Late to the Party: Stranger Things Season Two
Posted on July 22, 2022 Posted by Athena Scalzi 7 Comments
After totally tearing through season one of Stranger Things, I was eager to start season two. Upon actually starting it, I realized I did watch it when it came out. I had completely forgotten about season two entirely. I thought, “okay, maybe I did watch an episode or two and then quit”, but that wasn’t the case. By the time I reached the end of the season, I remembered I had watched all of it. However, I couldn’t remember what had happened until it already did, so in a way it was like watching it for the first time.
But why had I just completely forgotten about it? The first season seemed so memorable, so why wasn’t the second? Had it been so bad that I forgot it entirely until actively watching it again?
Well, no, actually, it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t particularly good, either. And not anywhere near as good as the first.
(Warning: Spoilers for season two!)
The second season had all the characters we knew and loved from the first season, but with almost no development from any of them by the end of the second. You’d think after a year passing, they’d all be a little different at least? I’m not saying they have to go through some major revolutionary change that makes their character completely different, but it just felt sort of repetitive to have almost every character acting the exact same way they did throughout the first season.
I will say that Steve is starting to become the man I’ve heard he is from all the memes. He was definitely much less of an immature dickhead, and had a lot of selfless moments where he protected others and even risked his life. Other than him, and slightly Eleven, I wouldn’t say any of the characters really changed at all.
But, there were new characters, so let’s talk about them.
First, there’s Max, the new girl in the group that causes conflict between all the boys. Just like the last girl did. For each of these girls, they were gladly accepted by some party members, and rejected vehemently by the others. And in both cases, the boys got jealous regarding how much the other(s) liked the girl. This seems very true to how children act in real life, but it was hard to watch happen a second time to a different girl. I’m tired of girls being used as a dividing force between boys. Girls being used to make them fight, or be jealous, or get mad at each other. They feel reduced to their roles in this sense.
On the flip side of that, there is a scene where El gets jealous when she sees Max talking to Mike, so a case can be made that the show is not just limiting jealousy to the boys of the show. But it sure feels that way sometimes, especially when you add in Steve’s jealousy regarding Nancy, too. It’s a lot of drama. Which makes sense, because again they’re all kids, trying to figure out their feelings and relationships. But still, it gets old.
As for Billy, he was an asshole older brother character, sure, but he was scary. It’s not every day you see a mean older brother that is more than just obnoxious, and actually manages to instill some level of unsettling feelings in you. He felt… evil. He felt like he was really capable of doing something awful, and I hated that about him, but it made him a good character. And I have never felt so bad for someone so shitty before I saw the scene with him and his dad. Genuinely saddening. I went from despising him to sympathizing for him. Doesn’t give him an excuse to treat Max that way, of course, but damn.
And then we have Bob. He who was surely destined to die. To be the throwaway character the season needed to help advance the plot, nothing more. If it was so obvious that that’s who he was meant to be all along, then why did his death feel so unnecessary? He had made it through the entire lab, all the way to the front doors where everyone else was, and then got got by the demadogs. I know it’s done that way intentionally to make the emotional punch hurt more, but it’s so goofy. He was right there, there was no reason that his death should have happened that way, or happened for nothing. He didn’t do some kind of big sacrifice hero moment, he literally just let his guard down and then got tackled and munched on. It shouldn’t have happened like that. It was sad, though.
I won’t go too in depth about Kali, because I did think she was cool and a good character, but I will say I thought her and her crew’s introduction was odd. To start off the second season with a scene of them, and then not show them again until practically the very end of the season seems like a strange choice. Why would you start the season with them? Starting the episode that features them with that scene seems like the better option to me. I say this mostly because I had forgotten that scene entirely until I saw Kali as a child in the Rainbow Room and then suddenly remembered she existed at all. Just seemed like their introduction to the show could’ve been better timed.
Actually, having an entire episode showing only El and her journey to find Kali was a bold choice for the show to begin with. Does it work when there’s so many other characters’ stories to tell at the same time? Interestingly enough, every episode from season two has an 8.2 star rating on IMDb or higher, except episode seven, which has a 6.1. That’s a significant difference. It’s the outlier of the season both in the construction of the episode, and in ratings.
Moving onto the plot, I was curious what they would do for a second season when El had clearly just beaten the Big Baddy at the end of season one. The answer: they made an even Bigger Baddy. This is not an uncommon thing for shows to do in order to make more seasons, but it has me wondering if this is just what they’ll keep doing for all the following seasons. Making bigger and badder villains until they can’t make them any bigger or any badder.
Speaking of the antagonists, I did respect the fact that they changed the monster from a demogorgon into demodogs. I was glad they didn’t just have the exact same monster being the threat again. The design of the demodogs is, to me at least, less scary than the humanoid demogorgon, but the fact that there’s so many of them makes them far more dangerous than the lone monster from the first season.
This season felt much slower than the first, and part of that is because everything was already established in the first season, so they didn’t have to spend any time in this one telling you backstories, establishing the world and all the characters. There was even one more episode in the second season than the first. But the whole season really seemed to drag. It wasn’t the captivating, edge of your seat show the first season had managed to be.
Again, this season wasn’t bad, and I liked it well enough. Certainly enough that I will be watching the third season. But still, it was lacking, and overall not as interesting or memorable as the first.
Oh, also, one more grievance I had was after everyone escapes the lab full of demodogs and goes back to the Byer’s house, why the hell do they spend what I can only imagine to be at least an hour emptying out the shed and hanging up all those tarps and shit so Will wouldn’t know where he was when THEY COULD’VE JUST BLINDFOLDED HIM. They wasted so much time STAPLING TARPS TO THE WALL when there were demodogs on the fucking loose. If they didn’t want him to know where he was, just make sure he can’t see, you don’t have to disguise your whole fucking shed to talk to him. Ugh.
What did you think of season two? Did you like it better, or not as much? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and have a great day!
Also, on my post over season one, someone commented asking me if I would be interested in doing reviews like these professionally. The answer is yes! I would love to be a professional reviewer, whether it’s over movies, video games, food/restaurants, or even products and services! I love trying and experiencing new things and then talking about it. And I wouldn’t be able to do it if y’all weren’t here to listen, so thank you all for your interest in my reviews. It feels nice to have my thoughts heard, which is why I always want to hear yours in the comments, too, so don’t be shy!
When you said that you forgot you watched season 2, I realized that I combine 1 & 2 in my mind and don’t remember them as distinct seasons. 3 is really different and has it’s own place in my memory. The tarp thing in the shed annoyed me too. It was a waste of time and probably smells the same. Anyway, I’ve got two more to go. Enjoy!
Like you I really was bored by S2. It was pretty mediocre and predictable. Steve’s story is fun though. S3 and S4 righted a lot of the issues I had and are terrific. They did end up building off of stuff in S2–particularly with some of the characters they introduce.
To reiterate something I said a week or two ago, I loved season 1, got bored and abandoned it season 2, did not know they did a season 3, and am interested in season 4.
What I’ve watched in the interim (in no particular order)
Shameless (oh my $diety, what a show. 11 seasons.)
Currently watching Homeland, good but not as good as those above.
I liked season 2 well enough, but season 3 is easily my favorite even after watching season 4, which is also great. Season 3 introduces another great character and is frequently hilarious as well. And Lucas’s sister, Erica, who we’d briefly met before, is fantastic in her scenes.
(As a prelude to watching season 4, we rewatched all the seasons with our 11-yo daughter, who had not previously seen them. She enjoyed them too.)
I’m just surprised that no one in ANY season has made any Scooby Gang cracks.
You’d make a great reviewer! Or have a show where you cook and review … not one of those chefs who gets everything right, but a lifelike chef who just shares the experience.
Season 2 seemed simply to be an extension of Season 1 to me. The showrunners simply followed the character arcs of the existing characters from S1, and seemed to be tying up loose ends. The new characters were the interesting additions. S3 takes the characters on new arcs, that is true, and S4 seems to have been written with attention to all the characters who now make up the main cast (which has grown from just the D&D group and their families, plus Eleven and Hopper, to include Steve, Robin, Max, and even Murray the conspiracy theorist) to give them all meaty things to do during the season run. And the villains aren’t left out either.