*WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!*
Let me preface this review by saying I thought Season 2 of Stranger Things was good.
Now let me talk about everything that went wrong with it.
The biggest issue of Season 2 had to be the multiple plots going along side the main one. Instead of focusing on the plot involving the main cast and the Upside Down we get side plots involving new love interests and new characters. These added subplots I would argue add nothing to the overall story. In my opinion they just add unneeded fluff. Truthfully Season 2 needed to focus on two major plots those being Eleven’s past and Will still being connected to the Upside Down. Who cares about the Jonathan, Steve and Nancy love triangle? I sure didn’t but I suppose they had to address the Barbara plot from Season 1 and unfortunately the love triangle comes packaged with the Barbara Plot.
To make matters worse, we get a subplot involving Joyce and her love interest Bob. Now I am happy that Joyce found love after the ordeal that happened in Season 1 but he adds nothing to the plot. Though his terrible advice does trigger the climax of the story but that could have easily been achieved without him. Then there’s the plot involving the new character of Max who spends the season trying to fit in and of her brother Billy who just spends the season being a douche. (Also Steve learn to plant your bloody feet.) None of the new characters I mention add to the story.
Now that brings me to the second biggest issue of Season 2. Too many damn characters. It felt like the Duffer Brothers just started writing and adding new characters but were unable to stop. We get Joyce’s love interest Bob, the step-siblings Max and Billy, a punk rock bandit group and Dart the Demogorgon. Only the punk rock group really add anything to the story and even then it’s just one member who only appears really for one episode. ( I do suspect in Season 3 this character will be featured more prominently)
Okay enough negativity. It is time for the positives. The main cast continues to have undeniable chemistry with each other. The chemistry is so good that when the show ends it’ll sadden me. Then there’s the acting or more so the acting of Noah Schnapp. He does an excellent job as a kid who is stigmatized by the town and has to deal with PTSD. The Max and Billy characters are also well acted. We have Max played by Sadie Sink who is brought to the group but is ostracized for selfish reasons mostly on the part of Mike and we have Billy the abusive older brother played by Dacre Montgomery who may or may not be racist or homophobic or both. Sadie does a good job of playing a girl who is closed off due to problems at home and the way those close to her treats her like shit. Dacre does a really good job of making not like his character. He’s overly aggressive, vain and crude. Dacre manages to showcase these traits without ever making the acting seem over the top or cartoony.
Another positive was the soundtrack. The soundtrack continues to be one of the best parts of Stranger Things. There were so many scenes that had me on the edge of my seat due to the music. One particular scene had me starting to tear up due to the way the music interlaced with the context of the scene.
Then there’s the buildup. The Duffer Brothers in my opinion know how to build up a story so that the viewer stays for the entire journey. Once the climax happens the story only moves forward and at a pace that is fast but isn’t too quick.
Stranger Things is also great at character development. There’s one character who changes from Season 1 (I won’t mention names but his development is great) We also have Eleven who struggles with her emotions and her anger towards the world as well as Mike who struggles with abandonment issues. Both Mike and Eleven change from Season 1.
So let me finish this review by reiterating that I thought Season 2 of Stranger Things was good. It had great character development, music and buildup. However it had issues involving too many plots and characters (The Duffer Brothers also left the door open for an unneeded adultery plot). All in all I would recommend Stranger Things Season 2.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10. Too many plots and characters but manages to be an overall great story with impressive acting and good buildup.