Stranger Things Season 2 is totally much darker than the first season but at the same time, it has more humour too. The horrors have been amped up and there are more genuinely disturbing parts in this season but at the same time, the humour is much more blatant and on the nose. And honestly, I don’t feel like Stranger Things 2 suffered at all for either of those choices.
On the whole, this season of Stranger Things is also much less streamlined and interconnected than the first with multiple new storylines, some of which connect back to the main plot and some of which kind of just end, either to be returned in the future seasons of Stranger Things or maybe not at all who knows. I mean just an example, in one corner you have a story about Will and what's happening to him because he's at the centre of this whole thing once again. You also have Lucas and Dustin competing for Max's affection. Jonathan and Nancy trying to get the truth out there that's as much as I'll say about that and Eleven searching for her mother and finding something about her family and even more believe it or not.
One of the major improvements from this season of Stranger Things over the last has to be kind of the nuance, I mean this year feels much more subtle in a lot of ways than the last season which was pretty morally black and white in my opinion. Characters this year feel much more dynamic and much more human. For example, the face of the government in the last season was Dr Brenner played by Matthew Modine and he was a pretty cut and dry villain. I feel like we can say that he was very two-dimensional and there's no fault of Modine, that's just the way the character was written, but in stark contrast to this season's government stooge is Paul Reiser's doctor Owens and despite being a bureaucrat and kicking the can of the problem down the road in a pretty big way he genuinely is a good person, he's a major aniline for the protagonist of the show rather than being almost a secondary villain like Brenner was.
Another good example, Max's older brother Billy played by the Red Ranger himself, Dacre Montgomery. I mean he does spend most of the season as a massive sordid. He is set up an antagonist but it's more of how he's an abusive piece of shit that interferes with their plan and gets in the way in a big way but he's not like objectively evil, there are layers to him too and the same can even be said for characters like Kali who you probably have heard nothing about but you definitely will know right from the get-go this season of Stranger Things. Her intentions are noble, she's getting revenge for a good reason but her methods are less than pure, to say the least. Still, she is more or less than the side of angels by the end of this season. But one the real highlights of the Stranger Things this season was the flipping of the script with Will. He goes from being the victim in the first season to kind of something of a victim as a hostage but also an unwitting accomplice for the season’s big bad. The Mind Flayer, it's really spectacular and it's a great twist in there. It gives us the season real stakes and skin in the game. This also serves to give Winona Ryder some really interesting new ground to explore. She is the frantic desperate mother going to the ends of the earth to find her son and now she’s in a much more desperate position honestly, she’s trying to save her son and having to wrestle with the fact that he’s essentially unwillingly trying to bring about the end of the world and there will be a point where you think that maybe she’s going too far.
There’s honestly a lot to love about the Stranger Things Season 2 especially for the fans of the first one but it is not perfect, well I think the way Barb was killed off and no one seemed to care was one of the major flaws of the first year. The fact that justice for barb actually literally creeps into this season was played more than a little heavy-handed in my opinion. It almost felt like a direct response to the flak they got from critics and fans than a necessary plot-line and it does tie back to the very end. It feels more like a setup for next season and future seasons as a whole than a necessary element in this one.
Stranger things 2 does only have 9 episodes so it didn’t really suffer from the Netflix sang that so many of their other longer shows do, but that arc was maybe probably the best example that filler still kind of exists or filler exists in a way I guess because it does tie back into the main story but the time you’re kind of sitting there wondering, do we really need to be here, there’s a lot more important stuff going on back with the other people.
Stranger Things season 2 also kind of feels just a little bit predictable in some spots and there are more than a few moments where you’ll definitely be able to call what happens before it does happen and trust me you will absolutely know when you’re watching it.
And this last one is a little bit nitpicky but there were a few places where I felt like some of the choices they made were mainly for fan service. For example, who did we love the Stranger Things Season 1! Most people would say that their favourite characters were Eleven and Chief Hopper, so you know what we’re gonna throw them together for a good chunk of the season, kind of a father-daughter storyline. There are many other things that they threw in mainly because fans cared about it in the first season and not necessarily because it needed to be in there. When you're sitting there going you say to yourself 'okay I enjoy this but it does feel a little forced.'
That being said there is still way more good than bad in this season of Stranger Things and if you love the first, you’ll definitely love the second.
This season does live up to the hype established by the first season and you will say it was probably better than the first season overall.
Watch the trailer of Stranger Things Season 2 here: