Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.
Quick recap for season 1:
Have you seen or read anything by 80’s era Carpenter, Spielberg or King? Then you’ve seen season 1. I’m not going to say it was derivative but it’s no coincidence that before the show aired, the creators lobbied hard for the rights to direct the new IT because Stranger Things is IT + Carrie – clown. But the strength of any story isn’t it’s originality but it’s characters. The story can be nothing more than “nostalgia bait” but still connect to audiences based on the chemistry of the leads and that’s the strength of season 1. It’s not it’s premise. It’s not it’s 80’s aesthetic. It’s the characters. People instantly fell in love with the Eggo chomping eleven and the goofy ass Dustin and gruff sheriff. It immediately became a pop culture hit and a sequel was inevitable.
Spoilers For Stranger Things Season 2
This review will not cover the plot of the show. If you haven’t seen it, this review will be a load of gobbledygook. Watch it and then come back or enjoy piecing together the puzzle of madness, you crazy person.
I personally loved season 1. It had some problems (Winona Ryder can act hysterical but she can not convincingly cry) but overall, I really dug its throwback feel. After that season and this season’s amazing trailer (its edited to Thriller. Amazing is an understatement) season 2 had some big ass shoes to fill. Did it live up to the hype or did the house that nostalgia built collapse without those beams to support it?
A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B.
Let’s get the two big negatives out of the way first. This is not nearly as well written as season 1 and no where is this more evident than the new character of Maxine and the punk rock thieves that want to recruit Eleven. The strength of the previous season was the kids dealing with a problem as a unit. They would bicker and argue and fight and sometimes be unlikable but they were always a unit. This season (take a shot every time I say the word ‘season.’ I bet you’re dead before I talk about Bob’s death) decided to break up every single unit in the show.
Maxine instantly splinters the group because she has a vagina and the boys are freaking out about it.
The ‘pollywog’ that Dustin finds that further fractures the team because he shouldn’t have it but he keeps it anyways.
Eleven is with Sheriff Hopper and not the kids because he’s “protecting her.”
Nancy and Steve are fighting because the show clearly always wanted Nancy and Jonathon to be together, so it’s back peddling as hard as it can to rectify that mistake.
Joyce is not with the Sheriff but is with Bob (perfectly played by Sean Astin.) The problem with Bob is, you know immediately that he’s going to die. The first season clearly wanted Joyce and the Sheriff together but just like Nancy and Jonathon, they decided to pull a fast one and trick the audience and deny them what they wanted. I respected the choice but you know goddamn well that Joyce will inevitably end up with the Sheriff. So that leaves 1 of 3 options:
- Bob leaves
- Bob is a bad guy
- Bob will die
Joyce leaving Bob is not an option because by episode 3, he’s already a fan favorite. He’s nice. He’s charming and he treats her right. Joyce can’t leave him because then the audience would turn on her and you can’t have that. You can’t make him a villain because that doesn’t make any goddamn sense. So it’s either he leaves or he dies. And death is the logic choice. Which is what happens. Back peddling.
And the punk rock thieves who are introduced in the beginning but don’t really appear until later. They star in easily the worst episode of the show. Their entire purpose to the plot is to give Eleven some motivation to get out of Hawkins while the shit goes down.
Remember that scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Thor goes to a magic cave and gets a vision that Asgard is burning? That’s only in the film because Thor needs to be off of earth during Civil War. That’s it. Because when you have a literal god on your team, you win the fight. Superhero films do this all the time. X-men Days of Futures Past tried to explain why professor X hasn’t instantly saved the day by explaining that the experimental drugs he’s taking to walk, limit his powers. So he doesn’t know what’s going on. When your superhero is all powerful, you need a way to cripple them or the plot is over in 5 minutes.
Episode 7 is the shows way of crippling Eleven. Not physically and not exactly emotionally but by eliminating her from the plot. She can’t be there during the demo-dog fight because the show is over. I understand it from a narrative device and I don’t mind that there’s another girl like her with powers trying to get revenge but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Like grapefruit in a fruit salad. Not bad by itself but impossible to add without spoiling the salad.
That’s essentially the first half of the season:
- Splintering the group
- Back peddling
- Episode 7
And then this happens:
Whoever decided to team Steve up with Dustin should get a fucking raise. The last 3 episodes (not including 7) is really when the show begins to fucking shine. All the characters are no longer separated by story bullshit, all the plot threads start pulling together and Steve. I can not stress how fucking great Steve is in episode 6. As bad as episode 7 is, is as great as episode 6 is. It’s its polar opposite and saves the season from being mediocre.
Although most are minor, I’ve listed far more negatives than positives but I think the last 3 episodes make up for all of its shortcomings. If the ultimate goal for a show is to get me hyped for its next season, season 2 accomplished it’s goal.
Now can we end the lame ass #justiceforBarb and replace it with the more appropriate #Steveisafuckingwinner?