Season 2 wastes no time throwing us back into the world of 80's nostalgia and the Upside Down, with a blend of new additions and familiar faces, all on collision course with a clear and present danger always lurking in the shadows.
Here are my top 5 takeaways from episode 1, entitled MadMax.
- Undoubtedly, the kids are the lifeblood of this series. Portraying characters that feel ripped from the annals of Amblin Entertainment, each brings an authenticity to life as a kid growing up in the 80's. Bashing in piggy banks to find quarters needed to spend an afternoon in the arcade trying to nail top score on Dragon's Lair or Dig Dug was a right of passage, and this show gets it right. Set it all to the musical stylings of Devo, The Romantics, and The Scorpions, and the stage is set for a glorious return to the greatest decade. (Don't @ me on this, I'm right.)
2. New Faces
- Right from the onset, the action is dialed up as we follow a group of teens trying to evade police cars, only to find out at least one of them is harboring a secret. The camera glances on the arm of one girl, identifying her as 008, and she seems pretty comfortable using her "powers" to her advantage. We knew Eleven wasn't alone in that facility she came from, and it looks like we will get a glimpse into more like her.
- The titular character of the episode, Maxine (Sadie Sink), or Mad Max, is an intriguing addition. Clearly aloof and angry, not much is revealed as to her direction in the series other than her ability to skateboard and play arcade games. I'm sort of hoping she turns out to be an ally to the group; a Beverly if you will.
- Poor Will. He spent most of season 1 stuck in the horrors of the Upside Down, and he's still haunted by the all too real images of that experience. Credit young Noah Schnapp, who brings such a genuine feel to the character. He just wants to move on with life, but friends pussyfoot around him, strangers look sideways at him, and his mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) is understandingly paranoid that he'll be taken away again, enabling herself to smother his every move outside the house. Add to that the fact monster(s) still lurk and aren't afraid to let him know it.
4. Is That Paul Reiser?
- Nothing says therapy session like the guy from Mad About You. Reiser is Dr. Sam Owens, Will's doctor with a good bedside manner and a hidden agenda. Expect Owens to be a dick, and the agents listening in on his conversations to be even bigger dicks. No doubt there will be plenty of government type conspiracies blowing around this season, and it'll be interesting to see Reiser playing in that sandbox.
5. Where's Barb?
- Okay, the whole Barb thing was sort of fun for a while after season 1, but the Emmy nod for Shannon Purser for such a small role seemed a bit much. Nothing against Purser's turn, but the sample size didn't seem large enough for such accolades. Nonetheless, here we are. I can't help but think a Barb storyline was intentionally built into this season because of the popularity of the character. Her distraught but hopeful parents have hired a private investigator to find their daughter. This could be intriguing, but I really hope this doesn't turn into a red herring that distracts too much from the principle narrative.
Episode Grade - A
Up Next: Episode 2 - Trick or Treat, Freak