Have You Watched Stranger Things Season 2?

I watched the final two episodes of Stranger Things season 2 tonight, and I wanted to share my thoughts and hear yours. This is a spoiler discussion of the entire show.

Overall, I enjoyed season 2. If it were a stand-alone season without any other context, I think I would have really liked it. There’s a good sense of mystery and discovery to it, great characters and relationships, interesting science fiction, and some memorable moments.

Some stuff I loved:

  • I loved that the government agency wasn’t as focused on secrecy. Sometimes shows get too caught up in secrecy, lies, and deceit, and I thought the writers were wise to largely avoid that this season.
  • I loved seeing Eleven use her powers casually for things like opening and closing doors, and I liked that she learned more about what charges up her powers.
  • I thought Bob was great. I really liked that there was no big twist to his character–he was just Bob.
  • I liked the various team-ups throughout the season: Dustin and Dart, Dustin and Steve, Lucas and Max, Eleven and Hopper, etc
  • I liked that the overall lore of the story continued and expanded without rehashing the main conceit of season 1 (the Upside Down).
  • I liked the self-referential jokes, like the scene about Steve’s hair.
  • My favorite episodes were 5, 8, and 9. Those are really the core of the story.
  • I liked whenever the kids are together and they’re not bickering.
  • I liked the various ways that Eight used her ability.

Some stuff I didn’t like as much:

  • Looking back, there were a number of episodes that really just don’t seem necessary. I think you could watch episodes 1, 5, 8, and 9 and get 95% of the meat of the show. The rest are fine, but the audience is constantly ahead of the characters instead of the other way around. Like, we don’t need 3 episodes to show us that Will is having “now memories”–we’re never in doubt that what he’s seeing is happening right now.
  • Guess how many episodes feature Eleven and the four boys? You can actually count it in scenes, not episode, and the answer is 1. They’re in 1 scene together. Because of this, the entire season felt like more of a bridge between seasons rather than its own thing.
  • Stranger Things succeeds because it largely avoids common tropes, but it has a big one: Eleven comes feet away from connecting with Mike early in the season, but instead she just happens to catch him at the one moment where he looks remotely interested in Max (someone he spends every other minute dismissing, which is also odd). This trope has a huge impact: Eleven uses this as the impetus to take off on a journey that we don’t care about, and when she gets back, she ignores Max solely because of this moment. Ugh.
  • Nancy and Jonathan are suitable secondary characters, but I have feel absolutely no chemistry between them. I love the various relationships in the show, but this is one I think they could have cut.
  • While Max’s angry step-brother had one of the best scenes of the show with Nancy and Mike’s mom, I could have otherwise done without him. The show tries to give him a reason for his anger, but it doesn’t make him any more interesting or entertaining.

Despite that mixed reaction, I still really enjoyed season 2, and I’m really happy this show exists.

What are your favorite elements of season 2, and what would you change if you had editing power?


4 Responses to “Have You Watched Stranger Things Season 2?”

  1. David T says:

    I felt like Eleven just didn’t belong in this season at all, and the only reason she was around was because she was such a favorite from the first season. I would have cut out her whole trip to Chicago. I think she could have learned the lessons she needed to know at home. Also, I would have much rather accepted her embracing the power of her friendship/love than her anger. In that pivotal moment, I feel like that’s her higher motivation anyway – to channel her anger for their sake.

    My favorite scene in the whole thing is Max’s reaction to Lucas telling her everything. Perhaps a little too blatantly self-aware, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

    Another complaint I have is the show’s complete and utter heteronormativity. Everyone is straight, or in/seeking straight relationships. There’s an entire rest of the spectrum of human, even American experience that is just ignored here in a cast this big. You can blame some of it on the setting, or it not being important to the story, but I can sure tell you that it’s important to a lot of the people out there watching.

    • David T says:

      Oh! Finally! For what it is, I thought it was a worthy successor to season 1. I enjoyed it just as much, and I thought Dustin absolutely ran away with the great material he was given! If I had to give out an Emmy for this season, it would definitely be to Gaten Catarazzo.

      • Damian Perry says:

        Just finished season 2 tonight with my wife. We really enjoyed it . Solid entertainment. Humor with scary stuff but not gore. Loved the 80’s references and easter eggs since that when i went to high school. It was not perfect, but ultimately we cared about the characters (even Darth dying made me sad ) and that always is entertaining.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      David: That’s a really interesting point about having Eleven draw her power from friendship/love instead of anger. As for the heteronormative relationships, I actually thought something interesting might be revealed during the dance scene (like having a boy ask a boy to dance, or a girl ask Max to dance)…but it didn’t happen. Maybe season 3?

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