Before you get yourself stuck in the Upside Down tomorrow (aka Netflix), here’s an informative summary of where the main characters of Stranger Things left off at the end of Season 1. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Hopper Makes a Deal with the Hawkins Lab
In the beginning of the season finale of Stranger Things, we saw Joyce and Hopper in the custody of the Hawkins Lab. Before Brenner’s FBI enforcer, Connie can make it look like Hopper overdosed on drugs, he got her attention by revealing that he knew where Eleven was. Brenner entered the interrogation room soon after, and Hopper made him a deal he couldn’t refuse: in return for Eleven’s whereabouts, the Hawkins Lab would let Joyce and Hopper pass through their portal to the Upside Down so that they could rescue Will.
Before the Hawkins Lab reaches the middle school where Eleven was hiding out with Mike, Dustin, and Lucas, Hopper had a series of flashbacks that revealed what happened to his daughter, Sara. In them, we saw that Sara had become terminally ill, eventually passing away because of it. We don’t know the exact nature of her sickness, but David Harbour (Hopper) has stated that that is something that’ll be explored in future seasons. In these flashbacks, we saw the father Hopper was and how much his daughter meant to him. We understand his grief and his dedication to finding Joyce’s son, Will. He has had felt an unfathomable pain in losing Sara and doesn’t want anybody else–especially someone he considers a friend by the end of the season–to feel that pain as well.
The Mystery of Barb
There was a mystery surrounding Nancy’s friend, Barb, and her disappearance in Stranger Things. We don’t know if she was killed by the Demogorgon when she was taken; we only know that she was taken. In the season finale, we saw through Hopper and Joyce that Barb was indeed dead. The Demogorgon took her along with five other people before the finale, but we still don’t know if the others are alive or dead by the end of the episode.
It could be assumed that the others are dead as well. The Demogorgon was, as Brenner put it, an animal… and like all animals, it needed to eat. That’s not to say that some of the others didn’t get away like Will did, but the fact that they weren’t mentioned at all in the finale means one of two things: they are dead, or one or any number of them will play an important role in Season 2. The Duffer Brothers have plenty of tricks up their sleeves, so this wouldn’t surprise me.
The Hawkins Lab’s Fate
As for those working for the Hawkins Lab… Well, they should’ve never crossed paths with Eleven again. Her anger for them had built up over the course of the season, and, so, when they came looking for her at the middle school, she was prepared to fight. In fact, she ended up killing a large group of them–including Connie Frazier–before they could get their hands on her. This was a huge display of Eleven’s powers, probably the biggest we’d seen from her. It’s not like they didn’t deserve it.
But once Eleven killed that group of Hawkins Lab baddies, the blood oozing out of their bodies attracted the Demogorgon to the middle school. As soon as it arrived, crashing through the wall like the Kool-Aid man, the Demogorgon jumped on Brenner, taking him out first. The attack left me wondering whether or not the monster recognized Brenner for some reason. Maybe there’s a history there that we don’t know about yet? I mean… Brenner was literally done for as soon as the Demogorgon could get his bearings on the situation. It suggests that there has been a hatred brewing inside the monster for some time, and maybe Brenner was the root of it. We could never know for sure.
Eleven Saves the Day
Even though Eleven was weakened from attacking the group of Hawkins Lab baddies, she gathered her strength to make one last push against the Demogorgon. The monster finished destroying the rest of the soldiers outside the classroom, then set its sights on the boys, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas. They didn’t have any way of protecting themselves, besides their slingshot, which ended up proving worthless against the AC of the mighty Demogorgon. Eleven was their only hope of surviving the encounter.
Then something unexpected happened: the rock fired from the slingshot appeared to pin the Demogorgon back against the chalkboard. Wait… No, that was just Eleven using her powers. Just kidding. With the monster in a vulnerable position, Eleven mustered her remaining strength to obliterate the monster into a million tiny pieces. When the boys looked back up to see if Eleven had survived, they realized that she disappeared entirely.
Nancy and Steve Still End Up Together
By the end of the season of Stranger Things, I was thinking that Jonathan and Nancy’s teamwork in tracking down the Demogorgon would lead them into a more romantic relationship. But, when they lured the monster to Jonathan’s house in an attempt to kill it, Steve showed up with his bloodied face. He apologized for being a stupid jerk, then helped save Nancy with his own Lucille (even though Jonathan was the one who made it).
The season finale jumped forward one month after the rescue of Will and Eleven’s defeat of the Demogorgon. We saw that, despite the bond formed by Jonathan and Nancy, that she and Steve still ended up together. The Duffer Brothers tricked us at first, showing her giving Jonathan a new camera to replace the one that Steve broke. You could’ve sworn that they were together. But then she goes back on the couch and cuddles with Steve.
Hopper’s Mysterious Situation
After finding and rescuing Will from the Upside Down, Hopper, and Joyce brought him to the hospital. We learned that Will, despite having a gigantic slug down his throat, survived the incident. Meanwhile, outside the hospital, Hopper attempted to enjoy a cigarette but was interrupted by a man, who, without saying a word, got him to enter the car that he had waiting for him. That scene in Stranger Things suggested that Hopper may know more then he’s letting on. With the key players from the Hawkins Lab dead, who are the people who wanted to talk to Hopper? Do they have something to do with his daughter’s death?
Hopper built on this mystery, even more, when he left some Eggos in a storage box at a spot in the Mirkwood Forest. We came to identify Eleven by her awesome powers and her love for Eggos as the season progressed, so was Hopper leaving her the food? If he was, how does he know that she’d come to that particular spot? How did he know that she was even alive? Did he get early access to the Season 2 trailer or something (which shows clearly that Eleven is alive)? Or was he just hoping that she was out there somewhere? To me, the spot he chose was a very particular location, so I think that that–combined with him entering the car–suggested he knows something.
Will’s Sticky Situation
The very last scene of the first season of Stranger Things showed the Byers’ family enjoying their Christmas Eve meal at home–including their dog. In the midst of dinner, Will left and went to the bathroom. There, he coughed up a Demogorgon-esque slug into the sink, and then had a vision of the Upside Down, almost as if he were back there again. What does all of that mean in regards to the next season? What role does Will play in the events to come? Will he become the next Demogorgon? Season 2 of Stranger Things hits Netflix tomorrow, so binge away for the answers.