where Eleven struggles with the loss of her powers and is bullied by other students. Joyce receives a porcelain doll in the mail, seemingly from Russia, and finds a hidden note stating that Hopper is alive. In Hawkins, Mike and Dustin have joined the high school's "Hellfire Club," a Dungeons & Dragons club led by iconoclast Eddie Munson. As a result, they miss seeing Lucas win the basketball team's championship game. Max, who has broken up with Lucas, struggles to come to terms with Billy's death. Chrissy Cunningham, a student on the cheerleading team, is haunted by visions of her abusive mother and a chiming grandfather clock. While buying drugs from Eddie, Chrissy is possessed and killed by a sentient humanoid figure from her visions.

REVIEW: The prologue of Season four is in many ways quite haunting as the shots depicts an eerie suburban street in Middle America. We find out its a flashback which shows the return of Martin Bremmer, and his realization of how strong Eleven's powers supposedly are with the death of other children in Hawkins Lab.

Season Four begins with everyone split up, with Eleven & Will now in a different high school but with new difficult challenges. El is sadly suffering from bullying with really horrific bullies which makes the scenes very uncomfortable to get through. This is down to just personal difficulty to my own experience to bullying as well as the heartbreaking performance from Millie Bobby Brown throughout. The nerves and emotion throughout is very good to watch for both El and what Will goes through, as his sexuality becomes more and more clear as Season four begins. Then there is Jonathan who is now more stoner than before, and getting angst about the idea that Nancy won't come and visit him in California. But he does have new character Argyle who is equal stoner to Jonathan and a fun new character to interact with this season. And then there's Joyce, trying to rebuild her life away from Hawkins, until a mysterious Russian Doll begins a suspicion about her that Hopper could still be alive. Determined to uncover the truth, he recruits Murray to assist in a perious journey.

Back in Hawkins, the cute little boys are now big larger than life teens, establishing new cliques and social groups. Lucas blends in with the basketball team where as Mike & Dustin join a new D&D club ran by an eccentric named Eddie. A big D&D game is being planned and with Lucas busy with a big game, Dustin recruits Erica to assist. Dustin is still with Suzy as she gets a fun cameo at the beginning of the episode. However not everyone is in good spirits. Max has become a loner since the end of Season Three, suffering from depression and descending into music like Kate Bush to numb the pain. The song 'Running Up That Hill' plays an important part this season and shows up first in this episode. The end of the episode showcases a fun montage of two intense games: Lucas playing in a basketball game and the other boys in the midst of D&D. It's a fun montage to watch and really quite thrilling to see unravel. You then also have Steve & Robin who still make a cute fun duo as their friendship continues to shine. Robin also begins crushing on someone in the cheerleader team. Lastly Nancy has embraced her full journalistic instict by running the school national newspaper.

And then the new characters in a way kick off the big new villain for Season four. Eddie rendeavous with a girl names Chrissy, a cheerleader struggling with some serious issues. She turns to Eddie for drugs to help this problem, but to no avail. Her hallucinations continue focusing on her abusive mother among most. In reality, it is all the making of a sinister new monster known as Vecna: tall, creepy, extremely sinister. In an eerie scene, he kills Crissy in front of Eddie in a very intense ending for the episode.

This is such a strong opening episode to Season Four. Everything feels different and it can be a very big adjustment at times. I assume because Season Three was a more summer action orientated season, returning to horror can be slightly jarring at times. The bullying angle was a tough one to get through due to personal memory. But I'm enjoying overall seeing the new environments that our characters are adjusting to and adapting to in many ways. It's going to make for a very tasty and impactful season.

RATING: 86% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

4x02 - Chapter Two (27) Vecna's Curse

INTRO: Jim Hopper lives but what is his siutation and how will he escape it?

SUMMARY: Hopper is shown in a flashback to have survived the explosion underneath Starcourt Mall, but is captured by Soviet soldiers and sent to a prison camp in Kamchatka. Joyce and Murray call the phone number on the note sent to Joyce and speak to "Enzo," revealed to be Dmitri Antonov, a prison guard that Hopper has bribed. Antonov has them deliver a $40,000 ransom to his contact in Alaska. Mike flies to California to visit Eleven, where he and Will witness her being bullied by her classmate Angela; Eleven eventually retaliates by striking Angela in the face with a roller skate. Back in Hawkins, Max tells Dustin she saw Eddie run away the night that Chrissy died. With help from Robin and Steve, they locate the traumatized Eddie and explain the Upside Down to him; Eddie and Dustin name the entity that killed Chrissy "Vecna." Nancy and her fellow student reporter Fred investigate Chrissy's death; Eddie's uncle tells Nancy he believes the killer is Victor Creel, a Hawkins resident who was institutionalized after allegedly murdering his family in the 1950s. Fred is lured into the woods by visions of a student he accidentally killed before Vecna murders him.

REVIEW: The episode reveals something we all sort of expected in the first place: Jim Hopper is still alive, having survived the blast at the end of Season Three and was then seized by Russians. Slowly but surely Joyce & Murray unravel the mystery letter sent and then eventually get a phone call from Russia which makes Joyce more determined to save Hopper and thus begins a plan, which commences by him starting a bank loan.

This episode also sees Eleven & Mike reunited again, though Will feels very left out and pushed to the side. A rollerblading sequence takes place through the episode, with fun 80s music like Tarzan Boy making an appearance. But the bullies from the previous episode show and continue to make Eleven’s life a living hell. A brutal humiliation takes place on El which is extraordinarily nasty. However, El gets her revenge by beating bully Angela with a shoe. It’s a very surprising and interesting take on El’s inner rage which has always been there in some form or another in the Stranger Things story. Jonathan also continues to worry about his future and one that may potentially feature no Nancy whatsoever.

Eddie is on the run, wanted for murder, with many others out to target him to cope with their grief. Lucas is therefore caught in the middle and cannot escape for his own safety. Dustin & Max choose to then team up with Steve & Robin to help find Eddie. We then get a chance to see the video store which is quite a cool set in itself. They end up finding Eddie at Reefer Rick’s and let him into the ghouls and goings on of Hawkins over the last few years. Nancy also investigates with newspaper assistant Fred, going back to the trailer park to find evidence. Yet it is Fred’s trauma that lures him into Vecna’s trap and allows him to be the next victim of Vecna itself, who slowly but surely is becoming a more intimidating villain and a scary new antagonist.

This is another good episode again, with the 80s fashion bright and bold and strong. The bullies are again very realistic and nasty and mean, the type that are just too indestructible to face regardless of the strategy used. Millie Bobby Brown is still absolutely brilliant in this season, bringing another strong performance for this episode which is awards worthy. We also see more on Hopper’s time in prison which is mostly flashback but still very good, depicting a bleak situation for Hopper going forward. It’s intriguing but very good story so far.

RATING: 84% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

4x03 - Chapter Three (28) - The Monster & The Superhero

INTRO: El enters new territory and the heat in Hawkins continues to grow as one member of the gang becomes Vecna's new target.

SUMMARY: Sam Owens is visited by U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack Sullivan, who believes Eleven is responsible for Chrissy's death. Eleven is arrested for assaulting Angela, but is intercepted by Owens, who explains that Hawkins is in grave danger and that he has been working on a program to help bring back Eleven's powers; Eleven agrees to go with him. Joyce and Murray fly to Alaska to deliver the ransom for Hopper. In the prison camp, Hopper bribes a fellow inmate to break his shackles with a sledgehammer. Nancy and Robin go to the library to look up information about Victor Creel and discover that Creel blamed his family's murders on a demon, which Nancy and Robin conclude must be Vecna. Jason leads the basketball team on a hunt for Eddie, believing he killed Chrissy, but Lucas abandons them. Max recalls that Chrissy visited the school counselor before being killed by Vecna, and steals Chrissy and Fred's files from the counselor's office. She learns that they suffered from PTSD symptoms similar to hers; suddenly, Max hears Vecna call her name and envisions a grandfather clock.

REVIEW: El continues to recover from the ordeal of the last episode, and the episode begins with her getting arrested by the police. With no adults to vouch for her, El ends up getting escorted to Juvenile Hall. However, she is rescued by none other than Sam Owens who asks for her help against a new threat within Hawkins. El of course agrees, guaranteeing her freedom and escape from federal detention. Yet also, it is to escape her frustrations with Mike, following a fight about the lack of love Mike expresses in the relationship, following a long amount of tension between the two.

Hawkins is fast becoming a bubbling destination of madness, as the crimes and killings of Vecna continue to be investigated, with Nancy eventually finding her way with the other four. She and Robyn go to the library for research. The relationship between Robyn & Nancy is one of discomfort as it’s a relationship off kilter at times. There is also clues that perhaps Robyn is autistic in some way. Meanwhile, Max decides to use her school therapist as bait, stealing her office keys to sneak into the school with her friends. But what we as the audience discover is that Max has become Vecna’s next intended victim. Then there is Lucas who is still hanging around with the nutty bloodthirsty jocks, who proceed to go around the town beating up nerds and outcasts. Making a brave decision, Lucas decides to run for it after luring them into a trap.

Next there is Joyce & Murray who travel to Alaska as part of their wider plan to rescue Hopper. Hopper remains in prison, though makes a deal with prison guard Yuri to help damage his foot as part of a bigger plan to escape.

This is another good episode in the run, with more clues about Vecna coming to the fore as part of the main mystery within Season Four. You feel that everyone has a more juicy role this time around, with no character being left out. Sadie Sink in particular has a great performance here as her character takes centre stage. As well as that, Vecna continues to be creepy and an intimidating villain to follow.

RATING: 84% - A-





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

4x04 - Chapter Four (29) - Dear Billy

INTRO: Sadie Sink finally steps into the spotlight and shines brighter than ever as her career enters the next stage in this terrific episode.

SUMMARY: Joyce and Murray deliver the ransom payment to Antonov's contact Yuri, but he drugs them, planning to turn them over to the Soviets, along with Hopper and Antonov, for a larger profit. Hopper escapes the prison camp but is soon recaptured. Jonathan, Mike, and Will prepare to sneak away from Wallace and Harmon, agents sent by Owens to watch them, but armed soldiers attack the house. They escape with the help of Jonathan's friend Argyle, bringing an injured Harmon with them. Nancy and Robin interview an imprisoned Victor Creel, who recounts his family being tormented and killed by supernatural forces, with Victor being arrested for their deaths. Max, fearing that Vecna is about to kill her, writes letters to her friends and family and goes to the cemetery to read her letter to Billy by his grave. She is possessed by Vecna and finds herself at an altar inside his mind. Steve, Dustin, and Lucas learn from Nancy and Robin that playing music can break Vecna's spell. They play Max's favorite song, "Running Up That Hill," on a cassette tape, opening a portal through which Max narrowly escapes from Vecna.

REVIEW: Joyce & Murray meet with their contact to take them to Russia. Following an exchange of money, everything seems ready to go, until a deception and betrayal occurs leaving both Joyce & Murray in a seriously scary situation. Hopper on his side makes a daring escape also, but then the betrayal on his side then occurs, leaving him barely alive and his fate in limbo.

El does not feature in this episode, and instead the focus is on Mike, Will & Jonathan who are they themselves under house arrest. However, Jonathan recruits Argyle to help them escape, and with a sudden and deadly shootout then occurring via mysterious agents, the boys barely escape. The whole shootout is a one shot sequence and very well done, exceptionally directed and choreographed as a result.

Back in Hawkins, Nancy & Robin enter the mental asylum to talk with Victor Creel. Played by Robert Englund, we are shown a flashback to the tragedy of Victor’s family and what occurred in the house. The trauma is evident and registers to Vecna being a very different entity as a result. Eventually being rumbled, Robin & Nancy barely escape the asylum. Meanwhile, realising that she is the next victim, Max prepares for the inevitable, writing letters to everyone she loves, knowing that Vecna is closing in. As a result, the climax of this episode is amazing as Max has a confrontation with Vecna which has a fun Billy cameo as a result. They clash, yet Max manages to barely escape in a very thrilling sequence with Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill playing great music to the scene. Very thrilling, yet for Max, a shaken experience.

It’s overall a brilliant episode and worth the hype from everyone praising it. Standout performances come from Sadie Sink and Robert Englund, as well as an incredible climax and an excellent character moment from Max too. It’s quite shocking how this episode was entirely snubbed by the Emmys, yet the episode is thrilling and terrific and really leaves you wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

RATING: 97% - A





Connor Macgregor Reviews...Stranger Things

4x05 - Chapter Five (30) - The Nine Project

INTRO: The chaos in Hawkins continues to boil over and El comes face to face with an old acquaintance.

SUMMARY: Owens takes Eleven to an abandoned ICBM silo in Nevada, where he and Dr. Brenner have developed a specialized isolation tank (dubbed "NINA") that will allow Eleven to access memories of her time with the other children at Hawkins Lab. After her first time in the tank, Eleven attempts to escape and briefly regains her powers, and Brenner convinces her to continue with the experiment. In California, before Agent Harmon dies, he gives the boys a pen containing a phone number for the NINA project that connects to a modem; Mike decides to enlist the aid of Dustin's girlfriend, Suzie, in Salt Lake City. After Yuri's betrayal, Antonov is imprisoned alongside Hopper. While flying to Russia, Joyce and Murray subdue Yuri and crash-land in the wilderness. In Hawkins, Max, Lucas, Steve, and Dustin regroup with Nancy and Robin and decide to investigate Creel House; inside, they encounter flickering lights, which they trace to Vecna's movements in the Upside Down. Jason and his teammates locate Eddie trying to escape in a boat at Lover's Lake; Jason and Patrick swim after him. While they are in the water, Vecna kills Patrick in front of Jason and Eddie.

REVIEW: We discover that Eleven has been lured into a terrible trap, as she discovers that Sam Owens has teamed up with Martin Bremmer in order to access memories from Eleven’s mind to slowly regain her powers. However, it is clear how manipulative and nasty Bremmer is, as through the flashbacks, we discover the brutal tactics Bremmer uses to best control these powerful children. The ending itself is quite eerie also.

Joyce & Murray have been captured, though they end up breaking free and turning the tide on their captor, following Murray’s crafty karate skills. However, their plane crashes and thus must make the rest of the journey on foot. Hopper meanwhile continues to linger in prison and starts reflecting on his life, believing himself to be cursed following conversations with the prisoners. It is then revealed that the prison have been hosting a Demogorgan within the compound, making Hopper’s problems even worse.

Mike, Will, Argyle & Jonathan fail to save a dying agent, though he does give a clue to El’s whereabouts regarding the name Nina and a computer number. Thinking on his feet, the boys go to Salt Lake City and recruit Suzie, Dustin’s girlfriend for help.

Everyone else back in Hawkins continue to investigate Vecna, and thus go to the abandoned Creel house, with flashing torches to guide them. Vecna’s presence is worked out when the torches flash repeatedly as they discover Vecna sits in the upside-down version of the house. Little character moments occur also such as a renewed spark between Steve & Nancy for instance. Eddie though is still hiding, and eventually is tracked down by the jocks. Attempting to escape, Eddie is chased by the jocks and sees for himself Vecna killing at least two of them in the water, with Eddie left in limbo in the middle of the water.

Again, a good episode as we refocus on Eleven and dig deeper into her recent past. The creel mystery continues to deepen further as the performances remain very strong across the board, though little of the plot moves forward in this episode. We also have the return of Martin Bremmer as usual well-acted by Matthew Modine. Lastly is the focus on Max & Lucas on a couple once again as their spark reignites beautifully in this episode.

RATING: 87% - A-