Stranger Things 2 was released two weeks ago | Wikipedia

Johann Sebastian Bach starts each of his hun­dreds of fugues the same way: The master com­poser beckons forth a simple strain of melody before he reca­pit­u­lates the original tune. From there, he intro­duces a coun­ter­melody, piles on new tex­tures and styles, and reverses the original order of the notes. It all cul­mi­nates in glo­rious coun­ter­point as melodies and coun­ter­melodies unite.

After last week’s “Stranger Things 2” release, it seems Bach’s 300-year-old style hasn’t lost its power. The show’s cre­ators and writers, the Duffer brothers, assembled Season 2 like Bach wrote his fugues. As themes appear in their work, they overlap and create dis­so­nance until they inter­twine in har­mo­nious, revealing unity.

The Duffer brothers (iden­tical twins born in the year they set the show) ruined the first season’s tranquil ending as Will Byers, the Upside Down’s Season 1 captive, vomits up a slug-like creature. Such crea­tures of the Upside Down, a unearthly dimension, wreak havoc on Hawkins, Indiana, as Demodogs (new ver­sions of the Demogorgon) maul their human prey and the shadow monster threatens world destruction. Will Byers and his gaggle of ado­lescent friends face these mon­sters and far worse as more of the Upside Down emerges.

The sub­stantive sto­ryline could sell Season 2 without aid, but the Duffer brothers’ craft in pre­senting that sto­ryline deserves undi­vided attention. The show draws on many plot lines that coincide with one another and com­plement each other, espe­cially in the beginning of the season.

The initial episodes establish several plot­lines and tran­sition between threads until the final two chapters. In the season opener, Eleven’s back­story develops as she peeks through the cur­tains of her safe­house and finally ven­tures out on a voyage of self-dis­covery. Then the focus cuts to Will Byers suf­fering what doctors diagnose as flash­backs to his time in the Upside Down. Visions of an incredibly destructive force start to haunt the boy when the story switches over to Nancy and Steve, whose rela­tionship crumbles as they dis­agree about how to cope with her friend Barbara’s death.

Sub­plots rotate through the episodes just as dif­ferent instru­ments further develop a fugue’s motifs. This movement from subplot to subplot main­tains the sus­pense of the show while always driving the story forward, keeping the audience rapt and wanting more. The small-town rela­tion­ships of the char­acters force the plots to collide, overlap, and work together to advance the theme.

The brief foray into Eleven’s back­story is the only dis­sonant chord in the show. The dif­ferent strains are tied together by the prox­imity of living in the town together and the­matic resem­blance, i.e. the power of  friendship, family, and romantic love, but Eleven’s back­story doesn’t focus on that. It’s good that the Duffer Brothers are willing to take risks, but the episode seven fieldtrip out of Hawkins doesn’t justify the dis­cordant, big-city feel.

Despite straying from the original theme at times, the final episodes present a complex, mes­mer­izing cul­mi­nation as the Duffer Brothers achieve glo­rious coun­ter­point. The sep­arate plots con­verge in the final moments for a cathartic res­o­lution made perfect through hours of tor­menting sus­pense.

For this to affect a viewing, however, “Stranger Things” fans should watch the season in as con­cen­trated a period as pos­sible. The name of the show in itself sug­gests this: Netflix lists the new season as a sep­arate entity from its original — “Stranger Things 2,” rather than “Stranger Things: Season Two.” The dif­ference is subtle but pro­found. This is not an episodic show as much as it is a nine hour movie. Why would you stop reading a book when you only have eight chapters left? (It’s no coin­ci­dence that the episodes are called chapters.) And the teasers at the end of the episodes are so riv­eting it’s basi­cally impos­sible to pace yourself anyway, so you might as well do yourself a favor and enjoy the show in one or two sit­tings if you can. You won’t regret it, at least until grades come out.