Only read on if you have either watched Stranger Things: Season 2 or don’t mind major plot points being spoilt as I will be discussing at length new developments this season. You have been warned.
Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLochlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser.
Plot: One year after Will Byers was rescued from The Upside-Down by his friends, he starts to experience strange visions that lead him to believe The Upside-Down may not be done with him just yet.
A little over a year ago a phenomenon was born, Netflix placed on to its streaming platform a 9-part science fiction drama with a heavy focus on popular culture & 80’s nostalgia. Suffice to say, Stranger Things was a resounding success and signified a seismic shift in the way shows on streaming platforms were viewed. Fast forward a year and Season 2 has arrived to a fervent reception but does it live up to its first season or has difficult second album syndrome set in? Stranger Things: Season 2 succeeds in delivering on the promise that the first season gave in abundance. Doing what all good sequels should do, Season 2 expands on the story woven in it’s opening season and goes bigger on the scares & action. This seasons additions of new characters has been mostly hit and a little miss, the expansion of the Upside-down’s denizens particularly The Mindflayer has been awesome and new relationships forming between the established characters has yielded some great results also.
Getting first onto new characters, The characters of Bob and Dr Owens were both excellent, Sean Astin’s relentlessly chirpy yet effortlessly likeable nerd Bob was a nice addition as Joyce’s new boyfriend, a role it would have been nice to see expanded upon on Season 3 but alas, it was not to be, ending up regrettably as Demogorgon food and possibly becoming this season’s Barb, I am expecting to see some justice for Bob hashtags anytime now. The ever brilliant Paul Reiser as Dr Owens was also a great addition this season, initially feeling a little like his character in Aliens, Carter Burke, with some shady motivations early on and ultimately turning out to be a pretty stand up dude by the season close was a nice little convention defying arc. I wasn’t really sold on Max, every tomboy cliché wrapped up into one and plonked on a skateboard with very little else to do, with some more interesting character development other than being a tired trope, she may become a character I’m more invested in, right now? Meh. As for her brother, Billy, what’s wrong with this dude?! So angry! Is it because he looks more than a little like Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs? Possibly, I think he’s just a lazy antagonist clone to make up for the decision to make Steve slightly less of a douche this season, Billy MORE than makes up for it, arch-douche of the highest order.
We are given some reliably strong performances from the returning cast members with some interesting relationships forming this season. The central characters of Mike, Lucas, Dustin & Will all enjoy the same level of cohesion as last season, their back & to camaraderie is still present and feels even stronger this season now these characters are familiar to us. An unlikely teaming of Dustin & Steve has been on of the unexpected high points of this season, Steve almost taking Dustin under his wing and offering sage advise to the lovable nerd, unexpected and strangely sweet. The strongest turns this season belong to El & Hopper, now living a secluded ‘father & daughter’ life away from the outside world in an effort to keep El safe, that dynamic is an absolute revelation, Millie Bobby Brown & David Harbour act their arses off this season and to see the evolution of that relationship going forward is going to be very interesting.
The expansion of the Stranger Things universe this season with respect to The Upside-down and the beings that reside there has been pretty cool, particularly the introduction of The Mindflayer, a gargantuan Lovecraftian nightmare of a creature, used sparingly but with great effect and the final reveal of the season letting us know we haven’t seen the last of it was pretty sweet. The Demogorgon’s return on mass this season along with a baby Demogorgan raised by Dustin called d’Artagnan or Dart for short, kinda like adopting a little hairless, mutated wolf cub, you think you have him tamed but he could bite your face off at any moment.
Stranger Things: Season 2 is excellent, it really is, it takes what came previously and runs with it in new and interesting ways. If I was to nitpick for something to gripe about this season, they do try and re-play on some of the beats from the first season on occasion, the communication through Christmas lights in season 1 is replaced with drawings in season 2, El and her Eggo’s turns to Dart being partial to Three Musketeer bars. It’s clutching at straws to gripe about those things, it genuinely is and that’s all I have to be honest. If you loved Season 1, you are going to love Season 2, it thrills & entertains in the same way whilst expanding and evolving as any great TV show should, roll on Season 3.
Stranger Things: Season 2 is currently available to stream via Netflix.