Updated: May 16, 2020
Stranger Things is a Netflix original show of which viewer and fan base has become huge since its first release in 2016. Netflix reported it to have had over 40 million people views is globally within the first 4 days of season 3’s release. It is one of my favourite shows and it was difficult to narrow down my favourite 5 episodes, however these just had to be for their brilliance in action, comedy and excitement.
5) Season 1, Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers
This episode just had to be in the top 5 list. We are immediately dropped into action and instantly are given a taste of how intense and exciting this show will be in the first shot. Even before the opening credits we are introduced to the ‘Party’ and then Will’s disappearance. This first episode makes us fall in love with all of the characters, especially Eleven, who the audience begins to emphasise with and wonder where the series will take her character. We are immediately drawn to where this show is going to take this group of kids and in the end we were not let down. The final scene shows the Party finding Eleven in the woods, a brilliant end to the beginning of the series.
4) Season 3, Chapter 5: The Flayed
The Flayed is an episode jam-packed with action as well as humour. It begins with the ‘Scoop Troop’ stuck in the elevator plummeting down, then an intense fight scene between Hopper and Grigori, a Russian hitman, where we are shown Hopper’s feisty side. This episode also lets the audience get to know Alexei, who the audience loves. Many thought he was hilariously cheeky and was a great character to test the dynamic of Hopper. He was a key character in helping Hopper and Joyce against the Russians and was a short-lived character almost everyone loved. It was also an episode of the Scoop Troop bonding and a great character arc for Erica who, this season especially, had a more key role which lots of people enjoyed. Steve became even more of a ‘parental’ figure, which everyone loved after Season 2’s friendship of Dustin and Steve. Towards the end of this episode there was the hospital scene which is intense and another look at what the flayed are capable of. Overall an episode full of excitement.
3) Season 2, Chapter 8: The Mind Flayer
This is one of the best for its intensity and action that takes place all in one episode. We start by knowing that there are Demodogs on the loose in Hawkin’s Laboratory where Bob, Joyce, Will and Mike are trapped. We are then given a sight into Billy’s life at home with his abusive dad, this gives the audience some backstory on why Billy may also be abusive and a bully. Bob became the hero of this episode and any doubts people may have had of Bill’s trustworthiness or authenticity was cleared up as he saved everyone. His death was heart-breaking and felt as a large loss across the characters. Mike comes up with the idea to interview Will in a place he does not know, this lead to the iconic scene set to The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go. This scene is what made this episode feel so special, we are given so much insight into Will’s past relationships as well as the cleverly interpreted morse code. Noah Schnapp’s acting is amazing and perfectly captures how Will must've felt being controlled by the Mind Flayer. The end to this episode is another blast of excitement as Eleven telepathically throws a Demodog through a window, setting it up perfectly for the final episode of Season.
2) Season 3 Chapter 6: E Pluribus Unum
This episode had many iconic moments that went in and out of comedy, calm and intensity, it starts strong with Eleven fighting the Mind Flayer. The monster is terrifying and a delight to the eyes as we see what it is capable of. It also brings us the iconic moments of Alexei and
his slurpee who was part of the reason why this episode is one of my favourites. We are also reintroduced to Murray Bauman who was a much loved character throughout the last two seasons and made this episode even better with his general humour and character. The audience became closer with Robyn who, newly introduced this season, has become a favourite. We watched as Robyn and Steve became closer whilst imprisoned in the Russian base and many began to ship them, obviously this was to be shut down soon after. This scene was especially beautiful to see as we watch two people who were previously so different bond. Eleven took the audience with her as she found out about Billy’s youth through a sequence of key moments of his past that seemed
to have shaped him into what he is like today. This scene felt almost like a nightmare Eleven was trapped in and she ends up at the barn, where Billy and the Mind Flayer is. However instead of leaving the Void like usual, she is in another sort of dream world with Billy. Billy says that she’s “let them in'' and then reveals how the Mind Flayer has “built up an army”. Everything about this finish of the episode, the music, the Mind Flayer absorbing up it’s ‘army’ to make itself bigger was an excellent finish that put the entire audience on the edge of their seat.
1) Season 3, Chapter 8: The Battle of Starcourt
This is my favourite episode of Stranger Things, due to it being a rollercoaster from start to finish. Eleven telepathically removes a part of the Mind Flayer from her own leg within the first three minutes, which already began how amazing this episode was. The scene with the Scoop Troop driving up to Dustin’s radio felt almost coming of age, which I feel was important as we were reminded that these people fighting this monster are kids and they will act like kids. Joyce and Hopper’s relationship develops forward when they are in the Russian bunker which I think was only necessarily written in to make Hopper’s supposedly death even more heartbreaking. Part of this reason this is my favourite episode is because of the monster and how incredibly crafted he is. He looks utterly terrifying which was a delight to the audience who love thrillers and horrors. The Mind Flayer is so destructive and huge I think it made up for some moments in this episode people viewed as pointless and unnecessary. For example, the ‘NeverEnding Story’ duet between Suzie and Dustin which, in many people's eyes, was a waste of time and felt like a joke. In my opinion I thought it was odd and a weird addition to this intense scene, however I thought it brought humour to the Mind Flayer chasing Steve and Robyn in the car and made it only more intense. It also gave Suzie an actual role instead of being this odd side character who had never been seen before.
The scene where the kids are fighting the Mind Flayer and Billy was a masterpiece to watch as they were chucking colourful fireworks at it, I think this gave a nice spin to the usual big monster fight. Eleven and Billy shared a calm moment in the chaos in the ‘the wave was 7 feet’ scene, which was an interesting contrast from the near scenes, he is shortly killed by the Mind Flayer after saving Eleven, which was heartbreaking to watch. This was soon followed by the intensive scene of Joyce pulling the button to stop the opening of the gate and ‘killing’ Hopper.
Following this was the three month later scenes, which was part of the reason this is my favourite episode. I think the Byers and Eleven moving house was a satisfying and realistic ending as they can move on from their past in Hawkins and start a new chapter, especially as Eleven’s powers do not work anymore. Hopper’s letter to Eleven left many people in tears, it truly concluded this season and the two previous seasons. It was a message about growth,