“Stranger Things” returns

Mia Warstler

New season has answers

When Netflix’s “Stranger Things” first season ended ambiguously with the character Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), retching up a mysterious and slimy clod, fans everywhere wondered what the next season of the show would bring. What did Will puke up? Is Eleven still alive?

In the long-awaited Halloween release of “Stranger Things 2,” creators Ross and Matt Duffer once again impress the audience by bringing the 1980s to life. Even though the thriller keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, the use of music, fashion, hairstyles and other ‘80s classics in season two help paint a much larger story filled with heartbreaks, nostalgia and sentimental friendships.

In the first season, the story, set in 1983, starts out with Will, who goes missing and becomes trapped in an alternate representation of Hawkins, IN, known as the “Upside Down.” Meanwhile, Will’s friends Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) meet Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown.)

Throughout the season’s eight episodes, the four children, along with help from Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and a handful of other adults (characters played by Winona Ryder and David Harbour), work to defeat the Upside Down’s monstrous “Demogorgon” and bring Will home. After Will is rescued, he throws up a slug-like creature, who disappears down the bathroom drain.

In the second season, the boys discover that the mysterious creature that Will throws up is actually a baby Demogorgon. Even though Will is back in the real world, he still experiences visions that clearly signal a deep connection he has to the Upside Down.

Through this connection, a virus-like manifestation, referred to as the “Mind Flayer,” infects Will’s body, where it uses Will to “spy” on the real world from the Upside Down.

In recap, the characters team up and reunite with Eleven, who is alive and has been living with Chief Hopper (Harbour), to successfully drive away the Mind Flayer and close the gate to the Upside Down.

“Stranger Things” noticeably focuses on character development and character depiction.

The first season introduces Eleven’s mother, and in this next season, Eleven, unbeknownst to Hopper, leaves Hawkins in search of her mother.

She meets a band of rebel misfits, including a girl who, like Eleven, was raised in Hawkins National Laboratory. During this time, Eleven goes through a character transformation. She receives a wardrobe change from homely flannel shirts to an iconic dark punk-rock style; her changed outward appearance is representative of her newly found sense of self-assurance and confidence.

In season two, two new characters, stepsiblings Max (Sadie Sink) and Billy (Dacre Montgomery), are introduced.

Although Max is a new addition the show, Sink explained in an interview with TV Line that she quickly connected with the original cast.

“I knew that all of them had bonded over season one … but I didn’t really have a problem with it. We all hit it off right off the bat,” Sink said.

SPU senior Savannah LaFlamme feels that Max “adds such a cool fire to the show.” LaFlamme also sees that Billy allows the show to touch on the heavy topic of domestic abuse.

Towards the beginning of the season, Billy shows physical aggression toward his younger stepsister, Max. As the season progresses, it is revealed that Billy’s father is violent towards Billy, and in return, that violence is projected throughout the rest of Billy’s life.

For LaFlamme, “Billy just makes me sad. I thought the way they showed the cycle of abuse was really truthful and powerful, especially since it wasn’t an issue that was really discussed in the 80s.”

Set in the 1980s, “Stranger Things” brings the time period to life. On “Rolling Stone,” author Sam Adam writes, “Matt and Ross Duffer’s new Netflix series ‘Stranger Things’ is full of nostalgic nods to the decade and its pop-cultural products.”

From Dungeons and Dragons and Steve’s big hair to awkward school dances, the show’s costume and set designers illustrated the perfect picture of the nostalgic, midwestern 1980s.

“Stranger Things” used many of the same filming techniques popular in the 1980s, including the title sequence. Not only did the show implement many of the era’s trends,

Ives also said in a recent interview for a Quartz article, “We were continuously inspired by Spielberg’s work. What would Steven do if we could ever hope do it half as well as he could.”

Senior Rachel Roebke noticed that, although the show resurrects the 80s, it does not take away from the actual plot of the story.

“I think so far the Duffer Brothers have been pretty good at keeping up that 80s feel with the clothing and especially the hair.”

“But they don’t seem to go too overboard on it which is nice. They stick to the plot and don’t get distracted.”

Perhaps the element that truly ties the show together is the casting. Aside from the actors spending time together on the set, they also hang out and bond as friends.

“Noah comes around almost every weekend for sleepovers,” Brown explained in an interview with Emmy Magazine. “We watch really scary movies on Netflix like ‘The Babadook’ and ‘Hush.’”

For LaFlamme, “They all bring something so different to the show, and their characters are wonderful. All of the kids are so [talented] and I love watching them!”

LaFlamme also noticed that Will’s character does not get much dialogue, and she “really hopes Will can finally catch a break” in the future. Since Will went missing for much of season one, many internet memes have taken jabs at the fact that viewers did not get a chance to properly meet him.

All in all, “Stranger Things 2” lives up to, if not exceeds, the audience’s expectations.

Although not confirmed by Netflix, the Duffer brothers have revealed that there will indeed be a season 3, but the release date is not yet known.