The second seasons of Stranger Things finally hit Netflix just days before Halloween, and if you’re anything like me (and probably millions of others), you scheduled a nice block of binging time over the weekend to power through all nine episodes. While this article isn’t exactly a critical review of the season as a whole, I do want to mention that Stranger Things 2 was almost as good as the first batch of episodes that became a surprise hit in 2016.
It was almost impossible to live up to that ground breaking debut season, but creators Matt and Ross Duffer expertly delivered a second chapter of the tale that maintained the spooky 80s nostalgic atmosphere, while still opening up the mystery of Hawkins, Indiana a little bit more. But if you think that Season Two was going to answer all your questions and wrap things up with a neat, tidy bow… well, you were wrong.
There’s been no official announcement that Netflix will green light a third season of Stranger Things, although it certainly feels like it’s just a matter of time. The Duffer Brothers have already confirmed they are working on it, so the announcement is really just a formality. Plus, the second season ended with a bunch of mysteries still to solve. With the third season likely being another year away (Halloween 2018 is a safe bet), here are 12 burning questions we still have about Will, Eleven, Hopper, and the rest of the characters from the strange town of Hawkins.
**SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS ALLLLLLLLLL THE SPOILERS FROM STRANGER THINGS 2. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.**
Will Eleven and Max Become Friends?
It took forever, but Eleven was finally reunited with her friends in the final episode of Season Two, just in time to save their butts from a pack of Demidogs and the Mind Flayer/Shadow Monster. With the Department of Energy finally hightailing it out of town thanks to Nancy and Jonathan exposing their role in the death of Barb Holland, it would appear that Eleven is now free to live her life like a normal kid. Hopper is given a birth certificate for “Jane” and will likely adopt her for good.
But the party has another female member, Mad Max. There was only a single interaction between Eleven and Maxine (plus an earlier scene were El watched Mike and Max fight/flirt through a window), but it’s safe to say their relationship is frosty, at best. The struggle to be the only female in a group of friends that is traditionally made up of four males could lead to jealously and infighting — especially as all the kids hit puberty and romantic sparks were seen flying at the Snow Ball ’84. Or will they manage to find a happy equilibrium?
How Did One Demodog Become More Than One?
Everyone knew that cute little Dart wasn’t going to turn into a loving pet for Dustin, especially when it decided to chow down on the family cat and revealed the same petal-shaped face as the Demogorgon from Season One. I actually assumed that it would eventually continue to molt and grow into a fully adult Demogorgon, but that never happened. Instead, it stayed on four legs and was cleverly coined as a demodog (it’s a compound, guys!) by Dustin. But suddenly, Dart had company. A whole pack of demodogs sprung up in the junkyard and almost killed Steve before being summoned back.
But where did they come from? Were there more little slug things floating around Hawkins, other than Dart? Did Dart somehow reproduce (perhaps asexually) and make more? Or did they just emerge from the gate to the Upside Down, before the scientists learned how far down the infection has spread? There was never really an answer.
Will Joyce and Jim Finally Hook Up?
The sparks have been flying between Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper since Season One, but both of them continue to be reluctant to act on their obvious mutual attraction. And maybe that makes sense, since Joyce is divorced and Will and Jonathan’s father is obviously not around. In Hopper’s case, he lost his only daughter to cancer when she was young, sending him into a bout with alcoholism that led to a divorce of his own. There’s some seriously traumatic wounds involved here, but I think it’s about time they started to heal.
For starters, we already saw Joyce get back into the dating scene by linking arms with safe, reliable Bob Newby. Meanwhile, Hopper attempts to heal his own wounds by playing father figure to Eleven, keeping her hidden and safe from the “Bad Men” who want to capture her for testing and various other shady reasons. Like the reclusive conspiracy theorist (and vodka enthusiast) Murray Bauman said about Nancy and Jonathan, Joyce and Hopper have “shared trauma,” an important building block of any relationship. In fact, they have even more of it after the events of Season Two. It seems inevitable that they will end up together in the end, but will it happen in Season Three?
What’s Up With Billy?
One of the strangest new characters in Season Two was Billy Hargrove, played by the excellent Dacre Montgomery. The chiseled, long-haired hunk from California blasted into Hawkins with mid-80’s hair metal pounding out of the speakers of his Chevy Camaro. He’s also the older step-brother of Max, and he has a strange combination of indifference and protectiveness towards his unwelcome new sibling.
Billy challenges Steve for the unofficial title of “coolest guy in school,” and generally appears to be winning the fight. He’s also a little bit racist, demanding that Max not spend time with Lucas (but apparently having no problem with any of her other new friends). Plus, he seems really into Michael’s mother, which was just plain creepy. In the end, we see that most of his behavior stems from having an abusive father, so he’s just continuing the circle.
In Season One, everyone thought Steve was a real douchebag until he completed his turnaround and morphed into a standup guy. Can Billy have a similar character arc, or is he doomed to remain an annoying antagonist in Season Three?
Will Dustin or Hopper Have a Connection to the Upside Down?
For two seasons now, the main human connection to the Upside Down has been Will Byers. He was trapped there in Season One and that connection lingers to create the events of Season Two, including him throwing up a small slug that eventually grew into Dart and his “now memories” leading to the Mind Flayer possessing his body for a while. We don’t think the kids from Hawkins are through dealing with the Upside Down though, so we have to wonder who else might become afflicted.
Both Hopper and Dustin were sprayed with some sort of liquid (or was it dust?) when in the tunnels underneath Merril’s Pumpkin farm. Was that merely a deterrent by the Mind Flayer or could either of those characters (maybe both of them) now be infected with some sort of virus — whether it’s another slug or something entirely different. Since the next season is likely to take place roughly a year later, we should watch out for anything strange happening with Dustin or Hopper. The Mind Flayer may be playing the long game.
What About The Other “Numbered Kids”?
For the first time, Stranger Things gave us a little glimpse at what we already assumed was the case — there are more people out there like Eleven. After seeking out her birth mother, Eleven attempts to track down her “sister,” a British girl named Kali who has unique powers of her own. As they bond over their traumatic childhood, it’s revealed through a wrist tattoo that Kali is number Eight.
Naturally, we wonder what became of numbers One through Seven, or even Nine or Ten for that matter. Was Eleven the last child experiment, or does Twelve (and beyond) exist somewhere too? We see that Eleven’s mother has extensive files on other missing children that she presumes were abducted by Dr. Brenner. If the series does end up going four or five seasons like the Duffers have suggested, it’s possible that we’ll see more of these neglected children (assuming there are others who managed to escape the Lab with their lives).
How Will The Steve/Nancy/Jonathan Love Triangle Play Out?
“How was the pull out?”
Stranger Things may not be comedy, but that line legitimately made me laugh out loud. It was a great tension-breaking moment after Nancy and Jonathan spent the night together following multiple episodes of romantic tension. But it’s not as simple as that, since Nancy began Season Two the same way she ended Season One — romantically attached to Steve. But Nancy gets drunk at a party and calls their entire relationship “buls**t,” leading to a rocky not-quite-official-but-seems-pretty-official break-up.
Steve, still proudly wearing the helpful good guy hat, shoves his relationship problems aside to help Dustin and the boys in their battles against the demodogs and the Mind Flayer. However, as he offers Dustin tips on the finer points of seduction, it’s clear that Steve still loves Nancy. Will they rekindle their relationship and once again leave Jonathan on the outside, looking in? Steve is technically one year older than Nancy, and should be headed to college next Fall when the show resumes. Fortunately for Steve fans, the show already mentioned a plan to keep him in town — working for his dad while he sticks around Hawkins to be with Nancy
Will Dr. Owens Return?
Paul Reiser was one of the best new additions to the cast of Stranger Things, playing the role of Dr. Sam Owens — the man now in charge of Hawkins Laboratory after the demise (?) of the sadistic Dr. Brenner. The new head doctor is much more personable, and seems to genuinely want to help the ailing Will. He’s also way more accommodating when it comes to dealing with Hopper. If Dr. Brenner was one of the bad guys in Season One, Dr. Owens is just a good guy trying to clean up the mess.
We see at the end of the season that Dr. Owens survived a nasty bite by one of the demodogs, but his future in unclear. After the Lab gets exposed (thanks to the clever moves of Nancy and Jonathan), most of the staff resigns, is fired, or ends up arrested. Will there still be a mess for Owens to clean up in Season Three, or will Reiser’s role be casually written out? His scientific knowledge makes him a strong ally for the good guys, but his association with the Lab may ruin his professional career.
Unlike Dr. Owens, there’s no question whether Bob Newby will return. Joyce’s nerdy boyfriend, played by Sean Astin, unfortunately sacrifices himself in order for Hopper, Joyce, Will, and Mike to escape the Lab overrun by demodogs. And then he barely gets a mention for the rest of Season Two, other than a picture of “Super Bob Newby” hung on Will’s bedroom wall. Joyce didn’t even seem that upset about his gruesome death, leading many fans to ask whether Season Three will offer us #JusticeForBob.
If you’re a casual (or new) fan of the show, you might not realize there was a large #JusticeForBarb movement after Season One ended with Nancy’s best friend was left dead in the Upside-Down. The Duffer Brothers promised that her story would be given closure in Season Two, which was accomplished by “watering down” the truth so that Barb’s parents could finally accept that their daughter was gone. We don’t know if Bob has any other family that will miss him, but he’s been in Hawkins most of his life (it’s confirmed that Joyce and Bob went to high school together), so he likely has roots in the community. How will his death be spun to the public?
Is Dr. Brenner Still Alive?
Everyone assumed that Dr. Brenner, or “Papa” as Eleven calls him, was dead being attacked by the Demogorgon in the climax of Season One. On the other hand, the camera cut away from the scene before the audience could confirm his demise. Decades of watching television have taught us this very important rule — no death is confirmed unless you see the body.
When Eleven and Kali track down Ray, the lab technician who hurt El’s mother, he tries to bargain for his life by offering the powerful sisters information on Brenner’s whereabouts. When Eleven says that Brenner is dead, Ray emphatically disagrees. Could Dr. Brenner have somehow escaped his encounter with the Demogorgon and slithered off into the night?
Actor Matthew Modine actually returned to the cast for Season Two, just to film a few short flashback sequences. If the character is still alive somewhere, his knowledge of the Upside-Down, Eleven’s powers, and even the Mind Flayer could be extremely valuable in Season Three — if Hopper or Eleven don’t kill him on first sight, that is.
Is The Gate Closed For Good?
One of the (admittedly small) problems I had with Season Two of Stranger Things was that it took forever for Eleven to be reunited with her friends. I can understand why they had to be separated at the start, but I felt like a reunion somewhere in episode six or seven would have been best, giving them the final couple of episodes to once again work together as a team to stop the evil things attempting to invade Hawkins (and their friend Will). Sadly, the reunion only happens in the very last episode before Hopper hustles Eleven back to the Lab in order to shut the gate the Upside-Down, which has grown significantly since Season One.
Eleven succeeds in using her powers to close the gate, even as the Mind Flayer lingers on the other side. But it’s unlikely that’s the end of the story. The final shot of Season Two flips the scene at the Snow Ball dance upside down, and shows the Mind Flayer paying close attention to the High School gym, where all of the kids (but especially Eleven) are currently trying to be normal. The Mind Flayer almost certainly is planning his next move, but what will it be?
Can he re-open the gate somehow? What about the dead demodog that Dustin and Steve left in the fridge at the Byers’ house? We know that the Mind Flayer and his minions love things cold. Could the refrigerated demodog somehow spring back to life? Could is molt again and become a full-grown Demogorgon? Most importantly, could it be the key that the Mind Flayer needs to reopen the gate into Hawkins?
What Exactly Is The Upside Down?
This was the biggest question I had before Season Two. Now that I’m all caught up again, it’s still the biggest question. The Upside-Down, this dark parallel dimension that has all of the same geography and buildings as the real world, remains a mystery. Here’s what we do know: the gate to the Upside-Down was opened when Eleven experiences intense emotion as she was experimented on in Hawkins Lab. It contains no humans, but is instead inhabited by strange deadly creatures, such as the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer, and some sort of living vine. We learn in Season Two that the entire universe may be connected by a hive mind, presumably with the Mind Flayer in charge.
Beyond that, we don’t know much else. The Duffer Brothers have said they have a 30-page document about the Upside-Down — it’s rules, characteristics, physics, inhabitants, and indeed, it’s very purpose for existing. I can understand that they can’t give away all the secrets at once, but I’m hopeful that Season Three will continue to peel back the layers on the Upside-Down. Fans can accept some mystery, but mysteries eventually need to be solved.