Stranger Things 2: A Student-Written Review

Stranger Things 2: A Student-Written Review

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By Tara Woods and Carson McCready – The Collegiate Staff

The big question that people had on their mind after the epic finale of the first season is, “Will season two be better or worse than season one?” Truth be told, sequels are usually not as good as the original. Nothing can beat the nostalgia and mystery that the first season brought to the table. Not to rule out season two as worse, just different. It expands on the existing tale of the first season, giving new characters to connect with, new friendships, and of course, an even bigger monster.

Fans have been hyped about the next plot developments after season one left its audience off on the allegory not-so-subtly portrayed through the enthusiastic and rowdy game of Dungeons and Dragons the four young boys play.

With Lucas complaining that “the campaign was way too short,” Dustin asking about “the lost knight,” who is presumably Chief Hopper, Lucas following that with “the proud princess,” who is most obviously Eleven, and Will finishing the list asking about “those weird flowers in the cave,” which could possibly refer to the Upside Down. There are many unanswered questions that the audience has been waiting for.

There is a lot to say about the cinematography as well. The last episode of season one was filled with lighting techniques such as darkness in the Upside Down to convey fear and exploration of the unknown, and persistent strobe lighting in the kid’s school to emphasize confusion and rapid movement to create an anxious mood.

Similarly, the first episode of season two opens into a night scene with low key lighting to portray suspense. The lighting is accompanied by an alarm ringing and a police siren wailing to create a sense of immediacy. Soon after the consecutive night scenes, daylight hits the set, showing the audience that new things are anticipated.

One of the main storylines of the season involves our beloved El, or Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown. The badass super-girl with telekinetic powers gets to show her softer side as she goes through her own personal discovery of what ‘home’ means to her, and it’s a journey that fans would not expect.

Since the new season takes place about a year after all of the events from the previous season, many things have gone back to ‘normal” for the characters. Everyone has almost slipped into a state of denial, including our resident bad boy Steve Harrington who is played by Joe Keery. This season, Steve takes on a completely different role than the first season, making an unexpected friend along the way. It makes the audience question why we ever didn’t like him.

Although, it is mainly the Wheelers who are holding onto the past. Nancy is completely torn up by the weight of responsibility for her friend Barb, as shown by the short bathroom scene where a zoom out dolly shot creates a mood of loneliness, putting her into an active investigative role through the season to find out – who truly did this? As far as shipping goes – were back in the old dilemma this season of who should Nancy choose. Soulful, deep, angsty Jonathan, or reformed, exuberant Steve?  

Mike also holds onto his hope that Eleven is still alive and out there somewhere. You don’t see this effect his actions right away, but he is desperate to have that connection back. Mike doesn’t take on one of the leading roles this season, sitting back with Will while Lucas and Dustin, get an opportunity to show more of their loud personality.

Their story mainly centers around one of the new characters – Max. Played by Sadie Sink, Max is another badass female who is breaking gender norms of the times. She gets welcomed into the group with a mixed response, but with her own complicated backstory, she brings another edge, like syrup on top of an Eggo waffle.

Max helps us get more insight into Lucas’s life. We get a few more scenes in his home life that help us connect with him on a different level. Dustin was already a fan favorite last year, but this season takes him in a new direction that will please fans. He also gets an unexpected ally during the season that really breathes new life into his character.

An unexpected and new player comes onto the field in the form of Bob Newby, played by Sean Astin, or as others may know him from Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee. Bob is the goofy love interest of Joyce Byers. Although his character seems unimportant, he will change the season in an unexpected and brilliant way.

This season we also have a new sense of mystery, as we don’t know exactly who the bad guy is. All we know is that the “shadow monster” is haunting Will Byers’ dreams. Hopper, played by David Harbour is back again with his gruff demeanor and sharp wit. We also see a different side of the police chief this season, giving fans a fuller picture of his personality.

In the end, season two brings a whole new life or death to the town of Hopkins. The last episode leaves a few things left unmentioned, almost guaranteeing us a season three that is filled with more horror, laughs and Eggos.

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