By Chelsea Arangcon
After almost a year of waiting, the highly anticipated Stranger Things released its second season on October 27th. This season includes nine episodes, each roughly an hour long, and features a returning cast, as well as a few new faces: Max (Sadie Sink), Billy (Dacre Montgomery), Bob (Sean Astin), Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), and Murray (Brett Gelman).
The second season still takes place in the fictional town of Hawkins, approximately a year after Will Byers’ disappearance. After the events of last season, he’s back, although the entrance to Upside Down is still open and it’s packed with even crazier creatures and a lingering effect on Will. Still filled with its ecstatic 80’s charm, season two includes more Eggos, arcade games, way too many drawings, and plenty of Upside Down mysteries: the show’s horizons have broadened. The Duffer Brothers also give viewers a sneak peek to life outside of Hawkins, letting the audience see that the experiments at Hawkins Labs might be more complicated than the first season originally let on.
Shifting from a general view, this season just might be better than the first but only because viewers have already grown to love the characters. The series’ visuals are also at an all time high, as audiences are treated to larger spectacles than the first season.
Spoiler alert! If you have not finish the second season, do not read any further.
Admittedly, the second season did follow a predictable pattern that many viewers were able to predict from the final scene of season one. In particular, it was a bit predictable that the Upside Down had a hold on Will and wasn’t going to give him up easily. In fact, there were a lot of buzz before the season release that Will would actually become a monster before the season’s end. While they were not entirely wrong, “the Mind Flayer” worked well as a formidable antagonist that will surely grow more complex as the series continues.
Overall, this season provided some excellent development and provided more dimension to otherwise stagnant characters. Viewers can see characters grow and mature (slightly). Take crusty Steve–he morphs from the stereotypical popular jock into an adored babysitter/older brother/mom role for the group. It’s a strange way to go, but admittedly effective as it gives Steve a chance to interact with more of the cast.
Furthermore, it was really interesting seeing the evolution of the relationship between Chief Jim Hopper and Eleven. It was never expected these two to be such a good fit but taking in mind the circumstances of Eleven’s situation, the Duffer brothers set it up so flawlessly. Also, given Hopper’s tragic history from season one with his daughter, it was a nice change of pace to see him in a more paternal light.
New characters Max and Billy are welcome additions to the cast. Billy in particular makes for a useful human antagonist. His erratic (and vaguely racist) bullying is juxtaposed nicely with his good looks and charming nature. Viewers are constantly left wondering what the character will do next, which makes for a dynamic, tension-building experience.
It was also interesting to see parallel concepts from season one to two. For example, the relationships between Mike, Eleven, Lucas, and Max made for some excellent character development. In the first season, it’s obvious Lucas isn’t fond of Eleven joining their party, however warms up to her towards the end. It’s the same exact concept except with Mike and Max. Mike replicates Lucas’ same attitude towards Eleven but instead with Max, while Lucas mirrors Mike in the first season.
Also, Eleven and Mike’s reunion is definitely one of the best scenes in this season! The entire season built up to the moment nicely, providing an epic entrance with a truly heartfelt premise. This makes it all the more tragic and gut-wrenching when Eleven leaves to once again take on the monster to save her friends. This mirrors the ending to season one nicely, giving the audience a good idea of what’s at stake, especially for this newly reunited couple.
Naturally, with the conclusion of season two, there are already a lot of crazy fan theories out there. Some believe when Dustin and Chief Hopper were with an unknown substance in the Upside Down, they became its next victims like Will. Other fans suspect Kali (aka Eight) made it appear to Hopper that his daughter “died,” when she actually didn’t, paving the way for some dramatic twists and turns to come. Though they’re not all gold, these are only the tip of the iceberg and fans are encouraged to check them out for themselves.
In general Stranger Things season 2 provides a satisfying entry into the eccentric 80’s-themed series. Unfortunately, season 3 won’t be released until 2019. Until then, there’s always fanfiction.