The Griffin

Hyped-up horror story disappoints

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Hyped-up horror story disappoints

Anna Mason, Editor-In-Chief

Stranger Things is back in all its hype and glory, complete with your favorite ‘80s hits and the repeated plot of the previous season.

Once again plunging viewers into the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, Stranger Things intersperses glimpses of the supernatural with the otherwise-normal adolescent lives of middle schoolers Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and the recently returned Will (Noah Schnapp) from the notorious “Upside Down.”

All is not quite right with Will, and in between mysterious visits with Hawkins Labs, his condition deteriorates further. Joyce (Winona Ryder) remains the epitome of an overprotective mother. Her romance with the affable, somewhat boring Bob Newby (Sean Astin) lends a short-lived sense of normalcy to her life. But, in no time at all, Joyce readily transitions into the familiarly frantic mother from season one, this time papering her walls with Will’s drawings in lieu of Christmas lights.

Meanwhile, alone and wanted by the vaguely nefarious Hawkins Labs, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) finds refuge with police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in an isolated cabin in the woods. Hopper, meaning well yet uncharacteristically ignorant, restricts Eleven’s movements and her powers in the name of her safety. Consequently, Eleven’s rash decision-making is expected and disappointedly cliché. Her disconnect from her friends for the majority of the season is a considerable weakness.

Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) embark on their own quest to avenge Barb’s death, collaborating with an amusing conspiracy theorist to bring down Hawkins Lab. Unfortunately, Hawkins Lab proves to be anything but a formidable enemy for the duo, as its villainy is confined to empty threats and creepy surveillance.

The show’s greatest strength stems from the hilarious and poignant performances of the show’s youngest cast members, and newcomer Max (Sadie Sink) adds a welcome dynamic to the group. Strong performances aside, the show’s faults persist. The finale is startlingly anti-climatic, and the ominous, shadowy threat hinted at for the entirety of the season fails to materialize.

If the first season left you, like me, yearning for something more, the second is likely to disappoint. Ultimately, Stranger Things hinges on nostalgia: both for the cast and for the quirky originality of the first season.

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