The wildly anticipated second season of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things debuted October 27, 2017, just in time for a Halloween binge. Many fans were skeptical that the second season would not live up to its hype, but it’s pretty safe to say that it went above and beyond what anyone expected.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones that experience the “sophomore slump”– like the second year of high school, the second season of many television shows often fail to reach the high expectation set by the first. Luckily, Stranger Things 2 managed to keep the momentum going with its well-developed characters.
While season 1 focused mostly on Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), season 2 allowed other characters to shine. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) were finally given more screen time and development, maturing from the tired archetypes they portrayed in the first season. Lucas was one character that matured considerably– the heartwarming scene when he and his friends are reunited with Eleven is a sharp contrast to his hostile attitude towards her in season 1. Another character that took the audience by surprise was Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). The pretty bad boy with a heart of gold showcased his great babysitter skills throughout the season, making him a fan favorite.
The characters were paired with new people this season, creating new dynamics that added more tension– or more laughter– into the season. The growing father-daughter relationship between the two loners of the show, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and Eleven, tugged at the heartstrings and helped humanize both characters. On the other hand, the brotherly relationship between Steve and Dustin was a comic relief for many of the dark and intense scenes, but wasn’t any less heartwarming.
Although the maturity of the already established characters were the highlight to season 2, the new characters weren’t any less interesting. Sean Astin, best known for his role as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, stole every scene (and every fan’s heart) he was in as dorky Bob Newby. Other notable new characters include Billy (Dacre Montgomery) and Max (Sadie Sink), step siblings that had recently moved to the dreary Hawkins from sunny California.
While the new season wasn’t completely perfect (there was some odd pacing in the last few episodes, especially with the seemingly out of place episode 7), the characters definitely stole the show. If you watch for nothing else, do it at least for them– it’s not everyday where a television show handles it characters so well.