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"Stranger Things" season 2: still spooky, still addicting

If you are a fan of sci-fi, horror, 80s nostalgia, or just great storytelling, chances are you have already binged through the second season of "Stranger Things." If you haven't, be warned: spoilers ahead!

The Netflix series, created by the Duffer brothers, has quickly become one of the most popular and acclaimed shows of recent years. Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in 1984, it follows the adventures of a group of kids - Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will - as they uncover supernatural mysteries, fight monsters, and save the world. Along the way, they team up with police chief Jim Hopper, teenager Jonathan Byers, mysterious girl Eleven, and other memorable characters.

The first season of "Stranger Things" was a smash hit, thanks to its stellar cast, clever writing, and loving homage to classic 80s movies and TV shows. It was also praised for its portrayal of childhood friendship, adolescence, and trauma, as the characters dealt with loss, bullying, and parental neglect. But it was the season's main plot - the disappearance of Will and the discovery of the Upside Down, a parallel dimension inhabited by a predatory creature known as the Demogorgon - that kept viewers on their toes and hungry for more.

So, how does the second season compare? In short, it delivers. While some critics have found fault with certain aspects - such as the slow pacing of some episodes or the reliance on nostalgia and references - most fans agree that it's a worthy follow-up to the first season and a great continuation of the story. Here are just a few reasons why:

The characters are still great

One of the strengths of "Stranger Things" is the depth and charm of its characters, and season 2 doesn't disappoint. We get to see more of fan favorites like Steve (the unexpected hero), Bob (the lovable dork), and Dustin (the scene-stealing comedian), as well as some intriguing newcomers like Max (the skateboarding tomboy) and Billy (the abusive hunk). Of course, the core group of kids is still the heart of the show, and they continue to impress with their acting, chemistry, and growth. Will, who suffered the most in season 1, gets a chance to shine this time as he struggles with the aftermath of his trauma and his connection to the Upside Down. Mike and Eleven's reunion (after Eleven's disappearance in the finale of season 1) is a standout moment, full of emotion and nostalgia. And by the end of the season, all the characters have faced new challenges, learned new secrets, and bonded even more.

The story is still spooky

If you thought the Demogorgon was scary, wait until you meet the Mind Flayer. Season 2 introduces a new, greater threat to the world of Hawkins, and it's even more menacing and mysterious than its predecessor. Without spoiling too much, let's just say that the Upside Down is not done with our heroes, and that there are new ways for it to invade our reality. The season also adds more backstory and mythology to the Upside Down, as well as some twists and surprises that will keep you guessing. As always, the show balances horror and humor, thrills and heart, in a way that few other shows can.

The visuals and music are still perfect

From the opening credits to the last shot, "Stranger Things" season 2 looks and sounds amazing. The cinematography, production design, and special effects all contribute to the show's distinct, retro atmosphere, but with a modern touch. The Upside Down scenes are particularly stunning, with their eerie lighting, slimy textures, and otherworldly creatures. The music, composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, is once again a highlight, with its synthy, moody, and catchy themes that evoke John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and Vangelis. The soundtrack is also enriched by some 80s classics (like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and The Police's "Every Breath You Take") and some lesser-known gems (like Joy Division's "Atmosphere" and Devo's "Whip It").

The show explores new themes and ideas

While "Stranger Things" is still a sci-fi adventure at heart, it also ventures into some deeper, more mature themes in season 2. For example, it tackles the topic of PTSD and its effects on the characters, especially Will and Hopper. It also delves into the concept of false appearances and hidden agendas, as some characters are revealed to have hidden motives and secrets. And it addresses the issue of toxic masculinity and its impact on relationships, as seen in Billy's abusive behavior towards his stepsister Max and his own father. These themes are handled with sensitivity and relevance, and add some nuance and complexity to the show's world.

All in all, "Stranger Things" season 2 is a must-watch for any fan of the show or of quality TV in general. It builds on the strengths of the first season, while introducing new elements and challenges. It's still scary, still funny, still heartwarming, and still addictive. And it leaves us hungry, once again, for what's next in the world of Hawkins, Indiana.