I was prepared to really dislike season three, after hearing what a lot of people had to say. So many of the main characters of seasons 1 and 2 were gone, or incredibly under-used. I missed Yuuno, and Nanoha's family back on earth. The opening seemed too much in the standard 'kid introduction' mode. There were new characters to get to know. But it turns out that the intro and the facetime of the new characters is actually central to the plot. I won't say much more on this, because it's Spoilers Ahoy if I do.
It starts off slowly, but I saw the same thing happen in season 1, so I was willing to sit and wait. My patience was rewarded, as Chekhov's Guns and Chekhov's Skills get distributed about like chewing gum. And then there's Vivio, who's obviously a HUGE plot device waiting to go off, even if she's cute as a button. Watching Nanoha and Fate get so attached is just really fun, even though you know she's not an ordinary girl and what that usually leads to.
As we see just how big the threat really is, we start waiting for Nanoha to start 'befriending' everything that moves. And sure enough, episode 17 is the Wham Episode
, where we learn several things that have been plotted out in great detail since the first minute of the first episode. The last quarter of the entire series is one enormous battle being fought on multiple fronts simultaneously, and every Chekhov's Gun gets fired spectacularly. Nanoha's Crowning Moment Of Awesome
(and its aftermath) is - all by itself - enough to get me to watch it again. But it is not as tightly scripted as season 2, and there's an annoying dissonance because we have blithely dropped so many characters from prior sesasons.