Thus far in Stranger Things' brief existence, the show has consistently entertained, but the law of diminishing returns set in almost immediately.
Stranger Things season one knocked it out of the park. It was new, fresh, different, creepy, and it nailed the 80s aesthetic. The casting was inspired, the child actors extremely talented. Especially impressive, given it was an ensemble cast.
Season two, billed by the showrunners as Aliens to the original's Alien, had some genuinely spine-chilling, terrifying moments. It also had Bob Newby, superhero, one of the most lovable, kind-hearted fellows to ever grace a television screen. But it lost the plot at points, trying to do too much.
Season three? It's as if the Duffer Brothers took everything we loved about the 80s, threw it at a wall, and ran with whatever stuck. Russian villains and a Terminator style clone? Sure. The local mall as the centre of the universe? Let's do it. A Die-Hard style crawl through a ventilation system, only with a preteen instead of Bruce Willis? Sure, why not. An homage to The Thing? Well, that was a solid choice actually. An underground Soviet base in the good ol' US of A? Not so much.
That's not to say Stranger Things 3 was bad. It wasn't. Ultimately, it did what it set out to do: entertain, provide some scares, and further the storyline. Which episodes were hits, and which were misses? We've ranked them for you.
8. Suzie, Do You Copy
The original Stranger Things season opener featured one of the best cold opens of any television/streaming property. Right up there with the debut episode of Game of Thrones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and anything The X-Files conceived.
Season two's cold open skipped over the big cliff hanger from the first year, the fate of Eleven, and opened with a police chase featuring Kali, a.k.a. Eight, one of Eleven's lab "sisters," who has a similar set of psychic powers at her disposal.
Season three? We were treated to... the Russians. This was an interesting premise, but one that felt extremely hokey by the end of Stranger Things 3. The Russian "threat" felt more Boris Badenov than Egor Korshunov or even Ivan Drago. And the most interesting and fleshed out of any of them, Alexei, was quite literally the season's comic relief (but we'll get to that later).
The opening episode (Chapter 1., if you prefer), "Suzie, Do You Copy" does set up Dustin's long-distance girlfriend Suzie — and foreshadows the small but crucial role she'll play later in the story. We also get Mike and Eleven acting like horny teenagers (how old are these kids now?), lifeguard Billy, and ice cream shop Steve Harrington alongside Maya Hawke's Robin, one of the better additions to the season three cast.
Oh, and the Mind Flayer is back, but if you were paying attention to the end of season two, you already knew that. As season openers go, this was basically just setting up the board.