Review: Stranger Things (Season 2, Episode 4)

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80%
80
Brilliant

God, these kids can act.

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Netflix’s legendary binge-watch formula comes with both pros and cons. While it makes for a thrilling weekend, the bleak week that follows will have you cursing your inability to savour a good thing. Inevitably, the next big thing comes along – your Black Mirror or The Crown – and it gets forgotten about. You think “Yeah, I liked that!” but can’t quite pinpoint what made it so great. Until Season 2 comes along.

Within moments of being reunited with the Stranger Things kids, we were reminded of what sets it apart from the crowd. They balance humour and drama with all the expertise of their adult co-stars, even surpassing them in their ability to nail their deliciously written and strongly individual characters. In ‘Will the Wise’, the fourth chapter in our return to Hawkins, Noah Schnapp’s luckless Will Byers steps well and truly into the spotlight.

While Will’s disappearance was the driving force of Stranger Things‘ first season, the plot therefore necessitated that he be absent for most of the plot. Though his misfortune doesn’t seem to have changed come Season 2, Noah Schnapp is put front and centre and proves he more than makes the cut of our memorable misfit cohort. Possessed by the malicious and mysterious shadow monster, we see Will give Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) home yet another traumatic makeover. It’s not quite the iconic Christmas lights of last season, but his crazed sketching of Hawkins’ underground tunnels are enough to lead Hopper (David Harbour) straight into fresh danger.

Elsewhere, the explosive clash between Eleven and Hopper reminds us of why we fell in love with Millie Bobby Brown all over again. It’s her strongest performance of the season to date, and El and Hopper’s father-daughter bond (though sure to be a fan-favourite) shows hints of a creepy Léon-esque scenario as he bans her from leaving the cabin. Saying that, it’s evidence of the Duffer Brothers being true to the characters they originally created – Hopper, a bereaved father whose grief manifests as anger, and Eleven, a little girl whose trust issues make her lash out. A perfect storm.

The icing on the cake of another fantastic chapter is Gaten Matarazzo. Dustin’s fast becoming the best character of Season 2, and his realisation that his ‘pet’ D’Artagnan is actually a young Demagorgon and has just ate his cat for lunch is another comedic/dramatic twist that has us unsure whether to laugh or cry. RIP Mews, the first victim of Stranger Things 2.

Stranger Things 2 is available to stream on Netflix now.

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Editor of The Edge 2017-18. Culture Editor before that. Sporadic writer for the Wessex Scene, DJ on Surge, known photobomber of SUSUtv's videos. Bad habits include Netflix, not doing my work and drinking too much tea.

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