After the overwhelming success of its first season, it’s safe to say that Stranger Things 2 had a lot to live up to to receive the same recognition as its predecessor. However, after recently finishing what is arguably one of the most immersive nine hours you’ll have this year, the Stranger Things 2 crew have done a fantastic job.
With an esteemed status comes the additional pressure to keep viewers as invested as the previous year. For this to happen, the show needed to add something new whilst keeping the core aspects of the show very much alive, and they did just that. Boldly continuing from where it left off, Stranger Things 2 carries all of the nostalgia and ever-growing tense atmosphere from the first season as a new horrifying challenge presents itself. At first glance, things may seem to appear back to normal in Hawkins before a quick realisation shows that the Upside Down isn’t quite finished with the town.
The writers do a fantastic job of reintroducing us to the characters from the previous season, focusing on how they’ve changed, and yet continue to deal with the ramifications of the past. It’s rare to see such a focus on how each character is dealing with the events of a previous season, and how this then tailored the choices and events of the new season. This essential backstory really makes the show feel like a development from last year as we still feel like we know the characters as opposed to starting over again and trying to catch up with what the characters have been doing.
In addition to rekindling the love of the old characters, the show also introduces us to a few new characters. Max – or MadMax, a defiant skateboarder who attempts to join the group adding a little more gender balance to the team, and her older brother adding further tension to the story with his aggressive presence. Both certainly added something new to the story to progress from the first season, but whether it was particularly needed is questionable. There was a certain dynamic added where Max was constantly compared to Eleven as the female lead in the group, but this didn’t necessarily lead to anything major.
If there is progression to focus on however, it most certainly lies with Eleven. Arguably a method of setting up another series, elements of the show lead us down a new path to new locations and new characters as we learn more about Eleven’s past and potential future. Her interactions with the world around her as she discovers where she belongs adds an interesting alternative aspect to the main storyline. Occasionally, it becomes less engaging. This is mainly because the urge of wanting to watch what was happening elsewhere due to the tension and excitement. However, for the majority it was interesting and relevant to the story progression.
The new threat from the Upside Down comes in the form of a giant monster (as seen in the trailers) with the ultimate objective to spread fear and death throughout the town. Despite the lack of the eerie mystery and growing tension of the Demogorgon from the first season, there is certainly still a build-up to potentially catastrophic events as things begin to piece together, and all is not what it seems. This turning point of realisation for the characters was executed perfectly and shifted the pace of the series just at the right time.
For a second season, Stranger Things 2 was an expertly crafted piece. Put together using a very similar methodology as the first series, it will keep you engaged and captivated for the majority of the time. One thing that the show seems to have succeeded in both times is mystery. The ability to keep an audience guessing throughout and holding the engagement for the entire season. Whether the style can be replicated again for a third series is yet to be discovered. But for now, it’s most definitely up there for one of the best series of 2017.