Review: “Stranger Things 2” recaptures lightning in a bottle

Season one of “Stranger Things” was originally released on Netflix in July of 2016.

Jacob Beals

The first season of “Stranger Things” played out like a film from the 1980’s, and I loved every second of it. After a long wait, for almost a year and half, season two is finally here. In the same vein as the first season, it also plays out like a good 80’s film, a good 80’s sequel to be exact.

There is nothing upside down about it, the Duffer Brothers have crafted something special for their audience once again.

Making something great a second time can be very hard to do. In fact, I feel that would be one of the toughest jobs as a writer or storyteller. Some movies and TV seasons are so good that they feel like lighting in a bottle. I think if someone is able to find that magic again, it really says a lot about their talent. 

But, what is it that makes “Stranger Things 2” so good? First of all, the mystery of what is going on in Hawkins, IN is so well paced. The second season dives deeper into the Upside Down, but it doesn’t reveal too much all at once. We find out more about how the other dimension works, the monsters living there and of course, Will Byers.

Byers is having trouble coping with life after his traumatic experience in the Upside Down last season. What he goes through in season two drives the whole narrative in a great direction.

Speaking of Will, Noah Schnapp continues his excellent work as the character, giving him even more focus in his increased screen time. In fact, all of the returning cast is fantastic. Their chemistry is perfect and the interactions they have with one another made me smile, laugh and even cry.

Plus, some new members join the cast and all of them are great additions, especially Sean Astin and Paul Reiser. The show is known for making 80’s references and these two men were living examples of that as they starred in “The Goonies” and “Aliens,” two iconic movies from the decade.

The characters do seem to be split up much more in this season than in the first, as the show shifts point of views frequently.. Because of that, there are several storylines going on at once. A few of which I did not see coming at all.

That being said, none of the storylines bothered or bored me. By the end of the season, they all come together beautifully. Nothing feels forced or too fast paced either, as it all flows from episode to episode very nicely. I think that is one of the things this show does best, the storytelling comes across very natural.

As for the danger in this season, there is plenty of it. Remember in the first “Alien” film how there is only one alien, but then in the sequel there are tons of aliens? Well, this season of Stranger Things does something similar to that with their monsters.

I also felt some “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” vibes between a character in this show and one of the monsters. This was another one of the many callbacks to famous movies from the 1980’s. 

The danger does not stop at the creatures though. The happenings in the Upside Down affect Hawkins directly this time around, and it is bound to shake the town even more in the future.

This season definitely amped up everything, but it never feels too over the top. Plus, the comic relief is on point, especially from Dustin played by Gaten Matarazzo.

Now I want to talk about my favorite character from the show, Eleven.

When season one ended, I could not stop wondering what would happen to her. Eleven’s arc in season two is nothing like I expected. But, I will say I enjoyed it. Questions about her past were answered. Plus, there is an episode involving her that feels completely different to any episode prior that sheds more light to her as a character.

By the season’s end, I wanted more. Things are wrapped up in season two much like they were in season one, but a window to the show’s future is once again opened.

After two seasons, “Stranger Things” is still suspenseful, exciting and an all-around fun time. Not only will it leave you craving triple decker waffles, it will also leave you ready for season three.