Everything We Know About 'Stranger Things' Season 2
It's almost here.
In just a few days, Stranger Things Season 2 will transport us all back to Hawkins, Ind., in the 1980s, as we reunite with Eleven, Joyce Byers and Chief Hopper, and a whole new crew of heroes and villains.
With the show so close to returning for its second season, it's time to take stock of everything we've learned over the past few months about what the Duffer Brothers have in store.
We're unlikely to learn much more until Friday when Netflix dumps the entire season online for fans to binge-watch - in the meantime, here's all the most important things to remember going in.
Season 2 Is So 1984
The new season picks up in 1984. The Duffer Brothers have been very clear about this - the second season's time period is fixed, and there will be a lot of pop-culture references tied to this particular snapshot of the past, many of which could play an important role in the developing the story even further.
We've seen many of these references play out already in the first two trailers as well as some of the teaser material: We've also got Reagan/Bush campaign signs, Ghostbusters-themed Halloween costumes, and references to the arcade megahits of 1984 like Dragon's Lair (which technically debuted in some arcades in 1983, but it's close enough), but the showrunners have teased even more connections.
Season 2 will also reportedly draw inspiration from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, another relic of 1984, and will deliver a far darker story than the original adventure.
If one thing's been mentioned over and over again in relation to Season 2, it's that this time around, things will be a lot more scary.
Halloween Is a Major Influence
The spooky Halloween setting of the second season is far more than just an excuse for creepy costumes - one teaser has hinted that Hawkins' precious pumpkin crop is going to face some kind of otherworldly blight; the first indication that the Upside Down is bleeding across into the real world.
This looks to be a significant theme for the new season. From what we've already seen, Will Byers is experiencing visions of the town engulfed in red smoke as a giant monster strides across the landscape. When questioned, Will states that the monster doesn't want him - it wants "everyone else." This is huge for the story line of Stranger Things for many reasons; if the otherworldly threat from Season 1 is expanding even further, are we about to see the Upside Down spread beyond Hawkins to affect the entire world?
It's a much bigger and badder looking threat, and its almost Lovecraftian vibe suggests that the stakes are going to be an awful lot higher.
Will himself is apparently suffering from some form of sickness after his time in the Upside Down, and may even end up being studied at the Department of Energy building that once housed Eleven as he suffers from his visions.
Last season, Joyce had to try and save her son from an unseen monster - this time, he'll be right in front of her as the Upside Down tries to steal him back.
That's not going to be fun for Chief Hopper, whose daughter died in a similar circumstance, but then, not much of this will be a walk in the park for him. Actor David Harbour has intimated that Hopper is going to face some consequences for dealing with the devil at the end of season one. He may start this upcoming storyline thinking of himself as a hero, but the tables are going to turn at some point as he gets his comeuppance for turning Eleven over to her enemies.
Revealing Eleven's Past
Speaking of Eleven, Eldritch horrors aren't the only things that are sneaking through portals from the Upside Down.
A teaser has shown Eleven, immediately post-Demagorgon fight, bursting her way back into the real world before taking off.
At some point she'll be back this season, with a new mess of curly hair, and an axe to grind over some subliminal messaging that includes trigger words like "rainbow" and a "sunflower."
This may be connected to Eleven's past, but we'll have to wait and see how this all plays out.
Expanding the Universe and Adding New Characters
There's more going on in the new season than just a bunch of established characters.
The show will also be gaining a lot of new talent, including Sean Astin of Goonies fame, who'll play Joyce's new boyfriend, a guy who's seen at one point in medical scrubs. Apparently, he wasn't planned to be a huge character in the show, but the Duffer Brothers enjoyed Astin's performance so much that they expanded his role to give him more to do.
Meanwhile, Dacre Montgomery (the new Red Power Ranger) joins the cast as Billy, a teenage bully that serves as a human antagonist now that Steve has got his act together and started treating Nancy with more respect.
The show will also gain Max, played by Sadie Sink, who'll add another girl to the youngest group of heroes in the show, but whose specific role remains to be seen - she has a shady past, but the specifics are kept tightly under-wraps (which probably means they'll tie in to the plot of the season somehow).
No Justice for Barb
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Matt and Ross Duffer have revealed that, fan petitions aside, Season 2 will not bring #JusticeForBarb.
Everyone's favorite wallflower won't be returning for the new season. That said, her fate will be referenced, and there will be some consequences leading from her demise, which is better than nothing.
Can Season 2 Live Up to the Hype?
Perhaps the big question about the future of Stranger Things is the question of whether Season 2 will live up to its predecessor.
That's hard to say at this point (things will probably be clearer this time next week), but at present, it's probably worth assuming that some fans will inevitably be disappointed.
You can't hype a show's return for over a year and get the positive experience you're hoping for.
For those without unrealistically high expectations, however, Stranger Things Season 2 looks to be an enjoyable, spooky, exciting adventure.
Get yourself some Eggos, drink some Coke, and get ready to get swallowed up by the Upside Down.