By Brennen Larson
In case you were living under a rock, Stranger Things came back for another season and it’s fantastic as hell and twice as fun. It premiered October 27. If you haven’t seen it by now, I highly suggest you do.
In this new season, titled Stranger Things 2, picks up one year after the end of season one, the main characters are all trying to return to normal as the anniversary of the disappearance of Will Byers (played by Billy Schnapp). Will’s mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), has found a new squeeze (played by Goonies alum Sean Astin). Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is hanging out at Sheriff Hopper’s house (David Harbour). There’s a couple new students, too: tough bully Billy (played by Dacre Montgomery) and tough arcade whiz Max (Sadie Sink). Growing tensions between characters old and new, as well as ominous visions Will is having of a shadowy monster in the extradimensional upside-down, all come together into a firework display by the end of the season.
The new season has undergone a slight tonal shift since last time. Instead of a normal-seeming town with an undercurrent of barely-seen almost-imagined creature feature horror for the first part, the horrific element is much more grand and overt, making for a slightly less claustrophobic experience. There’s something big and scary in the upside-down, and it’s making its way to Hawkins, Indiana.
Now, my praise is not to say this new season is without flaws. As said before, the big bad villain of the story is over in another dimension, so it poses much less of an early-season threat than the Demogorgon. Other than occasionally showing up in visions to threaten the Byers kid, it just hangs out for the first half of the show. Which isn’t to say there’s no story. Scaling back the monster allows for more time developing the main characters, allowing them time to shine through their (relatively) normal-life interactions. Also, it allows more room for the show to ramp up in intensity for the final few acts, and boy does it ever!
Overall, I’d rate the season pretty highly. If the first was five out of five stars overall, I’d give Stranger Things 2 four stars.