Stranger Things Season 2 Review w/ Spoilers
In contrast to the majority of Stranger Things fans raving on social media about how Stranger Things Season 2 was incredible and amazing, I was left feeling empty and disappointed after the last episode.
My first thought was, “Damn… that was it?” I wanted more. But more of what?
The cinematics and special effects were beautiful spectacles of artistic science-fiction. Every episode, (besides episode 7 which was pure garbage) was fast paced, exciting, and even thrilling. The iconic characters we had barely met in Season 1 were further developed to convey the complex nature of their personalities as we witnessed the rise of Steve Harrington and the fall of Nancy Wheeler. New characters such as Billy, Max, and Bob were introduced, each bringing with them their own unique significance, individualized style, and dynamic character interactions.
So far so good. And yet I still felt dissatisfied after the Stranger Things Season 2 finale. Why you ask?
Plot Development. Where was the plot development?
Essentially, the plot of Stranger Things Season 1 was: Boy is captured by monster. Boy is freed from monster by friends, a telekinetic prodigy, family, shady scientists, and local law enforcement.
Essentially, the plot of Stranger Things Season 2 was: Boy is possessed by monster. Boy is freed from monster by friends, a telekinetic friend, family, shady scientists, and local law enforcement.
Yes, the character development in Stranger Things Season 2 is deeper and better than the character development in Stranger Things Season 1. But practically any show in existence is expected to include character development as part of its production and presentation. Character development is a “Normal Thing.”
If I wanted to watch a show about character development I would go re-watch The Office or Breaking Bad or I’d finally get around to checking out Sons of Anarchy or something.
I’m watching “Stranger Things” because I’m interested in stranger things than the normal things in the normal shows I normally watch. For example: The Shadow Monster, The Multi-Dimensional Hive Mind and The Parallel Dimensions in which It Exists, The Demogorgons, The Telekinetic Adolescent, The Sibling Numbered Human Experiments, Top-Secret Government Scientists and Laboratories, Etc.
I want there to be deeper explanations for the sci-fi elements of the show that make it different from other shows. Not just the human characterization that is a requirement for the vast majority of shows.
I have questions:
1. The Shadow Monster What is the motivation of the Shadow Monster? What is it and from where did it come? Why does it want to infiltrate our dimension? What is the extent of its abilities? What is the extent of its cognitive abilities? Does it have the ability to create dimensional tears the way that El did?
2. The Multi-Dimensional Hive Mind and The Parallel Dimensions in which It Exists – If it had stayed in Will long enough would it have fully possessed him and been able to interact in this world and this dimension as a human? If it had possessed Will and been able to walk around the human world then what would it do here? Would it just kill everyone and everything? Or would it take over all humans and have them keep living as humans but somehow live differently in a way that serves its purposes? What even are its purposes and what would the Shadow Monster have its human minions do to achieve those purposes? It seems to have a tremendous amount of space in the Upside Down so why does it need to expand other than “that’s just what a shadow monster does?” Are there other creatures in the Upside Down with which it shares the space?
3. Demogorgons – Why does the Shadow Monster create Demogorgons? Are those a natural part of the Shadow Monster or is that a race or species that once used to be sentient but now has been completely possessed and become tools to the Shadow Monster? If that’s the case then can they be freed and come back to the “good” side the way Will did? What do the Demogorgons eat when they’re in the Upside Down?
4. The Telekinetic Adolescent – What’s going on with Eleven? We can tell she knows more than she is expressing so when are we going to find out everything? What does she know? What deeper understanding does she have that she has not yet conveyed? Is there a reason that El and the creatures from the Upside Down both have similar mental or psionic abilities? How is El going to fit into the world and normal society if she flares up and has a telekinetic tantrum when she’s upset? Can she get over that? Or will she continue to channel her aggression into violence the way she does when she gets jealous about Mike and hurts Max?
5. The Sibling Numbered Human Experiments – What was the point of including El’s sister in the series? What is the extent of what she can do with her powers? How many members of the people associated with their trauma have been killed and how many are left? Why wouldn’t the military be after this group of young murderers and not just the police? Are there additional siblings?
6. Top-Secret Government Scientists and Laboratories – What do they know that we don’t know? What are all of their secrets or at least some of them? Is there anything else they know about Eleven or the others that are similar to her? Who else is involved with this conspiracy? What happened to the people from Season 1 that took responsibility for the disappearance/death of Barbara?
While I don’t expect all of these questions to have been answered in Stranger Things Season 2, I did want more of them to be. I did still thoroughly enjoy the experience and will watch the next season, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with this one. Plus, I have concerns that many of these questions may never be answered based on comments made by Producers Ross and Matt Duffer referenced in a piece by The Insider:
“Also we talked a lot about sustaining the story, we talked about Voldemort,” Ross said. “You need a threat that isn’t just a shark. You need a threat that has plans and goals and thoughts.”
So the Mind Flayer is akin to Voldemort in “Harry Potter” — an existential threat to the protagonist who is intent on world domination but has been thwarted in the past.
“But not something you can understand,” Matt chimed in. “It’s like the Lovecraftian approach to horror … it’s like a cosmic horror. It’s something obviously from another dimension but you don’t understand what its intentions are. It’s beyond comprehension.”
It’s particularly the line about the Mind Flayer being straight up “beyond comprehension” that bothers me. Generally the sci-fi genre is a vehicle for comprehension and discussion. While I am a generally a fan of “the Lovecraftian approach to horror,” I’m not quite sure I see the comparison in Stranger Things. Hopefully my anxieties are unfounded and Season 3 will fill the void left by Season 2. Without any psychic or psionic abilities we’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you think? Do you agree with me? Somewhat? Partially? Or was Stranger Things Season 2 everything you wanted it to be? I would Love to hear your opinions so be sure to let me know in the comments below!
And if you’ve got a Stranger Things fan in mind this Holiday season then be sure to check out the Top 10 Best Stranger Things Christmas and Holiday Gifts!