Welcome, everyone! My next subject will be one that I’m sure is familiar with- “Stranger Things”! Since it was released two summers ago, it has developed a dedicated fanbase, with the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, and the cast members, all enjoying the elevated amount of success that the show has given them. Not long afterwards, it was announced that a second series had been commissioned, to air in 2017. Now, 15 months later, that moment finally arrived, with the long anticipated second series being released on October 27th, just in time for Halloween.
We start off the new season in Halloween, 1984 in Hawkins, Indiana. After his ordeal in the Upside Down, a parallel version of our own universe, a year previously, young Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is struggling to adjust to his normal life after his rescue. But it doesn’t prove to be as easy as it sounds, as Will finds himself still being drawn back to the Upside Down at distressing times, much to the worry of his stressed mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) and protective older brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).
In other developments, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) is still reeling from the sudden disappearance of Eleven, their ally with telekintic powers (Millie Bobby Brown), after she sacrificed herself to save Mike and her other friends, Dustin (Gaten Matazzoro) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) from the threat of the Demogorgen, a creature from the Upside Down. They are befriended by a fiery tomboy named Max (Sadie Sink), whose surly demeanor masks a vulnerablity and emotional bullying at the hands of her brutish stepbrother, Billy (Dacre Montgomery). Dustin gets into some mischief of his own when he uncovers a strange creature in a nearby trashcan, which leads him to adopt him as a pet, with unforseen consequences…
However, Eleven is in fact safe, as she has been taken to a remote cabin by Chief Hopper (David Harbour), who keeps her out of harm’s way by supplying her with Eggo waffles (her Trademark Favourite Food). However, Eleven eventually gets restless over being constantly kept in the dark, and leaves Hopper in search of her catatonic mother, Terry Ives (Amy Mullins), where Eleven unearths her dark past, and uncovers another test subject from Hawkins Laboratory…
Mike’s sister, Nancy ( Natalia Dyer), is dealing with guilt following the demise of her best friend Barb (Shannon Purser) in the Upside Down, and has fallen out of love with her jerk with a heart of gold boyfriend, Steve (Joe Keery). As she and Jonathan try to bring justice to Barb and get Hawkins Laboratory to admit that they played a hand in her death. Much like in the first season, all these plots gradually come together to form the thrilling conclusion, which is just as much of a nail biter as you might expect from this show.
As you can imagine, I was a huge fan of the first series of “Stranger Things”, and was not disappointed by the second installment. The show has certainly gained more of a fanfare since it was initially released in 2016. Part of the show’s appeal was the 80’s nostalgia which takes inspiration from many Stephen King works and science-fiction films from that era.
If I was to mention some drawbacks of the season, however, I would cite that the first few episodes are rather slow paced, and it takes until about the fifth episode for the plot to really start moving forward. The slog is definitely worth the wait, though, as the conclusion definitely leaves you yearning for more. Also, there’s the infamously divisive “Lost Sister” episode, which follows Eleven as she joins up with a gang led by Kali (Linnea Berthel), who resents Hawkins Laboratory for depriving her of a normal childhood, and regularly carries out revenge on the people she deems responsible for her imprisonment. The main criticism against this episode appears to be that it takes place entirely in Chicago, meaning that no characters from Hawkins turn up, and that Eleven eventually returns to rescue her old friends, with her exploits from this episode seemingly having little to no impact on the reminder of the story.
Of the new characters introduced this season, my favorite would definitely have to have been Bob (Sean Astin), Joyce’s new boyfriend. He’s introduced as a nice, if overly dorky guy who likes “lame” things such as Kenny Rogers and the Michael Keaton flick “Mr Mom”, and who tries to bond with Will and Jonathan, but constantly finds himself rebuffed by Jonathan. When he tries to help Will combat his fear of the Mind Flayer, he inadvertledly winds up giving him some dodgy advice, which ends in disaster. However, he does end proving his worth.
On the other hand, I wasn’t as fond of Max as a character, since her obvious purpose was to cause drama within the main quartet of boys, as Lucas and Dustin both harbor obvious crushes on her, and Mike acts hostile towards her out of fear that Max is trying to steal Eleven’s spot in their group. Billy was another character I had mixed feelings about, since he was clearly meant to be Steve without any of his redeeming qualities. In one of the final episodes, we get a revelation into his abrasive behavior, which may be explored in the upcoming season.
In summation, the second installment of “Stranger Things” proves to be just as impressive as its preceding series. I give this season 4 out of 5 stars, as it offers some intense scenes, enthralling performances and heartfelt moments. Season 3 is set for release on July 4th, 2019, so it’s something to get excited about! Happy binging!