‘Stranger Things 2’ Review: Season 2 Is Bigger, Better, And Full Of Surprises

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source: Netflix

Netflix’s most popular series is back and better than before

When Stranger Things first came to Netflix, it was the show that everyone was raving about, so much so that I decided to watch this 80s loving sci-fi horror series last year. Surprisingly, I wasn’t as big of a fan as everyone else. I thought it started off quite slow and the 80s “homages” were more like rip-offs. With that said, after Season 2, I have to say that the Duffer Brothers have finally made an 80s sci-fi-horror series that lives up to its name and fame.

Stranger Things 2 follows the Byers family as they try to get past the tragedies of the first season. However, Will (Noah Schnapp) has brought back a connection to the Upside Down and finds himself between both worlds. When his “episodes” come, Will finds himself in the other dimension being chased by a monster who’s trying to get inside him.

Make no mistake, Stranger Things 2 is still filled with plenty of 80s references. From popular movies to favorite foods, this Netflix original series has it all. However, different from the first season is that here it doesn’t feel like rip-offs. Instead, season 2 feels more like homages, something the Duffer Brothers have been battling since the first season. The main difference here is that Stranger Things 2 feels unique and has come into its own series. It’s not relying too much on plot points of 80s movies like before. Instead, it explores its own stories, and it builds its own characters. Though there are plenty of visual and story elements ripped right off 80s movie tropes, there’s nothing too literal. For fans of the references, don’t worry, season 2 has shades of Aliens and A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, but it still manages to make them feel implicit.

However, even as Stranger Things comes into its own, it never becomes the complicated mess it very well can be. It keeps it’s story simple, and it’s characters interesting. It manages to keep building its mythology without getting overcomplicated. And while the Upside Down remains mysterious throughout, when the characters descend there, they make discoveries that easily showcase its logistics. The full season is mostly done through characters, and they offer a mutual payoff developing both characters and their environment.

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The newcomers are just as interesting as the main cast – source: Netflix

When the series focuses on its beloved characters, Stranger Things 2 benefits greatly. It does this often, and for fans of the series, they will geek out on the unusual pairings that the show gives us. Season 2 is full of surprises and fan services (Barb anyone?) that don’t feel forced. It’s the series’ groupings of characters that get the spotlight, and through these pairs, the viewer gets to know them even more. It’s a brilliant strategy that gives the series the opportunity to develop their characters by surprising interactions with each other, some you won’t even see coming. Even the newcomers are instantly likable and worthy of the show’s time. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of pairs that you will want to see and trust me, it’s fantastic.

Just like the first season, season 2 feels like a long film. Its episodes end only to follow-up exactly where they ended. It’s obvious why the Duffer Brothers have chosen to call it Stranger Things 2, given its cinematic nature. However, there’s one episode towards the end that keeps this season from fully achieving its cinematic comparison. Episode 7 is your typical character arc episode that tampers with the series pacing in a lot of ways. Not to say that the episode is terrible, but it has such a horrible placement that it feels like an oddity. It doesn’t help that the previous episode ends on an extremely exciting note and episode 7 doesn’t continue this event, instead, starts a whole new path for a potential season 3 arc.

Despite a sub-par episode, Stranger Things 2 is a lot better than season 1. The Duffer Brothers have finally found a balance between 80s nostalgia and copying directly from favorite 80s movies. As a result, this sci-fi-horror Netflix series feels surprisingly unique and unlike anything on TV nowadays. And while I don’t think it’s meant to be binge-watched, it’s difficult not to get lost in its charm and thrilling action. Either way, one thing is for certain, you may want to brush off on your 80s knowledge before diving into this electrifying series.

Stranger Things 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.

GRADE: A-

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