Stranger Things was so retro in the way people found out about it: via word of mouth. The country was not inundated with ads and marketing stunts. Instead, viewers heard about the show from friends and sank into its immersive world of nerdy kids, nervous parents and evocative mysteries.
No one can’t hold themselves from falling in love with the Netflix drama’s affection for genre storytelling and with its earnest homages to the gnarliest pop culture of a few decades ago, and runaway phenomenon was born. So, how could a second season top the media cacophony around it?
The answer is not easy. Until Stranger Things 2 full movie really gets going, it trails an air of self-consciousness that veers into strained fan service at times. The good news is the show’s core cast remaining an extremely versatile and effective ensemble. Also once the story kicks into a higher gear about halfway through the nine-episode season, a lot of the old magic returns.
There are wrong moves in the second season, and many of them revolves around thin or unfortunate writing for some of the new characters. However, once you get past the clunky first few installment restating last season and set up plot points, the drama’s momentum picks up noticeably. The casts, both adults and youngs, anchor every psychological nuance with subtle skill and ease. However, Stranger Things 2 movie wouldn’t function without their detailed committed work. That said, the show’s chief is getting so many people to greedily binge on a story that is about profound and lasting trauma.
In the last season’s finale, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) returned from his trip to the Upside Down intact. This season, he is at the center of the narrative, and Schnapp proves to be more than up to the task of portraying Will’s deepening distress. Much is asked of this young actor, and he delivers powerfully in a range of challenging situations that would be confusing for any family.
In Stranger Things season 2, the show continues its story about the Byerses and their friends as guardians of many secrets about the seemingly normal town of Hawkins. As mythologies go, the story of Hawkins is a doozy. When one of Will’s friends tells a newcomer about what they’ve all been through, she is dismissive, and the expansion of the Hawkins ensemble is uneven. The problem with a show getting bigger is that some character arcs get smaller, and occasionally sloppier.
Much of the new season asks various residents of Hawkins where their true homes are. It’s not a spoiler to say that they find refuge, as most of us do — if we’re lucky — in each other.