Netflix

Halloween might be over, but the hype for Season Two of the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” has been stronger than ever. Taking place a year after the events of the first season, things are seemingly back to normal in Hawkins, as Will attempts to readjust after returning from the Upside Down. However, Mike and Joyce soon realize that Will still has a connection with the Upside Down that could be attracting a devastating threat. It’s up to the gang and their new friend Max, a troubled young girl who Dustin and Lucas both like, to take on the menace and save Hawkins once again.

“Stranger Things 2” successfully knew what plot elements to return to from the previous season and how to build upon them. This season contains plenty of throwbacks to the first that helped give the characters motivation for their actions as opposed to cheap fan service. Likewise, this also helped make the world of the Upside Down feel larger and more threatening than ever, allowing the danger to have much larger presence throughout. The overall direction and production design also reflected this. This season abandons much of the small town feel and grit of the first season for a more polished look with a grander scope, which works well for the overall tone.

Anyone going into “Stranger Things 2” should be ready for a lot of character moments, as this is what this season prioritizes over world-building. All of the returning characters are given a new level of humanity which is built upon throughout the season, most of which is through some very charming moments simply interacting with one another. One of the strongest character changes is Steve, who is far more likable than he was in the first season.

Similarly, some of the new characters also prove to be welcome additions. New antagonists Dr. Owens and Billy, Max’s stepbrother, make for interesting characters as the series continues its streak of giving seemingly one-dimensional bad guys a real sense of depth and sympathy. Another new character, Bob, who acts as a love interest for Joyce, brings plenty of charm and likability to the series. And Max, while not a particularly useful character other than to cause some forced drama in the long run, still had an interesting backstory and great chemistry with the cast.

When it comes to Eleven, however, the season’s flaws are revealed. Without giving away too much, Eleven’s side story throughout the majority of this season feels very disconnected with the rest of what was going on. While her storyline is engaging enough on its own and her character is taken to some interesting places, there are moments when it feels like it’s messing up the overall tone and pacing of the season.

Overall, while this season has its fair share of issues and lacks the cohesiveness of Season One, this is still an enjoyable watch that is sure to satisfy regardless. With its strong combination of character development and world-building that heightens the dangers of the previous season, while still containing the fun tone of the show, “Stranger Things 2” is sure to leave fans ready for the next season.