Sunday, July 21, 2024

Stranger Things delivers solid second season

If you’re anything like me, you couldn’t wait to order food, put on some sweats and binge watch Stranger Things season two in nine hours when it first released Oct. 27.

The first season revolved around the disappearance of Will Byers, which in turn reveals secrets about a small town in Indiana, including government experiments, supernatural abilities and a young girl with a strange tattoo labeled 011, otherwise known as Eleven.

The second installment is focused on the aftermath of Eleven’s disappearance and Will Byer’s strange behavior after being saved from the upside down.

Stranger Things season two had a lot of strengths. All of the actors were utilized well. Noah Schnapp was the clear standout from the children as he plays a very much possessed Will facing the devastating effects from being in the upside down.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Schnapp said that he studied possession in order to prepare for the role, and in my opinion, his performance is worthy of an Emmy nod. While Millie Bobby Brown was the star in season one, I’m glad the spotlight was shifted to Schnapp who was barely featured in the first season.

Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard were a bit underused in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, Eleven is still a badass this season, but it takes a while for that come to fruition as she isn’t with the main cast until the final two episodes. What makes her character so special is seeing her interact with Mike, Dustin and Lucas, so that little bit of nostalgia was missing.

There was a silver lining to this though as unexpected pairings, such as the popular Steve Harrington and the lovable goofball Dustin forming an endearing friendship, and Chief Hopper and Eleven forming a father/daughter relationship.

The character shifts were well-done too. We were expected to instantly love the Eleven and Hopper relationship, when in fact, there was a rocky road ahead for them. Additionally, we’re inclined as an audience to despise Steve, but he really turned into a character to root for as we see him being the ultimate babysitter for the children.

Other storylines, such as Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship is explored midway through the season.

Additionally, Eleven explores her relationship with her mother. However, the best subplot for me was Joyce Byers having the internal mom struggle of what to do with her child.
On one hand, Will is her son, and she wants to protect him. At the same time, his behavior is so strange that the kids and Joyce start to question who her son really is.

The additional characters really elevated the season for me too. Max was introduced as a “cool girl” initially. Though Max’s storyline with her brother was a bit random, I appreciated her relationship with Lucas being so sentimental with her guard being up and referring to him as “stalker.”

Joyce’s boyfriend played by former Goonies star Sean Astin was all kinds of nostalgia as he starts out as an innocent boyfriend helping Joyce cope with her son and turns into a key player in helping Joyce and Hopper figure out how to help conquer the upside down.

Overall, the season was solid. I think the first season had a much better pacing to the extent that it felt like a really long movie instead. This season suffered from stories being jumped from one to another, so it didn’t have the same epic nature of the first season feeling like one continuous story.

This season started out slowly, but it was really enhanced by the final two episodes, which were probably two of the best from the series. And if you go back and remember that Snowball Dance that Mike was talking about in season one, then you’ll be pleased to know that there was indeed a Snowball Dance, and it’s adorable.


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