SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the second season of Stranger Things, streaming now on Netflix.
Stranger Things continues to be one of Netflix's main attractions, winning over fans of horror, sci-fi, mystery, and adventure since debuting in 2016. The Duffer brothers have achieved this through their unique style of storytelling, which feels like a love letter to movies and games from the '80s and '90s. Despite leaning towards homage a lot, they've still managed to craft something unique for modern audiences, young and old alike.
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The first season was considered a huge success and it's safe to say that Season 2 is more or less a hit. However, that doesn't mean this year's outing doesn't have a few shortcomings. While Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the rest of Hawkins, Indiana, have managed to stave off bloodthirsty monsters yet again, the second season ends on an ominous note, promising more terror to come. What will happen in Season 3? How will it improve over Season 2, and maybe even over Season 1?
Eleven was easily the most standout character of Season 1. Season 2 starts with her hiding out with Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in order to remain hidden from the government. However, what this isolation actually does is stunt her growth, making her a tool more than a person. Last year, she was doing what the evil Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) or her crush Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) told her to do, and this season, she does the same in a daughter-like role with Hopper.
Even when she runs away, the same happens with Kali (another MKUltra experiment) and her gang. They use Eleven as a weapon, trying to turn her into a killer. Eleven has to be given agency to make her own choices and become her own person, for better or worse. The only time she showed individuality was when she decided to return to Hawkins to save her friends from the Upside Down once again. More of these decisions are needed to truly shape her journey, especially in her new civilian identity as Jane Ives.
The Sense of Family
Team dynamic is an important thing, but on this show it's more of a family dynamic when Mike, Will (Noah Schnap), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) get together. The cast's chemistry and overall camaraderie made Season 1 tick, so to see them split up this season is a tad disappointing. This year, quite a few people go off on separate arcs, such as Dustin and Lucas vying for Max (Sadie Sink), Dustin and Steve (Joe Keery) teaming up to hunt rabid Demodogs, and lastly, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) joining forces to find justice for Barbara Holland.
Even Mike is kept separate as he helps Will fight possession. We love how the Duffers boldly allow characters to engage in new arcs with different people, but that doesn't mean they have to split up the core. Growing up doesn't have to mean growing apart and here, when everyone's together, the magic of the show comes to life. We'd love to see the boys all working together again, especially now with Eleven and Max in the mix, as in the Season 2 finale. At the end of the day, the heroes of Hawkins are indeed, stronger together.