The standout performer this time is newcomer Maya Hawke (daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman)
Her special powers are taxed to the max, scene after scene and episode after episode, as she battles That Which Can’t Be Spoiled. Season 3’s adventure — this much can be safely revealed — takes place over the summer of 1985: The kids ride up and down the escalators at the mall (Back to the Future is a hit at the multiplex), scarf down sundaes at Scoops Ahoy, sun themselves by the pool.
And Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) has just come back from camp, claiming he has a girlfriend named Suzie. No one is inclined to take him seriously, especially since he says they can communicate only by hand-assembled radio tower. These innocent, innocuous, not-at-all-strange things become crucial plot points as the dark force known as the Mind Flayer returns in an insidious new form.
This all makes for a very satisfying season — better than Stranger Things 2 — with a long, roaring climax that’s both funny and moving. The standout performer this time is newcomer Maya Hawke (daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman) as Robin, a no-nonsense dispenser of ice cream who’s also a font of ingenious, evil-fighting suggestions. Hawke has the beguiling, uncanny self-possession of the early Scarlett Johansson.
Stranger Things 3 drops Thursday on Netflix.