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A Few Thoughts on STRANGER THINGS 2

Last year, like many others, I was surprised, if not floored, by the surprise Netflix release of Stranger Things, an incredible love letter to 1980’s horror and sci-fi from The Duffer Brothers.

On Friday, October 27th, at 3am Eastern, the Second Season hit Netflix, and while I was definitely one of the people wringing their hands at messing with a good thing and doing another season of a great show which seemed to tie things up rather well, I’m pleased to share that Stranger Things 2 (as the second season is titled on-screen) is pretty damn great, if not almost as good as the original.

I’m not going to put together a full-on review of the series, as people far more meticulous and well-versed in TV recapping have done that to death.

Instead, I’ll share just a few thoughts on the second season. And don’t worry – the spoilers, if any, are very very minor.

  • One of the best functions of the new season is the growth of each character. The young cast has – thankfully – become a group of great actors, and seeing some unique parings we didn’t see in the first season come to life was an absolute joy.
  • Holy crap – the kid who plays Will (Noah Schnapp) is SO GOOD! For an actor who did so little last time, to see him stretch his wings and have some of the heaviest lifting in the new season is truly a joy.
  • The new cast members – Max (newcomer Sadie Sink), and her step-brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery, better known for appearing in this year’s Power Rangers reboot) both fit their stereotypes well – as the tomboy and the bully respectively, but neither gets the chance to rise above the type. Perhaps in Season 3? (Which, of course, is coming.)
  • Where as the first season seemed to be aping Spielberg through a lens of Stephen King, the second season takes Spielberg and puts him through the prism of both John Carpenter and James Cameron. Appropriate, given how much this season is a sequel to the first – and Carpenter and Cameron both know how to handle sequels.
  • The score – once again by two-fourths of Austin electronic group S U R V I V E, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein – is 80’s inspired synth gloriousness, with great callbacks to earlier themes, and gloriously gloomy anthems when the emotions intensify. I’m going to be listening to this one on Apple Music quite a bit.
  • I’m happy the Barb-shaped elephant in the room is addressed.
  • There is one episode towards the end of the season which may be one of the most head-scratching narrative choices of the show. It’s not terribly bad, but if anything, poorly timed in the series, and based on the fan response so far (Reddit, conversations with friends), I’m not the only one who wishes that episode was handled differently.
  • The visuals are even more gorgeous. It’s clear whatever increase in budget the show had went right into the look and feel. I can only imagine how great it must look in 4K HDR.
  • How cool is it to see Sean Astin and Paul Reiser in the show? Giving the show a touch of The Goonies and Aliens respectively just helps with the credibility overall.
  • On the whole, even with my gripes, Stranger Things 2 makes for a great sequel, and was good enough to make me regret doubting The Duffer Brothers. Here’s hoping Season 3 marks a strong trilogy.

Stranger Things 2 is streaming now on Netflix.