“Stranger Things 2” is the sequel to The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things,” which became an instant classic last year after it was released by Netflix. The first season followed the journey of friends Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson as they try to find their friend Will Byers, who has gone missing into an alternate dimension known as the Upside Down.
On their journey, they meet a girl named “Eleven,” who has special powers and escaped from the mysterious Hawkins Laboratory. Together, along with help from local police chief Jim Hopper, Will’s family and Mike’s sister, the group works to save Will.
“Stranger Things 2” does not pick up immediately where the first installment left off, but almost a year following instead. Since the first season told a contained story for the most part, that left the sequel with a few options that would make sense from where it left off.
The sequel can follow up on Will’s experiences since leaving the Upside Down, it can reunite Eleven with the boys and it can follow up on what is now happening at Hawkins Laboratoryーand more. The show tries to do a little bit of everything, and for the most part it works well. It calls back to jokes and things that happened in the first season without relying on them. It keeps the wonderful aesthetic of the ‘80s that so many fans love, but this time with more hit songs.
One of the best things about this season is that it spends more time on character development for characters that felt a bit neglected in the first season like Lucas, Dustin and Steve Harrington. Some people liked Steve in the first season and some didn’t, but this season gave him the time he deserved to show who he truly is. It also pairs up characters that we haven’t seen together before, with often humorous results.
We also meet a few new characters this season, and although they are decent characters in their own right, it feels like they mostly served the purpose of showcasing the strengths and faults in other characters. Or, in one case, they were just the means to an end. Although we gained insight on some of the veteran characters, the backstories and development of the new characters felt much less genuine in comparison.
One of the issues with the show trying to go in several different directions is that it had several different plotlines. The plotlines worked well when they appeared in each episode or only had one episode in between them. But this was not the case with a plotline that appeared in the first episode and did not appear again until the second half of the season. If someone were to watch slowly—as opposed to binge-watching—it seems entirely plausible that they would forget that the plotline had been introduced earlier when it finally resurfaces.
Overall, watching “Stranger Things 2” is worthwhile. The characters we grew to love over the last season were showcased, and so was the aesthetic and humor that characterizes the show. But for the full experience, it should be binge-watched rather than spaced out.
Show: Stranger Things 2
Release: Oct. 27