Strange is the new awesome

Stranger Things' second season drops on Netflix

A poster for Stranger Things: Season 2. The 9-episode season is currently availible on Netflix.

photo by Netflix

A poster for Stranger Things: Season 2. The 9-episode season is currently availible on Netflix.

Bryson Turner, Online Editor

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Go microwave some Eggos and find a quiet place, because after one year, three months, and 12 days, Stranger Things’ second season has dropped on Netflix, and it was well worth the wait.
Consisting of nine episodes, one more than last time, this season brings viewers back to Hawkins, Indiana, nearly one year after the events of the first installment, where Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is seemingly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his time in the Upside Down, but as Hopper (David Harbour), Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) dig deeper, they find that Demogorgans are not their only problem.

It is easy to see that the show was given a budget bump. This season’s villain, which later earns the nickname the Mind Flayer, is depicted entirely in CGI, with spider-like legs and a head that looks eerily like the xenomorphs from the Alien franchise, and while it didn’t appear on-screen that way for long, it still managed to have a foreboding presence throughout the season. Additionally, the set pieces for this season were phenomenal, from scenes in Hopper’s cabin in the woods, to Hawkins Lab and the Upside Down.

The cabin in the woods was also the birthplace of this season’s best relationship, the parental bond between Hopper and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). Who knew these characters needed each other so much? A major part of Hopper’s character is that he still grieves the loss of his daughter to cancer, while Eleven lost the only father she ever knew, Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), after his death last season. Every scene they share together overtly shows that Hopper is viewing Eleven as another chance to be a parent again. Harbour and Brown, who were both nominated for Emmys for their performances last season, have an astounding chemistry. Just the simple action of them holding hands is worthy of an “aww.”

In fact, every actor turns in performances ranging from passable to outstanding. Harbour and Brown continue to impress, and Brown holds up an entire episode as the only established character. Joyce’s parenting and detective skills are still second to none and Steve (Joe Keery) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) manage to forge an unlikely sibling-like bond that redeems the high schooler from his jerkish behavior last season.

However, it was Finn Wolfhard as Mike who really hit it out of the park this installment. Fresh off of It, he returned to the role that put him on the map, and manage to nail Mike’s anguish over Eleven’s absence, most of which include avoiding and being cold to new girl Maxine “Max” Hargrove (Sadie Sink). The scene where he reunites with Eleven is handled beautifully and when he finds out that Hopper had been hiding her for a year, his response made for an Emmy moment.

The new additions range from pretty harmless to downright spectacular. Noah Schnapp makes the most of his added screen time as Will, making the leap from plot device to fully fledged character. He does an excellent job at portraying a child suffering from PTSD, from having “episodes” to spouts of panic attacks to dodging the topic of the Upside Down all together. He also has a great chemistry with Joyce’s new boyfriend, Bob Newby (Sean Astin), who’s likeable personality and good nature earned him what I like to call “Barb status,” which is a title designated for a relatively minor character that gains a large following. Other notable new additions this season include Paul Reiser as Dr. Sam Owens, who takes the idea that all government scientists are evil and slaps it in the face, and Brett Gelman as private investigator Murray Bauman, who is a riot in his limited role.
While Stranger Things first drew in audiences with its ‘80s nostalgia and its compelling mystery/horror storyline, this season shines because of its emotional and character driven moments while not taking away from what made last season memorable. So, with that said, might want to grab some tissues to go with those Eggos.

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