Stranger Things Season 2 Review: Part Two (Spoilers)

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Stranger Things Season 2 Review: Part Two (Spoilers)

Oliver Barnfield, Cool Guy/Entertainment Editor

Hey there guys! I’ve divided my Stranger Things reviews into 2 parts that cover one half (or almost half) of the second season. This is the second half.

Episode Six: The Spy

As the season progresses, I’ve noticed one big change: Mike is no longer the main character. His role as leader has been diminished in light of Dustin’s solo story and Wills vision. But this lets unexplored characters shine, with this episode in particular giving us a chance to see Dustin, Steve, Lucas and Max in action.

Steve gets a break from the frankly unnecessary teen plot and gets transplanted into a much better environment: the kids group! This is a fascinating plot line, with some good development for all characters involved.  But what about Will? He’s the star of a pulse pounding plot that turns the table concerning the government. It’s a bit tiring to see Will being tortured, especially when it was done last season, but the performances from Noah Schnapp and the addition of lovely new guy Bob elevate this plot.

But still, Nancy and Jonathan’s plotline drags on, with not much at stake and just generally making the season feel too bloated. C’mon, guys! Fight a monster! DO SOMETHING!!!!

Grade: A-

Episode Seven: The Lost Sister

Season Two is at the same time very derivative of the 1st season and extremely different from the 1st season. This episode is more on the original side. It abandons the usual formula and focuses on one character and completely eschews Mike, Hopper, Dustin, Nancy, Joyce, and Jonathan for this powerful but flawed Eleven solo outing. (Are we still calling her that? Or is her name just Jane now?)

After learning of the titular Lost Sister, a fellow lab creation, Eleven (Imma just call her that) leaves Hawkins and sets off to the big city. She meets Kali, who can create illusions with her mind. She hangs with some punks, who are portrayed in a tiresome and cliche way. This is the biggest problem with this episode: It brings us one dimensional characters that have no reason to exist other than to cause conflict.

But the conflict is where this episode succeeds. It is an excellent character study of Eleven. She has a moment of realization that causes her to help the punks persue those who have wronged them. But when their target is revealed to have kids, Eleven remembers her TRUE friends and leaves the punks behind.

It sounds cheesy.

But it works. Eleven has had no moral compass, she just knows that the bad men are bad and those who hate them are good. And that is her mindset. But what if these bad men are more complex? After all they are people like everyone else. This makes sense in the characters context. If a character like Mike was forced to kill someone like this and the same thing played out, the scene wouldnt be as dramatic. It would feel forced and boring because we all know Mike is a clear idea of human emotions. But Eleven doesn’t, and that’s what makes this episode shine.

Grade: B-

Episodes Eight and Nine: The Mind Flayer, The Gate

These two episodes are PACKED. Packed with everything. Action! Monsters! Horror! Gore! Romance! Mike’s Mom in a scented candle bath!

These 2 episodes exemplify the “bigger” feel of the second season. There are more Demogorgon’s! Heavy violence against a character who didn’t deserve it! (OK, so maybe that was still in the last season) But although this certainly has more action, it sacrifices something important: emotions. Sure, we get Mike and Eleven reuniting, but other than that we just watch everything coming together in heart racing action. But luckily this settles down for the final scene, a scene so adorable and heartwarming that… I just cant even describe. It’s so sweet. Watch it. Watch it now!

But although the ending is sweet, the action and the ending lacks the emotional content that the previous seasons ending had. It feels too similar to the earlier seasons finale.

But…

The actual ending…

So sweet!!!

Grade: B

Okay, so what are my final thoughts on the season? Well it’s significantly darker than the last season, and this can be both good and bad. On one hand, it would be nice to take a break from the constant grittiness but it’s interesting to see the cool action. And some plots feel forced, like the teens, or are rather unnecessary, like Billy the hyper-bully who only is important until the last episode. But the light hearted moments, while not common, are really good when they arrive. Sometimes it feels like the kids aren’t kids sometimes… theirs no DnD, no school bully… It’s serios, and that can sometimes be its downfall. Another flaw is the lack of wonder the audience feels, after all, they have already seen these monsters and this dimension and the powers of El before. This makes the world feel less impactful, we already know the other dimension and what it has to offer. The lack of fear of the unknown is common in thriller sequels, so it’s obvious that this sequel would fall victim.

But the new season also benefits from the great additions to the cast. Max is your basic rebel girl character, but she has an excellent characterization that tosses the trope out of the window. Bob is just… he’s just the best. He has a great personality and a lovely performance from Sean Astin. And Erica. Erica is awesome.

OVERALL SEASON GRADE: B+