Post Show Recaps

Stranger Things | Season 2 in Review

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Stranger Things | Season 2 in Review

Josh Wigler (@roundhoward) and Antonio Mazzaro (@acmazzaro) present their hot takes on the second season of STRANGER THINGS, in a podcast discussion covering all aspects of the newest iteration of the popular Netflix series. If you’re looking for a recap of the season, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re looking for some opinions on everything surrounding the town of Hawkins and beyond? You’re going to be right at home.
Please be warned, this podcast contains full spoilers for the entire second season. Don’t listen unless you’ve already seen the new episodes, or if you’re totally fine with being spoiled.
Let us know what you think of the second season of STRANGER THINGS in the comments below.
  • kang

    RE explaining the upside down…

    Do you know what “time” is? You may answer, yes, but you’d be wrong. It’s still a bit of a mystery or rather a gigantic mystery that no one truly understands. We know how we think it works and, for the most part, it appears to follow a certain set of rules (for reasons we don’t fully understand).

    But that’s enough for one helluva story. In fact, I’d argue that just about every story ever has had a time component and doesn’t suffer for the lack of knowing the “why” of time.

    Same thing with the upside down. As long as they try to be consistent as possible, I would prefer not to have it all “explained”. Given the 30 odd pages of the upside down Bible, I’m guessing they have a good shot at the consistency thing.

  • Matthew Murphy

    This show deserves so much more than one podcast especially when shows like FTWD and STD are covered at length on Post Show Recaps.

    • Charles Bikle

      Maybe doing 3-4 podcasts with each one covering 2-4 episodes.?

      • Matthew Murphy

        Even four episodes for podcast or at least a feedback show if they get enough feedback. There’s a lot to talk about.

  • TrentC

    D&D veteran here. The Mind Flayer from the monster manual doesn’t have much in common with the huge ‘boss’ creature Will kept seeing. A Mind Flayer would typically use a psychic blast attack to incapacitate a player or physically suck out the player’s brain. It can also control lesser creatures for periods of time.

    I’m glad you guys brought up the older guy getting the teen couple drunk and encouraging them to sleep over and have sex. Creepy is an understatement. I’d be checking for hidden betamax cameras..

    I found some of the tonal choices jarring. Yes I’m in for the mystery and science fiction, show us some cool gore and effects…but the 7th chapter with the band of kids killing without mercy and Bob’s death seemed a little hardcore. Like a step beyond the material.

    I thought Max and Billy were unnecessary additions to the cast. Paul Reiser’s character was a little confusing to me. Was he a bad scientist turned good, or just a good guy working for a bad corporation?

    I’ve enjoyed both seasons and have similar misgivings to what Josh mentioned. It’s a good show and I think it could be great with some tweaks.

    • SoftCanadianKitty

      Thanks for the D&D info. I thought the Mind Flayer operated like The Borg, but TNG was not on when season 2 is set….agree re Chapter 7, just posted above re my thoughts….if Eight and the gang’s purpose is only to seek revenge on the “deserving” – those who personally caused them pain, then why target the convenience store owner….it was tough to buy into Eleven going along with that…I also agree re Max and Billy….are they going to go in a John Hughes like realm in Season 3 and Billy will be the Alex Bender (both have abusive fathers)…..I dont think they can have Billy being redeemed since he is a sociopath……re Paul Reiser character…why was he not arrested at the end, after that expose Jancy and the creepy investigator mailed out to all of the papers ? I wish Bob had stayed, he started on his Hero’s Journey then was killed. Could have done more with that character. It would be too soap operish for Wyona and Hopper to hook up…..leave this alone, at least for the next season or 2, any sexual tension between these two the plot has mined will be destroyed….look at Jancy (or Niles & Daphe) to see how that ends up working out for the storyline. Hopper is best off in his cabin in the woods rather than a happy family scenario with Wyona, her boys, and Eleven.

      • TrentC

        My Mind Flayer interpretation is from memory. I believe they were close to human sized beings. You had to roll a saving throw against psionic attack or he would literally suck the brain from your head. I could be wrong but I do vividly recall players in the know absolutely freaking out if a Mind Flayer was encountered. I found it strange that the kids on the show would equate Will’s big bad monster in the sky with it.

        I have the Monster Manual that the guys were looking at from the show along with other books needed for playing. You can also go online and find the pdf version by googling D&D Monster Manual.

        I’ve been called a dumb jock more often than a nerd based on optics, please don’t reveal my nerd-cred to the public at large.

        • SoftCanadianKitty

          Was not familiar with the term “psionic”. Thanks for the reference.

        • James Griffin

          This is the original Monster Manual that the Mind Flayer is listed in.

          • TrentC

            I dug up my MM copy and have The Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook. Instead of buying premade dungeons we used to create our own. Those three books contain so much information, it could keep a group of creative kids going for years in terms of fun and new adventures. They only need paper and pencils…

            Instead…they want iPhone 10’s and communicate by texting constantly. 🙁

      • TrentC

        Agreeing with a lot here. Billy and Max seemed like extra baggage. They made Billy so unlikable I can’t understand the need to have another darker version of Steve, or expand the main group with Max.

        I like the idea of other kids similar to Eleven/Jane, yet the story with Eight seemed out of sync with everything else.

        And if what the podcasters were talking is true regarding Hopper and Dustin breathing in the environment and suffering or dying from just breathing the ambient air…they had best get Eleven to shut down all of the gates and never open one again.

        • SoftCanadianKitty

          Re Dustin and Hopper breathing in the atmosphere…and Eleven shutting all gates….I don’t think they can keep having her shutting gates as a solution or relying on her solely re banishing the evil. I am wondering if they are going to use techniques from the psychic realm to banish any evil intrusions that may have infiltrated Dustin and Hopper, and generally explore more of the psychic/religious protections some believe are available…Eleven’s telekinetic abilities are part of this area of psychic belief…the burning out of the Mind Flayer from Will was a physical action and did not involve Eleven, but if the Mind Flayer is a psychic virus, will they explore a spiritual/psychic angle and remedies ?I don’t know much of this stuff myself, but recall it worked well on first season of Sleepy Hollow….and of course, in the Exorcist

          And…..what will happen to the Demodog in the Fridge that Dustin is preserving ? It is supposed to be dead, but did Eleven just knock it unconscious ? They thrive in the cold, dont they….kinda like putting a Gremlin in a pool, methinks !

    • SoftCanadianKitty

      If you want to hear a mystery, listen to this “Time Warp Saloon”. Click on blue tab at top re “Listen”, not the links at bottom…starts about 2 min mark….truly eerie…another dimension stumbled upon ?

      Be interested to hear what you make of it.

      • TrentC

        Thanks for the link. Putting on my homicide detective hat and looking at her story forensically from a neutral point of view.

        The objective was finding a bathroom around 3 am while driving on the highway after leaving a different bar. They found the saloon in question and went in:

        1. Why would you order drinks at 3 am if only needing a rest stop?
        2. After seeing the painting and noting that no one was talking/playing pool/dancing, and everyone was staring at the woman and her buddy Bob, she says – It was extremely odd, but it started to get downright creepy. And then Bob convinced her to stay for more drinks. Brave.
        3. If the mural was painted by the Disney artist recently, and there were bar regulars, it could account for the extremely unlikely coincidence that the faces matched the patrons and barkeep. Except the bar was owned and tended by two different people, as discovered later.
        4. The painting changed or began to morph. The couple still remained until their features became impressed onto the gray figures. Again, very courageous.
        5. She said they went back days later and the bar did exist. Different owners and closing time though.

        There’s only one persistent, provable thread of truth in the story, that being the bar does exist. I find her courage extraordinary in a situation where she has readily explained that outsiders are rarely welcomed or treated warmly during any encounters in the area. Not once, but twice they stayed in the bar after witnessing strange behavior and an even stranger thing (<–), a painting that changes.

        Cars in the parking lot seem suspect, if the people in the bar are one for one ghosts or replicants of the people in the painting. The two timelines conflict in terms of products, current cars in lot/one old 50's song playing repeatedly on the old jukebox.

        It's a good story but I think Bob roofied her 🙂

        • SoftCanadianKitty

          You make some good points here. I too wondered about having a beer @ 3 am but attributed it to them needing a rest from driving so long. She also mentions that Bob had heard about the mural painted by a visiting Disney person several years before and wanted to check it out. I think the guy with her is her husband.

          As for her courage, I don’t watch those Ghosthunter shows but have wondered, why would those people knowingly search stuff like this out ? Because they are curious and trying to solve a mystery so are not easily spooked ? The woman has had other paranormal experiences so maybe she was initially intrigued by matching the faces in the painting to the bar patrons but then did flee when she felt danger.

          There is also a video version of her relaying this incident, she offers a few more details, and it is interesting at the end, where she offers her perspective on what realm she may have entered. Didn’t seem like she thought they were ghosts.

          If it is entirely made up, she should be hired to write for Stranger Things 😉

        • SoftCanadianKitty

          I did some detective work and found the FB page for the bar. Seems the story intrigued a lot of ppl, and someone went there and took pix of the mural. You have to read the replies in the comments section to see all 3 pix. The last pix posted is of the woman singing and the piano player and is embedded in the replies. It is lurid in colour as the woman said.

          This was broadcast the same weekend as Season 2 debuted. I am not one who re-watches episodes, but I recall the Upside Down in Season One as being a parallel universe or an alternate dimension, a dimension that Will unwittingly got caught in. This woman’s story reminded me of that sort of thing, she described it in another interview as a Venus fly trap, dimension into which some ppl simply disappear.

          With Season 2, I was disappointed somewhat they went with the physically evident poisoned ground, anyone can drop underground and see monsters running amok. Was hoping they would flesh out the alternate dimension more, like it is a trap and the unsuspecting fall into under certain conditions. What is their state of mind, time of day, etc when they end up in an alternative dimension, that the rest are blissfully unaware of, unless you are somehow tuned in like Joyce was the first season, when she strung up all those lights in her home. Now that is scary and interesting.

          I have never been one to find find aliens or monsters scary, but boy, show that child’s ball bouncing down the stairs in George C. Scott’s “The Changeling” or “The Others”, that is terrifying stuff.

          • TrentC

            Wow did you ever hit upon a memory. The ball bouncing down the stairs in The Changeling. Maybe as Canadians it was forced viewing or something? Seriously, that movie stuck with me for a long time.

            I like the alternate dimension or maybe better said, parallel dimension idea in stories. Reminds me of Stephen King’s story The Langoliers which also created a memorable mood describing another aspect to our world.

            I don’t find the overall idea frightening. Maybe I want to see another dimension because the current one we live in is crappy. Certainly the idea is interesting and would explain more than one mystery.

          • SoftCanadianKitty

            Have not read the King novel you mention, will have to check it out. Have read few, but my fave was The Dead Zone. When I was visting Colorado, had dinner at the Overlook Hotel. Too bad that story got butchered in the first film adaption.

            Re parallel dimension or universe, I think Worf probably loved his, being married to Counsellor Troi ! That was my fave episode.

          • SoftCanadianKitty

            Speaking of things Canadian, years ago, The Globe & Mail featured a really good review of a book called “A Gathering of Ghosts”. It was written by Robin Skelton (actual surname) who was a highly respected poet and English professor at University of Victoria, BC. He was no crank; all of the stories in the book are from his personal experiences of investigating strange phenomena and include interesting takes such as how a person’s own negative energy can darkly colour a place or possession. The stories are all from investigations in Victoria and perhaps some in Vancouver. If the library doesn’t have a copy I think you can pick up a used one on Amazon. Well worth a read. Like the Canadian made “The Changeling”, some of the stories stayed with me for quite some time.

    • SaraMadridista

      Billy character is fine without need to add the abusive dad, I dont want feel sympathy for him at all, ít is such a cliche writing for my taste, I liked Max though, she is adorable with Lucas.

  • Charles Bikle

    Here are my initial thoughts, in bullet-point form:

    – The “Upside-Down” – I’m OK with it being this vague, Lovecraftian dimension with its own set of rules that may be incomprehensible to us.

    – Jancy – liked the character enough; provides comedy and could serve as a plot delivery system for other “conspiracy/paranormal” storylines.

    – Barb: her death/disappearance HAD to be addressed and I liked how it was used to bring in Jancy and the cover story of her death could have some ramifications for Hopper and/or Dr. Owens.

    – Hawkins Lab shutting down: These guys could just be taken over by a different evil corp with a military contract (maybe bringing in Dr. Owen as a “consultant”, whether he wants that or not.)

    – I also thought Bob was a Hawkins plant.

    – Billy & his abusive Dad are kind of like the secondary minor bad guy characters you’d see in a Stephen King novel; I think Billy will be a henchman for a higher level baddie and I think his dad will be a troublemaker.

    -Also, as an homage to the 80’s, there should be a lot more “music-video style training/building montages.”

    • TrentC

      I was in on the Bob plant theory too. Didn’t like the way the producers indicated “He had to go sometime”. Let Bob live to fight again another day.

      I think the only way a Billy redemption can come is from dying while saving Max. Josh had a similar outline for Steve leaving the show.

      • Charles Bikle

        I suspect that Billy’s dad will replace Hopper as Sheriff and Billy will serve as one of his deputies (depending on how much time passes between S2 and S3).

        • TrentC

          Jeepers that’s kind of a big cast upheaval/change.

          RIP Hopper? 🙁

  • namuch

    Agreed with many of the points in the podcast. Do wish that they would be covered as individual episodes, although I realize that’s quite a time commitment. With all it’s flaws, I think it’s a better show than modern “The Walking Dead” (so far). I watched all of them in a day where I can’t be bothered to start watching the last season of The Walking Dead as it sits on my DVR.

    • James Griffin

      Your not missing much regarding The Walking Dead

  • Paris

    How was the whole season only covered in a little over an hour? I would love to hear more insight to each episode like other shows receive.

  • SoftCanadianKitty

    Does Lauren Rimmer trust Max ?

  • SoftCanadianKitty

    In agreement here, especially with Josh’s comments regarding episode 7. The drastic change of scenery was jarring, and exacerbated by the cartoonish characters. Rip offs of a “Suddenly Susan” character, the clownish Joker like character who sported the Mohawk, and the “Mr T” wannabe. These were not likeable characters, one dimensional, and zero investment in their respective fates. I hope the show does not revisit this gang, or Chicago or any other big city. Please view what happened to “Sleepy Hollow” as a cautionary tale. Season One of “Sleepy Hollow” was fantastic, pulling events out of the Book of Revelation and delving into myths and folklore to tell a nail biting story, the small town of Sleepy Hollow, NY. While Season 2 was too much “monster of the week”, it was still a decent season. Once the show got moved to Washington, DC and brought in a lot of FBI agents/cops as main characters, it got cancelled.

  • SoftCanadianKitty

    Re the Billy character. Agree completely with Antonio’s take, Billy is clearly a sociopath and will likely be more an instrument of the evil forces going forward or remain as the human embodiment of your garden variety sociopath. His explosive temper and acts of extreme violence coupled with his ability to instantly turn on ingratiating charm with Mrs Wheeler are hallmarks of a sociopath. He might be able to fake being redeemed to ingratiate himself…but any remorse he shows, change of heart, will be an act…..wondering if he will end up in a fling/affair with Mrs. Wheeler….

  • James Griffin

    It took me awhile to catch up, but finally was able to finish the second season of Stranger Things. Thank you Josh and Antonio for the fantastic recap.

  • SaraMadridista

    I am in camp in I dont give a single eff about Barbra story line, like I had no emotional connection whatsoever with her, I just dont get why Steve was a bad boyfriend because he didnt think that it was their fault that Barbra died, I mean how can I have an emotional connection with character that stayed on screen for 2 seconds, so did I like Nancy storyline? No not at all, I didnt like it one bit, I felt her whole love triangle didnt make sense.

    I didnt like billy at all, this show didnt need a 80s racist bully added to mix, not all, I liked max, I didnt like the idea that female characters were pit against each others with eleven hating her for no reason, I didnt like Eleven story development either, I mean she became way one dimensional this season to be honest.

    I absolutely love Bob, he didnt deserve what happen to him, if there is a justice should be made, it is for me, his death was so heart breaking, I love Steve so much, his character development this season was amazing.

    Mike came out as whiny, I wasnt fan of him either, I thought Lucas and Max story was cute in relation to Dustin, I thought Dustin and Steve was everyone’s favorite OTP.

    I think stranger things still one of the best tv shows currently, but it is suffering from higher expectation, kids definitely make the show, I mean the last scene with kids all in the dance made me cry on how cute they are, they are essence of the show, I love how Steve character was added to them in very thoughtful way.

    and Will for the oscar, what a performance by this kid.

  • Hornacek

    I found Josh’s and Antonio’s complaints about what they expected from season 2 based on the post-season 1 interviews a bit ridiculous. The show shouldn’t be graded on interviews done between seasons. You watch the first season, then a year later you watch the second season. Given this logic, I could complain about season 2 because it didn’t match up with comments from the cast in interviews or on Twitter, or with fan fiction written by online fans.

    If you ignored any of the interviews Josh and Antonio mentioned (which are not required to watch this show), you probably wouldn’t have any of the reactions that they had (I know I didn’t). It’s not season 2’s fault that they went into the show with pre-conceived notions based on comments made by the show-runners months before they started writing season 2

  • Hornacek

    I find Antonio’s hope that the next season is like the Snow Ball with just high school angst and no supernatural events perplexing. Does he know what show he’s watching?

    That’s like saying you enjoy Star Trek but wish they’d do a show/movie where they didn’t go into space and meet aliens.