Stranger Things - Season 2 (TV Review)
The Netflix original series Stranger Things returned October 27th and had a lot to live up to since Season One was a smash hit. Stranger Things 2 has returning actors Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton. Along with the old cast, newcomers Dacre Montgomery, Paul Reiser, Sean Astin, Linnea Berthelsen and Sadie Sink joined the cast for a bigger and scarier world as the upside-down returns to invade the small town of Hawkins. Before reading ahead we want to warn this review will have some SPOILERS so you have been warned.
Season 2 starts off fast paced with the introduction of Roman "Eight" and a brief look at her powers, different to those of Eleven. The show picks up at Hawkins a year later with the kids living a somewhat normal life. The best part of Stranger Things is the realism of the time it is placed in, in this case the 80's and the attention to detail on the characters to be looking for quarters not only transports you to that time and but is a reminder that video games weren't always a staple for every kid growing up. Almost immediately the tone at the beginning of the film seems lighter but there is this sadness that lingers when it comes to Mike's character. The first half of this season has Mike still mourning the loss of Eleven, unable to truly move on. As a character Mike doesn't have a prevalent story arc, most of the season builds to his reunion with Eleven which may have stunted any growth for the character. This is true until events start to unfold with Will as he begins his journey as this seasons human antagonist to the group. Noah Schnapp who plays Will truly has his time to shine this season as he was sidelined last season for the majority of the first season. Most of the core emotional scenes in Stranger Things 2 involve Noah and is again at the center of the plot that propels the other characters to take action. The character of Steve definitely gets a bigger part in this season with a prominent arc that gives the viewer what they wanted after the ending of Season 1. Joe Keery as Steve brings more depth and likability to the character and lets you see him interact with more characters than just Nancy and Jonathon. Lucas has some more screen time with Max and Dustin who are intertwined in a love triangle of sorts. What S2 does best is age these characters into teenagers, they begin to like girls and develop relationships with other characters and in a way drift into their own thing and stories.
What gives the show some of its more powerful beats of tense moments emotional scenes is the score. The score for this season achieves a lot and is in service of the plot. One, it transports you into the 80's and is very 80's synth heavy and two it serves the action and emotional beats that essentially viewers will react to and feel for. 'The Return' is a perfect example of a score that is dramatic and somber upon Eleven's return and reunion with the group that makes that scene one of if not the most powerful and emotional scene of the season.
To summarize, this is a season full of surprises and twists that expand upon the world it built in Season 1. Characters come in that feel out of place until they don't and are given more development than expected. Stranger Things is a character driven show and again it proves why it is the most powerful element of storytelling that makes or breaks a tv show. It is difficult to surpass a strong Season One like Stranger Things had but this season did pretty well and held up for the most part but not without a few small hiccups (Episode 7) . Now we don't want to spoil the entire season so just keep a look out for these actors that appear this season that will have you talking: Joe Keery as Steve, Sean Astin as Bob, Paul Reiser as Dr. Owens and Noah Schnapp as Will.