After Netflix released the first season of Stranger Things, it became an instant hit among viewers and critics alike. The series went on to become an eligible nominee at The Primetime Emmy Awards, The Golden Globes & The MTV Movie & TV Awards with the latter ceremony winning “Best TV Series” & Millie Bobby Brown won an award for Best Actress In A TV Series for her performance as Eleven.
Season 2 was distributed in 2017 and made the same impact as the last season earning critical acclaim from viewers and critics alike. The second season was nominated at The Golden Globes & The MTV Movie & TV Awards with the latter winning both categories from last year.
With Season 3 currently in development until The Duffers Brothers finished the entire thing before distributing in 2019, I want to share my thoughts on Season 2 before The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards air this September. Make sure you don’t forget or else you’ll never get a chance to witness who’s gonna win or lose.
Today’s review doesn’t contain no gigantic SPOILERS related to the plot. If you want to watch the second season, make sure you watch the first season because it’s a requirement. I will also try to not to give away any plot points from Season 1 to a minimum.
The Whole Series
Positive: The Main Cast from the first season reprise their roles and they all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Newcomers to the series including Sean Astin, Dacre Montgomery, Sadie Sink, & Paul Reiser all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.
Opening Titles for Season 2 shows the number 2, indicating that this season is treated like a nine hour sequel.
Cinematography didn’t suffer any technical difficulties throughout.
Musical Score retains John Carpenter’s influential use of a synthesizer.
Season 2 is influenced by The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, The Exorcist among other notable movies.
Due to the events of the previous season, our heroes feel emotionally different. Mike acts angsty (not going overboard) from time to time after losing someone close to him, Nancy suffers a case of Survivor’s Guilt & Will suffers from hallucinations as well as PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
As the season progresses, a few characters earn Character Development giving each one more depth and context.
This season takes place in 1984. For example, a presidential campaign sign is labeled “Reagan 84.” Back when Ronald Reagan was competing to win a second term to remain in The White House.
Songs from The 80’s are used frequently. The Duffer Brothers must’ve took several cues from Star-Lord’s Awesome Mix and Adam Sandler selecting 80’s songs for his movies.
Will’s role has expanded as a main cast member, rather than a recurring character from last season. In addition to Will, Steve’s role has also expanded as a main cast member.
For those who complained about Barb’s (my least favorite character) lack of “importance.” The second season uses her disappearance as a significant plot point.
Sean Astin’s character is named Bob. Remember my review for season 1 when I said both characters are named Will from HBO’s Westworld & Stranger Things? Anthony Hopkins’ character is named Robert, Bob is a nickname for Robert. Both Sean Astin & Anthony Hopkins played characters named Bob in a TV show developed by a filmmaking sibling duo. Westworld is developed by The Nolan Brothers & Stranger Things is developed by The Duffer Brothers.
To avoid recycling the same storylines from Season 1, our favorite characters are mixed into different pairs, giving us viewers a breath of fresh air.
Dustin & Lucas’ family members appear in Season 2.
As the season progresses, The Shadow Monster’s motive begins to make sense.
Throughout the second season, Will suffers from “side effects” after The Demogorgon kidnapped him.
Steve’s signature weapon returns from Season 1.
Steve & Dustin teaming up together was considered my favorite “Bromance Of The Year.” In terms of movies television shows pairing two characters forming a close bond.
Negative: Product Placement featuring brands such as Eggo’s, (obviously) Dr. Pepper, RadioShack, Cheetos, & Marlboro. I’ll give some I can’t remember a pass, because they’re forgettable minus Eleven’s favorite food.
Chapter 1: MADMAX
Positive: The title of Chapter 1 is a double reference to Mel Gibson/Tom Hardy’s character Mad Max and a nickname of a new character.
The Opening Scene establishes a pivotal element.
The Boys play an arcade game known as “Dragon’s Lair,” developed by animation director Don Bluth. (The Secret Of Nimh, An American Tale, The Land Before Time) Before game studio From Software’s video games such as the Dark Souls series and Bloodbourne were established as the hardest games for players to rage quit, Dragon’s Lair is probably considered to be the first difficult game which makes you want to yell at the screen if you loose or run out of quarters.
Another arcade game played by one of the lead characters is Dig Dug. The game foreshadows what’s yet to come.
The Byers & Bob watch a movie featuring a future DC/Marvel actor who also starred in an Oscar winning Best Picture film known as Birdman. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the actor I’m referring to played the main antagonist in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The last scene will make you feel very happy.
Chapter 2: Trick Or Treat, Freak
Positive: Flashbacks reveal how a beloved character managed to make it back to our world.
The boys dress up as a group from an iconic 80’s film for Halloween.
Speaking of Halloween costumes, one character wears a costume from a John Carpenter film.
Someone is dressed as Dracula. Winona Ryder also co-starred with Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola’s version of the titular character.
A blink and you’ll miss moment that an Extra is dressed up as Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot’s two films about her character and Justice League came out the same year as the second season of Stranger Things. Gal also worked with Millie for a music video with Maroon 5’s “Girl Like You.”
A promotional ad for an 80’s film is briefly shown on TV.
Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein film is shown on TV. Frankenstein (also a public domain character) who’s part of Universal Monsters, is scheduled to be part of a reboot series with Javier Bardem playing the character. The first film to start the reboot series was Tom Cruise’s The Mummy. It also came out the same year as the second season of Stranger Things.
Chapter 3: The Pollywog
Positive: A flashback shows how two characters found each other. I’ll give you a hint, they’re like Wolverine & X-23.
Remember Chapter 2’s final scene? The opening scene for Chapter 3 reveals what or who it is.
Shawn Levy directs Chapter 3.
A character said, “Would you like a ballon?” Pennywise The Dancing Clown from It, uses a tactic to offer his prey (usually children) a ballon before he eats him/her. The 2017 version of It came out and also featured Finn Wolfhard in a prominent role.
Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score from Gremlins was used briefly.
Jim Croce’s song, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” was played in a flashback scene. Another Jim Croce song, “I Got A Name,” was featured in Logan. Wolverine’s daughter X-23, is kinda similar to Eleven.
Something tiny shows up, if you know what I mean.
The last scene builds tension for later episodes.
Chapter 4: Will The Wise
Positive: A very dramatic scene intensifies.
Towards the end of Chapter 4, something small becomes a big problem.
At one point, a song from the Scarface soundtrack is used briefly.
One of the boys owns a Ghostbusters lunchbox.
Drawings serves as a plot point.
If you have already watched Chapter 4, remember the pumpkins? Can’t tell you anything important so I don’t wanna accidentally give away spoilers.
A pivotal character discovers his/her lineage.
Chapter 5: Dig Dug
Positive: The title of Chapter 5 is named after a classic video game.
Andrew Stanton directs Chapter 5.
One scene pays an homage to E.T. The Extraterrestrial.
Someone said pirate treasure. A subtle reference to The Goonies.
A flashback montage gives us more insight about a patient in Hawkins Lab.
Chapter 6: The Spy
Positive: A secret inside Hawkins Lab is fully revealed.
Something happened to Will. Won’t tell you, as I’m trying to keep certain plot points vague.
Steve’s secret about how he keeps his hair straight, made me laugh.
Max brings up her personal backstory.
The end of Chapter 6, indicates that the plot finally makes sense
Chapter 7: The Lost Sister
Positive: The title of Chapter 7 refers to a “relative” who serves a spiritual connection to someone close to her.
Chapter 7 parallels Luke Skywalker’s training with Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back.
Unlike other chapters, this one is personal.
One of my favorite characters said, “Mouthbreather.” I’m giving this an Extra Point for making me laugh yet again.
A familiar face makes a surprise appearance.
Chapter 8: The Mind Flayer
Positive: The title of Chapter 8 is named after the primary antagonist of Season 2.
A shocking death scene unexpectedly occurred. I refuse to spill the beans.
The Dramatic Stakes drastically rises as our favorite characters attempt to endure chaos.
A familiar song from Season 1 is used for a pivotal scene.
Chapter 9: The Gate
Positive: The Climax cranks up to 11 (No pun intended) as our heroes attempt to overcome their obstacles.
A fight scene ensues with one of the main characters battling his evil counterpart.
I will not tell you the ending. You’re gonna have to see for yourself. I refuse to give away every single character’s fate.
Chapter 9 ties up lose ends until Season 3 airs soon.
The last shot of Season 2 sets up Season 3’s storyline.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Stranger Things: Season 2 is a legit nine part episode which managed to keep me invested without looking at my phone or watch. All the positive stuff I’ve listed, indicates a variety of reasons why it’s on the same level as Season 1. If you’re a fan of the series or looking forward to Season 3, I strongly recommend it!