Stranger Things Season 2 Review: The Upside Down Strikes Back!

Leggo my Eggos!

Netflix’s Stranger Things is one of the biggest mainstream television series ever released last year. The Duffer Brothers brought 80s throwbacks to this new generation of binge-watchers, and it’s working out so far with Season 2. Now the stakes are higher -as expected- but is it as good as the first season?

The Plot

(Photo: Netflix)

It’s been almost a year after the gang fought the Demogorgon, brought back Will (Noah Schnapp) from the Upside Down, and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) disappeared. All of the characters are still adjusting to everything that has happened. Sadly, Will Byers is the one facing the aftermath as he’s been having “visions” of the dimension and a huge monster closing by Hawkins. Chief Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) has been taking Will to the Hawking’s Lab – which is under new administration by Dr Owens (Paul Reiser) – in order to study these “visions” and find out what’s wrong with him.

Meanwhile, the gang found out a new girl named Max (Sadie Sink) beat Dustin’s (Gaten Matarazzo) record at Dig Out. Lucas (Calen McLaughlin) and Dustin are fascinated with the idea of her joining the gang, but it causes tension between her and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) as he isn’t in favor of it.

(Photo: Netflix)

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Steve (Joe Keery) are also adjusting to the Hawking’s Lab incident, but with no success. Steve is doing all he can to have a boring, teenage life, but Nancy still feels remorse for Barb’s death. This cause tension between the couple, and their relationship is put to question.

The Byers family are the lucky of the bunch (excluding Will). Joyce is dating Bob Newby (Sean Astin), an old acquaintance of hers in high school, who works at the local Radio Shack store. Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) is still the awkward teenager he’s been, but has been trying his best to fit in thanks to Nancy.

Finally, Chief Hopper is investigating a weird report of pumkins farms being rotten all of a sudden, which leads him to Hawking’s Lab. Meanwhile, he’s been keeping a secret from the gang. The secret is a spoiler itself, but will satisfy fans.

(Photo: Netflix)

The Good

Straight away, I REALLY liked this season. By no means it’s perfect, but the things that worked on this second chapter are great.

To me, this felt like an Empire Strikes Back kind of season, with characters being divided into the different scenarios mentioned earlier. Luckily, the storyline is better constructed this time around, following a more straight forward “Beginning, Middle, End” dynamic than the first season.

(Photo: Netflix)

What I liked is that it finally earned its identity. Rather than to keep on with the 80s nostalgia, they developed their own thing.

Now, I need to praise the stars of this whole show: The kids. Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and even Will, are still as dorky and lovable as ever. From playing video games at the local arcade to dressing up as Ghostbusters for Halloween. Eleven is still kick ass and awesome in this season, and even has a very deep character development this season that sets up for future seasons.

I liked that Noah Schnapp is finally given a chance to prove himself as Will this season as he receives more screen time. There was a specific scene almost at then end of the season that brought me chills and wish they could give him an Emmy nomination.

(Photo: Netflix)

Bob was a great addition to the team. He brings some funny moments and puts Joyce’s feet on the ground. It’s awesome that the brought an original Goonies actor to a series based on 80s (even making a reference to it).

But the best character of this whole season has to go to Dustin. He was so hilarious and charming, and stood out from all of the characters. Gaten Matarazzo brought his A-game this time around and deserved all the praises. 

The dynamic I really liked was between Steve and the kids, especially Dustin. Something happens at the middle of the series that stuck them each other and they have to make the best of it. I wasn’t a huge Steve fan in the first season, but seeing him giving girl advice to Dustin was hilarious! They made him more likeable and less of a bully. He also made such a great babysitter for the boys and Max that it felt like he belonged to the gang.

Name a better duo, I’ll wait… (Photo: Netflix)

As I said, they’re the stars of this series. Sure, there’s other important characters that are crucial to the series, but the kids are what makes this show one of the best.

The Bad

The main thing that people will dislike about this season is that it’s predictable. It follows certain patterns that audiences have already seen in different series and movies. They tried to explain stuff that was already known or obvious. This doesn’t affect the viewing experience, but it would’ve been great to see some surprises this season.

(Photo: Netflix)

Episode Seven was really out of place for this season. Without revealing too much, it’s an Eleven centric episode where she is trying to find out crucial information about her past. It’s an obvious set up for future episodes -which I don’t mind – , but I would’ve preferred they left that storylineas a tease in the final minutes of the season.

Mike and Lucas felt a bit underdeveloped this time around, mostly Mike. For someone to be considered the “leader” of the team, he was overshadowed by the rest of the gang. Also, Max is underdeveloped as well. She had a few great moments, but nothing mind blowing like Eleven did in the first season. I hope that The Duffer Brothers try and fix this in the next season.

Speaking of Max, her brother Billy was nothingout of the ordinary. He’s a Stephen King-type bully that was there to taunt Steve and bring conflict to Max and the gang, so they have to confront him at the end of the season for more tension. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the character – especially after THAT hilarious scene at the last episode – but they could’ve done something different with him.

(Photo: Netflix)

Stranger Things 2 was a step up from last year. My biggest fear was that it would suffer from the same patternthat many sequels does. Thankfully, the Duffer Brothers understood where the series was going. Even with its problems, it’s great to see thecharacters back in action in all of their strange glory. This is still a must-watch series for every Netflix users and 80s fans alike.

Written by: Christian Quiles

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