Friday, September 21, 2018
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‘Stranger Things’ darker but remains true to its core

By: - Writing Editor
/ 12:02 AM October 30, 2017
From left: Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin

From left: Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin

Expectations are high, a year after the unprecedented success of The Duffer Brothers’ ’80s sci-fi romp “Stranger Things,” but the Netflix show skips the sophomore blues with a tight and moving new season, still with an endearing cast.

This time, we learn about the truth behind the disappearance of the psionic girl Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), as well as the loose end regarding the once-lost Will (Noah Schnapp), who was trapped in the otherdimensional place, the Upside Down.



In the series’ second season, Will and his friends, kid protagonists Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), suspect that the threat that shook their sleepy Indiana town last year may be back, albeit in different forms.

There are newcomers at school, the thuggish teen hunk Billy (Dacre Montgomery) and his tough younger sister Maxine (Sadie Sink), both of whom unintentionally disrupt the regular dynamics of the cliques.

Winona Ryder reprises her hysterical mom role, Joyce, although not with the same intensity as in the previous season. Joyce is dating former school nerd, Bobby (Sean Astin), whom the town’s top cop Hopper (David Harbour) used to pick on.

Hopper, meanwhile, investigates an odd case, worried about a hunch that the Upside Down isn’t quite done with them yet.

The season delivers, although some narrative devices become rote. There are ’80s references galore, however, as in the previous season.
While it had prior homages to “Stand By Me,” “E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Goonies,” the series takes a darker route with scenes reminiscent of “Aliens,” “The Exorcist” and even Luke Skywalker’s morality crossroads in “Return of the Jedi.”

Growing up

The kid characters are growing up, and their arcs reflect that nicely. The older ones—Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Joe Keery—still figure in the whole shebang, but the love triangle is less interesting now. Still, Keery’s mellowing jock Steve is being developed creatively.

Songs by The Police, Icicle Works and Cyndi Lauper favorably flavor its soundtrack, especially during the quieter, more emotionally rewarding scenes.

The second season is bigger and farther-reaching, but it’s still the same “Stranger Things,” at its core—a heartwarming and, sometimes, heartrending tale about family, friendship and heroism.

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