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Stranger Things Season 3 Episode 1, ‘Suzie, Do You Copy?’ Reminds Us What We Love About the Show

Stranger Things Season 3 Episode 1 Do You Copy Suzy
Photo Credit: Netflix

It’s easy to forget that Stranger Things was something of a surprise hit when it first premiered in 2016. The show has become a cultural touchstone and the poster child for Netflix’s success model but it, for a brief period of time, felt like a random sci-fi show being dropped on the streaming platform with a mostly unknown cast and minimal fanfare.

But, three seasons in, anyone can see what it is that makes Stranger Things a hit. While mileage will vary based on how willing you are to give into the nostalgia, The Duffer Brothers’ unironic affection for blockbuster cinema has something infectious about it. While it borrows liberally from the blockbusters that came before, it clearly prioritizes entertaining the audience above all else. And it mostly works… this has a four-quadrant appeal that Hollywood is lacking these days. “Suzie, Do You Copy?,” the first episode of Season 3, wastes no time in reminding you of how entertaining this series could be.

On the Upside Down side of things, only a few breadcrumbs are dropped. We see some evil Russian scientists scheming, a fairly effective gross-out scene involving rats leaves hints about what’s to come, and a creepy cliffhanger sets up the Demagorgon’s evil plans. But Stranger Things has never really been about this sci-fi stuff… the mythology is incredibly simple, and always boils down to a classic fight of good vs. evil.

This is a show about the characters and “Suzie, Do You Copy?” wisely leans on them. The central theme of the season seems to be change, as the central kids are now teens and encountering the typical problems of puberty: they’ve got rude attitudes, they’re bored with their usual activities, and they’re really interested in dating. This incredibly well-cast ensemble of young actors are clearly having so much fun with their character’s new phases. Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp have always been the best of their peers, and they continue to impress as Eleven (now Elle) and Will, respectively. The group dynamic remains fun, and it’s a pleasure to see them all together, but watching tension emerge between them seems like a welcome change of pace.

But the adults have plenty to do, too. Winona Ryder and David Harbour have one lovely scene together where Joyce tries to coach Hopper on how to parent a teenage girl, which showcases the terrific chemistry between the two actors. Joe Keery is also a total blast as the group mom/reformed bad boy Steve Harrington, who seems to have a lovely subplot for the season as his character takes a job at the town’s new mall. He also has a great scene partner in newcomer Maya Hawke, who has the same subtle comedic skills as her mother, Uma Thurman. And Natalia Dyer has a fantastic new Working Girl-esque arc as she takes a job at the local paper, but is stuck dealing with a sexist editorial board that won’t take her seriously as a journalist. Dyer has always been an under-appreciated player in this cast, and it will be great to see what she does with this arc.

Basically, “Suzie, Do You Copy?,” works as a season premiere because it lets the cast welcome us back. The Duffer Brothers are clearly happy to be back behind the camera, and tell the story with a sense of relaxed confidence that most studios won’t let their blockbuster directors have. The premiere is as engaged with spectacle as they are with the quiet character moments, and that’s always been what makes the show work. I’m excited to see where the story goes, but I’m honestly more interested in seeing what these characters do.

Stranger Things Season 3 Episode 1, ‘Suzie Do You  Copy?’ is now streaming on Netflix.


Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor
Matt Taylor is the TV editor at The Pop Break, along with being one of the site's awards show experts. When he's not at the nearest movie theater, he can be found bingeing the latest Netflix series, listening to synth pop, or updating his Oscar predictions. A Rutgers grad, he also works in academic publishing. Follow him on Twitter @MattNotMatthew1.


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