One of the most highly anticipated sequels in geekdom has just arrived on Netflix for you to binge in all its 80s glory. Stranger Things 2 premiered on Netflix on Friday, October 27th, just in time for Halloween and it does not disappoint. Our favorite band of misfits are growing up and their adventures with the Upside Down are growing up too–getting darker and riskier.
Stranger Things has become one of Netflix’s most successful shows. It has won dozens of awards, including 16 Emmy nominations. It is the story of a boy who was lost to The Upside Down, a strange girl with psychic gifts, and a group of misfit kids, teens, and adults who took down the government and saved the day. It seemed that Netflix struck gold with season one and–even though it may not have happened since The Empire Strikes Back–the sequel is just as good as the original.
In the first season, the driving force of the show was the story: everyone was focused on finding Will Byers. In the second season, the focus isn’t so much the story anymore, but the relationships among the characters; and in this season, the characters are scattered all over the place, taking part in their own little adventures. Lucas befriends Max, the new girl at school. Dustin strangely befriends Steve Harrington. And Nancy is now with Jonathon. It makes the stories of each character much more intricate than season one.
The best relationship that was both unexpected, and perfect at the same time, was the relationship between Hopper and Eleven. He somehow becomes her guardian, her caretaker, and even a father figure. And throughout the season, he worries about her, fights with her, and begins to love her as a daughter. Their relationship tugs at your heartstrings because you know that he lost his own daughter, Sarah, and she has never truly had a father figure in her life. It’s a different dynamic than anything we’ve seen in this show so far. We see friendships, and romance, and even the relationship between parents and kids. But the relationship between Hopper and Eleven is something else entirely, and their relationship is what saves the day.
What makes this show so special and what makes the relationships so believable is the acting done by every single cast member. There is not a weak link in the chain–not the kids, not the teens, and not the adults. In season one, the stellar acting went to Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. This season, David Harbour blew it away as Jim Hopper and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers was the biggest surprise. Schnapp was not considered a “regular” last season, despite the fact that the story revolved around him. But this season, the effects of him being in The Upside Down begin to take over and his performance is powerful and even disturbing at times (in a good way!).
One of the things that made Stranger Things so endearing to viewers both old and young, was the originality and pure fun of the story. It’s like if The X-Files and E.T. collided with The Goonies, you would get Stranger Things.
The story of Stranger Things 2 was fresh and original: it wasn’t just a regurgitation of the first season.The story of Will Byers vanishing into the Upside Down is over and done with. Now, we have to deal with the consequences: Joyce being overly protective when it comes to Will, Mike missing Eleven, Will’s body physically dealing with his time spent in The Upside Down, Barb’s parents wondering what happened to her, and Hopper trying desperately to hide Eleven from the Bad Men.
This story, while strange and fantastic, is also very real when it comes to the troubles our characters must face, as well as the consequences to their actions.
We recently posted an article, 11 Questions We Want Answered in Stranger Things 2. And to be honest, they did a great job at answering a lot of those burning questions while still leaving a bit open for (hopefully) season three. We learned that there is a bigger, badder monster that seems to be the heart of The Upside Down, dubbed the Mind Flayer. We learned that there are other kids just like Eleven. They even showed us where Eleven went after defeating the Demogorgon and how she made it back from The Upside Down.
It was a relief that the writers took the time to address these questions and actually answer them. They did a great job of filling in the missing pieces for us, but at the same time, they didn’t tie everything up nicely with a pretty bow.
We still don’t know if Dr. Brenner is dead or alive. There were some hints that he might have survived the Demogorgon attack, but nothing substantial. We still aren’t exactly sure where Hopper was taken or who he spoke to after the men from Hawkins Lab took him away at the end of season one. And, of course, despite the fact that everything seems happy at the end of it all, the Mind Flayer is seen in a flash of light above Hawkins Middle School in The Upside Down, reminding us that there are no happy endings in Stranger Things.
One of the most impressive parts of season one, was just how real everything seemed to look.
The Upside Down, while we briefly got to visit, we never spent more than a few minutes with Joyce and Hopper as they rescued Will or Nancy when she ventured through the tree.
This season, it seems like everyone got to visit The Upside Down. Hopper, Joyce, Bob, Steve, Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Mike all found themselves in The Upside Down at one point or another. Not to mention, Eleven’s flashback and Will’s visions. Because we saw The Upside Down so much more, the special effects just didn’t seem as crisp or feel as real as they had last season.
This was a solid sequel to an already fantastic show. It was still fun and nostalgic while including that creep factor that made the original such a hit. It was scary and heartwarming and funny. The kids were still as adorable as always while maturing along with the story. Enough questions were answered to tide us over until season three but not so much that we aren’t craving more.
+ Acting by David Harbour and Noah Schnapp stole the show.
+A new story that continued the plot of the original.
+Relationships were real and heart breaking.
+Sean Astin was a pleasant addition to the cast.
+Questions were answered.
+One extra episode!
-Extra episode was pretty much a filler.
-Special effects were not as good as last season.
-New character of Max felt forced and I agree with Mike: she was annoying.
-It’s all over too fast… How long until Stranger Things 3?
What did you think of Stranger Things 2? Did you binge it all October 27th? What rating would you give this season? Let’s get chatting in the comments!
Amanda Woomer-Limpert is a writer for The Geekiverse and is just as obsessed with Stranger Things as everyone else you know. She officially ships Jopper (JoyceXHopper forever!) and would watch a show solely dedicated to the shenanigans of Dustin and Steve.
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