Weekly Review: Stranger Things (Season 2)

It’s been one year since Will Beyers was rescued from The Upside Down. His family and friends are trying to heal and return to normal, but another creature from that parallel universe is coming to wreak havoc once more.

This review will discuss the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Stranger Things was a pretty decently sized sensation when the first season was released in summer 2016. Needless to say, audiences were anxiously awaiting the second season to see what would happen to it’s compelling characters.

This second season focuses on the aftermath of the events from season one, and they were a doozy. From the Beyers family to Nancy and Steve to the disappearance of Eleven, there’s a little bit of drama to be found in every corner of this season.

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Due to all of this drama in all of these directions, I couldn’t help but feel that this season lacked a lot of the focus that season one had. That season had one or two major conflicts. Where’s Will and who is Eleven? These conflicts blended with each other well, and they all led to the ending with very little filler, if any at all.

This second season has a lot more storylines that all happen to feel major. It doesn’t flow easily toward the end until more than halfway through. It also has a pretty blatant filler episode with some of the absolute worst timing. All of these elements come together to make the overall pacing of this second season a mere shadow of the first.

That’s not to say that the story and themes in this season are bad though. There are definitely a lot of things to like here.

For one, from a production standpoint, there are some really interesting edits from scene to scene. I continually found myself pointing out some pretty fascinating transitions. The creators and editors for this season had to have worked pretty closely together in order to plan the camera moves and such to make these transitions happen. It was all really creative. I enjoyed it.

Just as with the first season, this second season continues to show how talented the young cast is. Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo continue to play the roles of Michael and Dustin really well. Millie Bobby Brown returns to play Eleven, and it is “bitchin”. We get to see more of Noah Schnapp as Will, and he is pretty amazing.

I’m also really happy to see that the plot of this season expanded more on the character of Lucas. I remember thinking that he blended too much into the background in the first season. He didn’t get to be a curious kid in the same way the others did. In this season, the character gets a lot more to work with, and this gives the actor Caleb McLaughlin time to shine in his own way.

There are some new characters added, and there is a bit of mystery around them. This brings in a new human villain (which managed to make Steve seem wonderful to me in comparison).

I really disliked Steve in the first season. I didn’t see the point in the love triangle between Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan. I’m just really not a fan of the love triangle trope. It’s overdone. I will say that Steve became much more of a likable character for me in this season, especially in the last half of the story. I enjoyed how his character progressed.

Overall, I’d probably say that Stranger Things season 2 gets off to a somewhat rocky start. It doesn’t have the same allure as the first season because the appeal of the world building is finished, but it manages to hold its own and still be a fun ride.

Most of my complaints were negated by the finale in one way or another. The plot points that seemed meandering throughout came into play for the story’s end. The season ends in a way that feels comforting and familiar while also piquing interest for the eventual third season, whenever that release date may be.

If you were a fan of the first season of Stranger Things, then you will most likely enjoy how the story progresses. I’d recommend it.

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