The highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s smash-hit original series, “Stranger Things,” was released on Friday Oct. 27 to the delight of fans worldwide. The second season picks up one year after the events of season one, which left off with a plethora of unanswered questions: Where is Eleven? What is the future of the love triangle between Nancy, Steve and Jonathan? What’s wrong with Will after his experiences in the Upside Down? Will there be justice for Barb?
Over the course of nine one-hour-long episodes, the answers to these burning questions are revealed and explored in-depth as the characters face a new threat: The Shadow Monster.
What is so satisfying about this new season of “Stranger Things” is how each major character now has their own separate storyline development, all of which blend seamlessly into the group arc as the story progresses. Will is still struggling with the side effects of his journey into the Upside Down; he is haunted by visions of an otherworldly storm coming to destroy Hawkins, Ind.
Dustin—played by Gaten Matarazzo—and Lucas—played by Caleb McLaughlin—both have a crush on a new student, Maxine, better known as Max—played by Sadie Sink. Lonely and isolated, Mike—played by Finn Wolfhard—is still dealing with his grief over the disappearance of Eleven—Millie Bobby Brown.
Police Chief Jim Hopper—David Harbour—is trying to keep Eleven safe as he investigates a series of bizarre events leading back to Hawkins Lab. Nancy—Natalia Dyer—grapples with guilt over Barb’s death and her relationships with both Steve—Joe Keery—and Jonathan—Charlie Heaton. Eleven finds herself in a similar situation: she is desperate to see Mike and is struggling to find her place in the world despite Hopper’s rather overbearing attempts to protect her.
The numerous plot lines converge beautifully in the last two episodes of the season: “The Mind Flayer” and “The Gate.” Will’s visions have evolved into a telepathic link to the Shadow Monster, giving the group insights to the creature’s thoughts, but also allowing the monster to anticipate any counterattacks. Will’s protective mother Joyce—played by Winona Ryder—has a new and mind-numbingly ordinary boyfriend Bob Newby—portrayed by Sean Astin. He goes from a mild nuisance to an invaluable asset when a power outage traps the heroes inside Hawkins Lab.
Dustin and Lucas, both vying for the attention of Max, are able to bring her into the group to help them fight the Shadow Monster and an army of Demogorgon dogs—cleverly dubbed “Demodogs” by Dustin. Nancy and Jonathan are able to implicate Hawkins Lab in the death of Barb by leaking a watered-down version of events to newspapers nationwide.
Hopper is torn away from Eleven as he closes in on Hawkins Lab once again, and Eleven’s journey of self-discovery leads her back to her friends in their hour of need. It goes almost without saying that the poignant reunion between Mike and Eleven is nothing short of perfect.
The final episode concludes on a much more open-ended note than season one’s finale. At long last, the innocent young protagonists can have one night of monster-free bliss. Fans will be thrilled by the plethora of adorable moments in the Snow Ball scene and intrigued by the inclusion of a lingering shot of the Upside Down just before the credits roll.
Of course, the end of the season once again leaves viewers with plenty of brand-new questions to be answered. Is Will finally free of the Upside Down, or is he still connected? Who will Nancy choose: Jonathan or Steve? What happened to the other nine kids that were experimented on in Hawkins Lab?
Unfortunately, “Stranger Things” fans are now stuck waiting until season three to find out.u