By now, you may very well have locked the doors, barred the windows, and broken out the celebratory Eggos following the long anticipated release of Stranger Things Season 2 – and boy, what a season it was.
Turning things way past 11 yet again, the Duffer Brothers have knocked us for a loop in a sterling binge session, but in that time of government conspiracies and supernatural occurrences, was there anything in those hair-raising nine episodes you may have missed? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Reaching levels of detection that would make even Sheriff Hopper tip his hat in approval, the entire series was turned upside down and inside out to ensure not a thing was missed. So was there anything of note in between close encounters with Demodogs and Eleven giving a number of poor souls the telekinetic stink eye? Well, of course there was – this wouldn’t be much of a list if there wasn’t, would it?
Get the wrist rocket ready and step into the unknown with the 16 Things You May Have Missed In Stranger Things Season 2.
16. Cliff Jumping
When Stranger Things hit the scene, we were overwhelmed with a brilliant series that made every effort to give its respectable nods to some real movie classics. Now with a critically acclaimed debut season under its belt, The Duffer Brothers can make their own in-jokes that will have fans sniggering at, and they kick things off from the very first episode.
After getting caught stealing money from Nancy, Mike gets put in check by his parents, who are still clueless to their son’s supernatural shenanigans. Reeling off a growing rap sheet since Eleven’s disappearance, it’s revealed that Mike has also plagiarized a school paper and vandalized school property. His immediate response for the latter is that “everyone graffitis on the bathroom stall“, to which his father responds with the classic old retort of “if your friend jumps off a cliff, you’re going to jump too?”
15. The Red Ranger
As great as it is to be reacquainted with some of Hawkins colourful characters, there’s a few unfamiliars who plant their feet in the second season and keep them there to stand out for better or worse. One such performance is Dacre Montgomery, who plays the new rough and tough antagonist Billy. This rebel without a cause is brilliantly portrayed by Montgomery, who makes a huge shift from the previous breakout role audiences may be familiar with.
Behind that carefully moulded mullet and double denim combo, Montgomery is actually the 22-year old star who took point as the Red Ranger in the latest big screen adaptation of Power Rangers. He did a great job there and he doesn’t look to be breaking his stride with Stranger Things, either.
Though he may not be as noble or heroic as his former zord-riding alter-ego, his turn as new bully on the block is easily one of the show’s highlights and a character we hope to see more of when season three rolls around.
14. 11 = 515
It’s no spoiler to reveal that Eleven’s number wasn’t up at the end of the first season, and if you’ve looked at any poster or one of the several trailers that have made their way out you’ll know she eventually shows her face – and with a full head of hair, as well! What’s interesting this time round is just how prominent some key numbers appear throughout this season that all point in the direction of our specially gifted heroine.
After it’s revealed that Sheriff Hopper has in fact been keeping Eleven safe since her brief stint in the Upside Down, the two stick to a favored time of our heroine – 5:15pm. The number 515 also happens to be the house number of Eleven’s estranged mother who we briefly met last year and makes a return appearance this time around, as well.
13. Eleven’s E.T. Costume
It was clear from the first episode of The Duffer Brothers acclaimed debut that Stranger Things was a love letter to the classic ’80s family films and saluting two world-famous storytelling Stephens, King and Spielberg.
The horror element, of course, feels torn from the pages of the iconic author, but there were a number of moments that felt suited from the Spielberg’s back catalogue, as well; including dressing Eleven up in a disguise that looked fairly similar to the fashion choice of a young Drew Barrymore for E.T. The pink dress and blonde wig felt like a nod to the family classic.
In the second season, Eleven raids the Extra Terrestrial’s wardrobe once again. In the episode “Trick or Treat, Freak” Eleven remains under house arrest thanks to the orders of Hopper, but she still makes an attempt to come to a compromise to see the outside world, again.
As kids are out running amok and her own friends are busting ghosts, Eleven comes up with the ingenious plan of wearing her own disguise to join in the fun; a basic bed-sheet ghost get-up, not unlike E.T’s winning outfit.
12. Nancy and Steve’s Risky Business
In the Halloween episode, there’s also a big, typical ’80s movie bash for the teenaged characters. Steve mentions to Nancy that they’ve been working on their couple’s costume for quite a while, but when we see them at the party later, their guises are much less obvious than the kids’ Ghostbusters costumes.
Steve’s clad in a black blazer and black sunglasses, and Nancy’s donned a white skirt and top with a black ribbon around the neck. So what are they?
The high school sweethearts are dressed up as Tom Cruise and Rebecca DeMornay in classic ’80s Risky Business. Their outfits aren’t as recognizable as the dress shirt and tighty-whities from the iconic “I Love Rock N Roll” scene, so the costumes understandably went over viewers’ heads.
11. Bus Stop Stand Off
With the tear between our world and the Upside Down still wide open, all sorts of trouble comes tumbling out for Hawkins’ finest, with the first being Dustin’s new discovery, D’Artagnan, aka Dart.
The demodog is one of many unevolved versions of the Demogorgon from season one that descends upon the town, forcing Dustin and co. to find a location to lure and trap the beast – and it just happens to be one of their previously ventured spots.
Fans will recall that last season, Mike, Eleven, and co. sought refuge against the shady agency in an abandoned school bus when they went on the run, only to be rescued by Hopper. This season, it’s Steve that steps up to the plate with trusty nail-laced bat in hand when they board up the very same bus to protect themselves against the Demodogs.
10. Bob Is Such A Goonie
It was clear from the beginning that one family film classic Stranger Things harked back to the first time round was the Richard Donner ’80s gem, The Goonies. All that bike riding to dangerous locations unsupervised was a nostalgic nod that felt even more prominent in the second season, when the original Goonie Mike aka Sean Astin appeared as Joyce’s new beau, Bob.
Seeing the leader of that iconic group of treasure seekers interact with this new band of adventurers is pretty cool, especially seeing as this season is set a year before The Goonies arrived on the scene. Also, it feels only fitting that when it comes to deciphering the drawings spilling out of Will’s head, that the OG adventurer is the one to crack them.
9. Dr. Owens’ Aliens Moment
When it was announced that Paul Reiser would be turning up in season 2 of Stranger Things, fans undoubtedly assumed the worst of his character, given his former history with non-human entities. Known for his role as that snake in a suit, Burke, from Aliens, fans were understandably prepared for him to turn traitor to Will and co. in season 2.
Thankfully this wasn’t the case. His character Dr. Owens is a far cry from his former role and instead an ally to Hopper in the battle against the Demodogs, but that doesn’t prevent a wonderful reference to the James Cameron classic he was part of.
When Owens sends in a small team of soldiers to the other dimension, he and Hooper are forced to watch them get picked off by its inhabitants in what feels like a homage to Cameron’s super-charged sequel. From the growing amount of dots on the radar, to the haunting beep of an approaching target that can’t be seen – it’s all too fitting, but oh so right when they start coming out of the walls!
8. Dustin’s New Pet
If only Dustin had known that the creature he found rummaging around in his trash was the same thing that Will coughed up at the end of season 1, he may have rethought getting so attached.
Though cute to begin with, the more Dustin tends to this struggling scientific marvel, the more of a terrifying beast it becomes – not too dissimilar from a variation of carnivorous critter from that era…
The slithering little beastie with the large appetite for 3 Musketeers bars shares the same traits as the iconic Gremlins, avoiding sunlight when possible but chowing down on anything to grow and become even more of a threat.
Additionally, the accelerated growth and skin shedding of D’Artagnan also carries a few Alien-like strains, going as far to alarm Dustin’s family cat, the ginger Jonesey-looking feline, Mews. Another cast member gone too soon. #JusticeForMews should be a trend by now, surely?
7. Hopper’s Dad and Vietnam
Though it’s not highlighted as much in this season, one element to Hopper that created such a strong character the first time round, was seeing him fight to save a child after he couldn’t save his own. Much like the first season, Hopper’s deceased daughter is mentioned in the closing episodes, clarifying as to why the sheriff now has such a strong bond with Eleven .
What’s interesting are the other chapters of Hopper’s life that have yet to be discussed.
When he takes Elle under his wing in his cabin, he clears out some space, shifting a number of boxes linked to his past. Not only do we see one titled “Sara” when they first make their entrance, but beneath the floorboards are ones titled “Dad” and “Vietnam”, showing that Hopper was an army man before he lived in New York. This hero, really has done it all, hasn’t he?
6. The Hateful Eight
One interesting element to season 2, as revealed in the opening of the first episode, is that there are still a few other gifted individuals out there that share our heroine’s history – she is called Eleven, for a reason, after all.
Besides the mysterious first encounter with Eight in “MadMax”, there’s also a visual flare of foreshadowing for El’s impending encounter with her former roommate, when she goes to see her mother and reconnect with the pieces of her past.
Rummaging through her mother’s collection of newspaper clippings of other missing children, Eleven’s discovery is interrupted when she discovers her aunt is attempting to contact Hopper, causing her to flee.
Before she leaves we get one last look at El’s mother, still lost in her coded message of rainbows and safe codes, as an Action 8 News report appears on the TV. 8 is the number given to El’s “Lost Sister”.
5. Sheriff Hopper and the Temple of Doom
It’s an unwritten law that, should any character be attached or associated with a hat of some kind, they must at least on one occasion narrowly escape a scenario before running back to grab it. Our own dear Sheriff Hopper does just that in Andrew Stanton’s “Dig Dug” episode, when a faceless soldier orders him to clear the area. Hopper does as he’s told, but not before rushing back to get his hat and thankfully restoring balance to the universe once again.
In addition to this tip of the Indiana Jones fedora, you might stretch for another when it came to Nancy and Jonathan finally giving into their feelings, after conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) calls them out on it. Both of them have their own “should I stay, or should I go now” moment, much like Indy did with Willie Scott.
4. The Power Of Joyce Compels You
It’s safe to say that the events of Stranger Things aren’t linked to demonic activity (famous last words, right?) but that didn’t stop the Duffer Brothers from throwing in some possession tropes near the tail end of the new season. With the Shadow Monster having full grip of Will, Joyce makes the tough decision of extracting the creature by force, even if her son has to suffer in the process.
The classic tropes from removing an evil entity from an innocent child are all there, as Joyce holds up in a dark room, tying Will to a bed to make this hard job a little easier. At this point, the scene channels elements of The Exorcist, but instead of a Bible-quoting Father Merrin being chilled to the bone and his breath hanging in the air, Joyce switches on the heat to rid the Shadow Monster from her son. Trust the Duffer Brothers to turn such traditional conventions completely Upside Down.
3. Mad Max: Underage Road Warrior
After season 1, the Hawkins heroes eventually accepted the ideas that not all girls were gross after all. This would explain why Dustin and Lucas are getting googly eyed over new girl, Max, when she skates into school – the two begin to fight for her affection. It goes without saying that her name tag for her top score on Dig Dug is in reference to the iconic hero first made famous by Mel Gibson, but what’s even more fitting is how she saves the day near the season’s end.
After finally defending herself against her thuggish step-brother following his fight with Steve (that guy can’t go a year without getting pummelled), she takes his keys and his ride to get the boys to where they need to be. Naturally a semi-conscious Steve awakes in terror at the image of a kid at the wheel, but he really shouldn’t be concerned as the “zoomer” has things completely under control – she is a Road Warrior, after all.
2. Pixar Comes To Hawkins
There’s a few familiar names that reappear throughout the second season besides the Duffer Brothers. As well as Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy, two of this season’s pinnacle episodes are directed by a revered member of the Pixar pack, Andrew Stanton.
The director of Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory parks himself in the director’s chair for both “The Spy” and “Dig Dug” episodes, his vision fitting wonderfully in amongst the Stranger Things ranks.
No stranger to giving a number of nods to classic bits of storytelling that are cemented in our psyche, Stanton does a great job (with “The Spy”, especially) to help the Duffer Brothers’ story along this time around. Feature caliber directing on TV episodes is part of what makes Stranger Things such a standout.
1. Dustin Gets The Girl
When the dust settles, gates are closed and Eleven saves the day (like you didn’t see it coming?), this season of Stranger Things sees the kids we’ve learned to love tackle a new threat: growing up. The D&D party all head off to the school dance, but poor Dustin is sitting on the bench without a partner to take to the floor – until Nancy comes to his aid.
After getting turned down a few times, Dustin has every girl finally look his way when he and Nancy have a dance, leaving him smiling from ear to ear with his newly grown in teeth (purrrr). What makes this even more heartwarming is that Dustin has had a thing for Mike’s older sister since the very first episode, offering her a slice of pizza only to get rejected, so it’s great to see this little victory.
As the classic tune “Every Breath You Take” fills the gymnasium, Nancy also goes onto reveal that out of all her annoying little brother’s friends, Dustin was always her favorite.
See anything else that we might have missed? Nail them to the wall and join us in spreading out the red string no theorists can be without.
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