Everything you need to remember from Season 1 of the Netflix series before binging the new episodes.
Remember "Stranger Things"? Yeah, we know. It’s a silly question. The Duffer Brothers captured the imagination of the nation when the first season premiered on Netflix way back in July of 2016. But that’s just it. It’s been fifteen months since the show premiered on July 15th, and let’s face it, most of us were done watching it by July 16th.
While you probably remember that Eleven likes Eggos and flipped a van, some of the other details may be a little murky in the recesses of your mind. Never fear; that’s why we’re here. Take a trip down memory lane with us as we delve deep into the town of Hawkins, Indiana (circa 1983) and its parallel Upside Down realm to bring you all the bits you might want to remember before you binge Season 2 in a day, as well.
Because that’s totally what you’re going to do … and so are we.
Will Byers, or the Boy Who Went Upside Down
Noah Schnapp is probably going to get a lot more screen time in this second season, after spending most of the first lost in the Upside Down and hiding from the Demogorgon, and we’re going to need it because we have lots of questions. How did he survive a week in the Upside Down? What is there to eat there? Also, what did the Upside Down do to him?
We closed the first season with Will puking out a slug that looked a lot like the slug tube that was down his throat when his mom Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) rescued him. Then the bathroom flashed into the Upside Down, startling him. Was that a vision? Can Will go there at will? He certainly didn’t seem phased by what happened when he got back to the breakfast table.
And on a side note, is Will gay? It’s mentioned a lot in the first half of the season, with it being one of the top insults that get slung at him by the bullies at school. But he’s also called sensitive and it’s pointed out that he’s different. Homosexuality was a common joke among boys back then, but it also wasn’t nearly as accepted in society, putting extra pressure on the quiet artist.
Joyce Byers, or the Mom Who Whined
Now that she knows she’s not crazy and has her son back, will we see a Joyce with a lot less whining and crying? We’re not worried about her being strong, because she was one tough mom, whether it be in dealing with her money-grubbing garbage ex or tracking her son down in an alternate dimension of tentacles and death. But the whining … yeah, we’re over it.
Jim Hopper, or the Sheriff Who Believed
We started to get a tease at the backstory of the good sheriff in the closing episodes, as we saw his daughter losing her battle against cancer, but is it as simple as that? His marriage couldn’t survive her loss and so he went back home? We know he used to work in a big city -- but not which one -- and that he returned to his hometown where he has a sketch history with a lot of the locals. He’s well-known, but not necessarily respected.
But history isn’t all we need to know about Hopper. He made a deal with Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) and Hawkins Lab to sell out Eleven’s location and then at the close of the season he got into a car with some strange men. Is he the government errand boy? Can he be trusted still?
We also saw him leaving Eggo waffles on a stump in the woods, but whether this means he knows Eleven survived her encounter with the Demogorgon or he’s hoping to contact her, we don’t know.
Eleven, or the Girl Who Saved Everyone
Millie Bobby Brown rightfully earned an Emmy nomination for her riveting performance in the first season, saying so much while saying so little. She saved the day with her mental powers and seemingly sacrificed herself in the end to slay the beast. But we already know Brown returns for the second season, and we have so many questions.
If Will barely survived a week in the Upside Down, how can Eleven survive even longer (we all know she’s back)? The Demogorgon came through the veil between realms to feed, so maybe she does the same. The call of the Eggos is strong.
A big question now, though, is what happens when El does come back? Everyone knows about her, so hiding in Mike’s (Finn Wolfhard) basement is out. But would Mike’s family take her in, as he wanted? Or wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t, considering the feels burgeoning between the two tweens. Another option might be Joyce, who bonded with El during the immersion vision at the school that helped connect Joyce with Will.
Plus, if Hopper and Joyce get together -- it’s so being written that way -- he could work on redeeming himself for selling her out. And it doesn’t hurt that he lost a young daughter, and so might find himself quickly attached to a new one. Things would get very interesting in the Byers household if El did move in, though, considering Will may be developing powers or connections to the Upside Down himself.
Terry Ives, or the Mother Who Lost
Lest we forget, we’ve also met Terry Ives, who appears to be Eleven’s biological mother. Considering she’s in a near vegetative state and El was taken from her as an infant -- and Terry was told she’d miscarried -- it creates a murky custody situation. Does Terry’s sister then have legal custody? Would she fight for it, creating a nasty custody battle that would include having to positively identify El as Terry’s daughter? There may well have been other children taken from pregnant women who subjected themselves to the hallucinogenic studies Hawkins Labs was doing in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Hawkins Lab, or the Center of All the Trouble
In El’s flashbacks, it seems like more recent studies have primarily focused on her and the permanent portal to the Upside Down. We don’t know when it appeared or even how it appeared, much less what tests, studies and information Hawkins Lab has learned about it. Is the Demogorgon the only denizen of the Upside Down they’ve encountered?
Plus, it’s hard to believe all of their resources we being used for one girl and one monster. This is a huge facility, and while a lot of it looked abandoned, we can probably assume they’ve been getting up to other nastiness in there.
With Brenner possibly dead -- though we never saw that happen explicitly -- what happens to the Lab now? Hopper may or may not still be working with them, and whether Brenner is in charge or not, there’s no reason to assume the Lab would shut down operations. In fact, with suspicions that Eleven is alive on the other side, studies into the portal would more than likely increase. Plus, with the Demogorgon disposed of -- or so it seems -- the Upside Down might be a much safer place to go.
The Upside Down, or the World’s Quietest Nightmare Destination
The Demogorgon always seemed to be the only living thing lurking in the Upside Down. When it wasn’t around, the place was weird and creepy looking, but otherwise quite benign. So the big question is, why is that? Was the Demogorgon the apex predator? Perhaps it had wiped out all of the prey in its realm and so when El made that connection, it sensed a new hunting ground.
It’s also mentioned that it never strayed far from the epicenter at the Lab, which means this particular creature may be very local to Hawkins, while the Upside Down appears to be as big as the world. So what else is out there … or under there? If the Demogorgon is gone, will other creatures make their way back into the Upside Down Hawkins, and then into Hawkins proper?
We don’t know why there were connections made between the worlds in Joyce’s house -- she spoke to Will through one -- or even in the woods, when Nancy (Natalia Dyer) found herself transported there. Do these randomly appearing and disappearing portals mean the fabric between these two realities is stretching too thin? Perhaps the permanent portal at Hawkins Lab is fraying the divide, and there’s a real danger of the two worlds colliding.
There are a few other things nagging at us, but we’ll trust the Brothers Duffer to probably answer most of them. When science teacher Mr. Clarke (Randall P. Havens) talked to the boys about parallel worlds in regards to the Upside Down, the obvious question is: does that mean there are other worlds besides these two? Will we explore them?
The less obvious question is when will the delightful Mr. Clarke get to join the Freak Squad? They’ve got members of all ages now, and his knowledge might prove helpful. Plus, he’s just so much fun!
Why did Nancy choose Steve (Joe Keery) over Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), when she clearly had chemistry with both. Steve did some pretty irredeemable things throughout the run of the show, and his redemption arc doesn’t feel like it should be that easy. With that peck on the cheek for Jonathan at the end, though, this love triangle may not be solved yet.
Will the bullies finally leave the boys alone, or will they strike harder with Eleven missing? Will Ted (Joe Chrest) ever get a clue, or will he continue to epitomize the out-of-touch father? Will Eleven speak in complete sentences after she returns? Will there be any fallout to a fake Will body being pulled out of the lake? But perhaps most importantly...
Of course, the biggest question is what happened to the Barb arc? Nancy was crushed when Eleven found her dead during her immersion vision, but then nothing more really came of it. If the Demogorgon is dead, revenge is off the table. And even though we jumped forward a month, no one seems to really be doing anything about it that we’ve seen.
Hopper and Joyce saw her hooked up in the same monster sac where they found Will, and they didn’t even check on her. Sure, she was probably totally dead, but it still seemed a little cold. We never check back in on Barb’s parents, or follow up on the false lead when her car was moved.
Maybe they’ll at least go back in and get her body in Season 2. Something! #JusticeForBarb