The long awaited and highly anticipated second season of Stranger Things 2 went live on Netflix last month and it’s the talk of the town. Almost every entertainment news site has at least one Stranger Things related article each week, from interviews with the cast members to episode recaps. The hype train is real for anything that’s Stranger Things. It can also be difficult to sidestep spoilers from the show when you may not have the time to binge watch all 9-episodes in a single weekend. Although I am one of those people who hasn’t been able to devour the show within the first weekend since season two came out, I already have strong impressions of what I love about the current season so far. Here are some of my personal highlights from the first four episodes. As a note of caution, there will be some spoilers from the first batch of episodes of Stranger Things 2. You may want to come back to this post when you’ve gotten a bit further into the second season.
The entire first season of the show is largely spent on rescuing Will from the other dimension known as the Upside Down. Unfortunately, when you’re the kid who got snatched, that doesn’t leave a ton of room for your character to really have much screen time. Will is hardly present on the show except for the beginning and end of the first season. With Will being front and center in the new season, we not only get to learn how his time in the Upside Down has effected him but we’re also treated to some really stellar performances by the actor who plays Will, Noah Schnapp. Only four episodes into the show was all it took to get pulled in by the strange visions Will is plagued with, as well as the fear and trauma this kid still has. You want to do nothing but hug the kid and protect him from whatever he feels threatened by. I’m glad Schnapp has more to do in this season other than occasionally popping up and then disappearing like he did in the first season.
How The Characters Are Coping With The Events From Season One
Will isn’t the only character struggling with the events from the last season. The ones still pretty shaken up from what they experienced are Nancy and Mike. As much as the two Wheeler siblings try to go on with their lives, they’re not exactly able to let go of the past. Nancy is having trouble staying quiet about the fate of her best friend Barb, and Mike refuses to believe that Eleven is gone and never coming back. Nancy and Mike are definitely not the same kids as we saw them from the beginning of the first season. Both try to pretend everything is fine when in reality they’re bottling up how they truly feel until it comes rushing to the surface in other ways. Nancy gets drunk at a Halloween party she attends with her boyfriend Steve and accuses him of purposely covering up Barb’s death and acting like they’re normal high school teens in love. Meanwhile, Mike often gets irritable and annoyed when new girl Max tries to infiltrate his close knit group of friends and insists they don’t need another girl in the group when they have Eleven.
I really like how the new season examines where these characters are emotionally and mentally. Some are slightly better at trying to put the events from the Upside Down behind them, like Joyce, Lucas, and Dustin, to a certain extent. But there are those like Mike and Nancy who aren’t willing or ready to let go just yet, no matter how much time has past.
The Odd Couples
Part of what made the first season of Stranger Things such a great show to watch is the friendships and chemistry between the kids. Every aspect of their relationship to each other was so genuine and easy to relate to that you naturally want to keep spending time with these kids. This is why when the second season started to split up the group and pair them with other characters you think wouldn’t match well together, what you get is something incredibly different and a whole new dynamic to explore with these odd pairings. One of the biggest unlikely duo to come out of this season is Chief Jim Hopper and Eleven.
Both Hopper and Eleven find themselves in a predicament where neither expected to be. Eleven needs to hide from the “bad men” still out to get her and Hopper unexpectedly finds himself playing the role of dad by not only trying to keep Eleven safe but to take care of her in general. What’s interesting about this odd couple is that they’re both stubborn and can be hot headed. While the two kind of become a makeshift family who do enjoy the other’s company, there are times they become at odds with one another. Eleven is frustrated to stay hidden from Mike when she wants to finally reunite with him and his friends and Hopper is concerned what any kind of exposure could do to her. I think it’s brilliant to have Hopper and Eleven together for part of the season. This pairing also reveals another side to Jim Hopper we haven’t seen before—Hopps as daddy.
From the first season we know Hopper was once married and had a daughter of his own named Sara, who unfortunately died of cancer. Since then, Hopper has become a grumpy, rough around the edges kind of guy who really doesn’t care if he keeps people at a distance or if he isn’t the most liked guy in Hawkins, Indiana. But seeing Hopper take on the role of dad again with Eleven, it’s clear that he’s not only a little out of practice with parenting but also not entirely sure what’s the best way to approach taking care of Eleven. The first four episodes kind of sees Hopper struggle between the dad side of him and the more authoritative figure that views taking in Eleven as part of his duty as police chief. I have yet to see how the relationship between Eleven and Hopper will develop, but I’m eager to know where it takes them. Besides, I’m a sucker for two lonely people finding a home and family in each other. Could it be Hopper and Eleven? I hope so, because I like the idea of them being father and daughter. At least Hopper has the corny, embarrassing dad dance down!
One other major odd couple I’m aware of but haven’t gotten to the episode that it happens are Steve and Dustin. I’m also looking forward to seeing how that oddball duo dynamic plays out in the later episodes.
I’ll admit Steve was my least favorite character on Stranger Things, even though he does redeem himself towards the end of season one. Although he proved himself in not being a total jerk face in the last season, I still couldn’t come around to liking Steve. Within the first few episodes of the new season, something miraculous happened—my heart started softening towards the perfectly coiffed teen. Steve seemed to no longer act like the big guy on campus and instead became the sweet and doting boyfriend to Nancy. Steve has come a long way since season one and apparently there’s more to come for Steve’s development as a character from what I’ve heard or briefly read about in articles talking about him this season. I never really thought I’d come around to liking the kid, but I felt bad for him when Nancy, in her drunken state at the Halloween party, kept hurling nasty words at Steve. The guy is being nothing but patient and doing his best to take care of his girlfriend. He could have been a stereotypical popular high school jerk and lashed out at her or tried to make out with another girl in front of Nancy. Instead, he leaves and gives Nancy some space. Out of all the characters on this show, I’m really excited to see how much more Steve can evolve further in this season.
I’m sure there will be much more highlights in the other episodes I have yet to watch, but with these early highlights, the show has delivered on its promise to be just as addicting to watch as the first season.
Have you watched Stranger Things? What do you like about the new season so far?