“Stranger Things 2” Keeps its Promises (and Gives a Few New Ones, Too)
Written by Kellie Nock on November 1, 2017
The long-awaited season 2 of Netflix’s hit series “Stranger Things” released this weekend on October 27. This comes more than a year after the first season, which originally released July 15, 2016.
The first season received a very solid 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, which gave Netflix and creators The Duffer Brothers, a difficult task: living up to the hype. Those extra three months added another level of anticipation to the year-long wait. So I’m here to give you my honest opinion. Did it live up to the hype? Yes and no.
Major spoilers ahead. Don’t read anymore if you don’t want to be spoiled for seasons one or two. Okay, I warned you.
Season 2 starts off a year after the first, and the characters’ lives are subsequently, a little different. Joyce is dating Bob Newby (played by the lovable Sean Astin), Eleven is living in a remote cabin tucked away from prying eyes with Sheriff Hopper and the boys are entering their eighth grade year.
But there’s obviously unrest as Will, still suffering the effects of the Upside Down a year later, has recurring visions of a monstrous, multi-armed shadow beast in the Upside Down. It’s an imposing threat, if not a little vague, but the same could be said about last season’s main villain, the Demogorgon. Will’s arc is exciting and properly terrifying as it follows a possession storyline not dissimilar to those you might see in a modern horror movie. Noah Schnapp, who plays Will, does a great job with some heavyweight acting, a big change from his smaller role last season.
While Will’s storyline takes center stage, the other plots were satisfying too. Nancy’s subplot with Jonathan was a fun foray into the conspiracy side of things and the conspiracy theorist/vodka-enthusiast they work with added some much needed levity to the plotline. While I know a few weren’t happy with the development in Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship, I’m glad they got it out of the way. The tension has been present since season one, and having the writers drag it out any longer might get tired.
I enjoyed Eleven’s plotline of finding her mother and “sister” until she actually found her sister. The episode, titled “The Lost Sister” completely breaks the momentum built by the previous episodes. The season hits an uncomfortable wall and we are transported to Chicago to follow the “X-Men”-esque, punk-rock adventures of Eleven’s sister. It’s my least favorite episode in the entire series, just for the fact that it doesn’t fit in. Nothing really pushes Eleven’s character forward, and it reads as a setup for the next season to introduce more of Eleven’s siblings.
Outside of that episode, my main complaint with the rest of the season was primarily Mike taking a backseat to the rest of the boys. While I love Dustin and Lucas, and the screen time they received this season, I felt as though Mike had such a large role last season, it was strange that his main role this season was to brood.
But, by far, my favorite character’s development this season was Steve Harrington. Joe Keery is so charming in this role, that a character who was originally supposed to be a jerk jock, has become a fan favorite. His role in the final act of the season as group babysitter/dad was funny and heartwarming, and one of my favorite parts of the season.
Of course, I couldn’t go without mentioning my two favorite characters, Hopper and Joyce. Winona Ryder owns the role of Joyce, and seeing her ups and downs in this season was a testament to that. Hopper gets to play dad this season not only to Eleven, but to the others as well. His transformation from grumpy sheriff to slightly-less-grumpy dad was another favorite part of the season, and I hope this is something that the writers choose to expand on for next season.
Overall, season two was a good, solid follow-up to season one. It addressed the complaints (Barb, Eleven’s family, more of Dustin and Lucas) while still maintaining an identity of its own. The new characters integrated into the cast smoothly (with the exception of Eleven’s sister, who I was not a fan of) and the plotlines made sense. There were a few bumps here and there, but nothing that took away from the overall quality of the season. Now we just have to wait and see what the writers will do for season three, but for now I’ll be rewatching seasons one and two to tide me over.