So, I’m going to take some time to talk about each Episode of Stranger Things Season 2 as I remember watching it, discussing some of the techniques from a writer’s and a viewer’s point-of-view.
The Good Stuff: In the last season’s finale, the fate of El was left very open-ended. We are unsure if she has died killing the Demogorgon or not. As an aside, I hated that El appeared to die. I reserved judgment on it, but it was one of the very few times I felt like this series dived into cliché really hard: young lovers admit their love for one another just in time for her (and it is always her) to die.
That said, I really appreciate that the series showed us El’s survival from the first, and didn’t try to extend the cliffhanger. Extended cliffhangers have become a form of literary torture in genre-fiction for the last twenty years (I’m looking at you, ghost of Robert Jordan) and I am sick to death of it.
Another thing that was left up in the air was Will Byers’ fate. Was he really unaware of his flashes into the upside down? Was that really Will Byers in that body? The answer to both of these questions was clearly revealed (No, and yes) with Hopper and Will’s mom, and Will acting like rational, but terribly confused human beings. As they should be. The series brilliantly continues to straddle the line between whether Will’s visions are flashbacks or real. Bringing up the horribly enticing question: how would you know?
The Bad Stuff: The new Lab Director seems very reluctant to even reassure Hopper that he takes his suspicions of leakage seriously. This just comes off as obtuse.
Further Questions Introduced: Is the new Lab Director really any improvement on Brenner? Or is he just more subtly evil? What is the story behind Max and her brother the new Keg King? Are they as much of a part of what’s going on at Hawkins as the mysterious “8” we see in the prelude?