It’s the all hallowed eve (see what we did there) before Stranger Things Season 2 is unleashed on Netflix. The hype for this show is as palpable as a box of Eggo Waffles — the trailers have been tremendous (that “Thriller” trailer, though), and we all hold the first season in high regard. However, with all our lofty hopes we have there are some serious concerns we have for the new season. The Pop Break’s Stranger Things guru Josh Sarnecky, and the site’s version of Chief Hopper, Bill Bodkin teamed up break down their hopes, and fears about the upcoming season.
Answers about the Upside Down and the Demogorgon
After binging through the first season of Stranger Things, fans were left with plenty of mysteries to mull over. Among these questions, none were more important than when did Mike (Finn Wolfhard) move to a small, clown-infested town in Maine and how did Steve (Joe Keery) get a job as Domino’s personal Ferris Bueller?
In all seriousness, though, the Upside Down and the Demogorgon (Mark Steger) remain wrapped in mystery. While the Upside Down is clearly a dark, parallel version on Hawkins, how that world was created and what that world’s exact connection to the right-side up world are unknown. Likewise, we know very little about the Demogorgon’s history, abilities, and relationship with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The show’s second season will almost certainly address these questions, but don’t be surprised if some answers are left for future seasons. -Josh Sarnecky
One thing Stranger Things has done so well is the ability to operate in the 1980s without being a kitschy ’80s nostalgia trip. The winks and nods are subtle, and everything used in the film from the decade are natural, and do evoke a nice chuckle here and there. With that being said, I love the fact the guys are hanging at the arcade (a classic ’80s tween thing to do), and dressing up like Ghostbusters. These are all small things, but they add to the charm of the series. -Bill Bodkin
New Human Villains
Though the Demogorgon may have been season one’s most memorable antagonist, Doctor Brenner (Matthew Modine) was arguably the creepiest. Brenner and his goons at Hawkins Laboratory helped balance out the supernatural threat of the monster with a more recognizable but equally terrifying threat, and they fueled a significant amount of the thriller’s tension. With Brenner presumably dead and his staff decimated, a new set of human villains needs to take their place to maintain that sense of dread in monster-less scenes and further reinforce the idea that sometimes the most frightening monsters are human. -Josh Sarnecky
New Cast Members
Going off what Josh said, I’m very excited to see what the new cast members, particularly Paul Reiser, and Sean Astin will bring to the table. I really like the choice of both of these actors because they are not regulars on TV, or in film anymore. Think about it, when was the last time we saw Paul Reiser in anything? I like Reiser going against type here, and sliding into what seems to be a much more serious role. As for Astin, I’m an unabashed fan. He has this tremendous emotional cache he brings to every role, and I think having him as the boyfriend for Joyce is a nice call. -Bill Bodkin
Status Quo Changes
Following the tremendous success and unforeseen popularity of season one, perhaps the worst thing Stranger Things can do is play things too safe. As important as it is that the show recapture the feel of its first season and build off of those aspects that made the series a phenomenon, Stranger Things needs to continue to evolve to keep the show fresh and interesting. I’m hoping some major shifts in character dynamics, tone, narrative structure, or perhaps even genre will pop up and continue to keep fans on their toes. -Josh Sarnecky
There Was Never Supposed to be a Season 2, and We’re Going to Discover That The Hard Way
The Duffer Brothers have stated they’ve always had a continuation of the Stranger Things world planned out. I really want to believe them. However, I’ve seen this happen way too many times. A film or series becomes a runaway hit, and enters part of the pop culture lexicon — and a sequel, or second season is commissioned almost immediately. The writers assure the fans that they have a plan — but in reality they don’t. Case in point, True Detective Season 2, and the Matrix Sequels. These all paled in comparison to the first entry. I want to desperately believe The Duffers didn’t rush Season 2, nor are they short on material. -Bill Bodkin
Will Won’t Resonate With Fans
Think fast: How would you describe Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) to someone that has never watched Stranger Things? If you’re like me, you’d probably describe him as a D&D wizard with a penchant for listening to The Clash and communicating via Christmas lights. In all honesty, Will was more of a plot device than a character in season one, motivating his friends and family but rarely finding a chance to do anything besides run from the Demogorgon and try to contact his mom. Now that he’s back on the right side of the Upside Down, Will needs to further establish himself as a friend, son, and brother that can be more than a victim in need of rescuing. My fear is the younger Byers brother will remain a one-note character that fans will soon become bored of or exasperated with. -Josh Sarnecky
Playing the Greatest Hits
I love the first season of Stranger Things. It’s probably one of my favorite seasons of television ever. However, I don’t need nor do I want to see a retread of that in Season Two. I want something fresh, and new — however people want to see “the hits.” They want to see their “shipping” come true (Joyce and Hop, Nancy, and Jonathan, etc.), they want to see a lot more Barb, and want to laugh at Dustin. It’s really easy for writers to super serve fans the stuff they want, yet this can damage the new story being told. Also, don’t be like The Walking Dead and recycle the same season structure over and over again. -Bill Bodkin
Change For the Sake of Change
Wait, wasn’t I worried the series would play it safe, and recycle it’s greatest hits? Yes, I did. But the flip side is just as bad. Sometimes shows try so hard to be so different from its previous that it throws sharp left turn after sharp left turn in for the sake of being different, and “not” the previous season. Shows like Homeland, and Boardwalk Empire are guilty of this to an extent, and Westworld did this within its first season multiple times. Overcomplicating things, and/or change for change’s sake is never a good thing. -Bill Bodkin
Our Expectations Are Too High
There is no way any of us could have predicted how much of a hit season one of Stranger Things would become. Without the burden of anticipation and expectations, the show was able to take risks and stay committed to the vision of the showrunners, the Duffer Brothers.
Now that the series has become ingrained in the public consciousness and pop culture, expectations have skyrocketed; every viewer has their own thoughts on and expectations for the show, and satisfying all those views and hopes is impossible. We will likely have to accept that sequels rarely live up to the originals—not because the writers, directors, or actors can’t bring the magic back, but because we create too much hype for the shows and movies we love. If we find ourselves disappointed at all by season two, we probably will have no one to blame but ourselves. -Josh Sarnecky