The second season of Stranger Things is out on Netflix and I’m a huge fan of the first season and in my opinion it’s the best show Netflix ever produced. The cast is perfect, the story is intriguing and dark, and the characters, especially the young cast, are extremely likeable. The first season to me is near flawless in it’s execution and I was pumped out of my mind for season 2 and while it’s not as good as season 1, it is still an entertaining season full of twists and turns and surprises.
This season starts shortly after the finale of the first season, where Eleven has disappeared in the Upside Down and Will Buyers is still dealing with the aftermath of being trapped in it. Most of his friends start to view him as a freak and an outcast and his mother Joyce is starting to worry about her boy who is having visions of the end of the world and the Upside Down.
Hopper, meanwhile, is hiding Eleven, who escapes the Upside Down almost instantly after season 1 and must stay hidden from the bad men who are still after her. Hopper takes care of her, for better or worse, and their chemistry is pretty good this season, but Eleven is barely present, even though she was arguably the main character in the first season of the show. Here, she could have returned episode 8 from the Upside Down and really if you think about it, it wouldn’t have things changed much.
She’s there for Hopper’s character growth and not much else, which leads to my biggest gripe with this season, which is episode 7: The Lost Sister. This episode is by far the worst episode of Stranger Things. It feels out of place and it completely breaks the momentum of the season. The opening of a season sets the tone for what’s to come and the opening of this season started off with new characters on a highway chase with cops and this girl with special powers that can create illusions for people. This opening scene lies to us by giving us these characters in episode 7 even though it tells us they’re going to have a much bigger role in the season. The Lost Sister was badly written and had extremely unlikeable characters and was quite simply boring.
You didn’t need the episode for Eleven’s character arc. She would have come back easily to save Mike with just a vision since she is completely in love with him and would have gone to him without a hesitation which she does at the end of the episode. I get why they did it. These characters are probably going to be important in the future. But it reminded me of The Leftovers’s season 2 premiere, where your so invested in the main character’s storyline, but the show changes direction completely for and you’re wondering why on earth the writers decided to do this. Was it because Netflix wanted 9 episodes instead of 8, which was just the right amount last year? Who knows.
The season also takes a while to find it’s footing. The story is a slow burn and for the first 5 episodes you start wondering where this season is heading, but the last 2 episodes completely make up for the first half. And not that the first half is bad, it’s just that it feels like it meanders a bit compared to the first season. But the last 2 episodes of season 2 are amazing and are emotionally resonant and character driven. So much so, that Steve is now one of my favorite characters of the show. He was someone I really didn’t like in season 1 and at the beginning of season 2 but his character arc is awesome and he’s gone from the bully to being extremely likeable.
Season 2 also sees the addition of a girl named Max and her abusive brother. While Max’s presence was clearly a replacement for Eleven and a way to cause drama between the boys, her character wasn’t interesting enough for the amount of screen time she got. And her brother, a Zack Efron lookalike, was even worse and the season felt like it needed to always go back to their storyline which was one of the least interesting things from season 2.
Sean Austin also gets a supporting role and he’s terrific. The Lord of The Rings are my favorite movies of all time, so I always love seeing Sean in movies or Television. He’s great here and he adds a nice levity to the show. He’s going out with Joyce and he’s a nice boost of positive energy for the Buyers.
Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship grows stronger after Nancy and Steve breakup and they decide to unmask Hawkins’s secrets to the world and find justice for Barb’s death (a character I could care less about). Their campaign in season 1 was fun and entertaining, but here it feels a bit forced but the kids do have chemistry.
The creature effects and gore have improved since season 1 and the lore is slowly building. The world of Stranger things is expanding and I am more than dying to see what season 3 has in store for us.
Overall, Season 2 is a decent follow up to the original Stranger Things. It’s not breaking any new grounds and there the narrative isn’t as strong as season one, but the characters, the smaller moments, the tension, the mysteries, the stakes, are all still present, and offer a pretty entertaining season and leaves us begging to find out more about the world of the Upside Down.