Stranger Things, the biggest netflix hit of 2016, came out of nowhere and grew rapidly into a worldwide sensation. I for myself binged the show three times in two weeks, trying to collect all the little easter eggs. I loved watching Mike and his friends combat the frightening situation they found themselves in, and I adored Eleven, the star of the show in my opinion.
Of course, ever since that couple of weeks last fall I have been waiting impatiently for season 2. And it finally came! I watched the first season again over the last couple of weeks, just to make it fresh in my mind, then went ahead and binged the second season over today, and I have to say I was thrilled with it. The newest season of Stranger Things, or the sequel, as they are calling it, went ahead with the characters and plot started in the first season, added some new people to the cast, and expanded with a couple of new and interesting plotlines.
Now, I’m going to try to write this review with as few spoilers as possible, for all you people who still haven’t watched the whole season. Though I have to ask ‘What’s taking so long! Come on, let’s go!” All joking aside, let’s get into it.
This second season was able to successfully carry the emotion and depth of the first season, something not easy to do, especially with a show as lauded as Stranger Things. Once something becomes that popular, the writers come under a lot of pressure to add stuff for fans, and that can really cause a show to lose what made it great to begin with. That didn’t happen, or not a lot.
To start with, Eleven is back. She is still just as badass as before, and just as heart-wrenching. Her new ally in Hopper was surprising to me, but really made sense when coupled with the moody police chief’s flashbacks in season 1. All in all, it really gave more of a human aspect to Hopper’s character. As to the boys, they are just as nerdy as ever, even as their heartwarming friendship is tested by tragedy, sickness, and new friends.
Speaking of new friends, Max, a newcomer just moved to Hawkins from California, really did bring something new to the show. Often when a show adds new characters it can really feel as if they have just been dropped in like the proverbial anvil, but Max’s arrival, and the boys’ struggle with whether she should be a part of their ‘party’, and how much she should know, really felt natural. She brings a certain aspect of rebellion and perkiness to the show that forced me to like her and left me hoping she is in Hawkins to stay.
The Duffer brothers, who wrote and directed the show, said in interviews that they were looking to take the themes from the first season and make them bigger, and they succeeded in their goal. They especially succeeded in starting to flesh out the Upside Down, making it less of a dark, empty dimension, revealing what drives it and some of what makes up its ecosystem.
They also revealed a little more of Eleven’s backstory, in her search for a sense of belonging in a world that is strange to her, and gave us a glimpse into the lives of other children involved in the experiment through Eight, a girl named Kali. Kali is a tormented and angry soul driven by a desire to take revenge on those who took away her family and childhood by any means, including her powers of mental imagery, and she really gives Eleven a reason to examine herself, to choose who she is going to be.
Through her solitary search we learn with Eleven the type of person she really is, and whether she is really a killer like Brenner created her to be, or a hero like Mike thinks she is. The emotional value of her struggle with herself made her stand-alone episode, which otherwise might have seemed a little out of place, stand with the rest of the story as an excellent addition to the story.
Along the way, she learns to increase her powers in a very Sithy Star Wars-like manner, tapping into her anger to increase her power. It can only be hoped that Season 3 now in the works can temper that anger with a little of the light side as well, since she now has people to love instead of just painful memories to take out on things. While heartwrenching, I foresee this anger causing a lot of conflict with her attempts to be a hero and be part of a family.
All in all, I loved the second season just as much as the first one. A couple of things disappointed me, firstly in that they didn’t continue with season one’s love for symbolism and easter eggs. Those were the real reason I watched season one so many times. I was trying to keep from missing any of them. And the last episode seemed to tie the end of the season up with a tidy little bow and a slight sense of foreboding, instead of the cliffhanger that ended season 1.
Part of the reason I waited so anxiously for season 2 was because I had so many questions from season 1. Questions like ‘Why did Hopper get in that car?’ ‘Why is he leaving Eggos in a box in the woods?’ ‘Why is Will choking up giant slugs?’ These questions are all answered in the second season, but there aren’t really any unanswered questions set up to herald season 3. From what I read the developers did that intentionally so as to keep from writing themselves into a corner, but I had really enjoyed all the conjecture and fan theories that arose from the way they ended the last season.
Of course, I still can’t wait for season 3, though I guess we’ll have to, since it will probably take a year or more to come out of development. In the meantime, I guess we’ll just have to watch season 2 a couple more times, and discuss what we think will happen next.
I give this season six stars out of five, and commend the Duffer brothers on successfully carrying on the appeal of the first season to the second. I hope they keep up the good work.
If you have any comments please leave them below. Especially if you have easter eggs from season 2. I love easter eggs.