Nov 3, 2018

[TV] Stranger Things: Season 2 Review

I somehow missed out on writing a proper review for the second season of Stranger Things for one reason, but here we are more than a year later trying to catch up. It's with some regret that we haven't had a new season of the show just yet given the recent conclusion of Halloween for the year, but we haven't heard the last of our friends from Hawkins, Indiana.

This second season remains tied quite tightly to the first season in terms of its narrative and tries to answer a good number of questions we all had at the end of the first season. The larger problem of the Upside Down is one that wasn't exactly "solved" in the first season - it was merely something that our protagonists were able to stall and later escape. Not everyone survived the experience.

Synopsis: Stranger Things is an American science fiction horror series created by The Duffer Brothers. As of the time of this blog review the third season is expected to be released sometime in 2019 with the show most likely to end after a fourth season.

A large part of the second season centers around Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), the young boy how had been the subject of the rescue mission that largely defined the first season. Getting back into a normal routine has been difficult for him as he continues to have nightmarish visions of the Upside Down crossing over into their world again - particularly an image of a gigantic spider-like creature looming over the town.

At the same time, we also discover that Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), the young girl with psychokinetic abilities, had somehow survived the events of the first season and was now living in hiding under the care of Jim Hopper (David Harbour), the chief of police. He has been keeping out of the public eye in order to prevent her from being taken by the government or other interested organizations given her special abilities. But things begin to stir anew in the town and all roads will converge with our protagonists coming back together.

What I Liked: The show is blessed with some amazing talent, particularly our group of young actors who are the true heroes of this show. This season also introduces Max (Sadie Sink), the tomboyish younger sister of Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), who makes for an interesting addition to the party and an odd stand-in replacement for Eleven for most of the season.

The overall story for this season is amazingly tight and is truly a natural progression of what had been established in the first season. You could think that the first season left things nicely tied up but this second season stresses just how many loose ends there are. The Upside Down is a much larger problem and it will take more than defeating a single creature in order to stop the incursions. And how it all mostly falls on the shoulders of these kids makes for some great storytelling.

What Could Have Been Better: I could have done without the very stereotypical friends fighting over a girl. Sure they handled this story arc better than most including Max making sure to stand up for herself. But the fact that it came up at all felt like a safe track to take. It wasn't entirely bad and had some entertaining moments but I think we could have done without it.

Billy being all dark and brooding was a weird sub-plot as well that felt like an odd side quest added to this whole adventure. It really just ended up being another bully story being allowed to continue on. This felt like so much noise amid the greater meta-plot still being addressed in the story.

TL;DR: Stranger Things had a very strong second season and resulted in quite the climax that somehow topped the struggle we saw in the first season. It's a great show that feels like it has a definite plan that it is trying to pursue and the world is all the better for it being around. And thus the season gets a full 5 monsters from the Upside Down out of a possible 5.

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