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Bigger, Darker, and Weirder: ‘Stranger Things 2’ Dominates Halloween Weekend

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On Friday Oct. 27, Netflix released the long-anticipated second season of its most popular original drama ever, ”Stranger Things.” Many doubted that the series’ second installment could live up to the first. Recreating the sense of discovery of the first season is impossible. “Stranger Things 2,” while not perfect, is an excellent continuation of the story.

The show’s first season was released last July and was an immediate hit. It garnered critical fame and dominated nearly every television awards show of the 2016 season with 78 total nominations. Last year, the series gained over 14 million viewers within the first month of its release. Now, it has become an obsession that left fans counting down the moments until season two.

The science-fiction series created by the Duffer Brothers starring Winona Ryder and David Harbour is filled with everything that makes a show deliciously addictive: drama, horror, mystery, and heart. The characters are real and lovable, the story is gripping, and the 1980s setting gives it a nostalgic feel that pays homage to Stephen King’s works. The October release date of the second season came just in time for Halloween and tempted fans to stay in and binge-watch it all weekend.

Some of the series’ new characters were introduced and a few unanswered plot points were addressed. It was also much darker than the first season. It generally was met by fans with a positive reaction. While there is too much to talk about with “Stranger Things 2,” there are a few key elements that should be addressed.

The story takes place a year after the events of season one.

It addresses the effects reverberating from last season’s events after Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) returned from the alternate dimension, “The Upside Down.” He deals with the trauma he experienced and struggles to adjust to the normal world, all while his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) lives in fear of losing him again.

It becomes evident that “The Upside Down” is not gone forever. Instead, a much larger and more powerful force threatens to seep into the world and destroy it.  

Audiences also see Eleven (Millie Bobbie Brown) as she tries to find her place in the world after nearly dying at the end of last season. She seeks to discover her origins and tries to figure out what to do with her telekinetic powers.

This season was strong with its energy, plot development, and character growth. However, certain storylines felt rushed or like they existed to serve the fans instead of the story itself.

For example, while most fans were rooting for Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) to end up together, their relationship felt more forced this season than the last one. While the chemistry and shared history was obvious, the writing did much more telling instead of showing.

Also, the season featured an episode where Eleven travels on her own to Chicago to find another experiment like her, who she referred to as her “sister.” What was odd was that this was the sole focus of that episode instead of featuring the stories of several characters like it usually does.

While the episode was important for Eleven’s character, it felt off-beat and somewhat killed the momentum of the season. It will be interesting to see if the idea of other people with powers like Eleven’s will be explored in later seasons.

The major part of what made this season successful was the fan’s devotion to the characters. They are an eclectic group that gives the show its heart. They are compelling yet imperfect, which makes viewers see themselves on screen.

There is no doubt that certain characters are fan favorites. The most surprising new standout of this season was Steve Harrington. He matured and became a father-like figure for the show’s main gang of kids, quickly becoming a season highlight.

In addition, Noah Schnapp gave a phenomenal performance as Will Byers. Considering he was not in the last season that often, he had a chance to shine as the center of the new storyline. The kids in the cast have all matured in the past year as actors , which was made evident in their performances as a whole.

Overall, ”Stranger Things 2” hit just the right mark. Although there were weak points in story development, the season was fantastic as a whole. It was terrifying, dark, mysterious, fun, and heartfelt.

Only one question remains on fans’ minds: when is season three coming out?

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