Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Chapter One: MADMAX

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It's been a long time, but Stranger Things is finally back!

Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1 picked up around a year after the events of Stranger Things Season 1, and everything appeared to be back to normal in town. 

They're Back! - Stranger Things

There was no young girl with powers roaming the woods, and there was little to no mention of what happened in town during the horrible battle at the school which saw Eleven apparently give up her life. 

What was great about this episode is that we got a lot more Will than ever before. He was missing for much of Stranger Things Season 1, so this was his time to shine, and it's becoming increasingly more apparent that he will never be over what happened in The Upside Down. 

The "episodes" he had throughout the opening episode proved he still had a journey to take, and that did not involve him returning to his old life and hanging around with his friends. 

It's no wonder that he seemed distracted. How can he be expected to act like a kid when he's seeing flashes of the little town of Hawkins being destroyed by another alien?

Stranger Things Season 2 Poster

It was awful that kids were putting things in his locker calling him a zombie. Even if the episodes were a thing of the past, someone at the school would find a way to terrorize the kid. 

I'm not sold on the intentions of Dr. Owens, either. Anyone with any affiliation to the Hawkins Laboratory is not to be trusted. They were all sitting behind the monitor watching the kid have his check-up. 

It was a beautiful touch to have Hopper attend the appointments with Joyce. After everything Joyce went through when she thought her son was dead, it's excellent that Hopper is still around for moral support. 

However, a part of me hoped we would pick up with the two of them together, but then it would have been challenging to bring Eleven back into the fold. I can't be the only one who choked on my popcorn when it was revealed Eleven was Hopper's roommate. 

Will's Appointment - Stranger Things

I was so intrigued to find out who opened the door. At one point, I even scratched my head thinking Hopper had a cool door lock isn't even available in 2017. 

Now that we know Eleven is in the care of Hopper, it makes sense that the police chief will remain a recluse to keep her safe. The way he acted towards the reporter made sense. 

He did not want to bring any unwanted attention to the supernatural things going on in town. It was fun to watch him laugh off the claims to make the reporter feel like he was being ridiculed. 

It was an excellent way to make the man think twice about his claims, but he seems like he's going to be tenacious in getting the truth, and that's going to be one of the more exciting plot strands. 

A New Arrival - Stranger Things

Out of the new characters, Max seems like she is going to have a big part to play. I laughed out loud when she left the note in the trash can for the boys to find. 

They may think she's not that smart, but she's already beaten them on games at the arcade, so they should maybe start practicing if they want to get the upper hand. 

There's got to be a reason for Max and her brother moving from California to Hawkins, and that will likely be explored. A parking lot did seem like a very public place for them to bicker. 

Will the boys look to Max as the new Eleven? It's quite possible. 

MADMAX - Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1

All poor Mike wanted was for his friend to make her way back into his life. A part of him probably felt sad because it seemed like she gave up her life to save everyone. 

Keith: You want information, then I need something in return.
Mike: No, no, no. No way. You're not getting a date with her.
Lucas: Mike, come on, just get him the date.
Mike: I'm not prostituting my sister!

His parents confirmed that he's been acting out, and that is his own way of coping with such a significant loss. He may not have known Eleven for very long before she disappeared, but she had such a profound impact on his life that he could become an old man and still wonder what became of her. 

The opening scene was the biggest shocker. It was visually stunning and kept me enthralled from start to finish. Now we have confirmation there were subjects before Eleven, we need to meet them to get more details about what the frack is going on. 

Eight putting that vision into the police officer's mind was a stroke of genius. Eight is someone I would very much like to see in the present narrative on the show. 

She could prove integral to making Eleven understand her powers. 

Stray Thoughts:

  • Did anyone else shed a tear for Barb's parents? Their daughter being missing is one thing, but selling their home to find her is another. It was painful to watch because we already know there is nothing to find. 
  • How long will it be before Nancy cracks and confirms Barb is dead to her parents?
  • Oh, and please just cut the Nancy/Jonathan/Steve love triangle out. We could be doing without that. 
  • What the hell was hanging around in Dustin's trash can?

"MADMAX" was a solid way to start things off. It set the tone for what is sure to be a riveting season of this hit Netflix drama series. 

Over to you, Stranger Things Fanatics. What did you think of all the developments?

Hit the comments below!

Return to TV Fanatic over the next few days as we review the whole season!

Chapter One: MADMAX Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
  • 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (92 Votes)

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Stranger Things Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

Dusty: Son of a bitch! Son of a bitch! Another stupid penny.
Mother: Dusty! Watch it, you almost hit Mews.

Nancy: What the hell are you doing?
Mike: I'll pay you back!