I Just Finished – Stranger Things 2

There aren’t many TV shows that I have to watch anymore. I like The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. I enjoy Supergirl overall. I tend to fall way behind on them, though. I’m still finishing Iron Fist and thus haven’t started The Defenders. Beyond those, I’m a little behind on This Is Us and a lot of the shows friends are watching I’m just giving a pass to. I don’t need The Orville. They made 79 real episodes of Star Trek, and enough Next Gen that I’ve never seen them all. I gave Star Trek: Discovery what I feel was a fair chance, and it didn’t impress me any more than any other non-Enterprise Trek has.

But Stranger Things I must see. It’s too gripping, too engaging, too much plain fun not to. It’s such a great piece of 80s nostalgia, not just in costumes, music and décor, but in the feel of 1980s films about young people.

I liked where they took the characters this time. We got Will Byers back at the end of last season, but we knew he wasn’t safe or quite sound. What was going on with him kept me guessing and was shocking to watch—just disturbing enough to hold an edge, without being cruel to the character and viewer. Dustin and Lucas were allowed to grow in new directions. Mike’s arc was expected by very satisfying, as both Will’s stalwart best friend and a young man feeling first love. He has a dramatic scene with Hopper that gave me real respect for Finn Wolfhard’s acting skills.

Joyce managed to not be too annoying, and Winona Ryder even brought some humor to her this time. Hopper really stood out, for his courage and his ability to work through being a parent-figure to a teen, something he never expected to have to do, and something that didn’t come easily. Sean Astin as the hero-geek Bob was utterly perfect. And Paul Reiser makes it through nine episodes without calling anybody “kiddo,” or making you hate his guts.

Two new characters—Max and her brother Billy—brought a bit of intrigue to the story and certainly raised both the hormone and adrenaline levels for the boys. Billy, I have to say, seems a bit pointless as a character in this season, a bit unfinished. It’s clear he’s being held out for future development. Max seems more organic, as both romantic interest for more than one of the boys, and as a potential foil for Eleven.

If I have a complaint, it’s only along the lines of something done here that I don’t want to see done in future series. Eleven goes off on her own for too long. (Yeah, SPOILERS. Like they were going to make a season without Eleven. It’s pretty hard to pretend the character isn’t in the series when her new hairstyle was making magazine covers. What, you thought they were just gonna find her hair in the woods? “It’s the demogorgon! El’s hair, Vidal Sassoon its ass!”)

El’s arc is good, but I don’t really want to watch endless repeats of the X-Men on one continent while Jean Grey is trapped on another, just because she’s too powerful and would show them all up. That got old in the 1970s. And it’s a natural trap to fall into, as the series has a pretty X-Men vibe. Also, I found her sort of dark version of Adventures in Babysitting on the streets of Chicago to be just enough. More of that kind of action would try my patience, and probably the rest of the audience’s too. And I found the character of Kali to be the weakest link in the show.

Apparently Netflix and the producers are looking at either four or five seasons. That’s a good thing.

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