“Stranger Things” enthralls once again with second season
Second season of “Stranger Things” goes beyond the magic of its predecessor. | Photo Courtesy of theverge.com
When “Stranger Things” exploded onto Netflix in the summer of 2016, audience’s eyes were fixated. With a not so subtle 80s setting, including loads of nostalgic trips through the era’s music and film, the Duffer Brothers went to great lengths to make the 80s aesthetic credible and its most gravitating selling point. However, the show drew praise for much more than its visual and atmospheric appeal: its connectability, childlike exuberance and character dynamics remain to die for. Nevertheless, the Duffer brothers faced the tall task of shelling out a bigger and badder follow up in order to satiate the show's increasingly rabid following. Luckily, the Duffer Brothers do not disappoint, as season two finds itself elevated in almost every aspect while it ties up loose ends from last season.
expanded mystery and intrigue
The overarching question from the show’s pilot season rises to the forefront once again in season two—the fate of Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp. However, the running storyline has evolved into an untamed beast in season two. Similarly, the show’s additional protagonists have grown as well, as they confront past demons with a few new challenges in their way. With that being said, the varying story arcs, character aspirations and personalities are deepened in interesting new ways, with a love triangle or two dispersed in between the central conflict. More so than ever, the series' mythology expands, building on some aspects from the past while bringing in a new or previously unknown evil to haunt the town of Hawkins. Having mentioned that, the “Upside Down” poses itself as a bigger threat to the show’s characters and small town than the show’s heroes initially anticipated, and the expanded mystery and intrigue succeeds in sucking the viewer further into its cliche yet captivating narrative.
Like season one, some questions are left unaddressed, perhaps for the purpose of future seasons. Aside from the loose ends, issues arise that are completely ignored, namely Eleven's disdain for a specific character and the consequences of some of Dustin's reckless behavior. Nevertheless, these minor quips should not detract from the experience of the story.
For those more than familiar with the show, they know great acting is no stranger to the series. Despite the very brief careers of most of the young protagonists thus far, they have all but tapped into their immense potential. Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, once again stands out, as she exudes a wide range of struggles that demand a different set of emotions, whether that be anger, melancholy or pure joy. Brown commands her character and possesses an unflappable expertise that transcends her young age. In light of this, the ensemble of quirky, fun-loving kids as a whole deliver myriad dynamic performances, thus setting the standard for aspiring child actors.
Heightened 80s flare
The show's atmospheric flare cannot go unmentioned. Once again, the Duffer Brothers execute the story with undeniable style and 1980s groove. With a noticeable increase in budget, the visual effects have clearly improved and allow for a complexity and richness not available during the production of season one. The tangible 80s atmosphere, once again, remains visible with myriad references to 80s pop-culture, including film posters on the wall, era-defining music, electronics, clothing and hairstyles. Aside from the expected use of 80s music: Oingo Boingo, The Clash, Cyndi Lauper, The Police and Metallica, the score composed by S U R V I V E ‘s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein once again sets a great tone and serves the story’s ambiance perfectly. With the overall nostalgia, those who appreciated the aesthetic last time will be blown out of the water this time around.
For those who remained hesitant to buy into the hype of “Stranger Things” after season one, the second should seal the deal for most, as it improves on all fronts, presenting an even darker and more cryptic mystery to be solved by an understatedly great cast of characters. Overall, the second season will remind audiences why they fell in love with the first season. The Duffer Brothers have to be thanked for not letting us down, as they have gifted an anticipatory fanbase, a well-executed story and an entertaining and captivating experience. With that being said, withdrawal has already set in as the wait for season three begins.