Stranger Things 2 review: Did it live up to the hype?

Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix
Credit: Stranger Things - Netflix /
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With all the hype surrounding the release of Stranger Things 2, is it possible for the series to live up to the hype? Our Stranger Things 2 review.

As excited as I was for the last several months for the premiere of Stranger Things 2, in the back of my head I had this little fear that my expectations were so sky-high that it would be impossible for the nine new episodes to possibly live up to the hype. That’s the nature of sequels, and considering that’s how The Duffer Brothers modeled the follow-up to their Emmy-winning first season, I was apprehensive the sequel could do the original justice. I was worried this would be more of Caddyshack 2 than The Godfather II.

After binge-watching all nine episodes on Friday, I can say those fears were put to rest during the opening scene and as I moved on from one episode to the next, I shifted to wondering if Stranger Things 2 could live up to the hype and rather if it was better than the first season.

The best way to describe Stranger Things 2 is it took everything the first season did and amplified it by 10. If the first season was drinking Coke, the sequel was Red Bull with a shot of espresso on the side. It was bigger, better, darker, more visual effects, a new monster, a deeper focus on the characters new and old and it was one episode longer too. It was a bit bolder and riskier too, especially when it comes to Chapter Seven that was a bottle episode and saw Eleven reunite with her “sister” Kali from Hawkins Lab, otherwise known as 008.

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It’s an episode that hasn’t been without some criticism. The placement of the episode interrupted the drama and suspense emanating from Hawkins Lab where the demo-dogs were taking over as the Mind Flayer was overtaking Will’s body and mind.

Fans wanted to continue that story, but we took the exit ramp to go on a journey of self-exploration with Eleven who had to determine what she wanted to do. Was she going to seek revenge (murder people) for all the bad things done to her and her momma while in Hawkins, or was she going to return to Hawkins and help her friends?

Eleven chose wisely, returning to Hawkins, but I think we’ll see Kali again, but while I understand any critiques for that episode, it did set up her triumphant return and the long-awaited reunion with Mike. That moment alone should have satisfied fans, and it did for me, but I loved the whole episode and the homage paid to The Warriors.

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I could have done without the Billy character, played by Dacre Montgomery. It didn’t really serve a purpose other than bringing in a human antagonist and to give Steve a chance to be humanized, and for viewers to root for Steve. It also added a layer of mystery around Max and their past in California before relocating to Hawkins. But overall, he didn’t bring anything to the table for me.

That’s it as far as the criticism goes because the entire season was a joyride that had more drama, suspense, more complex characters that drive the sci-fi elements of the series and I wish it was 39 episodes long, not nine. I didn’t want it to end. I’m already counting down the days until Stranger Things 3, which should come out late 2018 or early 2019 to see how The Duffer Brothers take the show to the next level, as they did with Stranger Things 2.

Stranger Things 2: 9.3/10