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The Upside Down is Back! Stranger Things 2 Review

Warning, the following may have spoilers about Season 1 and Season 2 of Netflix’s Stranger Things. Proceed at your own risk!

Season 2 of the highly anticipated Netflix Original: Stranger Things series by the Duffer brothers was released on October 27th 2017 at midnight PST. I am not sorry to say that I binged watched the entire thing in one sitting. Yes, as the sun broke through my curtains I closed my eyes with my mind still racing about the upside down, all the brave people of Hawkins Indiana, and all of the things that go bump in the night! Was it as perfect as Season 1? No. It was close. As with all sequels its difficult to match the magic the original possessed but your time nor your fandom will not be wasted with season 2.

Season 2 starts with a whole new set of characters in the middle of a apparent heist. During a daring high speed chase, the criminals escape when one of the gang uses her “powers” to cause an overpass to appear to collapse. She wipes some blood from her nose, like Eleven would do, and she has a matching tattoo on her arm, 008. Chapter One: Mad Max also introduced some new blood to the party, although never officially inducted. Maxine Mayfield or “Mad Max” played by Sadie Sink, is A fiery red head Cali girl who rides a skateboard and can kick ass on arcade games, especially Dig Dug. Dustin, Gaten Matara, and Lucas, Caleb McLaughlin, both immediately fall head-over-heels for her. Will Byers, Noah Schnapp, is still fragile from his upside down time and not interested in girls and Mike’s, Finn Wolfhard, heart belongs to Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown. Poor Mike sits in his room and calls to El over the walkie talkie, but never gets a response. It’s a touching moment that we’ve all been in as young kids, wanting to talk to a crush but can’t for whatever reason. Now for my first issue with the show, being a child of the 80’s the costumes in Episode 1 were a bit too well done for average kids in the 1980’s. The episode would have felt a lot more authentic and I think funny if they had to wear the trash bag muriel atrocities we were forced to wear in order to show our love for what would later be known as “geek”. Scenes from movies printed onto plastic smocks with hard plastic face masks with the eyes cut out and tiny slits for air holes. Suffocating and poisoning us with plastic fumes, that is the early 80’s.

Scenes from movies printed onto plastic smocks with hard plastic face masks with the eyes cut out and tiny slits for air holes. Suffocating and poisoning us with plastic fumes, that is the early 80’s.

Mike and Lucas’s parent’s might have been able to afford to make the Ghostbuster costumes and have them come out as on point as theirs were. But a working Ghostbusters “trap”, matching colored jumpsuits and proton packs, with accurately embroidered name badges from 4 different families all who have too much going on in life to notice literal hell opening in their back yard? And don’t get me started on the amazing 2107 walkie talkie technology the kids apparently have…(((SIGH))) I digress, Stranger Things 2 was off to a great start despite my “Nerding Out” over some missed and overlooked details.

It’s been almost a year since El disappeared and the end of last season. Will has been slowly recuperating from his time in the Upside Down. His mom, Joyce, Winona Ryder, has been hovering over him like a sick child, don’t forget, he did hawk up a Upside Down Pollywog at the end of last Season and already was having flashbacks. Will get’s seen by a group of doctors in the lab and updates them on his dreams and visions. Will’s been given the name of “Zombie Boy” by his classmates, it’s something he doesn’t mind but doesn’t like too much either. Will has a longer relapse while hanging out with the guys at the Arcade and he starts to have nightmares about a very big creature in the Upside Down coming for Hawkins. Joyce’s new boyfriend, Bob, Sean Astin, gives him the advise on how he dealt with his “Mr Baldo” Nightmare and is to face his “fear” and tell it to “go away”. During one of his Upside Down flashbacks, Will does that and bravely stands up to the creature, but the creature isn’t a nightmare and it “possesses” Will. Will gets ill and begins to be able to see and feel what the Upside Down “Mind Flayer” sees. “Now-memories” is what he starts to call them because they are like memories that are happening now.

After El destroyed the creature from the Upside Down last season, she became trapped in the Upside Down. While trying to escape she found a small hole to the real world big enough to stick her arm in. She used her powers to widen the hole to escape. She went home to Mike but government officials were already at the house. She had to make her escape into the forest. After a brief stint living in the forest El finds Hopper and has been living with the Chief in his abandoned cabin deep in the woods. Hopper doesn’t trust that it’s safe for her to go back to her friends or be seen in the open because he’s now forced to work with the lab that’s responsible for the Upside Down and Eleven. A massive cover-up has been implemented with the story of Barb being potentially kidnapped by Russians, El being a dangerous Russian spy, and the attack on the school was a result of that. Dead pumpkins and crops start to show up in Hawkins and the Chief suspects that the nearby Lab could be responsible, he lets them know of his concerns and they promise to look into it. Eleven is growing frustrated being confined to the house and enters into the Upside Down every night to see Mike calling out for her. It’s heartbreaking to see them want to be with each other so badly, the puppy love, the force, the connection is strong between these two and there’s nothing like a shared traumatic experience to really solidify a bond.

The entire season, except for episode 7, is a fluid story and the only reason I think that this season isn’t as perfect as the first is because of the tangent it takes with Episode 7, “The Lost Sister”. It’s a time when El has left home and spots Mike through a school gym window as he’s watching Max skateboard around him. In a moment of pure pubescent jealousy Eleven uses her powers to throw Maxine off her board. Max says it was like a magnet pushed her board from under her. Mike immediately suspects that El did it and looks for her but she’s run out of the building. El goes on a quest for her “momma” and then for a girl who she remembers being a friend of hers from the lab when she was a little girl. She sees her during a trip to one of her mothers memories. When El meets up with Kali, 008, played by Linnea Berthelsen, she’s the psychic member of a band of misfits and thieves who help her get back at the people who hurt her. El goes along for the ride and gets a little “bad girl” makeover but the entire episode felt extremely out of place and like a Stranger Things New Mutants Mash Up more then anything else. I think that they could have used Kali better in Hawkins during the finale or perhaps just have her return home on her own due to being psychically connected to El. That’s how El finds her and they mention having a “sister bond”, hence The Lost Sister.

Stranger Things 2 has been watched by 16 million people according to a recent Nielsen statement with a 360,000 finishing the entire season in the first 24 hours.

Without giving anymore away the finale of the show ends with a visit to the Upside Down and the large “Mind Flayer” beast still hovering over Hawkins. In the “Beyond Stranger Things” interviews with the cast and creators, the Duffer brothers mention that they were writing Season 2 with the intentions of getting another two or three years worth of material. So we can expect a Season 3 announcement anytime soon as I am sure Netflix and the Duffer Brothers want to get filming before the cast starts to really show their age, if they are going to continue with his group of amazing actors. The next two to three years can give us some Longbottom type physical explosions and although we’ve learned to forgive that kind of stuff, Game Of Thrones, it still detracts visually from the story. At the time of this post, Stranger Things 2 has been watched by 16 million people according to a recent Nielsen statement with a 360,000 finishing the entire season in the first 24 hours.