By Nicole Zamlout
“Stranger Things” was a huge hit back when it first dropped on Netflix. The story, focused on the disappearance of Will Byers, a 12-year-old boy, and its relation to a government science experiment gone wrong, was a story that terrified, thrilled and touched viewers. This latest season did an excellent job of building on that foundation.
The highly anticipated second season was released on Oct. 27, and it certainly did not disappoint. The storyline has become more complex, with not only a greater, more terrifying monster to face, but with a huge plot twist too — one of the members of the lovable band of misfits becomes an unwilling traitor. This adds incredible tension and helps build on many of the relationships within the group.
This season also does a great job not only adding to existing characters arcs, but creating new ones to explore. Maxine, or “Mad Max” as she’s nicknamed in the show, is a dynamic character whose strong personality and fearlessness helps add to the dynamic of the band of boys. It’s a fun twist to watch them struggle with something outside the supernatural — the powerful beast called young love. In Max’s case, that journey comes with some long-needed comfort from her tense home life and support from some new friends.
That tension at home comes from her older step brother Billy, who is the teenage antagonist for this season, much like Steve was in the first season. Unlike Steve, though, he does not get to turn a new leaf, but his character seems interesting enough that he will get the chance next season. For now, he was a fantastic foil to Steve and a great antagonist to the kids, in the need to avoid him for fear of his wrath against Max and Lucas. In all, the new characters blend seamlessly into the universe and I cannot wait to see how they develop in future seasons.
Though the new characters were nuanced and fantastic to see, the existing characters experienced a lot of growth. Eleven finally gets to heal from her past and realizes the true meaning of home. Nancy and Jonathan finally address the connection between them (it’s about time), and we get to see Nancy’s determination to protect her family and face her demons. We get to see Steve grow more into himself and even get to see him have a stronger connection to the children, especially Dustin, with whom he relates to due to recent events. All the characters became more complex without taking away from the main plot, which is something that unfortunately seems to happen these days in television. You either sacrifice character development for plot, or steer the audience too far from the story as we see one character grow and learn. Here however, no compromises were made, and everyone was much more than halfway happy.
The second season of “Stranger Things” was spectacularly done, and I cannot wait to see what else lurks in the Upside Down, waiting anxiously for its chance to fight the heroes of Hawkins.