The Duffer brothers approached season two in a very intelligent way. They clearly understood that they had to innovate, not replicate. As a result, Stranger Things has undergone an evolution since it’s inaugural season.
It would have fallen flat should the story meander on from the end of season 1. This felt like a clear, assertive beginning of the second chapter.
One of the ways that the writers indicated a new beginning for Hawkins was in a shift in tone. The Duffer brothers traded-in the creature feature style narrative of the first season, which was reminiscent of IT.
This was replaced by proper HP Lovecraft style cosmic horror. An example being the image of the gigantic tentacled overlord of The Upside Down. Google ‘Cthulhu’. See what I mean?
It is good to see that the one thing that has not changed is that the influences are right out in the open. That intertextuality is part of the show’s charm. It feels like a patch work of lots of things you love.
As touched on earlier, season 2 deals with the fallout of Will and Barb’s disappearance. The first season set up the location, characters and mythos.
Season two takes it one step further, developing the characters and filling in the gaps. We get to meet the colourful minor characters in every corner of Hawkins.
We are also delving further into the characters and relationships we were already introduced to. Dustin and Lucas got far more screen time in this season. Dustin was a fan favourite already and probably gained yet more popularity. Lucas, who took a back seat for most of the first season, came into his own.
Hopper and Joyce’s relationship from the past came into play a lot more this time. We also saw Nancy and Jonathan get stronger and gain some more agency. They did take action in the first season, but there was still the feeling that they were teenagers involved in something bigger than them. We saw a return to those days here but they had an impact on events.
Although season two was lacking the impact of its predecessor, it was an enjoyable return to Hawkins. It’s ending felt like it trudged along to an anti-climax but the cinematic magic remained. Fans eagerly await the third trip to Hawkins, Indiana.