Spoilerdome: STRANGER THINGS 2

Boo! Just in time for All Hallows’ Eve, Matt and Ross Duffer have returned with season two of their love letter to retro genre cinema, Stranger Things. Read Allen’s rave review here. I won’t lie, it’s like these guys designed this show with exactly me in mind. Spielbergian science fiction with elements of cosmic horror? Yes, please. I’m only about half way through this season, so I’m gonna drop one of Lewton Bus‘ trademark Spoilerdome posts here and run like the dickens. When I come back here in a few days I’m counting on you guys to have filled up the comments with reams of insightful and spoilerific discussion. Don’t let me down.

Now… go!

  • Allen

    Forget Barb, RIP Bob!

    • ryanrochnroll

      So was he

  • Atessa Shahkar

    Oh man I was totally like…. Samwise!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!

    • Allen

      Astin puts in some serious work in this season. He’s astounding at emotionally anchoring moments.

  • ryanrochnroll

    I would like to congratulate this show for switching up theme and making this season completely about healing.
    Tied off nicely with El’s final act not being mutual destruction, but a closing of a wound.

    I didn’t catch it til the last couple eps.
    S1 was trauma. This was about the ways we cope, and ultimately heal or don’t. Depending on our choices.

    • Allen

      Yeah love that through line. Felt bad for Steve in the end though. Dude rapidly became one of the best characters on the show, hopefully he’s back next season and they’ve got good things in store for him.

      • Brian Lippman

        Yea, not a fan of the Steve/Nancy/Johnathan stuff. I liked how they subverted the “girl falls for nerdy/shy friend over douchebag boyfriend” stuff in the first season, but then they basically went back on it here.

        • Allen

          Steve’s a fantastic character so I hope they aren’t just done with him

  • Lunaman

    Really really liked this season overall, but I could not STAND the Pittsburgh punk storyline, nor could I stand any of the punks. Really nails on a chalkboard for me.

    • ryanrochnroll

      Did not bug me. It was no more laconic to me than anything else in the season, but at least it informed El’s character motivations

    • koonzelman

      The Dunfy Brothers need to be held accountable for Eleven getting bored with Season 2 and paying a visit to Season 3. What really bothered me about that was the lack of payoff to an interesting and unexpected set-up.

      Eleven visits the Dream Warriors from Elm Street 3 and I’m thinking “okay, the Nosebleed gang is gonna rescue Hawkins-426 from a xenogorgon outbreak, WE HAVE WORLDBUILDING, but wait…..oh…..we only have 9 episodes, we must finish The Exorcism of Will Byers, and then Eleven can close a hellgate or whatever.

      To much wheel spinning in eps 1-4 led to some cramming in 6-9. Don’t ask me about 5, I don’t remember 5.

      • I though her visit to S03 worked because it fit with 11’s whole S02 story? To me her story is that being a prisoner in a lab is all she really knows and spending a week in Mike’s basement doesn’t change that. The cabin is an extension of her life as a lab prisoner, except she’s free to leave and she has a guy really trying to be as much of a family with her. So when she does leave and meet the Dream Warriors, they show her the alternative to the cabin, which is basically 8 saying “you can’t have a home or family, don’t even try.” The cabin is kinda fucked up but it’s also the closest she can come to building some kind of family or normalcy and accepting that she’s basically still a kid (which is why it’s also important to show that her aunt will call the lab, because she has no idea). So the Dream Warriors fit into the whole story, they’re like a negative to what Jim was trying to do in the cabin. Making that into a road-trip out of Hawkins works for me.

        Also it gave 11 an actual character reason to come out of hiding and help, which was needed, otherwise it would have felt awfully plot-driven in a very character-driven show.

        Maybe the problem is 11’s actual S02 story (which I also liked)? I realize she’s basically benched for most of the story but the claustrophobia made sense for the character.

        Sidenote, I felt the Dream Warriors episode did have a small payoff, which is that up until that point those kids were killing scientists left and right and nobody tied them to it. Now it’s because of 11 that one of the kid’s marks survived and will warn whatever shady group was behind Hawkins lab who they need to target. That makes 11 kinda responsible (I mean not really, they were trying to force her to murder, but still) for whatever happens to them next. What I really hope is that the evil scientists still have some of those super-powered kids under their control and use them to fight back. Mind powered kids fighting each other, accidentally opening rifts to parallel dimensions! Drama!

        • koonzelman

          *extremely angry police chief voice*

          DAMMIT ALRIGHT, ANDRES! I buy that explanation! I don’t LIKE it, but I buy it. But if more of those “parallel rifts” open up and all I see is another xenogorgon or you start yappin’ about Christmas lights and maps, I better have a full report on my desk by MONDAY MORNING or your ass is MINE!

          Now where are my cigarettes? Get out of my office!

          • *leaves office hanging head and muttering “I’m too old for this shit”*

  • I’m just here to say the structuring and pace of this show is what excited me the most.

    This second season felt even more than the first like a miniseries version of a classic Stephen King novel, not only in tropes or feeling but in pacing and structuring, which is no small thing. There’s a lot of mechanics and tropes “borrowed” from genre fiction and specifically from King that provide a novelistic texture: the naming and numbering of episodes as if they were chapters, the use of subplots to further flesh out character dynamics outside of the big conflict (and show us more sides of them), the use of a human bad guy that’s separate from the supernatural threat to give ambiguity to the notion of evil, the use of locations and other cosmetic stuff to give us insight into the characters via their idiosyncrasies, and so on… but while a lot of that is being called out as nostalgic baiting (side-note: the show has it’s own plot and substance so why not enjoy the callbacks too), what I’m interested in is the possibility all that stuff there as a tangible surface of familiarity to trojan horse a different kind of pacing and structuring of a miniseries.

    The plot meanders but always looping back to the main story, and makes more room to move the plot forward with character moments and smaller conflicts that eventually converge into the big showdown. Because those converging threads are character driven, the motivations feel very earned. It’s pretty basic stuff but really well done.

    It feels like the Duffer brothers are trying to use the binge watching model to invest more time in character development but with a sneakily clockwork continuity in which everything feeds back into the main plot, giving the kind of meandering but eventually cohesive narrative of a long novel. The miniseries feels like the intimate experience of reading a character driven novel in a way I haven’t quite experienced before. That is a more interesting conversation to me than retro callbacks or easter eggs or whatever. I’m not saying the Duffer brothers are geniuses who are inventing the novel for TV, but they’re doing some specific and compelling with the binge model (also: I hate the name “binge model”).

    PS: for a specific example of this, pls look for an earlier comment about 11/Jane’s visit to the big city episode.

  • Brian Lippman

    Eleven’s makeover made it look like she was going to a Matrix convention