The second season of ‘Stranger Things’ continues in 1984, just a few months after the events of the first season. This revelation surprised me; initially, I had thought only a short period had passed until the last episode, where Hopper mentioned that a year had gone by. The season is set around the Halloween period, and while it celebrates this American tradition, it doesn’t form the core of the opening episode’s plot.
In a surprising turn, Eleven (portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown) now lives with Police Officer Jim Hopper (played by David Harbour), in a location that isn’t his regular home. Their backstory is revealed gradually, with careful details filled in. This leads to a potential issue: in the first season, Hopper’s deputies often visited his house because he was prone to forgetting to turn on his phone. So, how is he going to handle this situation now, considering he’s trying to keep Eleven hidden?
Speaking of Eleven, she now sports more hair and is venturing outside, disregarding Hopper’s instructions. The four geek boys continue to bicker among themselves, but they eventually encounter fellow geek, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink). Meanwhile, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) stumbles upon a small creature he dubs ‘Dart’, a pollywog that is gradually growing.
Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) makes a disturbing realization: Dart is something he regurgitated shortly after returning from the Upside Down. He also experiences two potential hallucinations of being back in the Upside Down, coupled with a frightening drop in body temperature, which understandably concerns his mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder). Meanwhile, Hopper is slowly learning to handle Eleven, especially after a tantrum leads her to discover boxes of files about the Hawkins National Laboratory and her origins – including her real name, Jane, and the location of her mother.
An odd narrative jump between episodes four and five initially made me think I’d missed something, but this narrative technique was also employed in the first season. I guess we must trust that the Duffer twins know what they’re doing when they skip over what they consider boring bits or when they control the episode count.
Without revealing too much – since not everyone watches Netflix – Eleven eventually finds herself in the city, where she encounters Eight or Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen), a character similar to her, who has her own agenda. After spending some time with Kali, Eleven realizes that Kali’s path isn’t hers, though she does learn how to use her anger to become stronger. This raises the question: what happened to the other nine subjects from the National Laboratory?
Back in Hawkins, the group faces the demidogs, one of which is Dart. These creatures have killed many people in the Laboratory. Will is carrying a significant amount of the creature from the Upside Down inside him, which needs to be removed without killing him. Unbeknownst to them, Eleven is crucial to this rescue.
References to ‘Alien’ and ‘The Thing’, and even the setting for ‘Dawn of the Dead’ are clear throughout the season. The demidogs’ mouths are a particular highlight, reminiscent of the work of special effects maestro Rob Bottin. Interestingly, we never see these creatures shed their skins. Comparing them to terrestrial creatures, they should be more vulnerable as their skin hardens.
Other parents are featured in this season, and they’re just as clueless. Max’s step-brother, Billy, wins the title of the most unpleasant character of the season but gets his just deserts. In a three-minute extra, the actor who plays Billy, Dacre Montgomery, looks strikingly different from his on-screen persona.
Looking at the overall picture, the Duffer twins skillfully set up numerous plot elements in preparation for the season finale. The way they concluded this season suggests they might not have expected the show to go beyond two seasons, but the series found its audience and continued.
Please note that I’ve intentionally left out many details and characters to avoid spoilers. A thorough review requires some level of simplification, and maintaining this focus helps steer clear of continuous spoilers. When I first started watching ‘Stranger Things,’ I pondered the best time of day to view it and found late at night to be the perfect choice. While the series is led by teen characters, it is not solely a teen TV series. The 1980s setting is likely to evoke nostalgia in adult viewers, whilst also introducing modern teens to period music.
Its portrayal of American society, minus the horror element, is equally intriguing. I’m now eager to delve into what the third season has in store for ‘Stranger Things.’ As the saying goes, there are always stranger things to come.
(pub: Widescreen Presentation/Lionsgate. 3 DVDs episodes 453 minutes * 55 minute episodes and one extra duplicated. Price: (UK). ASIN: 300002792)
cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink Paul Reisner and many, many more.