A Look Back at Season Two of Stranger Things!
Warning, spoilers ahead…
Last year the Netflix original series Stranger Things was a worldwide phenomenon. Can season two measure up? Oh, yes, yes it can and so much more.
Picking up a year after the season one, most of the kids are still trying to cope with not having Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) around thinking she had died. Will (Noah Schnapp) in particular is having difficulties dealing with hallucinations of the Upside Down. Hopper (David Harbour) and Will’s mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) take him to see Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) in hopes of helping Will with his hallucination. As episode one draw to a close, it was revealed that Eleven was indeed alive and living with Hopper.
Through a series of flashbacks we see how Eleven was able to escape the Upside Down and how Hopper found her. He brought her to his grandfather’s cabin in the woods in hopes of keeping her safe from government agents that are still looking for her. A year away from her friends causes issues between her and Hopper. Even after she expresses interest in going trick-or-treating, Hopper refuses to let go in fear that she’ll be discovered. As Hopper tries to keep Eleven safe, he now has to investigate why pumpkin patches all over town are starting to rot. Then there’s Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Steve (Joe Keery) who are conflicted about whether they should tell Barb’s parents the truth about her death. Steve fears in doing so, the government may come after them.
At the school Halloween party, Will confesses his visions to Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Mike admits to trying to contact Eleven believing she is still alive. We soon see that Eleven has also been trying to use her powers to reach Mike. Returning home, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) discovers an alien slug like creature in his trashcan that he affectionately calls D’Artagnan. His discovery will have many ramifications when he shows the others and they come to the conclusion that its from the Upside Down. Things with Will start to take its toll on Joyce as she, her boyfriend, Bob (Sean Astin) and Hopper do their own investigation using a series Will’s drawings to figure out what it means and how they can help Will face his fears and ultimately defeat them.
Nancy, with help from Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) get caught by undercover lab agents after attempting to contact Barb’s mother just as Steve had feared. Dr. Owens shows them the portal to the Upside Down and confesses that this is how and where Barb had died. Dr. Owens wants to keep this portal a secret and keep it from government hands. Meanwhile, Dustin’s little discovery is not so little anymore as it breaks out of its cage. Eleven escapes the cabin and visits her biological mother Terry Ives who is in a catatonic state of mind and cared for by her sister. Eleven uses her powers to gain memories that show that shows how her mother tried to save her before brain-damaging shock therapy overcomes her. Leaving her mother, Eleven encounters another girl with the same training she has. Together they search for others like them. Their search leads them to Kali and her psychic powers. Kali helps Eleven control her anger and tap into that power. Eleven goes searching for the people who hurt her mother and exact revenge. But revenge is easier said than done. After she finds and attacks a lab tech who performed the shock therapy, she becomes reluctant to kill him after discovering he had a family of his own. Kali challenges her to either stay with them to finish what she started or go. Eleven ends up having visions of both Mike and Hopper are in danger back home at the Hawkins lab and decides to leave.
With Will in grave danger and manipulated by the shadow monster, Joyce and Bob race against time to save him. At the lab, a pack of creatures including D’Artagnan, overwhelm the lab killing every human being in sight. Mike urges Joyce to sedate Will to protect him from the creatures. When the power goes down, everyone becomes trapped inside the lab. Bob volunteers to go out and reset the breakers so that they can escape. Bob is caught and killed as the others make their escape. They all regroup to help Will fight off the shadow monster’s control over him. Will uses Morse code to tap a message that reads: “Close Gate”. Unfortunately, the shadow monster discovers their location. The group barricades themselves as they prepare for the pack of creatures that move in on them.
To everyone’s surprise, Eleven arrives in a nick of time and defeats the pack of monsters. The happy reunion is short-lived, as the group must devise a plan to close the portal to the Upside Down. Hopper and Eleven work together to do just that as Joyce tries to rid the virus that has overtaken Will by overheating him. Mike, Dustin, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Steve, and newbie gamer girl, Max (Sadie Sink) enter the tunnels to try and lure the monsters away from the lab. When they encounter D’Artagnan, Dustin intervenes and calms the creature long enough for the others to escape. Using all the anger that has built up within her, Eleven unleashes her power and closes the portal saving her friends and the town.
A month passes and the lab has been shut down. Barb finally gets the funeral she deserves and the proper send off. Dr. Owens provides Eleven with a forged birth certificate to be with Hopper. That night at the school winter dance the kids are having fun, laughing and enjoying life. Eleven and Mike even share a kiss together completely unaware that the shadow monster is still alive and in the Upside Down, it towers over the school. Season three can’t come soon enough.
The addition of Sadie Sink as Max makes for a wonderful dynamic going forward. Her being mentally mature then her male counterparts. You can see a potential problem brewing among the boys but more interesting will be how Eleven and Max get along going forward. Season two is a home run. From start to finish it pushes all the right buttons and gets you excited to see the next episode. As a friend of mine concluded, bravo!
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight