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Second season of ‘Stranger Things’ as satisfying as the first

By Emily Gonzalez

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“Stranger Things” created by Matt and Ross Duffer is a breath of nostalgic childhood familiarity. It is a show laced with 1980’s sci-fi horror themes, and it’s taken the world by storm.

The first of an eight-episode season begins in November 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana, where some sort of creature is let loose in a government lab. Next, we see the disappearance of young Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and the events it kicks off in this small town.   

We are then introduced to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). As far as viewers know, she is some sort of test subject used in a government lab. She is first seen sporting a shaved head and a hospital gown. Eleven is enigmatic and eccentric and unusual in a very wonderful way. She has been raised in a government lab and trained by the villainous Dr. Brenner, (80s star Matthew Modine) who kidnapped Eleven at birth and has used her for his experiments. He has been a manipulative imitation of a father figure and he is dying to have Eleven back in his lab.

Next, we meet a team of bike-riding middle schoolers Will (Noah Schnapp), Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). After Will’s disappearance, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas team up with Eleven and they are on the hunt to find Will. Eleven is a silent, scared tween, with telekinetic powers–that is until she meets Mike, Dustin, and Lucas and they show her the joys of after-school Dungeon’s and Dragon’s games and Eggo waffles. Using Eleven’s telekinetic powers and the boys’ drive for mystery, they are unraveling hidden secrets that lie on the outskirts of town.

We learn there is an alternate dimension, “The upside down,” that is only attainable through certain portals around town. The upside down is a world that looks exactly like Hawkins except it’s cold, the sun never shines and it’s inhabited by a terrifying creature that the kids have named the “Demogorgon.” Through the camera work, we are able to go from flashes between the real world and the Upside Down, where we realize that Will is trapped and being taunted by the Demogorgon.

Meanwhile, Will’s mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder) begins to unravel Will’s disappearance in her own way; she is convinced that she is communicating with him through a series of lights she has set up in their home. The first season moved at a slow pace throughout the eight episodes and viewers should expect this upcoming season to be just about the same.

At the end of the first season, viewers were left with many unanswered questions; obviously prompting that a new season is well on its way. Last season, Will was being saved by his friends and family from the depths of the Upside Down. Sadly, the show’s best character, Eleven has disappeared and is nowhere to be seen. Her final scene was in the middle school in an attempt to save Mike, Dustin, and Lucas from the Demogorgon.

She is successful and she then disintegrates right alongside the Demogorgon. The Duffer brothers do an amazing job at creating a supernatural 1983 post-apocalyptic world in 2016.

The new season, simply called “Stranger Things 2” debuted on Oct. 27, and it kicks off about a year after the events of the first season, on Halloween 1984. Season two is a slow ride of cinematic excellence, with character electricity even greater than before. The Duffer brothers have created such a perfect 1980s world, that you’ll never want to come back to 2017.

The kids are back and this time, better than ever. Eleven is still in hiding and Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will have found a new skateboarding, video game playing girl to ponder over, first nicknamed as Mad Max (Sadie Sink).

Season two ran the risk of never living up to the hype the show received after season one. After the show first aired in 2016, the country sank into its world of nerdy kids and nostalgic mysteries. It is hard not to fall in love with this Netflix drama and the wistful feeling it gives of a few decades ago. How could a second season ever live up to the media hype that was the first season?

It takes a while for the second season to really get going. It’s not until halfway through the season that things start up and we get the same magical feeling of the first season. The reactions to Stranger Things 2 have been at odds with each other, to say the least. Some feel that the second season is simply a hopeless attempt to surpass the excitement of the first and there are others who are completely invested and are left screaming at the cliffhanger at the end of the ninth episode.

It is a bit frustrating having Eleven separated from the action throughout most of the season, but when she makes her entrance at the end of the eighth episode it all seems worth it. Throughout the season we finally get to see Will in all of his glory. In the first season we didn’t see much of Will as he was trapped in the Upside down, but now we get to see that Noah Schnapp, at an astonishing 13, is the greatest actor for this role. He draws you into the character. You are not only watching Will’s struggles, you are living them. This entire season, Will is proof that you can take the boy out of the nightmare but you can’t take the nightmare out of the boy.

The show has a way of pulling you in. The entire cast has a charisma and magnetism that only leaves you wanting more. The new season has a lot of the old season’s same twists and tricks simply repackaged in a new way. But it was a very good attempt at bringing back the same old characters and characteristics and bringing them to life in an entirely new light.

This season the electricity between Mike and Eleven is like we’ve never seen before, they may be thirteen years old but their friendship is portrayed in such a pure light you’ll never want to look away. The Duffer brothers and director Shawn Levy did an amazing job at blending 1980s horror suspense and momentum with the timeless theme of teen romance.

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