Of all the new characters added in “Stranger Things” season two, I like Max the best.
Well, Max, and the new Department of Energy guy who gets Eleven a birth certificate. He’s pretty solid too.
The problem with Max in season two is that she doesn’t really get the opportunity to do anything. She’s relegated to being an object for most of the story. Her presence serves to drive a wedge between various characters in the show.
Dustin and Lucas fight over Max, all while she’s blissfully unaware of the love triangle that’s forming around her. Eleven sees Max with Mike at one point and gets so mad she skips town, because that makes sense.
Max is an object of desire in both instances. She exists to create jealousy and tension, but doesn’t actually make an impact on the narrative.
Which is a particular shame considering she’s a wonderful character with a lot of personality, played by a very talented young actor. Sadie Sink is fantastic, and she really needs more to do in this show.
My hopes may be realized soon enough. Set photos show a scene in the upcoming third season in which Max and Eleven are spending time together.
(I should probably point out that Millie Bobby Brown’s stunt double is filling in during this scene as the real actor has injured her knee, but she was on-set wearing the same outfit.)
This isn’t much, but it’s enough to make me hope that Max will be more fully integrated into the group, and that we’ll be able to see some genuine friendship between her and Eleven.
Character Moments Matter
This may seem like a small thing, but it’s vitally important to the cohesion of season three that we get to see Max and Eleven interacting together.
The forced separation in season two damages both characters, as they almost feel interchangeable in the narrative. They both perform the role of Token Girl within their friendship group, and the fact that they never even so much as say a word to each other shows the story’s imbalanced nature.
Whether they’re friends or frenemies this time around, it’s important to see the characters interacting. Otherwise their lives feel incomplete, as if they only exist in relation to the males in their lives, rather than actually being part of the story as a whole.
This is particularly true for Max. Eleven’s journey of self-discovery is a big part of the series, so nobody could accuse the writers of skimping on her character. But when she lashes out at Max in season two, it feels unnatural and unearned. It’s all about keeping her arbitrarily separated from the group, and, by extension, from allowing Max to learn the full story of what’s going on.
An End to Divide and Conquer
If season two is all about keeping the young cast separate and divided, I’d really like to see a season two that instead brings this core group back together. It’ll be more satisfying from a character development standpoint.
The key to making both Max and Eleven feel like wholly realized characters is to allow them to interact with each other. Thus, Max becomes more than simply an appendage to Lucas, and Eleven is allowed the next logical step in her social development.
Believe it or not, fiction is stronger when the female characters don’t hate each other for no reason without ever engaging in conversation.