Stranger Things 2 was finally bestowed upon us by the Netflix gods, and boy was it a treat (or trick). I’m going to keep this review simple, I’ll just talk about things I loved and maybe things I didn’t enjoy but when all is said and done I freaking loved this season. Let me start with things I didn’t enjoy or I felt were unnecessary, there isn’t a lot.
So here we go…
I didn’t enjoy Mike much this season, sure he was going through a lot emotionally (with missing Eleven) but I felt like the character was just thrown into the background with little to do while others sorta evolved and grew but don’t get me wrong Finn still came through the performance though. Nancy, Steve and Johnathan (ugh) this love triangle is a big no from me, even if Steve came through this season with his dude-broness, mans needs to move on in season 3, Nancy made her bed let her sleep in it bro.
I also felt like the mysteries of Max and Billy’s past were really unnecessary cause honestly if their past does not serve the main story in a way that it pushes it forward I don’t care much for it, because the characters were still essentially stuck where we found them when we started, apart for the tiny growth both experience in the last episode. Although, I will say I loved how the writers used Max as a tool to grow and develop Lucas and Dustin. Most importantly Lucas, whose character moved away from the stereotypical “annoying black” character from season one to a more functional and almost three-dimensional character.
With that said, let me get into what I loved about season 2, and that mainly being the characters. Let me start with Lucas, who I hated the past season but this season I found myself enjoying his scenes and the bonds he formed with Max as well the bond that grew with Dustin, from this we finally saw the dynamics of “the party”. The boys have each other but some bonds are stronger than others. With Lucas and Dustin’s characters I loved how this season showcased parts of who they really are, and I might have gotten glimpses of what they truly fear and Steve serving as sort of like a Yoda-like mentor to Dustin was a highlight in both character arcs (aye these writers ain’t slick, we see all these star wars references).
Let’s talk about Bob (P.S. mild spoiler), Sean Astin is not someone I’d even look at twice as an actor but he probably stole my soul this season with the ordinary guy performance. Bob comes in with his charm and brings normal to the “strange” lives of the Byers, providing a father figure to the boys and someone for Joyce to love. Bob like Barb from season one is used as a tragic storytelling device to push the characters to act for their own good, and surprisingly his fatherly advice kind of helps the Up-side Down forces but I won’t spoil that huge moment for those yet to watch.
Will and Eleven, two characters who rarely had screen time together in the show although two characters similar to each other in many ways. I couldn’t help think of how these two were possibly parallels of Rey and Kylo Ren (yup Star Wars) but let me keep it un-nerdy. Let me start with the Queen herself, Jane aka Eleven aka El, played by future Oscar winner Millie Bobby Brown (yup I’m calling it), this season Eleven is sent off on a journey of her own as she explores her past and like most young “Jedi” she must choose between the dark and light side of the force and for a moment we think Jean Grey has chosen the dark side and trust me dark Phoenix, I mean El is a pure pleasure to watch, but she finally realizes who she is, a hero and decides to go back home, where her friends are.
Home and friends were kinda of a big deal for El this season as she just wanted a home, and to be with her friends but she couldn’t have any of those, and the lack of those things gave way for dark El. The dark is not really a bad place to be as one sometimes finds who they truly are in the dark and their strength just like El. Millie was extremely impressive this season with her performance and the little moments El shares with Mike breaks my heart but I found myself loving the hug El and Joyce shared.
Both El and Will are suffering from post-traumatic stress, more so in Will. Unlike El who had little contact with everyone, Will was surrounded by all his friends and family but was still isolated, the events of season one had left a mark on young Will. The after effects were still felt, though, as he was plagued by dreams of the place that tormented him for much of season one, a surprising turn the character takes yes, where as El voluntary joins the dark for a while, Will’s bravery only invites that dark in and an “Exorcist” like arc plays out, now one is left to wonder what will become of Will Byers next? The Up-side Down took his body in season one, took his mind in two, will his body life be next in season three? Time will tell and can we talk about Noah Schnapp’s performance this season? Amazing!
In terms of story, the season weaved threads that will surely pay off in the future seasons, but as for season two, it was more emotional and grounded. The backstories of a couple of characters are brought to light which is enough to keep this season satisfying and engaging.
Season two for me was more visually pleasing and vibrant than season one, the camera, sound and editing are utilized in ways that actually enhance the story without being show-offy. The use of red and its tones to place fear in the back of minds without it being too obvious was brilliant, the show also used the colours to enhance the unseen villain beautifully. The show made audiences fear a shadow just by seeing a “vibrant” storm. Season 2 is good and its worth watching.
Writer: Linda radebe