Stranger Things 2: Electric Demogorgon

Kudos to you if you understood the blog title. It means you were raised in the ’80s like me. Stranger Things 2 takes place in 1984, a year after the events of the first series and the same year Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo came out. Season two dropped on Oct. 27th, just in time for fans to binge-watch it over Halloween weekend. I finished the nine episodes that Sunday. I really enjoyed the first season, and the second one was just as entertaining. Below, I will highlight the highs and lows, so beware of spoilers.


Lows

Billy Hargrove

In season two, we’re introduced to two new characters: High-schooler Billy Hargrove and his younger sister, Max. Max was a great addition to the cast and story, but Billy was pretty much useless. He’s a bully, racist, and he’s abusive to Max. Decre Montgomery, who portrays Billy, has plenty of charisma and good looks (I was digging The Lost Boys get-up), but his character served no purpose to the storyline. It really was unfair because he had one of the best introductions — roaring into the school parking lot as The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” blared from the speakers.

Decre Montgomery as Billy Hargove (Photo from IMDB)

Justice for Barb

Justice for Barb was a major storyline in season two as Nancy and Jonathan spend the majority of their airtime taking down Hawkins Lab, who was responsible for Barb’s death. It made sense to see Nancy feel guilty for her best friend’s death (especially for not telling Barb’s parents the truth), but at the same time, I felt we were spending too much time on a character that had a total of maybe five scenes. And why did it take Nancy to wait a year to actually do something about it? It felt like the storyline was shoehorned in by the creators due to the uproar online.

Lack of Development for Nancy

I love the character of Nancy, but I felt like these this show has put too much focus on her relationship with the guys in her life (Steve in season one and now Jonathan in season two). Also, the way the arcade worker kept bringing her up as a reward for helping out the boys felt super icky. I also didn’t like that she left her brother, Mike, behind to go off with Jonathan in the final episode (a scene where she explains to Mike why she’s leaving would have helped). We saw hints of her strong will as she practiced target shooting last season, and we saw a hint of it this season when Hopper handed her a gun. Other than that, I want to see more of Nancy grow as a person by herself rather than it revolving around her love interests.

Eleven’s Odyssey

Eleven spent most of the season separated from everyone except for Hopper, who was hiding her away in a cabin in the woods. Once Eleven decides to venture out on her own to find her mother, she goes on a personal odyssey which takes her to her mother and then to Chicago to find her long-lost “sister.” We are introduced to Kali (Eight), who also possesses powers and lived with Eleven at Hawkins Lab. Other reviewers have discussed the polarizing episode seven which is centered on Eleven’s time in Chicago with Kali and her gang of thieves. I get it; it takes us away from the original characters, but the episode gave us hints that Papa (Dr. Brenner) may still be alive, and it opens up the possibility of Kali’s return. When Eleven is finally reunited with the rest of the group at the end of episode eight, it was a (very) longtime coming.


Highs

More Will Byers

In season one, the disappearance of Will into the Upside Down sets the story in motion, but we didn’t see much of him. In season two, I was really surprised to see how great Noah Schnapp was as Will. He really shined as the little boy who was obviously suffering from PTSD. My heart broke for him as he tried to be a normal kid, playing arcade games and trick-or-treating, but underneath it all, he was still haunted by his time in the Upside Down. When he becomes “possessed” by the Mind Flayer that’s been chasing him, his portrayal reminded me of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. Will was trapped in his own body, but Noah did an excellent job of playing a victim and a villain.

Sean Astin as Bob Newby and Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers (Photo from IMDB)

Bob Newby

While Billy was useless, Sean Astin’s portrayal as Joyce’s loveable and good-hearted boyfriend was so pure and refreshing to see. He really did care for Joyce and her boys, and when he finally learns the truth about the Upside Down, he doesn’t run away, he wants to help. In the end, he gets a big hero moment and gives up his life in order to save Joyce and Will. I read that the Duffer Brothers had originally intended to kill off the character earlier, but after hiring Sean, they kept him around longer and gave him more to work with — I think it was worth it! I’m team Joyce/Hopper, but Bob Newby Superhero is someone I won’t forget.

The Redemption of Steve

I really loved how they flipped Steve’s character arc last season, from bully to hero, and I was glad to see them continue it this season. He gets his heart broken by Nancy, and even though he still cares about her, he understands that she really wants to be with Jonathan. But really, the best part was the unexpected team-up between Steve and Dustin, and how he stepped up to play guardian to the kids, wielding his bat and fighting off demogorgons.

Eleven and Hopper

As I mentioned earlier, we don’t see much of Eleven except when she’s with Hopper, but I adored their scenes together in the cabin. We see Eleven’s frustration and anger for being hidden away because Hopper thinks it’s the best way to keep her safe. Despite that, we also see how much Hopper cares for her. It especially hurts when you think about the daughter Hopper lost and how he doesn’t want to lose Eleven either. One of the more powerful scenes this season is when Eleven and Hopper are closing the gate together in order to stop the Mind Flayer from entering their realm. Their relationship pays off though when the season ends with Hopper adopting Eleven (real name Jane, now Jane Hopper).


Overall, I enjoyed this season, and I got my ’80s fix (the music, outfits, and pop culture references were great). I’ll have to wait another year for the next season, but I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

Did you see Stranger Things 2? What were your highs and lows?

 

4 Comments

  • Ron Edison November 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Agree about Billy. Way over the top. I think the writers felt they needed to replace the redeemed Steve with another threatening peer.

    Reply
    • nuyangwriter November 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      Yes, but unfortunately, they went way over the top with billy as the new villain. at least with steve i felt a little sympathetic (peer pressure, etc.)

      Reply
  • Lane Robins November 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    I agree with the Billy hate but I adored Elevens odyssey through her own past and I loved her bond with Kali. I’m really hoping Kali shows up again. Maybe without her ragtag band of random vigilantes. I had a really hard time with Hopper locking Eleven in that cabin. It just felt so squicky to me, because he just felt so controlling. And she obviously felt so helpless.

    I kind of got annoyed at the musical choices. Too damn on the nose.

    And while I really hate hate hate soulmate kind of tropes, I adored Mike and El’s bond.

    I thought Max was underutilized but I’m hoping for a more interesting role for her in season 3. And yes. I am looking forward to season 3.

    Reply
    • nuyangwriter November 16, 2017 at 6:59 pm

      I think they should have spent at least two episodes on eleven’s voyage to meet her mom and travel to chicago. The character of Kali has potential, but it felt too rushed meeting her.

      Hopper and Eleven felt true to what a father/daughter would go through if they were stuck together in cabin, and like I said in my post, I think Hopper’s feelings were coming from a place of fear and loss due to his daughter. Obviously, he cares for Eleven, but neither know how to fully express their concern for the other.

      And yes, more Max next season! I hope and and Lucas are still together too.

      Reply

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