Set a year after the events of the first season, Stranger Things season 2 picks up right were we left them, Will is back safely at home, Eleven’s fate is still unknown and the Loser’s Club are getting back to normal. But it soon becomes a clear, that just because Will is out of the Upside Down – it does not mean that the upside down is out of Will, a new threat is forming and Will is vital in its plan. Something that this does so well is create and evolve new relationships between characters, Eleven and Harbour being a key example. It is the same show but it feels different and it works, so I give Stranger Things Season 2 a 9/10 or an A
First off, I need to point out that I have never given a 9 to a review before. so that gives some precedence on how highly I rate this show. The thing that this season does so well is it manages to feel really different from the first season, yet it is still great. I don’t think you can compare the seasons, they are both great, and so different – this was the intention, and was miraculous. Show has to be different because the premise is, before hand the children wanted to find their friends whilst hiding from the adults, but now the adult are fully apart, and I liked how they evolved the show.
WHAT I LIKED
Where do I even start? After all, this is a show that is already established, so it is kind of hard to talk about characters we all already know and love. But what I will talk about is what I loved this season, and the first thing I loved was the new relationships that was formed between these characters – mainly two, the perfectly odd Hopper and Eleven relationship and Dustin and Steve relationship, this does lead to other downsides that I will explain later
One of the best scenes this season was when Will decided to take Bob’s advice and stand up to the monster. This was perfect, it had fear, comedy and suspense and it was a the best thing that Will did throughout the entire show that was actually worthwhile. I still don’t particularity like Will, but he does do well after this moment in the show, with a lot of his story really coming into its element from here on, furthermore, he is actually finally given an opportunity to really showcase his acting, something he didn’t get before.
That leads nicely into how the show did so well after this moment, I loved how Will was the spy for the monster, this lead to some great scenes with Joyce. Her and Jonathan were finally given something to do as they watched Will being tortured and covered so that they can catch the monster, all of these scenes gave characters more depth in a season that didn’t really do anything for their characters, whilst also actually adding something to the plot which I think was done so well. I still thing more should have been given to Joyce as she doesn’t really do much, but I will get onto that later.
As I have already said, one of the reasons I gave it such a high rating is because it manages to feel different and somehow keeps the framework from the first season. Although this feels like a different show for me – it works but I get why it wouldn’t work for others, it went from being a group, to groups of groups. For example, it was five of them, now it is two by two – this leaves Mike as the odd one out, and that really shins through, I think to some people this didn’t work and this is why it feels so different but I think it did work, I still would’ve liked them to all be together for a little longer but still it was good, this led to relationships being formed – forget about Bob and Joyce or Harbour and Eleven (which was great) it was all about……
Steve and Dustin. Whilst some characters don’t get any new character development, it manages to show new sides to these characters by exploring new relationships, don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe the main core of the cast get enough time together and I will explain this later – with the main two from the first season hardly getting screen time together. I think the thing I loved with these new relationships is as it was with characters that needed it and created some of the problems the first season had – for example Harbour and Eleven, Harbour had an interesting arc in the first season as it turned out he lost his child, and season two manages to add more depth as it gives him a child to look after. Steve needed something this season, and an almost big brother to the group was perfect, and his relationship with Dustin was the surprise hit.
I try not to be too obvious with these reviews, so everything else I liked that everyone else did are just put here for any season three review references I might do, we finally got “justice for barb”, Lucas’ little sister stealing the show were all great added elements. I wonder what the original plan was, as the Duffer brothers have said the Justice for Barb story line wasn’t intended, if this was the case then Jonathan would’ve really had nothing to do!
Episode seven proved so controversial I had to dedicate a whole part of this review to it. And I might not have loved it, but I definitely appreciated it. I honestly didn’t mind the seventh episode, it was something new, and something different, the show was trying something that was a breath of air whilst also furthering Eleven’s story line – giving her something to do, and adding some very needed depth. It is also setting up future seasons as it shows us the new character Eight, that being said I think they could have gone about her introduction a little better.
WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER
Whilst I did love the way the show managed to feel fresh whilst also being retaining the same structure of the first season, I did take issue with many things. The main and pressing issue I had an issue with is that the group don’t get enough time together, but that is because of the nature of how this second season changed, something it did do well – is that we still feel how much pain is caused to the group through Will’s torture, but I think we needed some more of the main core cast. And, that is mainly because of the lack of Mike and Eleven, they are hardly the group we loved in the first season until the eighth episode for two minutes and the end of the show. The group didn’t get much of time of all of them together, and the first season was about them saving the day – and the second’s story didn’t involve them much.
Will’s more important role in this season makes Mike redundant at times, and Mike definitely got the worst of the situation. Not only did the lack of Eleven weaken his story, he didn’t do much – he was the almost leader of the group and the lead of the show, but in the second season he hardly gets anything to do, he is just always there, with the only interesting scene coming when he shouts at the new girl, and when Eleven sees them through the window. Furthermore, the lack of Eleven just means every time we see Mike we are just waiting for the two of them to get together again, but it doesn’t come until the eighth episode – by which the suspense is long gone and we have spent the entire season waiting for Mike to do something when he hasn’t really. Furthermore, giving Will a bigger role and taking from Mike slightly annoyed me at the beginning because I thought he was the weakest.
Onto the new characters, whilst at the very least Max is giving an arc that makes sense (which I will talk about later) her (step?) brother Billy, is given nothing of the same. His character becomes confusing as the show continued, his un-explained racism, un-explained hatred for Steve and his un-explained hatred for Max were all reasons why Billy just felt basic. Ultimately, although I didn’t want to compare seasons, Billy was introduced almost as if to mirror Steve. But, even though Steve might not have been the good guy (in comparison to Nancy and Barb), we saw his development, and the show gave him some character depth, we only see this with Billy’s scene with his abusive father – at which point I don’t care. I also think, it would’ve benefited him to have had a substantial story line with Johnathan and Nancy – what Steve was given in the first season. Because, making him Billy’s nemesis only really provided Steve with a better character arc – the fight scene between them was great but the kids were backing Steve, and all this did was add development for the wrong character, and build his character up as the older brother of the group. Furthermore, Nancy and Jonathan aren’t actually given much to do – their story line seems stretched and it takes them away from the main story, although their arc was a welcome addition, it seemed stretched over more episodes than were needed, with Johnathan really shining when Will was being tortured. Just as the kids struggled separated, I think the teens did as well – apart from Steve, who had an arc with the kids.
Joyce was a major part of the first season, with her portrayal as the desperate mother being a key element to the first season. But, with no missing children, and nothing notably wrong with Will until he is found standing in the playground by the other kids, Joyce doesn’t have anything to do. Now, I loved Bob – but he was created to die and Joyce did not dwell on his death for long, so at times Joyce just feels attached, with nothing really to add to the story until she has to watch her child suffer, I think it is incredibly important that Joyce is given a worthwhile arc in the third season – just as Harbour was given one with Eleven.
By other problem, is what I felt was bad about the show, but something I think was done really well on the shows behalf – but the show does manage to get away with it. That is of Lucas and Max, they are hardly given any screen time to make an impact and their relationship dynamic is definitely the weakest, as it is pitched as a love triangle but then Dustin just isn’t involved anymore and it is the two of them. I loved the scene on the bus with Dustin and Lucas, but apart from that, it didn’t feel Lucas was given enough screen time with Max, to really make an impact, furthermore, whilst every character is given someone already established, (i.e: Dustin and Steve, Eleven and Harbour) Lucas is given the new character, so we are trying to learn more about her which is already hard whilst trying to figure out the dynamic between them. But, as I said at the start, the show does manage to get away with it but they must be given more time in the third season
The Future – third season and beyond
Which leads me nicely onto what is next, I think they need to give Joyce something to do, something to participate in instead of her just looking after her two useless children. Eleven’s eventual re-appearance with the group left much to be desired which I no doubt think they will explore in the third season. I also think that the whole Steve, Nancy and Jonathan love triangle should be done with now and they should bring in a new character of that age to really give Steve and the new guy something to do, Billy needs an arc or some sort of redemption. And they need to keep the group of kids together again, and have the teens all together as well.