As Halloween draws ever closer, so does the highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s retro spookfest Stranger Things. The series has been a huge hit since it was released last year, with fans offering plenty of theories as to what season 2 will bring.
In case it’s been awhile since you caught up with the residents of Hawkins, Indiana and the spooky goings-on there, this recap will get you up to speed with all the things you need to know in preparation for season 2, which airs on October 27th on Netflix. Obviously, there are spoilers ahead, so don’t read further if you haven’t yet checked out Stranger Things.
What happened in season 1?
What didn’t happen? Stranger Things sees us transported to the small forest town of Hawkins, Indiana in the early 1980s, where 4 geeky school friends find their world turned upside down when a nearby government research facility unwillingly unleashed supernatural terrors onto the town.
When their friend Will goes missing, it’s down to the kids (alongside Will’s troubled mother and the world-weary local sheriff) to find him and take on the menace stalking the town.
The Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed kids already have plenty of experience fighting monsters (however fictional), but when a mysterious girl only known as Eleven shows up, they’re not sure how to handle it. The product of government experiments at the hands of her father, Eleven wields strange psychokinetic powers, making her much more dangerous than she looks.
During their search for their friend, the only one who believes that he’s been snatched away by a sinister monster is his mother, Joyce. A single mother who desperately trying to look after her kids, Will’s disappearance tears her apart, leading her to investigate the more fantastical theories about why he disappeared.
This eventually leads her to the ‘Upside-Down’: the strange mirror-world that runs parallel to our own and which is leaking all it's less-than-friendly residents thanks to the shady organisation that shares Hawkins with its small-town locals.
With help from the friendly but troubled Sheriff Hopper, the kids and Joyce manage to track Will down, leading to a showdown with the deadly creature, which the friends have dubbed the Demogorgon after the monster from their game.
Who are the characters?
Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) - The kid whose disappearance sparks everything that happens in Stranger Things, Will spends a lot of his time trapped in the chilling Upside-Down, miraculously surviving thanks to his keen instincts.
Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) - One of Will’s 3 best friends, Mike is a typical ‘80s kid who steps up when his friend is taken away and the mysterious Eleven enters his life. You may have seen the actor in Stephen King’s obviously influential ‘kids vs existential evil’ thriller film IT.
Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) - Another one of Will’s friends who stop at nothing to find him, Dustin is strong and resilient despite being bullied due to his teeth.
Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) - Lucas rounds off the group of pop-culture obsessed friends. He’s initially wary of Eleven thanks to her dangerous powers but eventually accepts her as part of the group.
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) - A young girl who has psychokinetic powers due to experiments conducted on her, Eleven escapes the Hawkins Laboratory and must evade the massive subsequent manhunt by befriending Mike and the group.
Jim Hopper (David Harbour) - The downtrodden local police chief, Hopper is competent but troubled due to his daughter’s untimely death and his subsequent divorce. Hopper fights through his own demons in order to fight the physical ones that threaten Hawkins.
Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) - The single mother of Will and Jonathan, Joyce launches a frantic search for her son when he disappears. Residents of the town think she’s going mad due to her (correct) insistence that her son is still alive somewhere.
Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) - The brother of Will, he’s faced with the prospect of looking after his distraught mother alone whilst dealing with a crush on Nancy (who’s not really interested).
Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) - Mike’s older sister, Nancy is a typical teenage girl in the ‘80s, complete with a disdain for her kid brother and a liking of the school jock. Whilst she might seem like a minor character, she becomes more important as the season goes on.
Where are they at the end of season 1?
Thankfully, season 1 ends with Will Byers back home with his family and friends after braving the Upside-Down, defeating the Demogorgon and seemingly closing the portal to the other world. Not all seems right with Will, however, as he finishes season 1 by coughing up some unpleasant-looking slug creatures and having visions of his former prison.
Season 1 ended with Eleven taking the fight to the Demogorgon and putting it down for good but leaving her trapped in the Upside-Down. We leave Hopper looking for her in the dense woods surrounding Hawkins, leaving Eggos breakfast waffles (her favourite snack) for her to find. Will she be able to find a way out? You’ll have to tune into Netflix from the 27th of October to find out.
What will happen in season 2?
The creators of Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, have been tight-lipped about plot details for the second season, but there are some things to go on based on trailers and sneak peeks.
Season 2 of the show is said to focus on the “wider mythology” of the Stranger Things universe, with a more in-depth look at the mysterious Upside-Down and what it holds. Trailers have given us a glimpse at a scary-looking multi-legged creature that looks like it’s wandered in from a Godzilla film and makes the Demogorgon look like a cuddly toy. With so much focus on this creature, it stands to reason we’ll see it in full force in season 2.
Will Byers is also due to feature a lot more in season 2 than in the first. Whilst his disappearance was the crux of the first season, the fact that he was missing means we didn’t really get to spend much time exploring his character. This time around, the series will delve into the PTSD he's experiencing because of his ordeal, giving season 2 a darker and more emotionally resonant tone.
Season 2 will also see new characters introduced, including Bob Newby (Sean Astin), a local Radio Shack owner who begins dating Joyce. Paul Reiser will also debut as Owens, a government agent tasked with containing the events of the first season.