Stranger Things Season 2 is Nostalgic, Scary & Fun; A Great Expansion on The Universe (Review)

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If you have access to the internet at all, then you know that the highly anticipated sophomore season of Stranger Things is finally on Netflix. Is it worth the wait? Is it better than the first season? With it being Netflix’s hottest and most important new original series, the pressure is definitely on. The Duffer Brothers have nicely expanded on the Stranger Things Universe with this second season, and added more depth to our beloved characters (along with a few new characters). Let’s talk about what worked this season and what didn’t work. There might be some spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you haven’t binged the new season yet.

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One thing you need to know before you start the season is that it takes a little while to get going. The first 3 episodes are good, don’t get me wrong, but they serve more as an introduction to the new season and new characters while also reminding you of our beloved characters from season 1. It picks up a year after the intense battle with the Demogorgon, showing how Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, and Eleven are adjusting to life now. The 80s nostalgia is EXTREMELY heavy in season 2. Everywhere you turn there is another arcade game and 80s style car. I think the nostalgia worked well, but it was a bit much after a few episodes. There are also a few new characters along for the ride. Will’s mom Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) has a new boyfriend, Bob Newby (Sean Astin). He is a huge technical nerd and a solid addition to the series. Sean Astin is just great and he plays a nerd so well. He had some really funny scenes. Max (Sadie Sink) is the new girl at school and her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is very overprotective and pretty much an asshole. Personally, I don’t think either of them added much to the series overall. Max spends most of the season acting like she doesn’t care about being part of the gang, then slightly getting in with them and flirting with Lucas while being crushed on by Dustin. Billy is just awful most of the season. Not acting wise, just as a character. The problem with them is that they’re both pretty one-dimensional.

I thought that the development of the main characters was pretty inconsistent. It felt like this season mainly focused Dustin, Lucas, Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve. Their characters got more development and screen time. This totally worked for them and was executed well, I loved learning new things about these characters and seeing their relationships grow was nice. Season 1 revolved around all of the younger kids riding their bikes around together trying to solve the mystery, and quite frankly it was awesome. The problem with this season is that most of the younger kids spent time apart. Eleven isn’t even with the gang the entire season. She spends most episodes in hiding with Sheriff Jim Hopper. Their relationship was fine, but it just sucked seeing her apart from them for most the season. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) didn’t get much development at all. He pretty much feels like the same character from season 1, which is really disappointing because of him freshly coming off the widely successful “IT” movie. I was hoping to see some of those acting chops with his character. Will Byers, who spent most of the first season missing, got a substantial amount of screen time in this season. It was great seeing more of him and his struggles with The Upside Down. Overall, the characters were really good funny, it just needed more consistency.

There was a lot that worked with Season 2 of Stranger Things. One of the main things I loved was how the writing helped assist the expansion of the universe. The Upside Down from Season 1 was super interesting and scary, and Season 2 did a fantastic job of showing us a little more of it, but not too much. It was given to us in small doses each episode and that works so well opposed to overdoing it and giving us all Upside Down content the entire season. The episodes all connect very well (minus one episode in particular that felt super out-of-place). The way this show is written is simply a great mixture of humor, horror, and suspense.The last few episodes are some of the best in the entire series. Expect to be on the edge of your seat on episode 8 and on the ground during episode 9. Without spoiling too much, there is a school dance in the last episode and it is truly home to some of the most touching scenes in the season. I found myself fighting back tears and poor little Dustin was trying to find a girl to dance with. It was nice seeing some touching moments like that in a show that is driven by horror and humor.

Stranger Things Season 2 is definitely worth your time and as a whole it is a strong sophomore season. There were some new characters that didn’t quite work and a few that did. With the way the season ended, I’ll be interested to see where they go from here. What’s cool about this season is that it doesn’t really feel like a typical 2nd season for a show. It feels like a really long sequel to a movie instead, and this is super interesting because not many shows make me feel this way. I think The Duffer Brothers need to focus on character consistency more in season 3 and they need to keep doing what they’re doing with how they reveal things about The Upside Down. Do yourself a favor and binge through this season very soon.

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