Like most, I spent my weekend in Hawkins, Indiana.
The only time I stopped watching Netflix was when I went to a Halloween party (I dressed up as Eleven, obviously).
Realistically, I could write a 10,000 word essay on why I thought ST2 was incredible, but instead I’ve narrowed it down to just 11 things.
Because, you know.
1. Will is NOT ok
Seriously, he’s messed up.
After telling the Shadow Monster to ‘go away’ (great advice, Bob), Will is possessed by it instead. As if being captured by a Demogorgon wasn’t enough.
Forced to communicate to his friends and family through morse code, Will is on the brink of being destroyed from the inside out – until Joyce smokes it out. Eradicating the monster from Will took inspiration from the The Exorcist, Evil Dead and Harry Potter, with Will acting as a spy to work out where the Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer is – like Harry does with Voldemort.
It’d be great if we could just Will live (happily) next season.
2. The focus has changed
Last season was the Mike and Eleven show, but this season Mike is left utterly heartbroken and Eleven has to find her own way. Now it’s about Will. And it’s great!
Noah Schnapp’s acting is phenomenal. After seeing only brief glimpses of Will in the Upside Down it’s about time we’re treated to more than just four minutes of him. Plus the secondary characters of the first season are now reoccurring and have just as important story lines.
Dustin’s development was really impressive – he’s no longer the Chunk of the group. Although he does save the gang from a Demadog by feeding it a chocolate bar (like Chunk does with Sloth). He deals with so much more and shows bags of bravery against Dart.
3. Steve Harrington’s transformation is complete
By the end of the first season Steve finally redeemed himself by helping Nancy and Jonathan. Realistically, we know that it’s partly Nancy’s doing that Steve’s is blossoming into a likeable character – even he admits that she’s not like other girls.
As he develops, we see a more mature side to Steve who quickly realises that Nancy isn’t in love with him, prompting him to search for a purpose. As it turns out, being a bad ass babysitter is his calling. After giving his blessing for Nancy to help Jonathan save Will, Steve vows to keep Mike and the gang safe. This involves being beaten to a pulp by Billy and fighting off a pack of Demadogs in a scrap yard. Talk about selfless.
So long Steve’s ‘Nancy the slut Wheeler’ phase, we love the guy that discloses his top secret hair care routine to Dustin.
4. Eleven sacrifices family for friends
This season suspicions are confirmed – Eleven isn’t the only test subject. We meet Kali, or 08, the girl Eleven shared the rainbow room with.
Kali hangs around with a pretty scary gang (think The Warriors), but it’s clear that they’re not real friends. Kali is, and always has been alone and wants Eleven to join her in fighting the people that have wronged them. But no matter how fiercely she wants to find out more about her life before Hawkins, Eleven can’t turn her back on her friends.
A lot of viewers felt episode seven was pure filler and I can see why. BUT. This episode was so important as it leaves us just enough to want more and a potential season three narrative:
• is Eleven the only test subject that knows about the Upside Down?
• how many more test subjects are there?
• will it take all of them to completely destroy the Shadow Monster?
5. Love triangles with a difference
Bob, Hopper and Joyce. Steve, Jonathan and Nancy. Dustin, Lucas and Max.
Joyce is playing it safe with good guy Bob the brain. He’s not a wastoid like Donnie and he’s predictably lovable – which makes him even more of an adorable character. Bob loves Joyce but he knows that her and Hopper share a long and complicated history (they dated in high school, they’ve both felt loss and pain and they’ve both entered the Upside Down).
With Bob conveniently being devoured by a Demodog (skip to point 7), will Jopper finally reunite?
Likewise, Nancy is with Steve because it’s easy. He’s popular and not a douche anymore (which, after a heart-to-heart with Dustin we find out is because of Nancy). But it’s hard to admit that something you thought you wanted so badly, isn’t what you wanted at all. As Nancy comes to terms with this, so does Steve – he knows that Jancy (yep, it’s happening) are meant to be.
Meanwhile, new girl Mad Max has made quite the impression on Lucas and Dustin. Although he desperately tries to impress her with Dart, Dustin knows that she likes Lucas. And it’s heartbreaking. Story lines like this show development from season one – they’re literally growing up and dealing with feelings. *Shudders*
6. I totally ship Billy and Steve
Billy is a huge bully (we understand why by the end, but still). Right from the start he gives Steve trouble because he’s seemingly threatened.
Maybe Billy likes Steve?
Throughout season two I felt there were subtle hints that Billy was gay. Hear me out:
• he constantly calls Steve pretty and makes jokes about seeing him
• he’s nearly always shirtless around Steve (Patrick Swayze, Roadhouse vibes)
• even when flirting with Mrs Wheeler, he says about Nancy: She’s not my type. Ok, this could have been a quip just for Mrs W, but it seemed to be an in-joke – maybe he doesn’t like Nancy because he’s not attracted to women?
Either way, I like that the Duffers weren’t explicit about this. Similarly, when he warns Max to stay away from ‘boys like Lucas’ – is he a racist? Or just threatened by other males? It’s up to us to decide. One of the show’s strongest features is its ‘show not tell’ ability.
7. Justice for Bob?
In true Duffer Brother’s style, the sweetest character is killed off. Being a self-confessed ‘brain’ Bob has never done anything remotely brave in his life. He’s dorky and pinches himself every time he remembers he’s dating Joyce Byers *sob*.
So it makes sense that this brain is put to good use before it’s gone forever. What’s great about Bob is he never judges Joyce, Will or Hopper for being crazy. He doesn’t ask questions and just wants to help. What a guy.
And how amazing was that sneaky little Goonies reference?
8. Would it be ST if Joyce’s house wasn’t wrecked?
Last season she hung Christmas lights throughout every room in her home, broke countless telephones and took an axe to the wall. And Nancy, Steve and Jonathan set a Demogorgon alight in the hallway.
This season Joyce’s house is covered in creepy af drawings of the underground Shadow Monster vines. Plus a Demodog’s head is smashed through her living room window by a Terminator-esque Eleven.
My favourite thing? Anyone that happens to visit the Byer’s house doesn’t bat an eyelid. It’s great.
R.I.P. Byers kitchen wall phone (again this season) https://t.co/QimYNV5Pal
— David Harbour (@DavidKHarbour) November 1, 2017
9. Ted Wheeler is useless – and I love it
He has no idea where his kids are 90% of the time, no clue what they’re doing, who they’re with or when they’ll be home. And I love that Ted uses a baseball analogy to describe Mike’s behaviour – Mike plays Dungeons & Dragons with his friends at the weekends, he has no interest whatsoever in sports!
And he evidently can’t satisfy his wife either – reading erotic novels in the bath while listening to Barbara Streisand is a cry for help, Ted. Both Mr and Mrs Wheeler are underrated comedic characters, with a fantastic (lack of) chemistry.
10. Eleven is the ultimate teenager
She’s 13, she likes a boy and Hopper won’t let her see him.
It was refreshing to see that throughout the drama of living at Hopper’s cabin, wanting to know more about her childhood and maintaining her powers, the main source of her anger is not being able to visit the boy that she loves. She’s still just a teenage girl – she might be able to smash windows with her mind but she can’t stop missing Mike.
11. The shadow monster is gone, but not forgotten
Eleven screams the house down and levitates while doing ‘her thing’ in order to close the gate. But closing the gate doesn’t mean it can’t be opened again – Eleven opened it before by accident. We’re almost given a complete happy ending (if it wasn’t for that pesky Shadow Monster looming over Hawkins School).
So it’s pretty clear that the Shadow Monster will be back. And obviously I have questions:
• will the Shadow Monster go after Eleven? She’s kick the Upside Down’s ass twice!
• are the test subjects the key to truly destroying the Upside Down?
• can Will finally live a normal life?
Whatever the outcome, it’s gonna’ be bitchin’.
And if you’re utterly obsessed with Stranger Things too, be sure to watch Beyond Stranger Things (it’s on straight after you watch the last episode).