On October 27 Netflix released the second season of Stranger Things. One of the best and most bingeable television shows of 2016, the captivating Science Fiction drama returned with the same group of kids from Hawkins, Indiana. The unique series could have been mere lightening in a bottle, but following the gang around as they tangle with a paranormal government science project and a gateway to an alternate dimension turned out to be a story with tremendous long-term potential. The nine episodes of season two indicated that the drama could be around for a long time and remain interesting.
The creators of Stranger Things not only indicated that they can replicate the riveting drama of the first season, but were also able to expand the show by adding good characters to the Hawkins universe. The series achieved an unusual feat the second time around: none of the primary new characters were a weakness of Season Two. Additions to a show can often feel clunky or excessive. Max Mayfield, Eight, Bob Newby, Billy Mayfield, and Sam Owens all augmented each main character’s story. Even many of the secondary figures like Lucas’ sister, Dustin’s mom, and Mews delivered strong performances.
The show also had its first primary departure from Hawkins. While Eleven’s Chicago rumspringa had its wayward moments, the story itself was important for her character. It added depth for Eleven’s background and revealed the possibilities and temptations of the outside world to her. The episode also provided the possibility of more interactions with the Hawkins Laboratory’s human experiments in future seasons. Eight’s illusionary abilities were a fascinating new quality. If other Elevens are discovered, watching their different talents connect has a wide range of possibilities.
Stranger Things also honed its knack for exciting endings that are the fuel for a proper Netflix binge. The heightened pace of the second season was a change from the first run of the series. The production, writing, and acting of the show appear to be in sync without any glaring weaknesses and that is rare when the dominant members of the cast are kids.
Since they are a strength of the series, Stranger Things has the unique opportunity to be around for a very long time with the same core group of actors. As the kids that comprise the main cast age, the audience can follow them at different stages in their lives. We don’t necessarily need a Stranger Things every year (although no complaining if that was the case), but this series has the potential to become a semi-regular Halloween event for a long time. I had been skeptical that Stranger Things could come close to the quality of last year’s production, but the show is as close to perfection as a television series can get.