coming of age

[Netflix Review] Stranger Things Season 2 (2017) ★★★★★

Will, Mike, Dustin and Lucas in Stranger Things season 2

Stranger Things turns eighties nostalgic science fiction adventure into cosmic horror.


The second season of Stranger Things is going to be another rollercoaster ride full of excitement, adventure, romance, epic heroism, monsters, humor and drama. While the characters are growing and developing so does the storyline and both the universes of Stranger Things. Although it takes a while to get the real action started, it pays off in a fantastical way and brings great horror, adventure, science fiction, devastating moments and of course a brilliant nostalgic look on the eighties. 

This second season consists of 9 episodes with each a duration of 42-55 minutes. It has a continuous storyline that unravels the Upside Down while both universes are further explored. 


Plot

It’s 1984 and it’s Halloween. After they successfully rescued Will from the Upside Down, there is still something wrong with him. While he is examined by the Hawkins lab by a nice doctor and scientist Dr Owens, he suffers from hallucinations that have everything to do with the Mindflayer. 

Meanwhile everybody is trying to pick up their lives. But that proves not to be that easy.  Especially when Eleven is still missing. She is stuck in the Upside Down and tries to find her way back. Barb’s parents have hired a private detective and research journalist Murray Bauman. While Nancy is determined to expose the lab with the help of her new boyfriend Jonathan. Joyce also has a new boyfriend, Bob. 

While there’s something stirring inside of Will, and in the Upside Down, something is also stirring in Hawkins. There’s a new girl in town, Max. She just moved there with her stepbrother Billy, who’s a nasty piece of work. While Dustin and Lucas fight to get her attention, Mike is still trying to find Eleven, while Will’s problems are getting bigger and nobody pays real attention to him. 

After Eleven has found her way back she is taken in by sheriff Hopper who hides her and keeps her safe. But Dustin also has found something that belongs to the Upside Down, a Demodog and hides him and takes care of him and calls him Dart. 

While everybody is busy with something else, and the groups are divided, the Mindflayer is planning something sinister, and the danger is getting bigger and ever closer. 


Why you should watch it

The second season of Stranger Things has to find a new and fresh way to create a new storyline. While the first season was such a strong season with a great setup in which everything was just right, a second season has to top that. To do so, new characters are introduced, the relationships are shifting, the kids are getting older and sometimes wiser, and they grow each at a different speed, creating a rift between them. That makes it more interesting, and the arrival of pretty but tough girl Max doesn’t help. It does help to push the story forward in different directions. The stakes are higher even if they don’t know it yet and there’s a lot more friction.

There’s friction between Eleven and Hopper. He desperately wants to protect her, but ultimately is keeping her a prisoner for her own safety. But she wants to be a normal girl, be with her friends and with Mike, but she also wants to find out more about who she is, where she came from and who her mother is. That leads to her running away, running into a bad crowd, with a girl who just like her has super powers, but ultimately finds her real mother and the truth about her powers. 

There’s friction between her and Mike, when she secretly spies on him and finds him with Max. There’s friction between Dustin and Lucas, fighting over Max. And Max herself is bullied by Billy. But Dustin is keeping a big secret for his friends and is gaining an older brother in Steve, who is a different person after the previous events. There’s also some tension between Joyce and Hopper, now Joyce is dating Bob. 

So there are a lot of new characters, Max and Billy, Bob, Eleven’s new gang, Murray Bauman and Lucas’ very delightfully sassy little sister Erica. And even Steve is a new character due to his transformation into good guy and big brother. 

All these new characters, their introductions and the new storylines take some time to develop and it can feel like the series has to reinvent itself. But it’s also a smart distraction from what really is going on underneath it all, and quite literally at that. While everybody is paying attention to new people, romances, investigations and new pets, nobody is paying attention to Will. And that proves to be a big mistake. 

They only ones who still worry about Will and are keeping a close watch are Mike and Joyce. Mike is the most evolved of the boys after what happened, not only because of Eleven and his feelings for her, but also because he proves to be a real friend. And Joyce is just as ferocious as she ever was as a mother who fights for her child. 

Once they find out that there is something really wrong with Will and that Hawkins is in danger again, and the whole gang comes together then the feel and vibe of the first season come rushing back and the horror adventure is on, that has turned into cosmic horror.

Then it’s all about friendship, love, family, courage. It’s going to be a touching, exciting, thrilling and powerful ride. And because of this long buildup it pays off tremendously. The horror is going to be much more than the Upside Down, now it has become cosmic horror with a terrifying monster, dangerous Demodogs and a dark sinister plan. The grip the Mindflayer has on Will is terrifying and excellently executed with dark visions and a dark atmosphere. The special effects and visuals are outstanding and the plot takes a while to develop but is very satisfying in the end. 


My favorite part

I thought Mike’s character was the strongest and the most important this season. He’s the glue between different groups and proved to be the best friend of Will. Unlike Dustin and Lucas, Mike has grown up and takes responsibility. His search for Eleven, when he is trying the walkie talkie in the basement to find her is really heartbreaking and never was teenage love so devastating.

But each kid develops in a different way, which also shows a realistic take on growing up. Eleven’s rebellion is more than understandable and Dustin and Lucas fighting over Max is very endearing. While Will is very lost. That Steve becomes a big brother to Dustin who goes to him for advise and help is a great new storyline that makes the team even better.

It actually is wonderfully done how these kids evolve and trying to maintain their friendship. It’s perfectly intertwined with the storylines and the big story arc about the Mindflayer. I had to get used to Max at first, but when they told her everything about Eleven and how she reacted, she slowly becomes a real part of the group. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★★

Epic factor: ★★★★☆

Thrill factor: ★★★★★

Nostalgic factor: ★★★★☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★★


Read more about Stranger Things:


Cast and crew

Stranger Things is created by The Duffer Brothers. It stars Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), David Harbour (sheriff Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Sadie Sink (Max), Dacre Montgomery (Billy), Sean Austin (Bob) and Brett Gelman (Murray Bauman). 

Music: Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein. Cinematography: Tim Ives, Tod Campbell. Production company: 21 Laps Entertainment, Monkey Massacre . Original Network: Netflix.


Check the trailer below