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?