From Mad Max to Sean Astin, there’s a lot in Stranger Things’ second season that fans still can’t get over.
Following an incredibly world-changing debut, the second season of Stranger Things hit the ground running. There was so much to love about season one that fans could hardly imagine what a follow-up could possibly offer — especially without tainting such a good thing, never mind aiming to match its quality or even unimaginably outdo it.
Now, the second season may not have necessarily outdone the first, but it certainly gave it a run for its money. With new characters, new monsters, and altered storylines, the show took some risks; but the risks turned out to be well worth taking, doing justice to the show that fans have come to know and love.
Everything About Sean Astin
Fans of The Goonies and The Lord Of The Rings instantly recognized the debut of Sean Aston as Bob Newby, the loveable, warm-hearted new resident nerd of the second season. Bob is Joyce’s adoring boyfriend and fills the recognizable role of the underdog high school geek who’s eager to please the girl he strove for all of high school and finally landed.
More than this, though, Bob becomes the heart-breaking hero of the second season–a tragic yet honorable character arc for a fantasy legend like Sean Astin.
Everything About Mad Max
Season two is the first time that viewers meet Mad Max, as she is initially referred to by the group due to them first recognizing her from her infamous arcade username, which is another added ’80s pleasure of the show.
Nicknamed after the famous post-apocalyptic franchise that arguably exploded in popularity with 1981’s The Road Warrior, Max has to gradually wedge her way into the party. But when she does finally earn her place, it’s as if she was always there to begin with.
Steve Pairing Up With Dustin
What at first feels like an unlikely pairing becomes one of the most touching relationships of the show, or at least of season two. Dustin has to resort to Steve’s help when he can’t get a hold of anyone else to help him deal with baby “demi-dog” Dart, but what begins as an association out of obligation becomes a meaningful friendship.
In fact, it’s one that sees Steve becoming a caring mentor for Dustin and ultimately pitches Steve’s character arc into an unexpected but wholly beloved direction.
Eleven & Hopper’s Father/Daughter Relationship
Season one left viewers in tantalizing curiosity about Eleven’s situation. The first season’s finale hinted at the fact that Hopper was in some way reaching out to Eleven, leaving food for her in the woods but that was about it.
Viewers couldn’t have known just how close the two would end being in season two, with Hopper effectively becoming Eleven’s adoptive father and filling a void in each of their lives.
Everything About Murray Bauman
Murray Bauman, hilariously played by Brett Gelman, brings some of the best comedic content to season two, becoming one of the show’s best supporting characters. He also becomes the narrative glue that holds the story together, enabling Barb’s death to be (finally) accounted for and her story to be tidily sealed up. This is something Stranger Things’ writers may have been eager to address, considering the fan outrage over Barb’s death in season one and the apparent lack of attention it got in-universe.
Bauman is also the reason Jonathan and Nancy finally recognize their love for each other, which makes him an all-around loveable character.
Nancy & Jonathan Make It Official
After the built-up tension over season one and then most of season two, viewers are relieved (or, depending on alliances, possibly peeved) when Nancy and Jonathan finally got together and made things official in the end of the second season.
No matter if fans were pro-Steve or pro-Jonathan (or neither), it’s at least a satisfying change of dynamic for the pair to admit there is something going on between them rather than dancing around the obvious for yet another season.
Eleven’s Mother Gets A Voice
It’s a fleeting moment, but a special one all the same. When Hopper and Joyce meet Eleven’s mother in season one, it’s painful to envision being in such a state as the woman is in — stuck in a loop of repeated words, completely dependent on her sister and unable to communicate with those around her.
Although her reality isn’t much different than the show’s present, Eleven’s brief communication with her in season two lends her mom at least a little more agency, showing that she does in fact have some awareness. This allows her to reunite with her daughter after all those years of waiting.
Lucas’s Family Gets Screen Time
Season one only allows viewers to get to know the Wheeler family and the Byers family, for the most part. Dustin and Lucas’s home life goes mostly undiscussed, which leaves a perfect opportunity for expanded storylines later in the show. Thankfully, this is something that the writers heartily fill.
Lucas’s family, in particular, is a pleasure to get to know, introducing his younger sister Erica, who instantly commands the screen and continues to do so in season three. Hopefully, there’ll be more of her in season four.
When Eleven steps into the Byers’ house at the end of the season, it’s like the merging of two worlds that were painstakingly kept separate for the entire season which, in a way, they were.
Mike’s reaction to Eleven’s presence triggers one of his most emotional scenes up until that point, even surpassing his response to Will’s perceived death. Even more poignant than the strife of the moment is the joy on the groups’ faces at having Eleven back.
Everything About Snowball
Ending the season with the Snowball, the annual school dance, instantly becomes the only way the season could have ended. Season one alluded to the dance, with Mike plucking up the courage to ask Eleven to go with him and thereby marking the start of their romance, but tragic circumstances cut their dreams short.
Ending the season with this scene was an easy crowd-pleaser, bringing the group together as a whole again and marking a pivotal point in their maturation–setting the stage for the next season, where these hints of growth mature into full teenagehood.