Stranger Things was such a massive hit for Netflix that it instantly made stars of the show’s young cast, and was very quickly picked up for a second season. Although that won’t be on our screens until Halloween, there's still plenty of room to speculate as to what form the season might take, and the wake of the recently released teaser trailer there are some things that we know for sure.
Stranger Things showrunners, Matt and Ross Duffer, have revealed a few details about the new season, including new character information, and updates on where the main residents of Hawkins will be when we return to the town - a year after Will Byers came back from the Upside Down. Below, we’ve rounded up all the highlights of what we know (so far) about Stranger Things season 2.
Justice For Barb
Let’s start with one of the best-loved characters from season 1. Sadly, Barb, played by Shannon Purser, is not returning to the show, but the Duffer brothers promise that justice for Barb will form an important part of the second season, as it should. Poor Barb - disappearing into the Upside Down while Nancy Wheeler got it on with Steve must have been a painful ending to what was a rather miserable existence, and to make matters worse, no one really seemed all that concerned. It’s nice to know she might finally be given the respect she deserved. Could it be that we finally get to hear what her parents thought about all this? Was there ever any funeral for Barb, or any kind of memorial? Or could she live in some other form?
Dustin has a new Pet
And it’s a cutie. That’s according to Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin. “It’s a little creature I get to bond with. It’s obviously not from this planet or this dimension.” Said to be similar to a polliwog, if the pet isn’t from here, then it could be that we’ll see some more of Matarazzo’s comedic timing as he tries to keep the pet hidden. One thing Stranger Things season 1 was very good at was blending comedy with more dramatic scenes, and in particular the comedy from the group of kids was often very welcome relief to the gripping main plot. Adding an extra-dimensional animal into the mix is bound to be a rich source of humor and/or tension. As for how the pet even arrived in Hawkins in the first place, well that’s pretty easy...
The Upside Down is Still Open
That big rift through which the Demogorgon managed to get to Will…. it’s still open. Hardly the most sensible of moves, but at least the lab is now in safer hands... or is it? It’s being run by the mysterious Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser), who seems very friendly, but why would he keep the rift open if not for some dark and sinister purpose? Sheriff Hopper is well aware of its existence, and is likely to be keeping tabs on what’s going on up there, but let’s not forget that the staff at that lab seemed to be outside of the law when it came to keeping their own secret. Having a pathway to the Upside Down that is easily accessible, also means that it’s easy for new, darker, stranger things to make their way into Hawkins.
New monsters have been hinted at for season 2, but no concrete descriptions of anything has been given out. That’s good in one way, though, as it leaves the way open for us to speculate on exactly what form these monsters could take. The continuous hints of season two being bigger and darker, coupled with the Demogorgan we saw in season one, leads us to think that whatever the Duffer brothers do have in store will be something quite terrifying for Hawkins residents. Certainly Stranger Things will once again go down the sci-fi/ supernatural route, and in the brief teaser released, we saw something looming in the sky, followed by an intricate sketch of whatever it was. A monster? Yes, certainly, but there is the very strong possibility that it’s all in Will Byers’ head.
Will is Suffering From PTSD
Hardly a surprise, really - poor Will Byers must’ve encountered unimaginable horrors in the Upside Down. He desperately wanted to get home and, when he did, he may have tried too much, too soon. His friends were excited to have him back in the group, and Joyce was overjoyed that her son was safe. It seems as though Will was trying so hard to please everyone, and to slot back into his everyday existence, that he didn’t give himself enough time to properly heal. As a result, as we saw at the end of season 1, Will was vomiting slugs and dealing with visions.
Season 2 will pick up on this as, a year on, Will is still suffering from horrifying visions that may or may not be real. Certainly the appearance of the monster in the teaser trailer seems to be from Will’s mind, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t appear to others, too. Maybe Will can foresee what’s to come, but will anyone listen to his premonitions?
Joyce is Dating
Thanks to a fantastic performance from Winona Ryder, it was hard not to sympathize with Joyce Byers: the single mom desperately trying to hold everything together and then, on top of everything else, having to deal with her son going missing. The love she has for her children is clear, but Joyce herself is so emotionally fragile that it’s hard for her to cope with added stress.As season 2 opens, we'll learn that Joyce has decided to start dating again and is seeing an old school friend by the name of Bob. '80s icon Sean Astin will be playing the part, and not much is known about his character other than the fact that Joyce sees him as a potential father figure for her boys. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s right for Joyce, though.
Hopper's Cover Up
One of the undeniable heroes of season 1, Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) pushed personal demons to one side and suspended disbelief in order to reunite Joyce with her son. No doubt he will also know Bob, since it appears as though all three grew up in the same town.
At the end of season 1, Hopper was leaving Eggos in the woods, presumably for Eleven, so he might know something of her whereabouts. It’s unlikely he’ll have much time to do anything about it, however, since he’s far too busy trying to cover up the events from the last year. According to Harbour, this doesn’t sit easy with Hopper, who has to lie and pretend that things did or did not happen in order to keep Will and his friends safe. Though Hopper has lived a past life of womanizing and alcohol problems, there’s no mistaking that he’s one of the good guys now, and the hero that Hawkins needs.
Mike and Nancy are Grieving
Nancy Wheeler was a difficult character to like in the last season. Self-centered and really only concerned with whether or not Steve wanted to date her, Nancy was really quite cruel to Jonathan until she realized she actually needed him. Not only that, but the way she treated Barb was abhorrent, and then she made it seem as though her best friend’s disappearance was nothing more than an inconvenience. All of that said, when Stranger Things returns we will see Nancy still grieving, along with her little brother, so maybe the compassion and backbone she found in the final few episodes have stayed, and she’s finally realized how much she misses Barb.
For Mike, having risked everything to give Eleven a home and make her feel loved, life is now empty. On the one hand he has Will back, which is great, but on the other he’s lost a great friend and his first crush. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Wheeler siblings choose to work through their grief separately, or if they choose to help each other in their darkest hour.
New Siblings in Town
Billy and Max are played by Dacre Montgomery and Sadie Sink, respectively, and they move to Hawkins with their family in Stranger Things' second season. Moving to a small town is hard enough, but a small town that’s been rocked by the disappearance of two young people, and is still shrouded in mystery? That’s got to be rough. Max is around the same age as Mike, Will, Lucas and Dustin, and she is described as being strong and confident. She very quickly becomes friends with the gang and integrates well - even earning a little romantic interest from both Dustin and Lucas. Given the way the Duffer brothers dealt with the cute romance between Mike and Eleven, it should actually be quite sweet to watch this all unfold on screen, as Lucas and Dustin vie for her attentions. However, her older step-brother, Billy, doesn’t fit in quite so well, and there’s quite a good reason for that.
Billy is a Bad Guy
Exactly how bad isn’t clear, but there’s something about Billy that doesn’t add up. In fact, Matt Duffer’s recent comments about the character are very intriguing:
“Stephen King always has really great human villains. The evil in the real world is often as bad or worse than the supernatural evil, so we wanted to introduce a character like that.”
So it seems as though Billy is human, and from this dimension rather than the Upside Down. We don’t know, though, if he is aware of the Upside Down’s existence, or who might be the target of his villainous intentions. Whereas with season 1, all the evil threats (not counting school bullies) were outside forces, the idea that this time there might be evil lurking within is an interesting notion, and one which could change the dynamic of the show. Billy is said to be around seventeen years old, so expect to see him having some kind of contact with Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve.
Eleven is Back
Of course, Stranger Things wouldn’t be right without Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven. Played with such sweet sincerity, yet also a depth of emotion and realness that even many adult actors can’t achieve, Brown totally nailed her character and it's no surprise that she's set to return. At the end of season 1 Eleven disappeared, much to Mike’s dismay, but we know (or assume) that she is alive because Jim Hopper is leaving food out for her.
But where is she? Living rough in the woods, or alternating between here and the Upside Down? Does she still possess special powers, or is she spent after defeating the Demogorgon? In the teaser we hear the boys calling for her, which suggests her return to Hawkins isn’t immediate. That said, Brown is listed on IMDB as appearing in 17 episodes, along with all of the main cast, so while the residents of Hawkins might not see her, she should be appearing on screen, nonetheless. We also get to learn more about Eleven's backstory this time around, including about the program that created her, and what she was used for. Chances are, it'll be something rather...strange.
Stranger Things season 1 is now available on Netflix. Season 2 will arrive on Netflix in time for Halloween.