Writers already have plans for ‘future chapters’
We’ve still got to endure a few months wandering aimlessly in the Upside Down before Stranger Things returns for Season 2, but thankfully, we’re starting to get some intel on what we can expect in the upcoming episodes from the team behind the show.
At a recent Netflix red carpet, director and executive producer Shawn Levy offered Mashable some insight into the process of making Season 2 — including the abundance of plot ideas they came up with for the new installments.
“As the episodes were written by the Duffers, they realized that there was too much story for nine episodes. So it forced us to be judicious in which stories we tell this season,” Levy pointed out. “So one of the surprises was, not all of our grand ideas are going to be serviced in one season… If we had 40 ideas going into the season, 30 [we] are going to pick, and the rest go in the back of our head for, hopefully, future chapters.”
(Can Netflix just greenlight Season 3, already?)
But the true power of Stranger Things isn’t in the plot twists and genre trappings, but the relationships that deepen with every episode, according to Levy.
“As much density of story as our show has, we have to service the characters — and the moments and relationships between characters — above everything,” he noted. “If we stop being character-anchored, and we become pure genre, I think we take the beating heart out of Stranger Things, and we take the thing that people maybe don’t write articles about the most, but I think it’s what they love the most — these characters on screen.”
One big change for Season 2 will be the prominence of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) who spent most of Season 1 trapped in the Upside Down, communicating with his distraught mother via Christmas lights.
“When we cast the kids, we cast Noah Schnapp as Will Byers knowing that he was only in a small amount of Season 1 because he was missing. And we cast him because we knew that kid was special. Even if we weren’t going to call on his full reservoir of abilities in Season 1,” Levy said. “Will Byers is very much at the center of Season 2. Noah steps up in the most staggering way. The Duffers and I, depending on who’s directing when, we keep sending texts to each other going, ‘holy shit, Noah is crushing it’ and we knew he had it in him, and it’s really now to get in that moment, and put him firmly in the thick of story.”
Season 2 will also feature plenty of new cast members, including Lord of the Rings and Goonies star Sean Astin and Power Rangers breakout Dacre Montgomery, and their performances have shaped the way their characters are being written, Levy previewed.
“I will say that we have found the performances of our actors consistently inspiring, and bringing in people like Sean Astin; this new kid, Dacre Montgomery; this new kid, Sadie Sink… as we’ve seen the work they’re doing in episodes, the Duffers, recognizing strength, are making sure to service those characters even more over the course of the whole season,” he teased. “Perfect example, in Season 1, Steve Harrington was going to be a much more sparsely-used character. We saw what Joe Keery was doing, and we rewarded that with more story, more nuance, more dimension. The same thing is happening with a lot of the new characters this year.”
Since it’s set in the 1980s, Stranger Things is somewhat liberated from the political commentary that many current shows inadvertently find themselves addressing in the wake of November’s presidential election, but Levy pointed out that the show undoubtedly roots for the underdogs.
“The truth is, a lot of us have strong feelings. We’re wary about using Stranger Things, popular as it is, as some kind of soapbox or pulpit. There’s no question that at the bedrock of Stranger Things has always been this theme of the ones on the margin. The kids, the teens, the adults, everyone’s a little bruised — no one quite fits in, in a “normal” mainstream, popular way,” he noted. “I think the reason you have the show embraced, the way you have Barb embraced, is because everyone feels a little bit like that outcast, and our [series] shows the heroic in the difference. I love that about our show. That isn’t necessarily a literal commentary on things we see going on, but if it’s an unintentional commentary on our times, I’m thrilled by that.”
Stranger Things Season 2 premieres its nine episodes on October 31 on Netflix.
Reporting by Scott Huver.