Stranger Things Season 2 Review
Nostalgia is one of the hottest commodities in entertainment. In the summer of 2016, a new show emerged that knew this and took full advantage. That show is Stranger Things.
Now, fifteen months later, we have the second season of this hit show. It is a difficult task to follow up on a season as great as the first season of Stranger Things, but the creators of the show, Matt and Ross Duffer, delivered yet another stellar season.
While it may not be quite as good as the first, season two is definitely still top-tier television. Much of what made season one great, can still be found in season two.
Other than the 80s nostalgia, the excellent characters are what make the show so appealing. In season two, this is still the case, but there a couple of characters whose arcs could have been stronger.
It seems as if the writers just couldn’t think of anything to do with Mike this season. Essentially, all he does in the entire nine episodes is whine, sit by Will’s bed, bitch at Max, kiss Eleven and whine some more. Mike was one of the main characters of the first season, so it is bizarre that they wouldn’t give him anything to do, outside of his love story with Eleven.
What is even more strange, is that the same thing happens with Eleven herself. It almost seems like she is unnecessary to the show at this point and that the season would have been better if she had died in the final episode of last season. For most of the season, she serves as little more than an extension of Hopper’s story arch.
To be fair, this relationship between Eleven and Hopper is great, but if that is the only purpose a character as major as Eleven has to be in a season, then maybe it is better to not include the character at all.
Some might argue that Eleven was crucial to the resolution of the season, so this is why she must be included. I would argue that Eleven just showing up in the final episode, and fixing the problem instantly, is an ending that could easily have been written differently, without Eleven, and likely for the better.
Easily the worst part about the season was episode 7. This episode was effective in finally giving Eleven something to do, but it felt totally unnecessary. It was such a departure from the tone of the season up to that point, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the main plot of the show. I understand that it was probably added as a setup for story lines in the upcoming season, but it was still an eye sore, in an otherwise great season.
Other than Mike and Eleven, just about every character had a great storyline, with Will, Dustin and his defacto big brother, Steve, stealing the show. Steve has had the best overall character development of anyone on the show thus far. He went from an intolerable douche, in the beginning of season one, to now one of the most likeable characters. Seeing him play babysitter to the kids, and big brother to Dustin, was one of the best parts of the entire season.
The actor that plays Will, Noah Schnapp, was tasked with the immensely difficult task of displaying the various emotions his character goes through, while being psychologically tortured, and he absolutely nails it. Schnapp gives one of the best performances I have ever seen from a child actor, as I was truly able to understand the misery Will was going through.
The season’s main antagonist, the unnamed monster from the upside down, was the source of another major critique I have for the season. Maybe I am alone in this and simply missed something, but it seems as if the monster had no real goal, other than the generic “kill all the humans!…for no real reason… I’m just evil.” With such a vague motive, I never felt any real risk, since it was obvious all of the main characters have massive plot armor.
This season was clearly inspired heavily by Aliens and The Exorcist, in the same way that last season was inspired by E.T., and I loved that. The final few episodes of the season, when Will was being almost entirely possessed by the monster, were my favorite of the whole series. The only downside, is that it took a while to get to that point. The first half of the season is admittedly slow, but by the end you understand why it had to be that way, as there was a lot of required build up, in order for all the characters to meet up.
Season two is not without it’s flaws, but these flaws are not damaging enough to negate the great aspects of the show. It is a season filled with highs and lows, where the highs give us the best content out of the entire show, and the lows are easy to look past. In the end, this season did not disappoint and has me very excited for season three. I would say this season is deserving of a solid 8/10, with season one being a 9/10 for comparison.