“Stranger Things” returns with great anticipation

This year has been keeping us on edge, between the uncertainty of a full on nuclear war and the infamous big earthquake that could run up California. But that the new season of Stranger Things might suck has been the sharpest. Thankfully,  there is no sophomore slump in this fun exciting Netflix Original Series created by The Duffer Brothers.

A sleeper hit of the summer last year, Stranger Things has become a gradual classic with its cult following raving about the 80s themed mystery horror show. Inserting itself deep into pop culture, by all it’s hype and thanks to all of the loveable kid actors deliver more than enough to justify the hype.

The season picks up a year later after it left off. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is still missing after killing the Demogorgon and disappearing along with it. Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Will (Noah Schnapp) are still best friends hanging out dressing up like Ghostbusters and setting high scores in the arcade. Joyce (Winona Ryder) gets a new boyfriend in the form of dorky Radioshack employee Bob Newby (Sean Austin) and the kids make a new friend  with the new kid from California, Max (Sadie Sink). Her older brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) also joins the abundance of characters challenging Steve (Joe Keery) to be the top dog at the school.   

All the characters are more or less living life as normal as much as they can after the events of last season. The first two episodes don’t waste any time showing you what your favorite characters are up to and feeling the consequences of Will’s “death” from last season. But then it’s just a slow burn to episode six where things pick up and the cliffhangers are so dramatic you can’t help but binge it.

There are numerous references to last season that never feel like they’re forced, or a carbon copy of last season. Fans are rewarded by keeping their eyes on the screen to see all their favorite props show up and are even given a fanservice plot point from the first season in the form of Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).  

The Duffer Brothers received a lot of criticism for the amount of 80s movies and references and cliches. While they might try to brush off this criticism, The Duffer’s try at one point to expand the story a little too much, resulting in an episode that feels part of another show. Not that the episode is bad, but the expanding of the story comes across as forced foreshadowing and faults the pacing of the near perfect show. 

Collectively, though, the references and cliches seem a little more of an homage than some sort of plagiarism. They feel fresh, exciting; and while you might be able to guess what happens here and there, it’s really a non factor when it’s characters and the actors portraying them are as talented as they are.  

Noah Schnapp, who portrays Will, felt like a non factor last season; and it seems like it was his personal mission to show the world what he is really capable of. An emmy nomination within the year wouldn’t be surprising for this season’s performance. 

This show is just as incredible as viewers left it. Make sure to string your Christmas lights and toast some Eggos for the viewing, as you are not going to want to stop watching as soon as you play that first episode of season.