By now, you’ve watched all nine episodes of Stranger Things season two (or, Stranger Things 2). You’ve also read our reviews of the season overall and individual episodes, decided on a Halloween costume, considered what the finale means for season three, analyzed the newest monster, and wondered what’s the deal with episode seven. And if you haven’t, well, you’re about to be spoiled, because this post covers the five biggest questions we have after digesting the new season quicker than D’Artagnan eating nougat.
1. Should Hopper and Dustin be worried?
Good things usually don’t happen to humans who come in contact with alien spray. Just ask literally everyone in Prometheus and Covenant. But despite Hopper and Dustin both inhaling some Upside Down nastiness, neither has shown any side effects. No puked-up slugs, no nothing. The symptoms would have revealed themselves by the dance, which takes place a month later, so maybe the time for worry has passed. But it’s possible they’ll have a connection to the Upside Down in season three. It might not be as powerful as Will’s, but it could still come in handy. You know what Dustin should be worried about, though? The dead “demodog” in Joyce’s freezer. Surprise?
2. Is Dr. Brenner still alive?
Matthew Modine is credited with appearing in two episodes this season, but they were confined to flashbacks from season one when Dr. Brenner was attacked by the Demogorgon. During Eleven’s trip to Chicago (more on that later), though, she sees a vision of “Papa,” leaving open the possibility of his return. That would be bad news. With Hawkins Lab permanently shut down (and its employees dead, save for one guy who claims he knows where the Bad Doctor is) and Dr. Owens on the side of good after forging adoption papers for Hopper, Brenner is the only one out there who knows Eleven’s true identity. He’s had a lot of time to work on his experiments, too…
3. Which pairing should there be more of in season three?
Let’s rank season two’s best unexpected friendships, in ascending order.
#5. Max and Lucas
Actress Sadie Sink was given an impossible task: replace Eleven, the show’s most popular character. Maybe that’s a little reductive, but her character was clearly set up as “The Girl” in the group. She was a welcome addition to the cast, though, allowing for numerous Mad Max references and she gave Lucas, the most sidelined of the core kids, someone to frequently interact with. In fact, they more than interacted: they’re middle school sweethearts. Max even has a cute nickname for Lucas: “Stalker.” By next season, they’ll be super annoying — they’re future “romantic couple in jeans with hands in pockets” stock photo models — so enjoy Mucas (that needs works) while you can.
#4. Eleven and Hopper
The most emotional moment of the season wasn’t Bob dying, or Eleven visiting her mom, or Mike seeing Eleven at the school dance — it was Hopper turning off Cheers. That was his intention, at least, until he remembered that he’s fostering a mutant who can control things with her mind. Hopper, who’s not in the best shape, would already have a difficult time lifting a television; Eleven psychically holding it down makes the task impossible.
Her punishment for leaving the cabin could have waited until after the episode was over. It was even a Sam and Diane scene! Did I say until after the episode? I meant until the Rebecca years. Also, we got this future meme.
#3. Dustin and D’Artagnan
D’Artagnan is the Gizmo to Dustin’s Billy, if Gizmo went on a killing spree. So, he’s Stripe? Whatever. (I’m mad there wasn’t a single reference to Gremlins in season two. Wait until the 1990-set season seven, when Mike takes Eleven to see Gremlins 2: The New Batch. She’s going to love Electric Gremlin.)
#2. Billy and Karen
Poor Karen Wheeler. She just wants to relax with a bath (while her daughter is trying to solve her best friend’s death, and her son is being terrorized by Pennywise the Clown), but her husband is too lazy to answer the door. But good things come to those who… read romance novels while soaking in the tub, I guess. It’s bad boy Billy, with his wild hair, wilder personality, and wispy mustache, on the other side of the door. Look, Billy is a dick to his sister, he eats cookies like an insane person, and he’s potentially a racist (his thing with Lucas is… weird); he’s the most 1980s villain Stranger Things has seen. But Billy brought joy to poor Karen’s life, so how bad can he be, really?
#1. Dustin and Steve
I am all for Stranger Things ditching the Upside Down concept in favor of Steve giving Dustin dating advice and hair care tips in season three.
4. Will we see Kali and her “MTV punks” crew again?
Alternately, why did Stranger Things leave Hawkins? The most polarizing episode of the season was episode seven, “The Lost Sister,” in which Eleven travels to Chicago (so far so good!) and almost kills a guy (uh oh) because a group of comically over-the-top ’80s nogoodniks tell her to. Also, she gets a punk makeover, which is the best part of the episode. The last time we see “sister” Kali is in her getaway van; she’s crying after Eleven runs away, and there’s a single stream of blood coming from her nose. The Duffers likely intended for Kali to return in season three, to help Eleven fight the Shadow Monster with her psychic powers, but considering the reaction to the character, that may no longer happen. But her influence, of opening the universe of the show up and teaching Eleven to better understand her powers, will be felt.
5. Will Stranger Things move beyond the Upside Down?
Stranger Things 2 was a sequel in every respect: it was bigger, bolder, looked more expensive, the cast returned with a few new additions, and the season replayed the plot from the original. There was a lot of the Upside Down, arguably (if you’re like me) too much. The Duffers created some indelible characters, but it would be a shame if they restricted them to fighting the same monsters season after season. The brothers originally conceived Stranger Things as an anthology, but “Netflix was really interested in it as a series, because rightfully so.” Is it, though? It would be interesting to see Stranger Things take the American Horror Story model — same cast, different characters, do something new every season — but make it, y’know, good.
“The Gate” ended on a note that suggests season three will cover familiar territory, even if, once again, there will be a time jump. “They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer,” the Duffers said about the finale, “but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.” They succeeded, but if they don’t shake things up next season, at least a little, the future of Stranger Things could also look ominous.