Stranger Things 2 takes you back to the upside down

By Brian Abbate, A&E Editor

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      Stranger Things 2, the highly anticipated sequel to last year’s cult classic, Stranger Things, finally arrived at the end of October. Streaming now on Netflix, the show picks up right were the last season left off.

       Be advised, this article will contain some MAJOR spoilers, so if you haven’t watched season two yet, maybe you should go binge all nine hours worth like a normal person.

       Let’s start by getting up to speed on the returning characters.

      Eleven: You thought she was dead, didn’t you? Well she’s back and she’s fiercer than ever. She moves in with Hopper and their happy relationship quickly turns sour when Hopper enforces rules to keep Eleven safe but they remind her of her captivity at Hawkins lab. She runs away and the rest is history.

       Sheriff Jim Hopper: He is willing to do just about anything, sometimes illegally, to make sure the citizens of his town are safe. He develops a very close bond with Will and an even closer one with Joyce. He steals the show as his loving, tough and determined character does his absolute best to defeat the monsters from the upside down while simultaneously raising Eleven and keeping his town safe.

      Mike Wheeler: Mike is very emotional in this season, and sometimes it’s annoying. He’s whiney and rude but once episode nine rolls around, his behavior changes.

       Dustin Henderson: Arguably the fan favorite, Gaten Matarazzo returns with even more humor and swear words to offer than he did last season. The charming Dustin is always there to offer comic relief and develops a quality bromance with Steve. Dustin does something that gets the gang into some hot water, but he does it out of love. He is trustworthy and wants to save his best friend, Will.

      Lucas Sinclair: Lucas undergoes significant character development from season one, where he was kind of a hot head. This time around, he befriends Max, and develops a small romance with her towards the end of the season. He seems more caring and genuine and more badass as he defends himself against Max’s deranged brother. Lucas is a true friend.

        Will Byers: The boy who came back to life. Labeled a freak in the halls of Hawkins school district, Will still has terrifying moments where he is transported to the upside down. A majority of season two, just as season one focused on retrieving him from the upside down, is devoted to helping him escape the demonic underworld and trying to enjoy a normal childhood. Will has much more screen time this season and does an excellent job of being both adorable and frightening.

        Joyce Byers: Will’s mom, played by Winona Ryder, steals the show once again as she grieves and mourns her son’s near-death experience. She is slightly calmer this season, even though something worse than Will’s battle in the upside down happens towards the end of the season. She cares about her children more than anything and is willing to fight to the very end to make sure they are ok.

           Jonathan Byers: An underdog for sure, after Nancy ultimately chooses Steve at the end of season one, Jonathon is still a caring brother, son and friend. He, just like his mother, will do whatever it takes to bring his brother safely back from the upside down. He and Nancy team up to take down the corrupt scientists with secret agendas at Hawkins’ lab. Nancy Wheeler: After the season one finale showed Nancy and Steve together on Christmas, things begin to get rocky for the young couple. After an incident at a Halloween party, Nancy says some downright horrible things to Steve, so Jonathon brings her home instead. She and Jonathon spend more and more time together and eventually fall for each other even harder than they did in season one. She is a good sister to Mike and wants to help retrieve Will from the upside down.

        Steve Harrington: Steve more than redeems his douchey self from season one. Steve matures immensely from the events of season one and is now a genuinely good guy. He plays the role of babysitter for Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Max while the others are trying to save Will. He and Dustin have perfect chemistry while the two team up to take down the demidogs. Steve is the hero from this season, not eleven, fight me.

 

      A few new characters also joined the fight against the upside down this season.

        Max Mayfield: A tom boy who just moved to Hawkins with her brother, Billy, mom and stepfather. Her origin is a little foggy but after stalking her for a few days, the gang, mainly Dustin and Lucas, invite her to go trick-or-treating and become good friends with her. Mike has some weird reservations about her and is nothing but rude towards her for most of the season. She is a welcomed member to the core group and is tough as hell. Also, Dustin falls for her but she falls for Lucas. Can’t win em’ all, buddy!

        Bob Newby: Joyce’s boyfriend seems a little goofy and possibly even creepy at first but he is truly a good guy. He wants to be a father to Will and Jonathon and a husband to Joyce. His tech skills and nerdy hobbies help the gang on more than one occasion, like when he hacks into the Hawkins lab mainframe and opens and closes doors to ensure a safe exit from the building as the group is hunted by demidogs. Bob is a good dude, but sadly, we won’t be seeing much of him in season three.

      Billy Hargrove: This badass is the epitome of the ‘80s. Earrings, muscle shirts, loud music, a bad attitude; this heartthrob has it all. But he’s a complete asshole to his stepsister. And he tries to basically kill Steve. He’s also outwardly racist towards Lucas. We see in one scene that his dad is VERY hard on him for reasons unknown. His origin is even more ambiguous than Max’s.

     Dr. Owens: This Hawkins lab doctor, who is helping/examining/interrogating Will on a weekly basis, seems like a villain at first with his very specific agenda, but much like Bob, he turns out to be good in the end. He helps the gang escape from the lab during the demidog invasion.

    Now to get into the premise itself. To make a very long story short, Will is coughing up slugs and being perpetually transported into the upside down even though he was rescued. None of his friends can empathize with what he is going through.

     Will ends up becoming possessed by a shadowy figure from the Upside down after multiple episodes where he becomes stuck between the worlds.
Obviously, some other intense stuff happens throughout the season. Dustin, Steve, Lucas and Max fight off a pack of demidogs, one of which eats Dustin’s cat.

    Nancy and Jonathon meet with a conspiracy theorist in hopes of exposing the Hawkins lab for what it really is, a twisted nightmare.
Eleven teams up with her long-lost sister, who also possesses a special set of powers, but it turns out that her sister uses them for evil. When Eleven returns to Hawkins, an all-out war is brewing between the demons of the upside down and Steve, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Max, Hopper, Nancy and Jonathon.

     It was almost reminiscent of the first Avengers movie, as all the heroes stood back to back, flaunting their weapons. And yes, Steve has his prized baseball bat again.

      Good triumphs evil and the gang is safe once again. As we see in the ending scene, however, the threat is still around the corner in the upside down.

      I feel obligated to give this season of Stranger Things a solid 10/10, not because I’m a fanboy but because it is truly deserving of it. The story arcs are solid and the action sequences are tense. Dustin and Steve have outstanding chemistry together and Hopper is just so damn badass it’s amazing. If you’re one of the fifteen people on Earth who hasn’t streamed Stranger Things 2 yet, please do yourself a favor and watch it now.