Stranger Things was 2016’s sleeper mega-hit after little to no promotion it became the biggest show of the year. Naturally fans were pumped for Season 2 (or more of an appropriate nod to the video store days “Stranger Things 2” which I feel the Duffers would prefer us to call it). If you’ve not finished the show please bookmark this page and come back later because I’m diving into all the spoilers!
So overall I thought Stranger Things 2 went really well. We got some new faces, we got to see some beloved characters return and the stakes are higher and the danger is ever-present. While I think Season One was a little bit more captivating but that’s not to say Stranger Things 2 is bad at all. It was a great follow-up. I’d say Season 1 got a A+ and this got a A- or a B+ and I think that’s just due to how Season 1 was a new fresh exciting thing out of nowhere and this was still really good but I already know where the bar is and the bar is higher. Much like the first season I’m going to re-watch this 3 or 4 more times while waiting eagerly for the next season (which might be a long ways away as they were filming by this point last year). Anyway here are some of my takeaways on Stranger Things Season 2:
Eleven Wasn’t Even the Best Character This Time….And That’s Perfectly OK- Last season Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven was the breakout character by a longshot. Eleven is still solidly in the top 3 but I think this season’s top spot is a very competitive place to be between the characters. Noah Schnapp’s character of Will and Joe Keery as World’s Best Babysitter Steve are neck and neck for this season’s MVP. Eleven fans shouldn’t worry because she has a INCREDIBLE finale faceoff. Probably after the top 3 there’s newcomer Sadie Sink’s character of Max who is a fun tomboy that sort of becomes the group’s Winston (aka the outsider getting lumped into the craziness) and while some feel mixed about her character I think she’ll be really fun moving forward. Caleb McLaughlin’s character of Lucas definitely locked in as Most Improved because he went from “oh c’mon Lucas don’t be like that” to “Shit-Yeah it’s Lucas!!!!”, Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin got more things to do between a love triangle with Lucas and Max and his “pet” and Finn Wolfhard’s character of Mike had some great emotional scenes as well. So some returning characters vastly improved, others became really fun to watch and the show is very likely to land another Best Ensemble award. Of course there was another one that I think everyone really liked…
Bob, Everything Bob – Did anyone else start out suspicious of Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) new boyfriend Bob (Sean Astin) and then turned into the biggest Bob fan by the end of the show? Bob Newby, Superhero is going to be memed for quite a while to honor his legacy. I don’t think anyone was surprised he was going to be killed off but then again Bob was just too pure for this world. Going into the season I expected someone we liked was going to get killed. I assumed Steve or Hopper but those bastards killed our beloved Bob. Radio Shack would probably still be around if he didn’t die.
Steve Harrington Became My New Favorite TV Dad- Steve is probably best known as the jerk turned good person from Season 1 but moving forward he’s going to go down as America’s new favorite TV Dad. You could say he was the babysitter (make that World’s Best Babysitter) or had a good unexpected buddy cop situation with Dustin but that was some grade A parenting skills we saw from Steve this season. Hopper also stepped into a fatherly role this season but I think this is where Steve really shined.
Demodogs, Possessed Will and Tunnels- This season especially the penultimate episode was a not-so-subtle-but-VERY-VERY-well-done homage to the movie Aliens. It even had Paul Reiser!!! Like the first Alien movie, only one monster was the threat but like in Aliens there are MANY more monsters. In this case we get Demo-dogs which rely way less on stealth and more on speed and ambush (Cue PTSD sobs for Bob). Will’s possession of the big bad smoke monster was a great thrill ride as well from his creepy moments to the tense presentation of “The Exorcism of Will Byers”. Hopefully the poor kid gets it a little easier next time because he’s gone through the wringer twice now. The Upside Down sort of lacks the mystery and intrigue this season because shortly after the pumpkin rotting mystery is solved the tunnels sort of became a place to go a few times. Those spores Hopper and later Dustin inhaled may come back though.
The Soundtrack- The first season had a pretty good soundtrack (both Score and Ost). Since becoming a breakout hit that’s printing money they had a bigger budget to load Stranger Things 2 with further nostalgic doses from the 80s including The Police, Duran Duran, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers (paying off to a earlier joke) and even got Metallica’s The Four Horsemen to play! I think my Spotify will probably have it on rotation a few times.
Celebrating the Best Year of the 80s- 1984 was an awesome year. It gave us Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, The Terminator, Gremlins, Karate Kid, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and the birth of yours truly! 1984 is a great year and this season definitely had homages to those movies.
Punk Antiheroes- Eleven spends nearly the full season isolated from the main cast. On her Journey she meets her mother, we find out she’s really a Jane….but Elle is a better name, and she finds her “sister” in a polarizing episode for some fans (I liked it). Her “sister” is a runaway from Hawkins lab and like Eleven, she too has powers but her party trick is making visual tricks like falling bridges, spiders and leaky toilets. 008 is probably going to come back some time but their episode was sort of a different 80s, the punk gang movie 80s and felt a bit different from the rest of the other episodes. This group sort of feels like a X-Force team, which is a black ops version of the X-men that use more lethal means of justice. This gang straight up murders people and from this encounter we got Eleven’s “bitchin” new look and her Yoda and Luke training ….if Yoda encouraged Luke to go Dark Side to kill people. I’m interested in seeing if 008 and Eleven team up for a new threat or face off on their next meeting and to see if more powered up kids are out there.
The Face Off- We had 3 groups split doing different things at the end of Stranger Things 2. The Beyers family plus Nancy are doing the Exorcism of Will Beyers, World’s Best Babysitter/TV Dad Steve is with Dustin, Mike, Lucas and Max, and Hopper and Eleven journeys down to close the gate to the upside down. While the other stuff is good, Eleven in her bitchin’ new look stands face to face with the big bad in a very tense face off while Hopper guns for the demodog foot soldiers. This was probably the coolest scene to date with 2 of my favorite characters doing cool stuff.
That Final Scene- I’m talking about the John Hughes movie ending with the Snowflake ball! Lucas and Max hooks up which seemed the clear direction for the love triangle to go towards, Will the Zombie Boy now freshly exorcised gets asked to dance. Steve is a good dad again and gives his “son” Dustin a new look and pointers when dropping him off. Inside we see how it was like for some of us with the all too familiar strike out with Dustin as he’s rejected multiple times when asking girls to dance. Almost after a cruel amount of time when he’s to the point of tears Nancy steps in to make the other girls suddenly jealous (good job Nancy!). Finally, we get a sweet tween romance introduction and embrace between Eleven and Mike. Outside Hopper (who now is Eleven’s legal father) and Joyce share a cigarette like they did in their High School days….Bob died for this moment so I hope they end up happy if they do hook up and form a Hawkins version of The Brady Bunch. Everyone has a happy ending and we all collectively AWWW together. Of course to remind us this nice moment won’t last too long, in the Upside Down the shadow monster looms over the school vowing revenge.
Stranger Things 3- Obviously they are going to do a new season! Thankfully the cast seems pretty good friends outside of press tours so I think there’s hope of our favorites returning. How long may be another story since this series blew up a lot of careers: Finn Wolfhard (Mike and probably the coolest name ever) is coming off a very successful IT series and is slated to return for the sequel, Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) is going to be in Godzilla King of Monsters, and David Harbour (Hopper) is the new Hellboy…which if you close your eyes you can picture him as Big Red when he speaks…seriously! We probably will see the others get involved in more projects after this season as well so that’s going to be a lot of busy schedules. Unfortunately most bets are putting the show’s next season in 2019 or in a best case situation it could be next Halloween but more are betting for 2019 and even then Halloween fit so well so it COULD be almost 2 years. So yeah ….no Game of Thrones and maybe no Stranger Things next year. It’s going to be a long wait. The Duffer Brothers have said that they treat the series a lot like movies so if you look at it that way that will make the wait more in line. But prepare for another time jump the next time we catch up with the gang. Either way Netflix hasn’t made an announcement at the time of this post.
What were your favorite moments? Sound off in the comments below!