Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Stranger Things
Stranger Things, the wildly popular and bizarre sci-fi series from the Duffer Brothers (Wayward Pines), is currently the most bingeworthy show on Netflix. While it pays the ultimate homage to the '80s, the show also connects with viewers through its quirky yet relatable characters, all played by brilliant actors. For '80s kids, we all saw a little piece of ourselves in Will, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Nancy, Jonathan, Barb, and even the mind-bending little girl named Eleven. As we got deeper into the series, we grew to love these kids, becoming emotionally invested in them and their daring mission to rescue Will from the Upside Down and the mysterious creature known as the Demagorgon.
Although Netflix has yet to renew the series, we can almost certainly expect more from the Duffer Brothers in the form of more seasons. The finale did wrap-up a well-told story, but the showrunners purposely left us with some cliffhangers and burning questions concerning the fate of our beloved characters, in hopes of taking us further into Hawkins Lab and the Upside Down in a second season. But, what exactly happened to our new best friends? No one knows for sure, but we can certainly make a few educated guesses.
What Happened to Eleven?
As soon as we met Eleven and learned of her strange story of being an actual product of eerie government experiments, we immediately felt for her as “The Weirdo” desperately tried to fit into the outside world. She tried her hardest to explain where Will was, all while avoiding capture by the "bad men," and keeping her powers under control.
Eleven made the ultimate sacrifice in the season finale, when she exhausted her powers to destroy the Demagorgan with her mind, saving all of her new friends. In return, she evaporated into a million little pieces and completely disappeared, leaving us to believe she was dead. When Sheriff Hopper, the man of the hour, was seen placing Eggos (her favorite food) into a secret box hidden in the woods, we felt a glimmer of hope.
We can deduce that Eleven is still alive, but that she may be lost or at least in hiding. Either she is in the forest alone trying to survive, in the Upside Down, or possibly even stuck between the two dimensions. If she is stuck in the dark nothingness of the in-between, at least we know she is safe there, right?
Note: If Eleven is the 11th experiment, this might mean there are others just like her, named 1 through 10.
Is Will OK?
Of all the cliffhangers in the finale, the most worrisome were the creepy things that started happening to Will after he was rescued from the Upside Down. We all thought he was back to being normal, healthy and happy again with his family and friends... Until he politely excused himself from the dinner table to use the restroom, and proceeded to puke up a slimy black slug into the sink, coupled with a terrifying flashback of the Upside Down. We can recognize the “slug thing” as the same parasite that was in Barb’s mouth when her dead body was discovered in a pool in the Upside Down. Uh, oh. Is Will OK?
Well, no, of course he’s not OK! He spent a considerable amount of time in an unknown dimension that no one knows much about, other than it spawned a horrible monster and is clearly very unfriendly to humans. Who knows what else is going on in that hellhole? Considering the government scientists only ventured into the super horrifying realm wearing protective gear, we can assume that anyone who entered unprotected is in danger. This includes Will and Nancy, as well as Joyce and Hopper, because they removed their helmets.
Will is somehow still connected to the Upside Down, and infected or even contaminated with something bad from the other side. Moreover, the demon slug was alive when it went down the drain, meaning whatever this thing is, it can now easily spread through the little town’s water supply.
Note: Barb died from the slug, meaning Will could still die.
Why Did Jim Hopper Get into that Government Car?
It’s clear that our hero Sheriff Jim Hopper made some kind of deal with the government to gain access to the Upside Down in order to rescue Will. But what exactly was the deal? It seemed as though the Hawkins Lab people killed everyone who knew anything about their many secrets, except for Hopper and Joyce.
In the finale, Jim Hopper gets taken away in an official looking black town car, seemingly by whoever remains of the government organization that worked in Hawkins Laboratory, leaving us to wonder if Hopper works for them now. Did Hopper enter into a dangerous arrangement, or is he on the path of something we don’t yet understand?
Hopper, who did not waver from the missing child case whatsoever, proved to be a great man and father after he was first portrayed as being a bit of a mess. Knowing the character, Hopper most likely has something up his sleeve to save Eleven, wherever she may be. He might have made a deal with the devil, but surely he has a plan for redemption.
Note: Hopper truly cared about Eleven and would never agree to hurting her without a backup plan.
What’s Really Going on at Hawkins Lab?
The biggest element of Stranger Things that was kept almost a complete mystery is Hawkins Lab. Did this sleepy little Indiana town just never notice this creepy place before? Clearly, there is something very, very wrong going on in there, considering it is a bona fide fortress.
At first it seemed that whoever runs the lab, whether it be the CIA or FBI, was attempting to spy on the Russians using Eleven’s abilities, possibly dealing with international espionage. We do know that the lab was conducting controversial float tank experiments using LSD, which is said to expand the abilities of the mind, but what else is going on inside that well-protected building?
One thing is for sure, Dr. Brenner, who is now dead, said he had no idea what the Demogorgon wanted other than food, or what else was in the Upside Down. However, you don’t just happen upon a door to another dimension; they had to have an intended purpose for creating a veil that thin allowing the two worlds to connect. It’s possible that they were hoping to weaponize the monster, by using Eleven to communicate with it.
Most likely many strange things are going on there, and the portal was just the tip of the iceberg of a number of experiments that we have yet to learn about. If Hopper really is working with them as a front, we may find out more in a second season.
Note: We saw other float tanks and rooms, meaning there is probably more than one Eleven and many more types of experiments.
Considering the number of unanswered questions, our brains are bursting with possible explanations and conspiracy theories. After the finale, many found themselves screaming at their television screens, “No! There has to be more!” The good news is that the Duffer Brothers left some things open so they would have a shot at answering those questions. The showrunners have consistently referred to the potential next chapter as a sequel rather than a second season.
In a recent interview with executive producer Shawn Levy, he gave us a hint as to what may happen next:
"We definitely are hopeful to go several more seasons. And the plan is to continue with this set of characters while introducing a few critical key new ones next season. So I’ll just say that a lot of the big mysteries get answered at the end of Season 1, but we are very much kind of unearthing new problems and questions that merit future stories and future investigation in the most enjoyable way. So we are in love with our cast and our characters.
"Things end up being resolved to some extent at the end of Season 1, but not entirely. And that’s why we’re so hopeful we get another few seasons to live with these people a little longer.”
We can only hope that a sequel shows up on Netflix sooner than later, as we’re all a little bit worried about the fate of each and every character and we need to know what’s up with Hawkins Lab. Knowing Netflix, they will most likely confirm a continuation of Stranger Things shortly, giving us all more sci-fi greatness to look forward to.
Stranger Things is available now on Netflix.