Stranger Things Season 2 Review
Successfully Builds Upon Season 1 With More Characters and Cool Monsters
The first season of Stranger Things was one of the most talked about TV shows of 2016. The 80's nostalgia mixed with the sci-fi mystery made for an entertaining experience. It is a bit of an understatement to say that the second season of the show had a lot of anticipation. Season two definitely lives up to the hype by expanding the story and developing characters people loved from the first season.
*Spoiler Alert* There may be some spoilers from season one in this review
After Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is rescued from the upside down, he still feels some connection to the upside down. He keeps having episodes where he returns to the upside down where an unknown creature is coming after him. His mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and his friends are trying to figure out what exactly is going on with him. Meanwhile, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has escaped the upside down and is being taken care of and kept secret by Chief Hopper (David Harbour).
The main reason the first season of this show is so successful is the tremendous cast. The kids in this show are fantastic. I think the one who stood out to me the most is Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). He has really great comedic timing and he definitely is the most charming of the four main kids. He also has really good chemistry with Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). They have a lot of great scenes together.
Steve has the most interesting arc out of any of the characters in the show. He went from being somewhat of a jackass in the first season to being one of the most likable characters. The show did a great job at developing his character this season. I also liked seeing Will get more to do this season after being somewhat sidelined in the first season. Schnapp gives a really good performance this season.
One situation I thought was really interesting was the relationship between Eleven and Chief Hopper. They have a somewhat father-daughter connection as Hopper does his best to take care of her. I became thoroughly invested in their relationship throughout the season. Harbour gives a great performance and his character is well developed.
Ryder also gives a good performance but her character doesn't really develop. She is pretty much doing the same things she was doing last season. Same thing goes for a couple of other characters in the show.
There are a couple new characters in the show who are good additions. One is Max (Sadie Sink), who the kids call "Mad Max." While I did like her character, I think her background isn't explored enough. It is hinted at, but isn't as explored in-depth as I would've liked it to be.
Brown gives another great performance as Eleven. However, I don't think she stole the show like last season. She goes off on her own to discover what happened in her past and while it is interesting, I don't think it tied into the main narrative of the show well enough.
The way that the show is paced is pretty good. It starts off slow as it should because everything seems to be back to normal. However, the second half of the show is a lot more suspenseful and action packed as we finally realize what is actually happening. My only issue with this is that it didn't seem like the monsters became an immediate threat until the last couple of episodes, except for episode seven. In the first season, the threat felt more urgent because we needed to save Will from the start of the season and the enemy felt a lot more mysterious.
I know that the internet is currently hating on episode seven and they are somewhat justified. It isn't necessarily a bad episode, it's main issue is that it has no connection to the main narrative except for a small arc for Eleven. The events in this episode shouldn't have taken up a whole episode. However, episodes eight and nine definitely make up for episode seven. Eight and nine might be the best episodes of the show. They are suspenseful and have a lot of great character moments.
The music in this season is just as good as the first season. It has a very retro, synthetic sound that adds to the 80's nostalgia. The song choice also really fits the scenes that they are used in. The music creates a cool sci-fi atmosphere which captures the setting of the show.
Stranger Things season 2 is a great continuation of the first season. It develops certain characters really well and adds some new cool elements. However, the pacing of this season is not as good as the first and I think that there are certain moments which stop the show's momentum. Overall, I think this will live up to fan's expectations.