It’s been almost two weeks since the Hawkins gang came back into our lives and we at NCB still can’t stop talking about the show.
We know every publication under the sun has recapped the show by now. We get it. But just like the old saying goes, you can’t get enough of a good thing. So here’s more Stranger Things content to feed your inner Demogorgon.
Which character won season 2?
Robby Cowles: This is probably going to be a common answer, but no character redeemed themselves more than Steve Harrington. He carried the momentum he had from the ending of season 1 into one of the better arcs in the entire show. His scenes with new buddy Dustin were some of the best of the entire season. He lost Nancy, but seemed totally understanding, and was once again totally down to kill some monsters with his baseball bat of nails. Steve is awesome.
Drew Wendt: Bob “The Brain” Newby. Sure, it was his truly awful advice that got Will possessed, but, wow, did he ever turn it around after that. He was essential in figuring out Will’s drawings and he rescued Hopper, Joyce, and the kids from Hawkins Lab because he was the only one who knew BASIC programming. My guy Rudy barely flinched when he transitioned from movie night with his girlfriend to witnessing alternate dimension monsters feast on human flesh. He may have lost his life because he dramatically paused before he was safe, but Bob won our hearts in the process.
Derek Hernandez: Lucas, man. He got the girl (Max), he actually had a family this time around and he gets to live his life with my favorite new character – his sister Erica. Plus, his “Why I gotta be Winston” moment was hilarious and something I can relate to.
Chris Hall: Having Dustin’s character be such a big part of season was great. His interaction with Dart and the scene where he puts himself in front of everyone to stop Dart in the tunnels was an awesome display of his growth as a character. Could do without the tongue rolling though! The pairing of Dustin and Steve was a good idea as well. Those two stole the scenes from other characters when they were together. Even the scenes with his mom were pretty great.
Franco Bosco: Steve for season 2 MVP. Looking back on the character from season 1, Steve was looked upon as the one-note “the bad boy” to Nancy’s sweet, innocent schoolgirl. Not to mention mostly a self-absorbed jerk towards people like Jonathan. Of course, Steve had a bit of redemption in the season 1 finale, but nothing too cementing. Season 2 on the contrary, Harrington came full circle with a great arc to revamp himself as a person. Steve naturally became more compassionate towards Nancy and the boys, specifically Dustin in an endearing fashion. Steve became the ultimate babysitter in the best way. Team Steve!
Alex Schubauer: Jim Hopper. He wasn’t perfect, but he’s going so far outside his job description this season. He’s filling the roles of father, chief of police, double agent, taxi driver, rifleman and town watchman. He’s the show’s LeBron, carrying Hawkins to the title on his back. He’s usually angry and kind of a dick which I understand makes it harder to appreciate him. But the dude danced like a dweeb to Jim Croce, as redeeming an act you’ll ever see.
Dan Soden: This has been said a few times already, but can we give a round of applause for Steve Harrington. It only took him getting knocked down a few pegs by this crazy thing called love for us to see him as the all-around good guy that he is. His scenes with Dustin were some of the best of the season and their chemistry has me hoping for more of a big brother, little brother relationship next season.
Doug Palmer: Lucas for sure. He came off as kind of the whiney, debbie-downer character in season 1, but totally got a chance to redeem himself this time around. Not only does he win the battle over Mad Max (sorry, Dustin) but he finally had a few chances to come through for the crew. Rather than a voice of negativity, he became a voice of reason.
What was your favorite part of the season?
Schubauer: The Byers family. Will is just cursed, there’s no way around that. But Joyce found love, didn’t lose her mind, and kept up the same critical thinking that saved Will in season 1. Jonathan made an incredible comeback from an awkward creep to a decently charming kid who stole Steve Harrington’s girl. Nobody saw that one coming. And Will, somehow, is still alive. Their last scene together with the heaters in the cabin is incredibly gratifying after everything this family’s been through. It wasn’t easy, but it can’t be with these folks. I’m on Team Byers.
Soden: This is a toss-up between when Eleven rocks the demo-dogs and walks back into the gang’s life like “miss me bitches?” and every single scene Steve and Dustin shared together. If you don’t see a trend here yet it’s everyone loves Steve and Dustin and we really need to make season 3 just about them trying to get Dustin a girlfriend.
Hall: The moment you realize El is going back to save the day. The show cuts to the group who are surrounded in the house with no hope, and then a demo-dog flies through the window dead. The chain lock starts moving and El walks in.
Anyone else wonder what they did with the dead demo-dog in the fridge?
Cowles: The Steve and Dustin bromance was great, but my favorite part was the father-daughter relationship, and all its ups and downs, formed between Hopper and Eleven. My two favorite characters on the show, watching them find each other and figure out the weird intricacies of their complicated relationship was interesting and, at times, heartbreaking. Their reunion at the end though was genuinely heartwarming.
Hernandez: I really want to say my favorite part was when Billy took Steve to school on the basketball court, but I’m going to roll with the scenes where Steve was babysitting the kids. From his interactions with Dustin, to the demo-dog bus scene, all the way to when the group drives him to the tunnels – all those scenes were a lot of fun and showcased his character arc beautifully. Big ups, Papa Steve.
Bosco: There’s plenty to love about season 2, but my favorite part has to be the relationship between Hopper and Eleven. David Harbour being the class act he is, brought his A-game to those cabin scenes along with Millie Bobby Brown, such a great family dynamic between them. Harbour as Hopper carried a lot of emotional weight while trying to discipline El. As we learned in season 1, Hopper had a young daughter he lost and now he sees Eleven as another chance to be a father. Great “tugging on the heartstrings” performances.
Wendt: The Steve and Dustin scenes is Stranger Things at its best. This mismatched pairing may have seemed counterintuitive at first, but it quickly became obvious how much comedy the show could mine from King Steve hanging out with nerdy middle school Dustin. Apparently all you need is four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett hairspray to get immaculate locks like Steve.
Palmer: The moment of realization on Dustin’s face when he saw that the Fearsome Foursome were the only kids dressed up at school. These guys have to spend so much of the year trying to fly under the radar, hiding their D&D lifestyles except for Halloween. The one time of year they can show their colors, dress like the Ghostbusters and not feel like their standing out of the crowd. It was a really funny moment that everyone can relate to from some time in their lives.
What was your least favorite part of the season?
Hernandez: I’m going to refrain from saying the “Lost Sister” episode because everybody knows that was the worst. Outside of that, my least favorite moment was when they showed El basically brush off that final battle in season 1. All she had to do was walk around a bit, find a gooey hole (that sounds gross) and walk through said gooey hole? Come on, man.
Bosco: Hate to beat a dead horse here, but for me it’s “Lost Sister” also known as episode 7 (also known as “Trash.”) Narratively, there was so much momentum after the ending of episode 6 and they derailed it with the inclusion of El’s sister and her oddball gang. The episode just didn’t feel like Stranger Things at all. If anything, it felt like one of those episodes that would spawn a spin-off show that no one asked for. The acting, aside from Eleven, is pretty mediocre and I found Kali’s gang extremely annoying. Whatever the case was for this mishap, no more episodes like this one would be great. C’mon Duffers, you guys are better than that.
Wendt: They whiffed on the “Lost Sister” episode, but I’d say the same about Billy’s character. Almost every scene with him felt unnecessary. It’s like the Duffers created an 80s villain straight out of The Karate Kid and then forgot to give him a reason for existing. The actor Dacre Montgomery is going all-out, but I’d be fine if Billy gets dragged away by a demo-dog before season 3.
Schubauer: Max and Billy, I regret to say, are almost completely unnecessary to the story. They’re not awful characters, but adding two more people to keep track of to an already crowded plot didn’t need to happen. Their contributions don’t justify their screen time. Also, Billy was created specifically to be an internet meme. It worked. The Duffers know what they’re doing, at least.
Soden: I clearly didn’t mind the break in season 2 for a quick crossover episode of New Mutants like everyone else did. Really didn’t get why we needed a full episode about her sister that we’ll probably never see again, but it still wasn’t as bad as all the time wasted on Billy. Outside of being the reason Max has terrible anxiety and will need counseling in her early 20’s, Billy was useless. The fight with Steve was cool, but the whole Zac Efron dressed like a Hillbilly Rocker just did nothing for me.
Palmer: Same as a lot of us here, episode 7, “The Lost Sister”. I think that El’s story arc was important to the writers and I get why they wanted to flesh out her character from “socially inept super weapon” into a real person, but the execution was just terrible. Honestly, if you pull out this side story over a few episodes, cutting back and forth with the action in Hawkins, it probably doesn’t feel like a mess. As is, it felt like a waste of time on par with Dragon Ball Z filler episodes. Also, I generally hate new characters in a show. I fear change.
Hall: Pulling El from the group most of the season was kind of pointless after she stole every scene last year. She was by herself for much of the season and it hurt the character as well as others. Mike was just lost for much of the season and didn’t seem like the Mike from season 1 until the skateboard scene with Max where he sensed El being there.
Cowles: The “Lost Sister” episode was a low point for the show, but I’ll get to that later. Instead, I’ll mention the part where they draw a map of the tunnels that takes over Joyce’s house. A bit on-the-nose for an homage to season 1’s christmas lights bit.
In 140 characters or less, defend the “Lost Sister” episode. (Not a question, we know)
Wendt: I mean, Eleven’s new look was pretty “bitchin’.”
Schubauer: Eleven discovers her past, finds family, strengthens her powers and realizes her purpose: a functional hero’s journey episode. It’s fine.
Soden: Eleven Joins the cast of New Mutants! She also chokes a dude with her mind.
Hall: I enjoyed it because up until this point Eleven’s character had lost what made her so popular in season 1. Then you get the makeover & reunion.
Cowles: The problem with Eleven is she can easily fix everything, so you gotta move her away sometimes.The idea wasn’t bad, just the execution.
Hernandez: .@Netflix ordered the Duffer Bros. to build a bigger world. Gotta make that skrilla.
Bosco: I’m with Cowles, it’s really the execution with episode 7 that falls flat. Kali is the Yoda to Eleven’s Luke so that idea alone was good. I understand why the episode was necessary for El’s arc, but the episode could’ve been handled a lot better.
Palmer: Grows the ‘Stranger Things’ universe in a big way. #Season3Hype
Eleven’s “sister” Kali showed off her Jedi mind tricks this season. Which power do you hope one of Eleven’s other siblings possesses?
Palmer: Between Eleven and Kali, we’ve got telekinesis and telepathy covered. I’m guessing that we’ll get someone who can look at something and instantly know how it works. Or someone who can teleport themselves into the Upside Down.
Bosco: Sounds like we’re mapping out the “New Mutants of Netflix” show! Jokes aside, I have to believe we’ll see more of her siblings in season 3. That being said, we need someone with the ability to warp reality for an individual.
Schubauer: I want someone that can communicate with animals. Would those powers work on a Demogorgon or Shadow Monster? Let’s find out!
Soden: I hope Eleven’s much older brother is Mel Gibson’s character from What Women Want and he helps Dustin understand why the popular girls aren’t that into him.
Hall: If they introduce any more of the kids that were experimented on, I would want to see one of them be a villain with the ability to fly or walk through objects.
Cowles: Mind control seems like the logical next step. We saw some of it with the Shadow Monster, so it would make sense that some other kid could also infiltrate brains to make them do their bidding.
Hernandez: Some sort of Mystique-esque shape-shifting ability. That would really test the “Friends don’t lie” rule.
Who deserves more justice – Bob or Barb?
Schubauer: Unpopular opinion: going with Barb here. I can’t overlook that Bob told Will to stand up to a 200-foot insect from hell with infinite knowledge and incomprehensible powers by basically saying “no thanks, I’m not interested” to it. That about killed Will and everyone else, so Bob died in the process of redeeming himself. It evens out, I guess. But Barb’s inability to shotgun a beer allowed Jonathan to get a picture of the Demogorgon. Points for Barb!
Soden: Honestly, I stay up at night thinking about how those monsters tore up poor Bob. That man gave his life for a woman that never truly loved him and her asshole kid that caused the attack in the first place. The only thing that helps me sleep at night is knowing Bob died before he could see Hopper stealing his girl.
Hall: Bob! This is obvious since he actually saved the group and was a hero. Barb was kind of a buzz kill. Nevermind the fact Bob also told Will the story of when he was a kid and he was terrorized by a clown in Maine. I believe all of us should know about a clown in Maine that terrorized little kids.
Cowles: Bob. 100%. It’s not even close. What did Barb ever do? She died. That’s it. Bob figured out the puzzle where the tunnels are, located Hopper, and then saved everyone in Hawkins Lab with his bravery. Bob is 1000x better than Barb.
Hernandez: Barb was a worthless character, so the answer is Bob. Bob was too good for this world.
Bosco: It’s Bob, no question. I never got the fascination with Barb. Of course, she was a good person who suffered a terrible death at the hands of the Demogorgon, but she was never the focus of any aspect of the show. For some odd reason, the Internet went wild about her. Bob was a good person who was actually resourceful and contributed to the plot. Bob was a great man in the dreadful world, case closed. Justice for Bob!
Wendt: Bob was wayyyy more instrumental to the plot, so he’s your answer. However, there’s quite a bit of Barb-bashing going on here and I won’t stand for it. Her sartorial excellence is already iconic.
Palmer: No justice for Benny from season 1?? I’d probably go with Bob because he was actually helpful and brave in this season. Barb was just sort of a sad sack. Plus, let’s not forget about Bob’s movie choice; Mr. Mom is on point.
Predict the plot of season 3?
Hall: I think this will be the season that sways away from Will as the connection to the Upside Down. I keep thinking back to Dustin in the tunnels and when he screams about the spray getting in his mouth. The Shadow Monster knows El exists now and was watching them at the end. So somehow I think Dustin is used to open the gate again and let the Shadow Monster seek its revenge.
Cowles: Clearly the Shadow Monster is still hanging around in the Upside Down, so you gotta figure it’s going to be the main baddie again next season. Maybe we’ll finally figure out what it’s purpose is and why it exists? To be honest, I’m more concerned about Steve’s future. Is he going to college? I hope not. I’d rather he stick around and mentor young Dustin some more. Steve & Dustin 4ever.
Hernandez: You remember that syringe Max stabbed Billy with? You know, THE SAME ONE WILL WAS USING. Yeah, Billy is totally going to either be the big bad or the key to the big bad messing up shit in Hawkins in season 3. You can’t be sharing needles with zombies. I also anticipate some X-Men style shenanigans between all of El’s siblings.
Bosco: The Mind Flayer has set its sights on the boys and the town of Hawkins, it’s coming for payback. The last shot in the season finale gives a big hint that the monster is watching them closely now and it’s only gonna get worse for The Losers Club of Goonies in season 3. The boys and Eleven’s super-powered siblings better be up to the task because I don’t see season 3 ending on a big cliffhanger this time around.
Wendt: It seems like we are going to see Eleven’s other super-powered “sisters” come back to Hawkins to battle the Mind Flayer. The potential issue there is adding too many new characters when many of our current heroes already didn’t get enough screentime in season 2. Matthew Modine’s Dr. Brenner will probably return as the main villain.
Also, it doesn’t look like Bob is going to be in season 3, so I’m getting a Kickstarter together for a spinoff where we follow Bob pre-Stranger Things. Kinda like Better Call Saul, but with more dad jokes. Stay tuned.
Schubauer: First off, Mike and Nancy’s parents will get divorced. I’m sure of that. As far as the supernatural, that Shadow Monster ain’t going anywhere soon. I think it’ll be a larger-scale infection or invasion that ramps up the death count. Hawkins has been lucky so far. The third season will likely get darker.
Soden: Tom Cruise joins the cast as Steve’s father who is super excited that his son stuck around to join the family business, but doesn’t get why his only friend now is a young Dustin. Also I’m going to assume the Shadow Monster makes a comeback at some point, Mike and “Jane” become official and that dastardly Jonathan Byers gets what he has coming to him.
Palmer: Wendt hit on it a little bit, but I think that the Mind Flayer and Dr. Brenner (Papa) are connected now. I have to imagine the Duffer Brothers envision having a big season of multiple “sisters” like El and Kali, but fan response might pump the brakes on that. I think Will has the ability to kind of recall things from while he was connected to the Mind Flayer and that will certainly play a role.
Which 80s movie do you hope the Duffer Bros. pay homage to next season?
Bosco: I say we get some callbacks to Indiana Jones. I know there’s been a lot of Spielberg homages already, but why not keep it going? I can already see one of the boys, probably Dustin, quoting “why did it have to be snakes?” in a dire situation. Perhaps we’ll see snake-like creatures from the Upside Down in season 3. Demo-snakes! What I would do to see someone quote Sam Jackson in Snakes on a Plane.
Wendt: Since the show will most likely be set in 1985 next season, it’s gotta be The Goonies. We’ve already got our lovable group of ragtag kids, now we just need some buried treasure. And you know who starred in The Goonies, right? Sean Astin, aka Bob The Brain! This is destiny, people.
Soden: Fatal Attraction….I hope Will and Eleven have some relationship issues because Eleven can’t handle her jealousy. She breaks the arms and legs of any female within a 15 foot radius of Will, leaving Will no choice but to end things with her. Her epic meltdown leads to her releasing the Shadow Monster and with our only hope for survival being the rise of Steve Harrington and Dustin Henderson, The Monster Hunters.
Palmer: I’m kind of surprised they haven’t hit on this so far in the show, but they should open up a They Live scenario where only Will can see who’s being controlled by the Mind Flayer. Or maybe we can get Bob back as a dimension-hopping Robocop…
Hall: We have seen so many movies referenced and, as a Stephen King fan and a product of the 80’s, I think that is my draw to the show. I want to see a little Pet Semetary tribute with the return of Dustin’s cat to cause a little havoc.
Cowles: It’s not a movie, but if the next season takes place a year later, that would mean it’s 1985. Which also happened to be the first year of WrestleMania, a major moment in pop culture history. Come on, you’re telling me you don’t want to see Dustin flexing like Hulk Hogan for Halloween? Get outta here.
Hernandez: Back to the Future and Return of the Living Dead. I need some time-traveling zombies in my life. Also, what Cowles said.
Schubauer: This doesn’t really fit the show’s theme, but Rocky IV comes out in 1985. Eleven has already been accused of involvement in some sort of Russian plot. This is the Reagan era. I gotta have Eleven battle a Soviet child with powers to a draw, winning over the Russians and ending the Cold War. The two nations team up to nuke the pants off the Upside Down. World peace ensues.