Arts & Culture

‘Stranger Things’ continues a wonderfully weird story

By Eve Taft, Staff Writer

The much-anticipated second season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” premiered on Oct. 27. By now, we’ve all had time to finish it, so (who am I kidding, we all binged in within the first few days) here’s a spoilerific review. Proceed with caution.

The show picks up right before Halloween. Will, returned from the Upside Down, is hanging out with Dustin, Lucas and Mike. The first crisis of the show is that someone named MADMAX has beat their arcade scores.

Quickly though, bigger problems appear. Will’s flashbacks to the Upside Down get more frequent, and a small lizard that Dustin adopts begun to grow quickly.

Nancy, with Jonathan Byers’ help, is occupied with avenging Barb’s death by exposing the lab.

While Dustin, Lucas, MADMAX, (who, it turns out, is a girl called Maxine) and (surprise!) Steve Harrington try to track down the lizardtur ned-Demogorgon, Will’s body becomes host to invasive vines from the Upside Down that are taking over Hawkins, turning him into a spy for the sentient growth. Joyce, Hopper and Mike must burn the infection out of him while dodging Demogorgon.

Meanwhile, Eleven, holed up in a cabin and under Hopper’s care, breaks out to go find her mother. On the way, she discovers a girl she grew up with in the lab, a girl (whose wrist reads “008”) with power that can make people see whatever she wants.

As they fight demogorgon (sorry, Dustin, demodogs), the kids also travel the traditional middle school road of trials. When the boys are the only ones who wear Halloween costumes to school, fight over Max and evade their parents’ rules, the writers hit that magical realism balance that makes the show tangible and yet fantastical. There’s just enough real mixed with the outlandish to make it work.

Somehow, season two is able to preserve the magic of season one. The secret lies in the fact that season two’s plot is really a continuation of season one’s.

Unlike certain fantasy-adventure TV shows that span multiple seasons (I won’t name any names, but think series with, say, supernatural elements), “Stranger Things” isn’t scrambling to come up with new storylines. The series has obviously been plotted out for multiple seasons, and while each season ties itself up neatly, there’s always generous hinting for the story’s continuation.

The world of 1980s Hawkins, Indiana, the shady government labs and the Upside Down are fleshed out enough that show writers don’t have to make up new elements. Instead, watchers feel like they’re uncovering more and more of the mystery from the Reagan/Bush sign in the Wheelers’ yard to getting to know the lab workers better.

All in all, “Stranger Things” continues to delight. Tentatively, four to five seasons are planned, so returning to the Upside Down next Halloween seems imminent.

*Photo by Megan Johnson

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 17, 2017, Edition of The Echo.