Netflix’s hit original show “Stranger Things” managed to step up to the next level with its second season which dropped in its entirety on Oct. 27.
“Stranger Things,” which follows a group of middle school boys from Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s, who find themselves fighting a monster from the realm they call “the Upside Down,” grabbed viewers’ attention from the get-go. While a slow start was clear, the second half of the season was filled with drama, action, love and laughs.
“Stranger Things 2,” the title of the second season, opens one year after the events of the first season. Hawkins Laboratory is now run by a different group of scientists. Our heroes, Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson – portrayed by Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo, respectively – have been reunited. And Joyce Byers, Will’s mother, played by Winona Ryder, is dating quite possibly the most underrated hero of season two in Bob Newby, played by Sean Astin.
Many things are still left unanswered at the season’s start. How has Will been acting since being freed from the Upside Down? Does anyone know if Eleven is alive or not? Are the new government people working at Hawkins good or bad?
One aspect the show continues to excel at in the second season isthe interaction between the kids. Many television shows and movies with child actors often have dialogue that sounds robotic or way too mature for 14-year-olds. This show demonstrated again it is an exception to that rule.
The dialogue in “Stranger Things 2” is crisp and even better than last season’s. The Duffer Brothers, the show’s creators, did a fantastic job writing this season for all the characters. The writing fits the narrative well. Nothing ever said by an actor feels random or out of place.
Dialogue aside, character development was a huge factor as to why this season was so great. Two characters that jump to mind for MVPs of this season are Will Byers and Steve Harrington. Will possibly went through even worse experiences than he did last season and Steve grew into even more of a likable, respected figure.
For Will, yes, getting trapped in the Upside Down while fending from the Demogorgon sucked. But being possessed by a shadow monster that controls you to kill multiple scientists and not remember your family and friends is entirely another level of torture.
Schnapp’s acting is spectacular, especially in the climactic scene in the season finale when his mom Joyce, his brother Jonathan and his sister, Nancy Wheeler, played by Natalia Dyer, use heat to force the shadow monster out of his body. Schnapp has several moments this season where he must act like he’s having a seizure, which he pulls off with the skill and precision of more experienced actor.
Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, was a jerk-turned-hero in season one, but season two sees him take on the role of group dad. Steve spends the second half of the season helping fight off the Demodogs with Dustin, Lucas and Max, the newest addition to the group.
Along with his new babysitter role, he must deal with heartbreak, as a drunk Nancy tells him she doesn’t love him in episode two. Steve’s mourning and attempts to reconnect with Nancy leads to the character change that fans all over social media have been raving about.
Not all things from this season were loved and adored, though.
Episode seven took a break in the midst of intense drama and action to visit season one darling Eleven. The psycokineticly-gifted girl discovers her real name is Jane and finds her “long-lost sister,” who lives alongside a gang of similarly gifted Hawkins alumni.
Her sister is named Kali and was in Hawkins at the same time Eleven was. Kali has the same number tattoo on her arm just like Eleven, but it reads 008. The episode follows Eleven learning how to harness her powers more with Kali’s help. It ends with Eleven ditching Kali and her vengeance-seeking group to go save her friends.
It’s not that the seventh episode is bad because it’s still a good episode. It was just poorly placed for this season. One could say that the season was a speeding train and episode seven was that train slamming to a halt. The drama comes to a complete stop just to have an episode that helps Eleven come to the realization that she needs to go back to Hawkins to save her friends.
Despite the slight misstep, “Stranger Things” exceeded all expectations for this season. The drama, comedy and action all blended together perfectly once again for a show that was close to never being made. After being rejected nearly 20 times, Netflix put its faith in the Duffer Brothers, and for two straight seasons, has turned the television world upside down.