Review: “Stranger Things 2”

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Review: “Stranger Things 2”

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SPOILER FREE SECTION

(However, season one is free game by now, because come on if you have not seen it by now what are you doing)

This past friday, Netflix released the second season of 2016’s surprise, summer hit Stranger Things, aptly named Stranger Things 2. To no one’s surprise Matt and Ross Duffer, professionally known as The Duffer Brothers, have punched us straight in the 80’s nostalgia gland again, taking us back to the year 1984 and to Hawkins, Indiana a full year after the events of Stranger Things season one.

The season continues to have the same charm as the first, with a lovable cast, intriguing storyline, and nostalgia out the wazoo, but is still fresh and continues to develop and stay true to its characters.

It seemed like there was not as much of a feeling of mystery as last season, it had so many more questions: What is the monster (heck we did not even see it until the end of episode 5 of 8)? Where did the monster come from? Who is eleven? How is the government involved? Where is Will? The second season lacks this much mystery, but makes up for it by using the space to further character development and tell a more detailed story.

The story itself is on a much grander scale, starting out with all of the surviving characters from last season, RIP Barb, rather than the gradual including of all characters during the first season. The story of the second season spans all of Hawkins, and has multiple subplots, but is manageable and easy to keep track of all of the different stories and characters. However, all the subplots are related to the main story and come together beautifully for the conclusion.

This new season also quadruples down on the horror of the first season. While labeled as a horror series, the first season was more of a suspenseful-thriller than a horror series, but season two more than makes up for it.

This season was a great sequel to the first, furthering the characters in a meaningful and engaging story that is sure to make you want to binge it until early the next day.

SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS

(You have been warned…)

This season especially, there is a distinct humanity to the characters that is not found often. Every character, including side characters, have depth and multiple sides to them. The show avoids character stereotypes, with a few exceptions of course, but only in side characters. Some characters such as Bob Newby, Joyce’s new boyfriend, and Billy Hargrove, start out as stereotypes. Bob is a cheesy, geeky tech nerd that is trying his best to fit into the Byers family, but shows bravery later in the season when he dies in saving Joyce, Will, Mike, and Hopper from Hawkins Laboratory. He is fleshed out as a real, personal character. Billy Hargrove, who is set up to be the human antagonist of the series is revealed to be the product of an emotionally abusive father and broken family life.

Despite not participating too much in the main conflict of the season, we see a lot of character development for Eleven. She visits another one of the children kidnapped and experimented on at Hawkins, Eight. She now goes by Kali has formed a gang and is hunting those who worked at Hawkins Laboratory. Kali takes Eleven under her wing and helps teach her how to use her powers. When Eleven goes on one of their missions, she is unable to kill the former employee of Hawkins Lab because he is the father of two daughters. So, when the gang is discovered by the police, she decides to go back to Hawkins to help her friends who she senses are in trouble. She does not give into her anger like Kali does, she matures past her anger, seeing how she can better use her powers to help her friends. However, it is recognized that her anger will always be a part of her, based off of her using her anger to close the gate.

We also get a heaping helping of #JusticeForBarb this season, answering many questions fans had about whether Barb’s parents cared that their daughter had mysteriously disappeared or not. Early in the season we see that her parents have hired a private investigator to find their daughter, who they believe to have run away, even going so far as to sell their house to pay for the investigator. We also see the weight of Barb’s death on Nancy and Steve, who feel partly responsible for Barb’s death.  Barb was not meant to be this significant of a character in the series, but after the fan base became attached to her, she had to be included in the second season. The Duffer Brothers did a good job with making sure it did not feel shoehorned in. It feels like a legitimate part of the story.

Also, FINALLY Nancy and Jonathan are a couple. It only took the observations and straightforwardness of Murray Bauman, the private detective that Barb’s parents hired, to make the two realize they were meant to be together, something we have been waiting for SINCE SEASON ONE.

This season was a great sequel to the first, smoothly continuing the story, and development of characters. The show stays true to its characters, and manages to stay interesting. The season ends on the cliffhanger of the Mind Flayer looming over the school in the upside down, so there are definitely plans for a third season. The Mind Flayer will most likely return, the gate to the upside down will open again somehow, and a new adventure will ensue.

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