Permeated with radiantly engrossing moments, grasping narratives and paroxysms of unexpected twists, Stranger Things Season 2, through its efforts at rekindling the emotional depth of the previous season, has not merely continued to but recreated the yardstick against which its conferred accolades can be measured and assessed.
A riveting sequel to the Netflix cult hit series, season 2 of Stranger Things is replete with newer revelations, daring turns of events, and heart-wrenching closures. However, the sprawling narratives are expertly woven with the threads of fear, power, and friendship, whose reiteration and reinvention have successfully steered the show into the path of inevitable success. The series had continued to unravel the mysteries that had accumulated in Stranger Things Season 1, ending with the return of Will Byers and the resulting reunion of friendship and family.
Representation Of Fear
Not unlike its predecessor, Stranger Things Season 2 is a treasure trove of innumerable arcana that skirts around the complexities of the Hawkins Lab experiments, as well as disclosing the identity and goals of the creatures lurking in the Upside Down. Will Byers takes over a predominant role on-screen, this time when numerous attempts were being made by his friends and family to check the veracity of his recurring hallucinations, only for the realization dawning on the characters and the viewers about the sordid reality of his visions. In this respect, the show has meticulously and assiduously portrayed a key theme: fear.
The representation of a crippling sense of ‘fear’ throughout the season is omnipresent, whose depiction is ensured through deep forebodings in diverse ways. These fearful apprehensions and premonitions are deeply interspersed with the concurrent narratives and are discernible to the audience in numerous arenas. These include flashbacks of Eleven’s past along with her solo journey of self-discovery, Will’s journey between the alternate worlds of the present world and the ‘Upside Down’ shrouded in premonitory visions, and an attack by the Demodogs prompting a gripping escapade, to name a few.
The events in Hawkins are set in a sordid backdrop; some of the symbols in this regard constitute barren lands, lack of quintessential glimmering features of urbanity, and the incident surrounding rotten pumpkins, to name a few. Yes, in addition to the previously mentioned episodes, the show has scrupulously delineated the representation of fear through the geographical setting (Hawkins) itself. The continuation of this practice, from the previous season, is peppered with intricate plotlines, numerous sub-layers of complexities, and a hike in character growth.
Mind Flayer – The Evil Shadow Monster Symbolizes Megalomania
Chapter 8 of Stranger Things Season 2 and the sixteenth episode of the series introduces the identity of the formidable antagonist, a tentacled spidery monster that, throughout the season, is seen hovering over Hawkins, petrifying Will, and creating him as a vessel for proceeding with his missions of eliminating the human world. The creature has been named, ‘Mind Flayer,’ an imaginary creature deriving its christening in the show from ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, a primary playtime activity amongst the children. The intriguing characteristic of the shadow monster, aka the Mind Flayer, aside from its amorphous nature, is its stark difference from a standard antagonist that lies in the inability to understand its purpose. In the episode, racism served as a plausible explanation for understanding its purpose. The ‘Mind Flayer’ was deemed the ‘master race’ that aimed to conquer the humans (the subordinate races). Besides the propounded theory, a panoramic view of the Mind Flayer’s actions clouds the specificity of its intentions enveloping them in mystery and making them open to diverse interpretations by the end of Stranger Things Season 2.
The enforced confusion amongst the viewers about the Mind Flayer has been answered by the show’s co-producer, Mark Duffer, who spoke in detail to Entertainment on this subject that, “There’s an H.P. Lovecraft sort of approach, this inter-dimensional being that is sort of beyond human comprehension.” The question that arises is, what are the essential traits possessed by the Mind Flayer for it to be rightfully labeled as a ‘megalomaniac.’ The satisfactory conjecture in this regard is contained in those responses to the question that is founded on the speculation of the entity carrying out the mission of a “master race.” In other words, if the Mind Flayer’s intentions lie in conquering and obliterating the subordinate races (the humans), then it is an exemplary strategist and a keen manipulator.
The creature has psychically controlled all the entities in the Upside Down, ranging from the Demodogs to the tendrils along with its former victim, Will Byers, who formed its armies and became complicit in undertaking its goals, one of which was exacting revenge on the Hawkin lab workers whose attempts at arson, were gruesomely reciprocated. Throughout, the Mind Flayer has been projected as an entity that bears the potential to possess, destroy, incite fear and create redoubtable accomplices for fulfilling its incomprehensible intentions, thus making it eligible as a metaphor for murderous, power-hungry dictators with a penchant for controlling and stretching their territorial boundaries. The true sense of its megalomania hinges on its perceived immortality and indestructibility portrayed at the series’ end when the creature is shown looming over the Upside-Down version of the Hawkins High school.
How Friendship Was Effective In Acquiring The ‘Happy Ending’
Stranger Things Season 2 does have a much a much-desired ‘happy-ending’ with the gripping struggles and unfolding mysteries culminating in the ‘Snow Ball,’ confirming the restoration of childhood innocence and the much-awaited reunion between Mike and Eleven. Friendship was reignited and redefined in this season and served as an effective catalyst for unraveling the secret about the Mind Flayer, be it in the form of the enviable bromance between Steve and Dustin or the recruitment of ‘Mad Max’ in the quartet.
Remnants of childhood friendship can be discerned in the form of the parallels drawn between the revelation about the Mind Flayer and Demodogs and the game of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’, frequently played by the boys. Ranging from piecing the puzzles of the complex secrets to collectively fighting the demodogs, Stranger Things Season 2 unveils the emotional depth of the characters and their respective emotional investments in every attempt to uncover the truth. The heightened effectiveness of friendship intertwined with childhood innocence played a seminal role in bringing about the resolution.
Stranger Things is a 2016 Fantasy Horror Television Series streaming on Netflix.