BY OLIVIA MARBLE ’21
In the days leading up to Halloween the campus was quiet as students, curled up in blankets and munched on Eggos, preparing for the second season of “Stranger Things.” The long-awaited season managed to be as fast-paced and mind-boggling as its predecessor, staying true to the show’s retro style and lovable characters while taking the drama to new heights. This resulted in a stellar season that was worth the wait. According to Variety, the first episode was viewed 15.8 million times within the first three days after its release, and there were 7.2 million posts about the season on Facebook and Twitter.
After Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown, “NCIS”) disappears at the end of the first season, Will (Noah Schnapp, “The Peanuts Movie”), Mike (Finn Wolfhard, “It”), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin, “Blue Bloods”) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo, “The Blacklist”) are together again, but nothing is the same. Mike is unable to move on from Eleven, calling her every day on his walkie talkie. Will has disturbing visions of the Upside Down that feel too real to be flashbacks. Lucas and Dustin find themselves pining over the same girl, Max (Sadie Sink, “American Odyssey”), a new student who skateboards and wows them with her arcade game prowess.
Meanwhile, unknown to all, Jim Hopper (David Harbour, “Brokeback Mountain”) is hiding Eleven in a cabin in the woods until things calm down. The dynamic between Hopper and Eleven is heartwarming, but also intense. While Hopper is desperate for a daughter and Eleven wants a father, Hopper’s overprotective instincts make Eleven feel trapped. The fights between the two characters are some of the most powerful scenes of the season with Hopper’s strong will going up against Eleven’s powers.
The drama of the season begins to unfold when Will becomes possessed by the antagonist of the season, the Mind Flayer. Once again, Hawkins is the target of an otherworldly attack, this one deadlier than the last.
In addition to solid performances from the well-loved cast, season two introduces new characters whose unique storylines helped the season distinguish itself from the first. Initially, Max was the epitome of the “she’s not like the other girls” trope, but as the season progressed she won me over. She’s distrusting and irritable, but recognizes her faults. As the show continues, Max becomes a necessary part of the team. While her character is a strong addition to the cast, her stepbrother Billy (Dacre Montgomery, “Power Rangers”) is one of the weakest. In “Beyond Stranger Things,” a set of interviews taking viewers behind-the-scenes, one of the show’s creators, Matt Duffer, explained that they “wanted this human antagonist … someone who was kind of irredeemable and a bit of a sociopath.” Unfortunately, Billy isn’t well developed and doesn’t contribute anything valuable to the plot. For example, his ill treatment and hatred of Lucas isn’t explained or acknowledged by other characters. After seeing Max with Lucas, Billy says “There are certain type of people in this world that you stay away from, and that kid, Max, that kid is one of them.” Billy had never interacted with Lucas before.
“I think he feels threatened,” Montgomery said of his character in an interview with the Huffington Post. “Max is that one constant he knows he needs to drop off and look after. . . It’s that animalistic side of like, ‘You’re threatening my sibling, my world. What are you doing? Who is this boy who’s trying to weave his way into my life through my sister?’” But Montgomery’s comment doesn’t explain Billy’s apparent hatred for his sister as he threatens to make Max skateboard home and refuses to look after her while their parents are gone. Hopefully the character will contribute more to the plot in future seasons.
According to Vulture, the Duffer Brothers have confirmed that there will be at least a third and a fourth season. This season ended neatly, so it’s difficult to see where the show will go from here. But the Duffer Brothers have proven their ability to expand the show while retaining its lovable qualities, so I think it’s safe to say we have something to look forward to.