Stranger Things – just got even stranger, with its highly bingeing second season. A Netflix original, so they claim, but come on… we all know, it’s not that original. Would say, it’s an extensive amalgamation of The Forgotten, Before I wake and Spielberg’s classic E.T. the Extraterrestrial.
But don’t let that opinion stop you from watching this engrossing, intriguing, pacey and surprisingly sensible sci-fi-cum-supernatural-cum-horror-cum-period drama series. This is by far, one of those rare productions wherein the kid actors have outsmarted the adults.
Set in a fictitious Indiana town – Hawkins, the series revolves around four unusual children, considered weirdos by the rest of the kids. Yeah you guessed it… they are science nerds and live in a world of their own and except for their parents, nobody in the entire town (now you can guess why it’s named Hawkins) happens to hold any opinion about them. It so happens, that one of the kids, Wills Byers (brilliantly portrayed by Noah Schnapp who by the way had voiced Charlie Brown in the Peanuts Movie) gets kidnapped by a…eh…eh…’Demogorgon’…as conveniently popularized by his other three sci-fi comic/movie addicted friends. The Trio, namely, Mike Wheeler (played by Finn Wolfhard of Stephen King’s ‘IT’ fame), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) set out, to find and get back their indispensable friend, Wills from the hideous Demogorgon whom they later find out to be a cannibalistic extradimensional being from the Upside Down (a world in another dimension, again named conveniently so, by the kids).
Now how in the world can three kids stand up to this ugly, man-eating Demogorgon that can smell blood and appear out of nowhere with Shark-like jaws? Enter, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown, ‘Ruby’ from Gray’s Anatomy), nature’s little science experiment. A powerful telekinetic born to a not-so-stable yet telekinetic mother, from whom she was snatched by her ruthless scientist ‘papa’ (Matthew Modine of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket fame). But hold on…that’s not just it! Spoiler Alert: Eleven seems to have some sort of connection to the Demogorgon. No, not in the capacity of a psychic but she is somehow accountable for the Demogorgon’s actions.
That being the basic storyline, let’s talk drama. Will Byers’s mother, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryde who had already proved her mettle as a brilliant actress in Dracula, Girl, Interrupted, Black Swan etc.) leaves no stone unturned to find her missing son. David Harbour (who should seem familiar because of movies like, Quantum of Solace, Snitch, the Equalizer and Suicide Squad etc.) plays Jim Hopper, the chief of Hawkins Police Dept., empathizes with Joyce as he too had lost his daughter and takes it upon himself to find Wills. Though at first, he dismisses any supernatural conjecture in Wills missing as any sane cop would, he later comes to believe in Joyce and Will’s friends’ theory, about the Upside-Down world and the creature(s) that live in it.
Since we had drama and action, the makers of the series, The Duffer Brothers (Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer) could not possibly leave ‘romance’ out of the story. Mike’s elder sister, Nancy Wheeler, portrayed by the pretty sassy Natalia Dyer, who has fallen for Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), the high school heartthrob, she eventually develops a soft corner for Jonathan Byers (Will’s elder brother, played by Charlie Heaton) who is tormented by his own guilt for not being at home to look after Will, on the night he was taken.
The drama and the love triangle essentially gives an incredible balance to the story, but what goes of the chart is the hunt for Wills and the performances that ensues. Though, Finn Wolfhard (who plays Mike) stands out among the quartet in the first season, Noah Schnapp, displays phenomenal talent in the second season which has far outweighed everybody’s performance so far. Dustin is a treat to watch, and his mature conversational style with Lucas makes them all the more adorable. There’s satire, sarcasm, suspense, science-fiction, speed and not to mention even sex, in minimalistic quantities, the series is definitely, a must watch.
But not without flaws. The fact that the government (or semi-government) facility, which is like the epicenter of the whole Upside Down notion, didn’t do a thorough job of sealing the inter-dimensional gateway seems a bit far-fetched. Though most governments are depicted inefficient but the gravity of the situation here, calls for utmost caution and it’s doubtful that any government would leave room for mistakes. Anyway, guess that’s why they call it ‘fiction’. That being sidelined, it is indeed a thumbs up guys! Go binge in it!