After the second season of 'Stranger Things' has come and gone, it is time to assess how the series and its young cast have grown since season one. With a completely revamped cast and a step back from the tunnel-vision of Hawkins, Indiana, have the Duffer brothers found their perfect sequel? Or does the brothers' attempt to super-size their series in season two feel forced and stunted?

The growing pains of season two

After three months, it feels as though the dust has finally settled after the premiere of the second season of the hit Netflix original series, 'Stranger Things'.

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And one thing is for certain in the new season, the Duffer brothers showed no fear in throwing around some new, experimental ideas. Along with a slew of new cast members including Sean Astin (better known as Samwise Gamgee in the 'Lord of the Rings') and Sadie Sink, the Duffer brothers decided to expand the scope of the show beyond the humdrum, if not somewhat oblivious, town of Hawkins.

The question after three months remains, however, if any of these new ideas have stuck or, if after all is said and done, they have merely settled with the dust.

The second season of 'Stranger Things' kicks off in a high, if not unfamiliar, gear for the series. With a name like “MADMAX,” it should come as no surprise that the first chapter starts off roaring through the streets of Chicago alongside its new, vigilante mindbender, Kali (Linnea Berthelsen).

Already in this opening scene, the asphyxia of Hawkins which once plagued the first season has been drawn back, and we find ourselves within the familiar comfort of a good-old-fashioned car chase. And yet, despite the adrenaline of the season’s high-octane opening, this isn’t the start fans bargained for. We haven’t lined up for the next "Fast and Furious" flick.

No. Instead, we’ve been waiting patiently by our computers, clutching our chairs in the swirling anticipation of that Netflix buffer from which we fully expect to descend into a fit of asphyxia. We expect nothing less. I mean, this is what makes "Stranger Things" "Stranger Things," right?

Much of the appeal of the first season came from the claustrophobia of the Duffer brothers' expansive narrative wriggling within the confines of the small town of Hawkins. Indeed, these kinds of mismatches have come to define "Stranger Things." Like a bodybuilder wearing a tight T-shirt, the series knows how to flex its muscles when the proportions don’t seem right. Take the series’ young cast for example. When first pitching the series, nearly 20 networks turned the Duffer brothers down because they thought people wouldn’t like watching young, leading roles. However, these networks could not have been more wrong. Not only did the young cast rise to the occasion, but in doing so, they revealed the series’ greatest strength: overcoming its disproportions.

Whether it be in the talent of actors such as Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard overcoming their age, the fact that a bunch of preteens and a local Police Chief set out to save the world as they know it (i.e. Hawkins), or even the ambition to pass an 80s pastiche onto the sensibilities of a 21st century audience, "Stranger Things" is a story about the struggles of disproportion. It’s from the cramped tension of these mismatches that the Duffer brothers gave birth to something truly special. And yet, after only two seasons, it seems as though the series is already experiencing some Growing Pains.

These pains become instantly apparent in the second season as new characters such as Kali and new locations such as Chicago are introduced. With these additions, something just feels out-of-place, like the series is trying to put on an older sibling’s clothes. In trying to accommodate the growing scope of their project, it seems the Duffer brothers have lost sight of the series’ humble beginning, throwing in seemingly superfluous characters such as the private investigator, Murray Bauman (Bret Gelman), or adding Chicago as an all-too-brief interlude in an attempt to deepen Eleven’s character development (ultimately, all she gains is some hair gel and eyeliner).

In the end, the season begins to fall back on cheap hand-me-downs such as the odd car chase or discovering a revelation in the incoherent mumbling of a madwoman reminiscent of the directorial coup de gras of the beloved "Game of Thrones" character, Hodor. It just all feels like fluff, a distraction from the real, disproportionate struggle of Hawkins and its young inhabitants.

In introducing new characters and places in season two, the Duffer brothers essentially pass the buck—decide it’s time for a bigger pair of shoes. As they said in an interview, “If you have a successful movie, No. 2 is always bigger.” And yet, as season two of 'Stranger Things' has proven, bigger isn’t always better. Throughout the season, the world as we know it extends from Hawkins to Chicago, and the weight of the mystery surrounding the small town gets passed on from the kids to new characters such as Murray Bauman. Pretty soon all the scales of disproportion are balanced. Hawkins and its band of young actors are put into perspective and, in the end, "Stranger Things" feels just that little bit less strange.

The successes of season 2 and the promise of season 3

The one episode in the second season where 'Stranger Things' feels like 'Stranger Things' is in the second chapter. This is where the season should have started—not with a band of new characters running around Chicago, but with Millie Bobbie Brown waking up in the Upside Down. Not only does chapter two pick up where the first season left off, but it also fills in some gaps leftover from the previous season. PTSD finally becomes a topic, and the Duffer brothers do a nice job of showing how each character is coping with the trauma of the events from season one.

Whether it be Nancy getting drunk and calling out Steve, Will’s flashes of the Upside Down, Mike’s desperation in searching for Eleven, or even his frustration at seeing her replaced by the new girl, Max, the second chapter promised a season that would outgrow its growing pain. However, the rest of the season did not deliver on this promise. Instead of letting its plot and cast develop naturally, the Duffer Brothers forced the series' growth with a new wardrobe and a bigger stage. Unfortunately, the series wasn’t quite ready for this move. Both the young cast and Hawkins needed to ease into their expanding roles. They needed to grow, but not quite so fast.

After all is said and done, however, it is understandable why the Duffer brothers chose to take the leap that they did in season two. The brothers were starting to feel that the series' disproportions were becoming unconvincing. “They’re going to have to get the f**** out of this town,” Ross Duffer said in an interview, Vulture reported. “It’s ridiculous!” And it's true. At some points in season one, it becomes strange that all this mystery is somehow quarantined to the small town of Hawkins. However, I wouldn’t say “ridiculous.” Just strange. And what’s wrong with being just that bit stranger? Well, evidently, enough for the Duffer brothers to give their show an overhaul—some bigger shoes. Enough to make them choose to “focus on elevated genre with focus on characters,” and to say, “no more kids on bikes.” But, when you take away the kids on bikes, all you’re left with is a car chase. Surely even the most lackluster fan of "Stranger Things" can tell that this is a bad fit for the series.

In the end, for a show which has shown growing pains since their first pitch, it’s time for 'Stranger Things' to do what it does best: grow. Hopefully, in season three, the Duffer brothers will give the series a chance to do so—this time, however, on its own terms. Sure, it might seem disproportionate and strange at first, but hey, stranger things have happened. Now, let's make sure they never stop.