12:00pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Stranger Things' Binge-Watching Guide: The Best Way to Consume Season 2
Who's ready to flip their weekend Upside Down?
The full second season of Stranger Things arrives on Netflix imminently, the first new stories set in the world of Hawkins and the deadly dimension bubbling within its shadows since the series premiered out of nowhere in July 2016. In that time, names like Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown have become world renown, the word "Demogorgon" has entered the vernacular, and any sign of a nosebleed instantly triggers thoughts of telekinesis. With the arrival of season two, those sensations will only be amplified in the weeks and months ahead.
Given its status as a Netflix original, the entirety of season two will be available at once for bingeing consumption. But is it really wise to power through the entirety of season two in a single shot? After so much time away from Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and so much time thinking about what fresh new horrors await poor Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), shouldn't die-hard viewers want to at least try to savor Stranger Things season two instead of rushing right through it?
Of course not.
With that said, there are little things like "school," or "work," or "other assorted obstacles produced by the state of living," all of which conspire to keep fans from watching Stranger Things in a single sitting. Those with a mostly free and clear weekend will be able to get through all of season two in time for Monday's water cooler conversation, particularly for those who play along with the following spoiler-free binge guide:
Launch Time: Chapter 1
Stranger Things premieres on Netflix at midnight PST. For those on the west coast, it's not asking too much to stay up an hour or so later than usual in order to indulge the first new episode of the Duffer Brothers series right at launch. Other time zones? Mileage may vary. The other option would be to wake up much earlier than usual, consume this first episode, then take a step back to let the first installment soak in and to speculate about how the rest of the season will follow up on the opening hour's various set-ups.
Friday Night: Chapters 2, 3 and 4
Yes, it's very likely fans may have a Halloween party to attend. Cancel it. If that's not an option, show up for as long as required, then head home and strap in for a late night horror show. The first four episodes of the Netflix series play out almost as a mini-movie on their own, with some built-in cliffhangers designed to keep viewers pushing forward at a rapid pace. For example, the end of episode three makes it impossible not to continue on right away. By episode four, you'll want to start resting up, and at least give your mind the opportunity to flay around with some brand new nightmares.
Saturday Morning: Chapters 5 and 6
These two episodes launch viewers into the back half of the season, where the action understandably intensifies from all that's come before — both in terms of massive scale, and also in terms of some more intimate character notes. There's one person in particular who undergoes some crucial reinvention, with a performance guaranteed to reach right into your gut and twist everything around. While the sixth hour's ending will make many want to plug straight back into the series, there's no need to rush ahead.
Saturday Afternoon: Chapter 7
As the Duffers and fellow executive producer Shawn Levy all said in their interview with THR, season two was designed to honor the first iteration of Stranger Things, while also taking the series to the next level. Expansion and elaboration are two of the e-words on the mind of this season. Another E-word is very much on the mind this season, as expounded upon in the seventh chapter, best viewed on its own with a lunch break and/or outside stroll separating it from chapters five and six. Got another Halloween party to attend? Go do that afterwards, then come home and prepare for a late night finale.
Saturday Night: Chapters 8 and 9
Those can make it through the penultimate chapter of the series without launching immediately into the finale have an admirable will power. Combining the two installments in a single sitting gives it an appropriately epic sense of momentum, the right way to close out the season. Those who have stuck to the script with this guide will reach the final hours in the dead of Saturday night — the perfect time to wade through the propulsive last act, which also serves as the final notes on these characters until who knows when; season three, while inevitable, has not been officially announced yet, certainly not with a release date in mind. Savor the Stranger Things flavor with these final two episodes, then, because there's no guarantee when fans are going to get another new taste of the Upside Down.
Sunday: Back to Start
The good news about finishing season two with an extra weekend day to spare? There's enough time to binge through it all over again! Use Sunday to start the whole thing all over again, or to instead cherry-pick favorite scenes from the season. Couldn't get enough of that scene when [redacted] and [redacted] went out and [redacted] against the [redacted]? Same here! Go watch that again, or any of the other number of [redacted] moments along the way. Those who have a time for a quick refresher will be more than adequately prepared to dominate the Monday morning conversation about all things Stranger Things — just don't be that guy in public who ruins it for all the people who weren't able to binge the season in a single 48-hour span. Not everyone's quite so dedicated to staring at a screen all weekend long.
Follow THR.com/StrangerThings for more season two coverage, including interviews, deep dives and more.