Review: Stranger Things releases a spooky second season

WARNING: This article contains spoilers.

Photo courtesy of | Stranger Things released its first season exclusively on Netflix last year and it quickly became a cultural phenomenon. A Halloween themed season two was released on Friday. Staff Writer Katie Nichols gives her thoughts regarding the show’s progression.

The highly anticipated second season of Stranger Things premiered to Netflix on Friday with a boom. People immediately began binge-watching, consuming the show like rabid dema-dogs.

Stranger Things 2 picks up a year after the events of the first season, and things are just as unresolved as we left them. Will Byers, the infamous missing kid, is suffering from PTSD and struggling with visions of the Upside-Down. Party leader Mike Wheeler finds himself lonely and longing for his mysterious companion Eleven. Meanwhile, Dustin Henderson and Lucas Sinclair see their friendship tested by the arrival of the new skater, gamer girl, Max.

The show’s strength has always lied in its characters. Season two did not disappoint on this front, developing our favorite characters and introducing new ones. One of the best new progressions is the friendship between Dustin and Steve Harrington. Steve began as a villain in season one, but has proven to be more than your typical ’80s bully. He teams up with Dustin to fight off a ferocious beast coined a dema-dog and the partnership that ensues is gold. Dustin’s vulnerability is revealed when he comes to Steve for advice on handling a crush. Steve earns more complexity when, instead of rejecting Dustin, he offers tips on hair-care and women. Their relationship is unlikely, but charming. Each boy moves from being a stereotype to being a palpable character.

The second season also offers more to Will’s character, who was largely a mystery during season one. Where Will was absent for most of the first season, he gets a new treatment in the sequel. We see a huge span of emotions from Will, ranging from anger to helplessness. Season two finally gives Will the opportunity to prove his belonging in the group of close-knit kids.

Fan-favorite, Eleven, also nabbed more development in the second season by delving into her backstory. The show explored an entire episode devoted to Eleven searching for her “sister,” Kali, who also grew up in Hawkins Lab. Eleven spends the episode with Kali’s gang, thieving and preparing to kill a former lab employee. When the moment arises, Eleven shows the man mercy and returns to Hawkins. While this episode certainly shows Eleven’s journey, it feels unnecessary and unfitting in the context of the show. Eleven leaves Hawkins just to go back, and she doesn’t even form a real bond with her sister. We get a sense of Eleven’s power, but this was already evident. Unless the creators plan to bring Kali back in some form in the next season, there was no purpose exploring this narrative.

This season is much more gruesome than the first. The show opted for a more graphic visual approach, resulting in some tragic deaths. As if it wasn’t enough to watch Dustin’s cat being eaten by a dema-dog, viewers then had to endure the death of Bob Newby. Bob was introduced this season as Joyce Byers’ nerdy, but lovable boyfriend. Bob demonstrated his usefulness when he helped track down a system of tunnels beneath the town. He then frees the crew from Hawkins Lab, only to be mauled by a dema-dog on his way out. Bob’s death was cruel, but definitely exhibits the show’s technical and emotional capabilities. With images like this, the show grew more adventurous and tested its audience more often.

Stranger Things 2 is a fun ride from start to finish. Though some parts feel like distractions, such as the introduction of Kali, the second season maintains the shows originality and wit. It solidifies the series as more than a single-season phenomenon, and perfectly frames a continuing story.

By: Katie Nichols ~Staff Writer~