Things Are About to Get Stranger (spoilers ahead!)


Catherine Zenkevich ‘18, Staff Writer

Netflix’s catalog of original series got a little stranger this Halloween with the release of the eagerly awaited second season of Stranger Things. It’s been a year since the town of Hawkins and our cultural landscape changed after the disappearance of Will Byers, and neither have been the same since. The first season left indelible marks on society’s collective consciousness, but with such high expectations, could the Duffer brothers, the brains behind Stranger Things, deliver an equally impressive second season?

Even with the bar set so high, the Duffer brothers soared past expectations to deliver one of the most exciting seasons of television in 2017. Stranger Things 2 shows what good can come from treating a new season as a sequel to a movie, rather than a continuation of the last season. The cinematic flourishes of the directors and cinematographers elevated the series to new heights. The tributes and nods to 80s pop culture are frequent and amusing, but they do not detract from the viewer’s experience. Many feared that Stranger Things 2 may hit its sophomore slump and rely too heavily on 80s nostalgia, but the references are merely the icing on the cake of an elaborately constructed storyline.

The story arc of season two is more incredible and out of this world than it was the first time around, but this is to the show’s advantage. After resolving the issue of the demagorgon, the kids need a new evil to fight, and season two delivers not one, but two new villains for our protagonists to defeat. The first villain, an evil supernatural force nicknamed the Mind Flayer, torments Will after escaping the Upside Down. Will is now apart of the “hive mind” of the Mind Flayer and demadogs, making him the group’s only chance at getting inside the shadow monster’s mind and destroying it. While you might believe that this shadow monster would be the group’s main concern, they have another, more human, villain to deal with. Billy Hargrove, a new arrival in Hawkins, emulates everything that is wrong with humanity, mullet included. Billy (Dacre Montgomery), the abusive stepbrother of another newbie, Maxine Mayfield (Sadie Sink), is erratic and aggressive. In a tempestuous fit of anger and testosterone, Billy almost runs Mike, Lucas, and Dustin over with his car. So suffice it to say, Billy is no one’s favorite character. The Duffer brothers said that they wanted to introduce a human villain to contrast the Mind Flayer’s evil, and it definitely worked.

Billy is not the only new character in Hawkins this season, he’s joined by his stepsister Max, Joyce’s new boyfriend Bob (Sean Astin), and Eleven’s long lost telekinetic “sister”, Kali (Linnea Berthelsen). The newbies are seamlessly incorporated into storylines and their introductions gives season 2 the boost it needed.

Kali, another product of lab experiments and Eleven’s surrogate sister, is not as warmly welcomed as her fellow newcomers. Kali and her gang are out to get revenge on those who experimented on her as a child, and she sucks Eleven into her hate-fueled rampage. After discovering her birth mother, Eleven seeks out Kali and joins her gang. While this solo journey is necessary for Eleven’s character development, many people saw the episode as a superfluous waste of time, as it did not tell us anything new about Eleven’s character and delayed her return to her friends. Nevertheless, the episode did prove that the Duffer brothers are willing to explore and experiment with the Netflix format and do more singular arcs for main characters.

The sequel ends on an ominous note with the Mind Flayer menacingly hovering over the Snow Ball dance. This ending leaves the show up in the air, but the cliffhanger is not as personal as last season’s, as all the characters’ personal arcs were mostly resolved at the dance. The Mind Flayer’s foreboding presence gives the sense that the third installment of Stranger Things will have even higher stakes than the first and second installments. So pop your Eggos into the toaster and set up the Dungeons and Dragons board, because the wait for season 3 starts now.