TV Review: Stranger Things (Season 2)

*This review may contain minor spoilers*

Another strong season that reaches above, but also falls short, of the impressive first season. The show gets off to a slow start, and takes a few episodes to get into the groove. The first season hooked you immediately. It had the missing child, scary monster and the mysterious girl, and it made me want to see what happens. The threat in season two is not as well-defined and even getting near the end of the season it’s still not always clear what the end game might be.

It’s the characters once again that make the show so good. All the returning actors still have great chemistry with each other. No longer missing, Will is back and part of the proceedings. Noel Schnapp is able to show off his acting abilities, and he holds his own and then some. Almost all the main actors have at least one big emotional moment, and thanks to the strong acting and the great characters they’re playing, you find yourself caring deeply about them. As far as the new characters go, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag. Sadie Sink’s Max integrates well with the group, but her step-brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) is just too much of a wild card that never really pays off. Sean Astin’s Bob is just a bit too nice and too normal, and with the danger all around him, he doesn’t feel like someone that’s going to stick around very long. Then there’s the Kali character, played by Linnea Berthelsen. Although she’s one of the first characters we meet, and despite how important she seems to be, it’s far too long before she turns up again.

I really like how smart the characters are. They show a lot of ingenuity and generally don’t withhold important information from each other. Things like this keep them alive against some powerful threats.

The show looks great as always, and we see much more of the world, circa the 80’s. There’s quite a bit more music from the time period throughout, and we see a bit more diversity of the era’s fashion. The special effects are great. Whether they use practical or CGI, it all blends in perfectly and rarely looks fake. This is good, because there are a bigger variety of things not of this Earth that make appearances.

Season two continues the story from season one, and also expands on the mythos of the “Stranger Things” universe. Great characters and great acting keep the show intriguing when the story is lacking.

Season’s best episode: “Chapter Six: The Spy” (Episode 6): A bit of a silly start, but then some nice character moments are followed by a heart-pounding sequence that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Season’s worst episode: “Chapter One: MADMAX” (Episode 1): The slow start, lack of clear direction, and seemingly random opening sequence make it hard to get sucked back into the show..

**** out of *****