Stranger Things 2 REVIEW: Netflix’s 80’s show cements itself in Sci-Fi history

WARNING: This review will be delving into spoiler territory, so please watch the complete second season before reading. 

When Netflix released ‘Stranger Things’ last year it was instantly loved by a wide array of both critics and fans, with many citing the fresh young cast members and famous names such as Winona Ryder for bringing magic to this nostalgic fueled television show. With that in mind, it must have been absolutely daunting for the Duffer Brothers, creators of the show, to follow up with this second season. That’s certainly been one of my own fears when delving into the first opening minutes of this sophomore season, but after delving into all nine episodes within the space of a day I can confirm these fears are unwarranted.

The first season was such a fascinating piece of television that it almost could have acted as a one and done type of show, but actually what ‘Stranger Things 2’ does is improve on the foundations of last year, showcase the growth of its extremely talented cast and prove that the world of Stranger Things is far more expansive than just the town of Hawkins, Indiana.

Throughout this season we’re re-introduced to Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will and Eleven, whilst also being introduced to the brand new character ‘Max’ who excels at both skateboarding, video-games and sarcasm. The show’s young cast’s acting ability is truly spellbinding and miles ahead of many actors right now in Hollywood. Sadie Sink who plays Max is a welcome addition to the group, while Noah Schnapp who plays Will (aka: Zombie Boy) acts his heart out throughout this season throughout some of the most harrowing sequences the show has presented. Yes, I know THAT cat scene was hard to watch (RIP Mews) but watching Will compete with a demonic presence taking over his life and body is really heartbreaking and disturbing to boot.

One of the most fascinating elements of the second season is the relationship between Eleven/Jane (Millie Bobby Brown) and her father figure Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour). Having seen both the heavy and strained backstories of both characters, it’s a fitting match for these characters. Being in each other’s lives is a positive for both Eleven and Sheriff Hopper and presents them the perfect compromise.

Speaking of character evolution, it’s fascinating to watch Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) change from stereotypical 80’s douchebag to father-figure/protector for the young cast. While Season 1 Steve would probably lash out at Jonathan, we actually see him actively focus on saving the town and giving some positive tips to Dustin which continues even months after the crisis in the heartwarming ending to the season. Okay, the Hawkins-High School dance had me in tears more than once…curse you Duffer Brothers!

While Season 2 hits more times than it misses, there are still parts that don’t quite work as well as they could have. Episode 7, which focuses on Eleven’s journey on finding others like her doesn’t quite hit the mark. While it’s certainly an emotional piece that pushes Eleven and expands the world of the show by introducing Kali/Eight, the rest of the episode’s pace seems off. This is probably due to the fact that we’re introduced to Kali and her associates within the first moments of Episode One, but we only really see one episode’s worth of them so close to the finale. The placement of the episode also contributes to this weird pace due to the fact that we’ve just seen Hopper, Mike and the others in immediate danger and instead focus on this group of stereotypical 80’s punks.

However, those complaints pale in comparison to the majority of the season which amps up and plays with every emotion you can have while watching the show. While Stranger Things is a fantastic science-fiction show that nods towards nostalgia, it’s actually the emotional connections we have to these characters that makes this show. A fantastic mixture of terrific writing and superb acting is the reason we binge on the show, and long may that continue.

EXTRA NOTES: 

  • Lucas’ sister is such a TERRIFIC addition to the cast and let’s hope we see more of her in Season 3!
  • That beautiful moment between Mike and Eleven was just terrific – as well as Dustin finally dancing with Nancy. But the Upside Down Shadow Monster looks pissed.
  • The secret to Steve’s hair is finally revealed! – much to Dustin’s joy.
  • Is it just me, or is Brett Gelman in EVERYTHING?

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