Hi everyone, and welcome to my review of “Stranger Things” season two, also known as “Stranger Things 2,” also known as, “Dear God Please Just Let Will Byers Live a Peaceful Life Free of Psychological Trauma 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Yeah, yeah, I know Halloween’s over, but I’ve been looking forward to this season since I finished binge-watching the first last summer, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get to review it. Before we get started, I’ve gotta warn you that there will be spoilers abound in this review! (Sorry, but I loved it way too much to hold anything back—sue me!)
This season kicks off in October of 1984, about a year after the events of season one. Although everything seems to be fine—Will’s back, Nancy and Steve are still going strong, and even Dustin’s got a new smile—the select few who know about what really happened in Hawkins the previous year aren’t doing as well as they’d like to be. Will may be alive, but Joyce is (understandably) more overprotective than ever, and Will’s recurring “episodes” certainly aren’t helping to ease her worries. The Wheeler siblings are both still mourning two very different losses—Mike has been calling Eleven on his walkie-talkie every single night since she disappeared, and Nancy is finding it much harder to keep the truth about her best friend’s death a secret once she finally meets with Barb’s desperate, grieving parents. While we see plenty of old faces—Eleven is revealed to be alive and in the secret care of Hopper at the end of episode one—we’re also introduced to a handful of new ones, including Joyce’s boyfriend Bob “The Brain” Newby, new girl at Hawkins Middle, Max Mayfield, and Max’s slimy older stepbrother, Billy Hargrove.
I don’t know about y’all, but this season made me way more emotional than the first ever did. There was an incredible amount of character development that made the screenwriter in me very happy—like, I never thought I’d say this, but I absolutely love Steve Harrington—as well as a ton of backstory that I felt was long overdue. While there was certainly no shortage of cute moments—Nancy and Jonathan finally getting together, the boys dressing up as the Ghostbusters for Halloween, Steve slowly becoming an older brother figure to Dustin—there were just as many scenes that damn near broke my heart. The two storylines that really messed me up this season coincidentally both revolved around the complex relationship between mother and child. A frustrated Eleven runs away from Hopper’s sheltered cabin in the woods to reunite with her catatonic mother, Terry. Although Terry is in a vegetative state, she and El are still able to communicate with each other, and it’s their psychic connection with one another that allows Terry to share her horrific memories with her daughter. Joyce, meanwhile, desperate to keep Will from being reclaimed by the Upside Down, does everything in her power to rid him of the evil forces that are seemingly possessing him—even if that includes forcibly sedating him, or watching him writhe in pain as he’s exposed to excessive heat. Joyce and Terry are very different when it comes to their actions, and certainly their autonomy, but if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s their fierce, unwavering love for their children.
I’ll admit that I’ve only watched the first season once, but I don’t need to rewatch it to know for sure that this season was far superior. I joked to my friend the other day that I really, really want a “Stranger Things” tattoo now, despite the fact that I haven’t thought independently about the show for well over a year. I think that’s kind of the nature of these Netflix originals, though—you binge-watch them, you get sucked in, you shout “My son/daughter who I literally gave birth to!!!!” whenever your favorite character’s onscreen…and then you don’t give much thought to it until the next season comes out. But I don’t know; it feels different to me this time around. I love these characters so dearly that I have a feeling I’ll be re-watching it on the regular.