So let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Stranger Things Season Two wasn’t as good as season one. Okay, I said it. After immediately finishing(binge watching) the second season of Stranger Things way back in October I was concentrating on all the good I sat and watched in one weekend. The Duffer Brothers continued to hit the right notes, but there was a bit of slag in this season as well. There were some missteps character-wise, and some plot lines and story diversions that could’ve been handled better.

There was plenty that was great about it, for sure. The Hopper/Eleven dynamic was great, Dustin continues to be a great character that delivers comic relief while showing some depth in the last episode, the Lucas/Max relationship is sweet and opens Lucas’ character up quite a bit. Billy Hargrove is a new and menacing force in the Stranger Things universe. He seems to be on the edge of going full psychopath at any moment, and his look is like Jason Patric from Lost Boys meets Jean Claude Van Damme with a touch of homo-eroticism. He’s a strange character, and in some ways far scarier than any demogorgon could ever be. And that whole last episode gave me so many feels I wasn’t sure what to do with all of them(I boxed them up and am saving them for a day when I need a pick-me-up.)

So the not-so-good. Well for one the pacing seemed really off to me. Lots of time wasted on things that never really paid off(like Dustin and his pet demogorgon for one.) Mike was a bit too whiny far too long for my taste, especially for as strong a character as he was in season one. As much as I liked the new menace of Billy Hargrove, at times it seemed almost a little too over-the-top. The end “battle” was pretty anti-climactic. Not really the payoff I was hoping for. And episode seven. Rushed, truncated, and everything about it was just off. I get why there needed to be that episode, but they should’ve taken their time with it. They should’ve built it over two episodes. That’s just me.

Despite this season’s shortcomings, I still really enjoyed it. I still got the good feels, the laughs, and the characters continued to grow on me. I’m excited to see how they grow and where the overall story goes from here. There is one thing that improved exponentially from season one to season two and that’s the score by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.

I feel the guys really honed in on the kids and the emotions they’re going through. The first season had a lot of menace and that came through in the music. With season two the duo of Dixon & Stein concentrated on the emotional ups and downs that Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Eleven, Will, and the dysfunctional adults of Hawkins, Indiana were going thru. “Walkin In Hawkins”, “Home”, and “Eulogy” are downright melancholy, with the latter sounding like it was recorded on a little Casio keyboard in some Midwestern bedroom after a funeral. “The First Lie” sounds like it could’ve been the start of a Spandau Ballet song. “I Can Save Them” has some Tangerine Dream magic kneaded into the S U R V I V E vibes.

There’s still plenty of musical dread, too. “Descent into the Rift” sounds like a Kaiju rising from the watery depths to destroy mankind and “Chicago” is ominous in its growling synths and arpeggiated wails. It’s like Steve Moore decided to sit in for a scene or two. “Run” has an almost new age feel, while “Levitation” pushes an almost industrial sound. It’s all mechanical and Juno strings.

Overall, Dixon and Stein outdid themselves with Stranger Things Season Two. Where they could’ve just phoned in highlights from season one and most folks wouldn’t have noticed or cared, they created a score that nearly rivals what they did first time around. They made music for those of us that look for the score to help us find a way in emotionally. The music is as vital a character as Eleven, Hopper, Will, and Mike. And at times it steals the show.

So supposedly there’s two more seasons of Stranger Things coming. By the time we get to that last season the Hawkins crew will be at least in high school. What evil lies ahead? Will the white-haired Matthew Modine reappear? Will Wynona Ryder take a shower at some point? Will we see some acid-washed jeans make an appearance? Could there be a crossover episode with the kids from Explorers, Goonies, and Stranger Things coming together to fight the local pastor-turned-werewolf? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, cue up Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s Stranger Things Season Two S/T and think of the possibilities.

8.2 out of 10

About the Author jhubner73

This is where I drop the spat and spittle, the sentimental fat and drivel... Music and such, and maybe a word or two about a word or two. Midwest point-of-view, without all that religion and gun stuff. Intellectually unintellectual. Elitist for the pizza and beer crowd. Grab a bean bag and lounge in the basment for a while, won't you?

7 comments

  1. Started watching this over the Holidays and we’re on episode 5 (Hopper, man, what are you playing at?). Enjoying it. We were actually commenting last night on how the music seemed a bit different this season.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve totally skipped to the bottom of the post since I’m only on episode 2. But I would like to say that I totally agree (possibly, maybe) with everything you’ve written – or there again, perhaps not.

    Hearing ‘Rock you like a Hurricane’ in the first episode was great though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The weird thing – with the exception of Ep.7 – was really that I couldn’t put my finger on why season 2 was not as strong as season 1. I guess because season 1 was so strong with immersing you in the community, the atmosphere and that great retro feel plus a compelling story and great characters, season 2 felt a little less fresh.
    I also disliked some of the odd character beats (some jealousy-scenes felt really lame and tropey and did not make much sense) and the fact that some characters were introduced but did not have a real purpose in this season.
    I personally thought, that they could have left some of those moments out and introduced them in the season were they would play a larger role or be more subtle with them (especially with Billy and #8).
    But overall I still loved it and somehow can’t wait until the whole series is finished, so I can binge watch it because I have the feeling that it will be quite strong as a whole.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe it’s the “sophomore” slump, I don’t know. But yeah, despite that certain something that was lacking it’s still some of the best television out there. I think also the lack of a true villain made it hard to focus on what they were fighting against. Will Exorcist schtick wasn’t enough for me. That first season had Matthew Modine’s “Papa”, as well as the demogorgon. Season two was a little all over the place. And yes, the jealousy was a little hard to swallow, especially coming from Eleven. Maybe, like you said, once she’s been integrated into their lives at school and going thru those day to day pains that the typical teen goes thru it might might more sense. Here it just felt a little off.

      But like you, I can’t wait to see what happens next and to eventually binge it all together.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’m leaning towards season 2, soundtrack-wise. Seems a little more varied to my ears. I like ’em both, just like the seasons, but I’ve listened to the season two soundtrack more.

      Like

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