I watched episodes 1 & 2 of the new season of Stranger Things on Netflix this weekend, its been a long time coming. I’ve been waiting patiently for this season since the last one ended. The show grew on me in a big way, i did not like it initially. Something about it is mysterious and innocent and this season looks to have more of a suspenseful and scary vibe. I’ve only watched two episodes thus far so this is an incomplete project but I felt I needed to write about it because i haven’t blogged a long one in a few days. What follows are my hot takes, conspiracy theories, and honorable mentions of “Stranger Things” Season 2.
Ah, the ’80’s, things were slower back then i’m sure, i wouldn’t know though because i was -10 in 1980. The fact that in one of the opening scenes the boys are scrambling for quarters to go play arcade games just tells me that those were the good days. Reminds me of the movie/documentary, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”, if you haven’t seen that i suggest that you stop reading this blog and go watch that documentary, you will not be let down, you will also have your masculinity tested by a man named Billy Mitchell. Also that is probably the only time i’ll suggest that you stop reading the blog so you know its worth it. Anyways, quarters are king and Mike robs Nancy of her piggy bank which i think is just great, but also i feel like Nancy is a bit too old for a piggy bank.
So the boys (Will, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin) rally at the local arcade room, Those for sure were only around for laundering money i imagine, and get to playing. At some point Will hears something and wanders off and somehow he is pulled into the upside-down place, his home pretty much the whole 1st season, and sees a dark sky with red lightning and a shadow demon thing with tornadoes for arms and then snaps out of it. First off i would like to say that i do not completely understand what the show writers are going for with the existence of the “Upside-down” place. I guess the easiest way to explain it is an alternate dimension that’s evil and terrible, but i just don’t know how it all works. I will admit that i think that if i were to somehow be instantly teleported to a place like that, i would for sure only be able to cry and close my eyes until i inevitably died because that place, and that monster thing seem completely terrifying. With all of that being said i think that calling it “The Upside-Down Place” is a rookie move and who ever came up with it needs to go to prison. It’s like calling it “Creepy Avenue” or “Elm Street”, how about a better name for the place that your main characters fear and where pure evil resides. As a matter of fact i will no longer refer to it as the “Upside-down” place and from here on out it will be called the “Thunderdome” or “Satans Basement” or “Oklahoma” ANYTHING but “Upside-down” place. So, Will snaps out of it somehow and his excuse to his friend for being outside is that he needed some air, I found that funny because this show is set in the 80’s and no chance kids were as messed up and snowflakey as they are now. “Needing some air” in the 80’s was just something you said when you wanted your 3rd cigarette from your 2nd pack of the day, i assume. Be more dramatic Will.
The cameos in these first two episodes were very interesting and i didn’t hate them, i’d actually be excited if they all stayed on as regulars. First we have Brett Gelman playing Murray Bauman, aparrently some kind of private investigator with suspicion of Russian assistance in the events that transpired last season. Gelman is killing it lately with the cameos and honestly is just a really funny guy, i will never forget him in The Other Guys as the Arnold Palmer obsessed wanna-be swinger who begs Will Ferrels character to bang his wife.
Next and my favorite so far is the incomparable Mikey Walsh, the lovable Samwise Gamgee, Rudy HIMSELF, Sean Astin playing Bob “The Brain” Newby. Sean Astin is top 10 in my favorite actors, all around good dude, and just as lovable as they get. His character in Stranger Things is Joyce Byers’ new love interest it seems, and he does a fantastic job. The dynamic between him and Joyce is weird but i am fully invested after 2 episodes. Sean Astin nerding out about video cameras and radio shack is grade-a television folks.
Other than that there is a new pair of sibling characters in the show, Billy and Maxine AKA MadMax, that i just don’t know about yet. Billy is an absolute psychopath that resembles a younger Zac Efron who is fond of younger Zac Efrons who drives like a bat outta hell. This Billy dude is like a cross between Kurt Cobain on a bender and Jack Nicholson from The Shining. Pure crazy, but an entertaining character. His sister, i’m assuming, Maxine (or Max as she so rudely corrected the zany teacher at the school) is a very boyish little girl who is apparently good at arcade games and skateboarding, possessing some of the same crazy traits as her aforementioned brother. Some subtle yet understandable misogyny is featured in a scene where the boys are spying on her and say something along the lines of “girls cant play video games”. There is a new psychiatrist guy that talks to Will too but he is very boring and on the bad guys side so i don’t particularly care for him. Out of the new characters i mentioned above i would rank them accordingly: 1. Bob 2. Murray 3. Billy 4. Maxine 956. Doctor Boring D.O.
As for our returning characters a lot has changed in good ole Hawkins and its nearing the one year anniversary of the finale of last season some time around Halloween, obviously. The iconic Reagan Bush ’84 Campaign signs make an appearance in these episodes a couple of times in peoples yards and i love it, shout out Rowdy Gentleman. The boys are still up to their nerdy shenanigans riding around on bikes and talking on their giant walkie-talkies. An exciting part is that they dress up as Ghostbusters for Halloween and being the season is set in 1984 i give 1,000 kudos to the kids for being such trailblazing fans of the film, and 2,000 kudos to their parents for making the costumes from scratch. There is a pretty comical argument between Mike and Lucas on who gets to be Venkman, Bill Murrays character, with an awkward reference to the only black Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddemore played by Ernie Hudson, being lame because he was late to the team.
Mike is emotionally invested in 2 boxes of toys for some reason and misses the hell out of his superhuman girlfriend, 11, just being an emo little baby pretty much the whole time. Will and Mike make some weird pact while trick-or-treating where Mike says “If you’re weird, I’m Weird” kind of like Ryan Gossling does in the Notebook (If you’re a bird, I’m a bird). Lucas and Dustin fight over who is gonna date Maxine.
Our guy Will, who spent the majority of last season in the Thunderdome, has turned into a monster in the eyes of the kids at school. He gets bullied a bit, being called “Zombie Boy” and getting notes put in his locker saying the same thing, thank god Twitter or Facebook didn’t exist back then or this dude would of 13 Reasons Why’d his way through the rest of this season, probably. He takes it with stride though, animating his new nickname pretty artistically, wouldn’t be surprised if he creates a comic book about his Zombie alter ego and becomes a millionaire.
Steve and Nancy are still an item, probably my second favorite couple behind Johnathan and crippling loneliness. Nancy has become annoying because out of the clouds she starts actually caring that her friend Barb is dead, probably because she feels guilty, i mean you’d have to be an idiot to not blame Nancy for the demise of our homely heroine, Barb. There is a scene where Nancy and Steve go have dinner with Barbs parents and enjoy some KFC #fingerlickingood. Barbs parents are delusional at this point, in denial that Barb is dead. They are not in good health, mainly because of the fried chicken, and have plans to sell their home to fund a wild goose chase led by the wacky ex-journalist, P.I. Bauman. That should be successful. R.I.P Barb. Some how Steve has become more likable. Probably because of his hair which has some how become bigger, the higher the hair the closer to heaven, i see you Steve. Nancy and Steve go to a Halloween party together where she gets tipsy on some jungle juice, or as the raging toga bro, who is later seen yakking his brains out, calls it, “Pure Fuel”. Nancy, in typical white girl wasted fashion, says “bullshit” 9 million times after getting a cup of hunch punch spilled on her and brings up the past (Her and Steve basically murdering Barb, gone but never forgotten). Surprisingly Steve peaces out instead of taking advantage of Nancy like he did last season. Johnathan, in typical lonely guy fashion, swoops in like a sad pigeon and saves the day by taking her home and tucking her in. I feel it is necessary to say that i think Johnathan looks like an anorexic Bill Hader from SNL and i hope other people see that too.
My favorite character, 11, or Elle as Chief Hopper adorably calls her, has taken up residence in a cabin out in the sticks. Chief Hopper is my 2nd favorite character in the show and he has become some type of father figure to 11 letting her stay in his cabin and is keeping her safe from the Russians or whoever is trying to get her. 11 is still a super hero and controls stuff with her mind. She has grown her hair out lookin like a jerry curl gettin real high up there, watch out Steve. Hopper is still whippin around in that dope ass Trailblazer and totin that 6-shooter like a rootin tootin cowboy, they should call him Sheriff instead of Chief. The interaction between Sheriff Hopper and 11 is perfect and comical. 11 is still very robot-like and says “five one five” instead of 5:15 at one point alluding that she hasn’t become much more normal than the first season. There are a few flashbacks to season one including one where 11 is breaking through some gooey womb-like substance out of Thunderdome and it reminds me of Jim Carrey being born from a rhino in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. In another scene 11 kills and begins to cook a squirrel to eat and then beams it at some hunter dudes face in the woods because i guess that’s what Russian cyborgs do. Sheriff Hopper misses hanging out with Elle for Halloween and that broke my heart, do better man.
As usual the soundtrack for the show is the absolute best, the beginning credit song that sounds like Daft Punk time traveled back to the 80’s is up there with Game of Thrones intro song. So far the show is fantastic and there are a lot more witty references and noteworthy things to say but i have just realized that i have written 2,000+ words and most of this was just mindless stammering on and so with that i give my superlatives and predictions thus-far:
Most likely to die alone: Jonathan Byers
Worst Father of the Year: Sheriff Hopper
Most likely to Smash for sure: Hopper and Joyce
Most Improved: Barb
Best Hair: Steve
Probably Gonna Finish Last: Bob “The Brain” Newby
Most Athletic: The Bike Boys
Life of the Party: Toga bro
Most Likely to Become President: Reagan Bush ’84
Biggest Twist: Barb is alive!
Token Black Guy: Lucas
Least Likely to do Anything, Ever: The dumb psychiatrist guy
Most likely to end up in jail or an insane asylum probably: Billy
Most Likely To Confuse The Millennium Falcon with the Starship Enterprise: My Fiance while watching the show with me.