Russians, monsters and teen angst dominate ‘Stranger Things’ season three

First things first, if you haven’t watched the first two seasons of “Stranger Things” consider this your spoiler’s warning. I also highly recommend that you go and watch the first two seasons and if you don’t have a Netflix account, just do what everyone else does and borrow a friend’s login. These days instead of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, it’s really six degrees of separation from the actual Netflix account holder.

Having said that, buckle up folks, season three is one hell of a ride. In the latest season of “Stranger Things,” audiences will find that the adorable crew of Hawkins’ misfits have hit puberty so the teens are now focusing a considerable amount of attention on their significant others. Will isn’t a fan of his pals hyper focus on their girlfriends and Hopper (David Harbour) is ready to drag Mike (Finn Wolfhard) down to the precinct over his paternal anxiety over Mike and El’s relationship. Speaking of Hopper, he tries to get closer to Joyce (everybody’s favorite mom who screams at holiday lights, played by Winona Ryder) but she’s still dealing with the loss of Bob from season two (RIP Bob).

Now that we’ve hit the mid 80s, summer at the Starcourt Mall is the backdrop for most of the season as the kids shop, crack a mysterious Russian code and scoop ice cream. Nancy and Jonathan are trying out their journalistic chops and find themselves dealing with what appears to be rabid rats. Joyce finds her mom senses kicking into overdrive when she notices that all of the magnets at her home and store are no longer working and drags Hopper into an investigation over it.

Notably some of the smaller characters from the previous seasons take on larger roles including Billy, Max’s bully of an older brother; Lucas’s sassy younger sister Erica, Mike’s mom Karen Wheeler and Murray Bauman, the local conspiracy nut, who add a bit more color to Hawkins.

Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter, Maya Hawke, joined the cast this season as Robin, Steve’s co-worker at Scoops Ahoy, adding a little extra oomf to the series. Her character is smart as a whip and provides plenty of humor as she tracks Steve’s failure to pick up any women while in his goofy sailor uniform.

As always Millie Bobby Brown provides a spectacular performance as El, the young actress effortlessly moves through each scene. Despite El’s stunted vocabulary Brown is able to easily convey her character’s meaning through her expressive eyes.

This season features more special effects, plenty of strobing and even an unexpected musical number. The Duffer Brothers are getting more adventurous with their writing each season and despite the devastating season three finale I’m going to be sitting here frantically awaiting the arrival of the fourth season (and maybe watching “The Princess Bride” on repeat after Cary Elwes popped up in the series).

“Stranger Things” is rated TV-14 and has three seasons available on Netflix. Audiences might also enjoy “On My Block” another youth led Netflix series.