‘Stranger Things’ Season 2: Better Than the Original


Courtesy of Netflix

After more than a year since the release of Season 1 in July 2016, Netflix released the long-awaited second season of “Stranger Things” in its entirety on Friday, Oct. 27.

Say goodbye to Dungeons and Dragons, Eleven’s blonde wig and pink dress, and the one meager Demogorgon because Season 2 of “Stranger Things” is back, bigger and better than ever.

Finally, after more than a year since the release of Season 1 in July 2016, Netflix released the long-awaited second season of “Stranger Things” in its entirety on Friday, Oct. 27, just in time for some Halloween binge watching. Creators Matt and Ross Duffer seem to have pulled out all the stops for the newly released season with the introduction of new characters, a deeper exploration of existing relationships, more complex special effects, new threats, and of course, more ’80s pop culture references.

With any beloved show, fans are wary of new characters added into the mix. These were my feelings upon hearing that there would be a sizable number of new cast members joining “Stranger Things” for Season 2. But my fears that these new additions would somehow detract from the screen time afforded to my favorite originals were immediately squashed.

In fact, most of the Season 2 characters are new faces and there would be no way to review them all. So the gems to look out for are Max, the feisty tomboy who moves to Hawkins from California, and Bob, Joyce Byers’ new boyfriend.

Max, played by Sadie Sink, makes her debut in the first episode of the season entitled “MADMAX.” Automatically labeled an outcast due to her new-student status, Max is taken in by the boys, more specifically by Dustin and Lucas who she later finds herself in a love triangle with. Proficient at skateboarding, video games, and telling it like it is, Max is a breath of fresh air for both the boys – who are without Eleven for most of the season – and the viewers.

Staying true to the casting of child stars from the ’80s, Bob Newby is played by Sean Astin who starred in “The Goonies” back in 1985. Bob, or Bob the Brain, the nerdy Radio Shack employee and Hawkins Middle School AV Club founder, plays an integral role in helping Joyce solve the many mysteries thrown at her this season. Similar to Barb’s character, Bob is both loveable and relatable.

Courtesy of Netflix
Bob Newby, played by ’80s child star Sean Astin, joins cast for Season 2.

Along with some fantastic additions to the “Stranger Things” family, viewers are given deeper insight into the home lives of the boys, more complete backstory for characters like Eleven and her mother, and bear witness to the evolution of key relationships. Season 2 presents some unexpected powerhouse duos that have electric on-screen chemistry, allowing secondary characters more complex and endearing story lines.

Unfortunately, all of these characters, new and old, are forced to endure the trials and tribulations caused by the sinister government agency that administered experimental drugs on Eleven’s mother, kept Eleven and other children prisoner, and made possible the entrance of the Demogorgon into the world.

But the supernatural threat in Season 2 makes defeating the Demogorgon from Season 1 look like a walk in the park. Taking the Demogorgon’s place as the supernatural villain is an extensive network of alien-like creatures like the Mind Flayer and its Demodogs. Will, the missing boy from Season 1, has an inexplicable connection to the Upside Down and actor Noah Schnapp gets to demonstrate his impressively mature acting skills, an opportunity he failed to have in Season 1. Contrasting to the first season, where many of the Demogorgon scenes were filmed with a man in a suit, Season 2 employed a great deal of computer-generated effects, bringing “Stranger Things” to a cinematic level.

Last, but not least, if there is any reason to commit to indulging in the nine-episode long Season 2 of “Stranger Things,” it is for the ’80s references. The fashion, the hair, the soundtrack, and the homage to ’80s film is more blatant in this season than the last and the nostalgia is real – who cares if I can’t have nostalgia for a decade I never lived through.

Courtesy of Netflix
Season 2 is teeming with ’80s references.

The boys are older and the board game Dungeons and Dragons is no longer on their mind. The first episode of Season 2 depicts Mike and friends at the arcade playing classics like Dig Dug and agonizing over Dragon’s Lair. Eleven has a major ’80s fashion moment when she is dressed in an outfit Hopper deems fitting for an “MTV punk,” shoulder-padded blazer and all. And “Stranger Things” would cease to capture the essence of the ’80s without the inclusion of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.

So regardless of whether you actually have time to travel to the ’80s and get lost in world of “Stranger Things” for roughly nine hours, I strongly suggest you do. Season 2 accomplished the daunting task of delivering new and innovative content while staying true to the endearing and gripping spirit of Season 1.