The surprise Netflix hit of 2016 is back, and things are well… strange.
Season two of the hotly-anticipated Stranger Things has landed and despite expectations for the Duffer Brother’s 80’s thriller being about high as you can get, the response from fans and critics has been overwhelmingly positive.
Stranger Things season two follows the residents of Hawkings and Indianna, as they try to re-adjust back to normal life, following the events of the first season. Unsurprisingly, life cannot go back to normal and it’s not long before the Upside Down is back causing havoc for Will Byers and the gang.
One thing that Stranger Things does brilliantly is the characters. The first season introduced us to some of the most endearing characters in recent television history. Season two had the difficult job of ensuring that we still cared about them all, whilst also introducing a range of new and likeable characters. They’re succeeding.
What is particularly great about the second season is the way in which it develops relationships between characters. One of the strongest bonds of the second season is the surprising friendship between the adorable Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Steve Harrington (Joe Keery); the former jock turned adopted father of four. Whilst Dustin and Steve barely said two words in the first season, their growing friendship and comic-timing in the second outing is one of the most endearing things in the whole show. Another particularly strong relationship is the one between Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and Hopper (David Harbour). Hopper, having lost his daughter some time previously, takes on a paternal role towards Brown’s character and their scenes together create a perfect blend of warmth and humour.
Whilst the character development is spot on, one of the weaker elements of this season is its pacing. The beginning of season two is particularly slow, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. What it allows is for the viewers to see how the events of the first season have affected each of the characters. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) is evidently traumatised following his stint in the Upside Down and is struggling to adjust to normal life. Whilst Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) spends his nights pining for the love of his – very short – life, Eleven. Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) is also facing problems of her own, having to keep the true nature of her best friend Barb’s demise a secret.
So, after a slow but nonetheless interesting build up in the first few episodes, the season really begins to pick up the pace. The sixth episode ends on a major cliff-hanger, and it’s almost impossible to stop viewing at this point. That is until episode seven kicks in. Universally panned by critics, the seventh episode is intended to be a tangent from the main plot, and whilst I won’t go into detail in case of spoiling it, the seventh episode simply disrupts the flow of the season, just as its finally picked up pace.
But overall, Stranger Things season two is brilliant. It maintains the nostalgic charm of season one and includes stellar performances from every single cast member, there is really no weak link. It will make you laugh, it might even make you cry, but most importantly, it is binge-watch TV at its best. Another solid success for Netflix.