Netflix has put out original series about everything from political dynasties to crime fighting and zombies, but the one that caught everyone off guard and had people chattering about it for months last year was “Stranger Things.”
The first season of the 1980s-style sci-fi thriller came out in July 2016, and as the show’s momentum grew, so did the expectations for a second season.
In the first season, viewers were introduced to the upside down, demogorgans and Eleven. Watching the journey of a group of kids after their friend, Will, goes missing right up until their new friend, Eleven, who has unusual powers, saves him and the rest of the town from the demogorgan monster is absolutely enticing.
The charm of the show not only lies within the ‘80s nostalgia but also the perfectly crafted balance between thrill and light-hearted humor. And as with all great movies and music, fans were scared that more would ruin it.
Season two brought changes that most fans would have never guessed – the heavier elements of the show like El alive and living with Hopper and the more lighthearted ones like the new character, Max, and the twists and turns in Nancy’s love life.
The season’s opening scene was absolutely the right choice. The confusion that engulfed the audience until it was revealed that one of the delinquents was another test subject, just like El, was exciting and gave viewers an extra spark of excitement for what was to come.
It was a brilliant move to bring in Kali, test subject number eight. The audience from the beginning of season one has been wondering about the other 10 poor kids that went through what El did.
But, Kali’s “gang of misfits” that goes around seeking revenge on those that wronged them is contrived. Out of all the possibilities of where Kali could have been and what she could have done to help El and her friends, the storyline the writers chose for Kali was a misfire. It’s even a bit cringe-inducing.
What gripped “Stranger Things” fanatics in the first season weren’t the ‘80s references and direct nods to ‘80s movies but the writers’ and directors’ way of making the audiences feel like it was literally filmed in the ‘80s. And the second season didn’t lose any of that magic.
The absolute best aspects of the entire series are the characters – each with their own complex, fleshed out intricacies. The child actors in this damn show are mesmerizing.
Millie Bobby Brown might as well already have a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood because her talent is palpable. The other child actors have 100 percent proven their abilities, and the new addition of Sadie Sink as Max definitely lives up to the high standards set for her in the previous season.
The actors aren’t to blame for the slight problems in season two; the writers are. While many decisions regarding the plot were brilliant and well done, some of them felt contrived and unfocused.
Dustin’s pet from the underground that ends up being a baby demogorgan was a great choice. The decision aligned with his character traits and gave fans something to wonder about from the beginning of the season. But the choice to just throw in a ton more demogorgans and a giant spider creature that inhabits Will with little-to-no explanation was misguided.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of “Stranger Things 2” is the lack of any type of explanation of the upside down. It was a good move to leave it ominous in the first season; it left room for expansion in season two. But to not address it in season two is pushing it. There’s only so long the plot can survive without an explanation of the upside down and backstory about the lab in general.
The best decisions the creators of the show made during the making of season two were Steve’s character development and Hopper and El’s relationship.
Steve, the douchebag that Nancy likes in season one, is a responsible, respectable guy at the end of season two. He looks out for the kids in all of their quests to take down the demogorgan, and he gracefully lets go of Nancy as her and Jonathan Byers’ relationship begins.
Hopper and El’s relationship feels so similar to a genuine, real father-daughter relationship. He’s intensely protective, and she’s a middle school aged girl with an independent spirit. The scene in the car in the last episode between the two of them is beautiful with emotional, believable dialogue.
From Lucas and Max’s budding tween romance to the development of the giant spider monster, season two had its ups and its downs, but by no means did season two ruin the “Stranger Things” magic. It did, though, create more questions than it answered. While a season three would be wholly unpredictable, there better be one, and one can only hope Will Byers has a better year in “Stranger Things 3.”