There’s no way to not binge watch Stranger Things no matter how hard you try to make the nine episodes last as long as possible.
Especially knowing that Season 3 won’t be around until 2019, but all of us here at MTTG wound up breaking our Season 2 viewing into two days unlike Season 1 which had us spending all afternoon glued to our 4K television.
The Duffer Brothers have said they wanted this season to wrap up more plot threads than in the first season, but it seems they left plenty more for us to comment on and then ask what will come of them in 2019. Season 2 didn’t end with such a big cliffhanger as one did, but it did give us a nice warm happy feeling even (who couldn’t get all fuzzy feeling at that dance?) with that little peek into what’s coming back.
HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO WAIT?
After Season 1 premiered, it took Stranger Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer 15 months to write, film, and add all the creature-feature special effects to the second season of their hit Netflix series. With stars like Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown increasingly in demand on major upcoming film projects like It 2, Hellboy, and Godzilla: King of Monsters, the Duffer brothers might find it even more challenging to get their entire cast together to film Season 3. Either way, fans likely won’t get another installment in this particular adventure until 2019. No Game of Thrones or Stranger Things in 2018? What’s a genre-lover to do?
When Season 3 does premiere, the Duffers have confirmed the show will feature yet another significant time jump in order to keep pace with its young, growing cast members. If Stranger Things does leap forward one year in time (say, to the end of Eleven’s confinement?), then expect to see a few more inches of hair on its leading lady’s head and, perhaps, the start of her first-ever school year with the rest of her friends. If all the kids—Eleven, Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, Max—are 14 in Season 3, that means we’ll likely see them all bravely entering the dangerous territory of ninth grade at Hawkins High.
WHO WILL BE THE BIG BAD?
If the finale is any indication, the Big Bad of Season 3 seems like it will be the same as ever—the giant, shadowy creature that the kids call the Mind Flayer. As Ross Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter:
They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, but it also is very much aware of the kids, 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.
Well, no wonder the episode concluded with that classic 80s ode to stalking: 1983’s “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. We’ve seen the Mind Flayer looming over Hawkins before, but now it seems to have zeroed in precisely on Eleven—and will be closely watching every breath, step, claim, smile, vow, and move she makes.
HOW WILL IT GET IN?
In previous seasons, Will has acted as an unwilling gateway of sorts to the Mind Flayer’s attempts to invade and destroy Hawkins, Indiana. Will he again act as the monster’s vessel? The Duffers have said the once-possessed Will has now been cleansed of any supernatural invaders, but actor Noah Schnapp is not convinced. “I personally think it’s not all out of him,” he told THR. “I feel like it can’t be. There’s this massive monster taking over all of Hawkins, and all you have to do is light a few fires and turn on a few heaters, and he’s gone? It just doesn’t make sense to me, really. He’s still there—I just don’t know how.” If I were Mike, I would keep a close eye on my best friend for any sign of “The Spy.”
IF NOT WILL, THEN WHO?
If the Duffers are not playing coy and Will is completely cleansed of any trace of the Mind Flayer, then who else could help the many-legged creep sneak back into Hawkins? Well, bear in mind that while exploring the creepy underground caverns created by the monster, both Sheriff Hopper and Dustin got sprayed in the face with Upside Down pollen. Hopper wasn‘t wearing any protection when he got hit—twice. Dustin, who was sensibly wearing goggles and a bandana, claims some of that dust got in his mouth. Either one of them—both emotionally fragile people at the end of Season 2—could be unknowingly incubating something nasty.
And if Hopper does wind up being the vehicle for this particular brand of evil, a quick trip under his cabin floorboards could hint at how that nastiness might manifest. We haven’t seen Hopper’s war experience take a toll on him (the grief he was nursing seemed pegged to his late daughter), but Vietnam-inspired P.T.S.D. was very much a subject of fascination in 80s pop culture. Will Season 3 take us on a hellish climb up Jacob’s Ladder (1990)?
One final possibility for a Season 3 invader could be the dead (or is it?) Demodog that Dustin and Steve stuffed in Joyce’s fridge. The creature doesn’t get another mention—not even in the “One Month Later” montage—but it’s hard to imagine students of pop culture like Ross and Matt Duffer ignoring something as enticing as that thawable critter on ice.
If the Duffers want to give the Mind Flayer a rest for a year, only to bring him back for the planned fourth and final season, then there are a few other possibilities as to who might cause trouble for Eleven et al. next year. High on the list has to be her long-lost “sister” Eight, a.k.a. Kali (Linnea Berthelsen). Kali’s particular set of skills—being able to make you see whatever she wants you to—plus her violent, vengeful mission could easily put her on a path to come to blows with Eleven. (Those hallucination skills could also link up with a potential PTSD plotline for Hopper.) We also don’t know what Eleven’s other labmates (One-Seven, Nine, and Ten) are up to. We could have a big X-Men-esque showdown on our hands before all is said and done.
Another possibility for Kali and her rag-tag band of punks is that the Duffer brothers intend the seventh episode of this season to operate as a backdoor pilot for an Eight-centric spin-off series. (In fact, the brothers referred to that episode as “a whole little other pilot” when speaking with Entertainment Weekly.) Given the critical reaction to Eight’s episode (which was mixed at best), that spin-off seems unlikely. But either way, we’ve surely not seen the last of Kali who, bear in mind, is named after the Hindu goddess best-known for being “the destroyer of worlds.”
PAPA, CAN YOU HEAR ME?
Eleven could also face danger from another pseudo member of her family: Dr. Brenner a.k.a. “Papa.” Though Matthew Modine’s Season 1 antagonist only appeared in flashbacks and visions this season, the Duffers have been quite clear that there’s probably more in store for him. Matt Duffer told IGN:
I would say that if we were going to kill Brenner… as an audience member watching the show, if that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying to me—when the monster jumps on him, and we cut away. He would deserve much more than that as an ending. So yes, there’s a possibility of seeing him again.
Season 2 leaned in heavily on the notion that Benner is not quite dead yet. So Season 3 could give us a battle of Eleven’s father figures: Hopper vs. Brenner.
WHO WON’T BE BACK
Though we likely haven’t seen the last of Brenner or Eight, we did see the Department of Energy chased out of Hawkins, hopefully for good. I’m not saying a shadowy government conspiracy won’t rear its head in future installments, but it would be nice to give the DoE a break from the villain role. I also wouldn’t mind if Billy, a truly unnecessary new character, disappeared into thin air.
Also, please let this be the last we hear of Barb Holland. Season 2 was far too preoccupied with serving the fan demand of “justice for Barb.” Justice having been served, I hope she rests, permanently, in peace.
WHO HAS TO COME BACK
As with all high school-set stories, Stranger Things may have written itself into a bit of a corner when it came to graduating characters. It’s a fine tradition for teen shows to find some excuse to have their 18-year-old characters stick around town even after their senior years end, whether it be following burnouts like Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights or inventing conveniently localized universities like Hearst College (Veronica Mars), U.C. Sunnydale (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), or California University (Beverly Hills, 90210). So what, oh what will the Duffers do to keep graduating senior Steve Harrington in Hawkins next year? There’s no way they get rid of fan favorite and Season 2 MVP Joe Keery.
The third season could take place over 1985 summer vacation—but that seems unlikely, given the show’s penchant for autumn. Instead, the Duffers cleverly planted the idea in Season 2, Episode 1 that Steve might stick around town and go work for his old man in order to keep a protective eye on his now-ex Nancy. That’s not what I want for Steve the character. (Move on, Steve! Go to college!) But if it means the world’s best babysitter and his incredible head of hair stays in the mix for Season 3, then I’m all for it. The Jonathan/Nancy/Steve love triangle will live to fight another day.
FRIENDS AND LOVERS
Speaking of love triangles: the dynamic gently simmering in the background of Season 2 between Joyce, Bob, and Hopper means that we can all expect Will’s mom and Eleven’s adopted dad to go full Brady Bunch at some point in the future. Will the Duffers make us wait until the end of Season 4 for the moment we all can see coming?
NOW FOR OUR QUESTIONS ABOUT STRANGER THINGS SEASON 3
Are Hopper and Joyce finally gonna get together?
Yes, Bob Newby’s heroic corpse is still warm, but Jopper fans need this question asked right up front. Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper certainly share a traumatic experience now, if not several, and they’ve got a long history that dates back to sneaking cigarettes together in high school. There’s something in their final moments this season that suggests this pair may be closer to uniting than ever before. Just think, Will and Eleven could be step-siblings! David Harbour certainly wants it to happen, saying on Beyond Stranger Things that “the sex would be a lot better with Hopper than it is with Bob.” Ouch.
Were Dustin and Hopper infected in the tunnels?
A whole bunch of characters travel into the Upside Down–esque tunnels in Stranger Things 2, but two of our favorites also ingest a great deal of the funky stuff that’s floating around down there. Hopper spent a great deal of time trapped by those supernatural vines and Dustin swallowed a big chunk of Upside Down ephemera. Given the Duffer brothers’ reverence of Aliens, will these occurrences come back to haunt them? Like Will, might they develop a connection to this other dimension, or worse? If Dustin ends up having the Stranger Things version of a chest-burster, we’ll need years of therapy to deal with it.
What role will Kali play next season?
After that incredible opening scene for Stranger Things 2, we don’t see Linnea Berthelsen’s Kali until close to the end of the season, as Eleven has an adventure with her psychic “sister” that teaches our heroine the extent of her own powers. But is that it for Kali and her Warriors-esque crew? It’s hard to believe we’ve seen the last of her, not only because her connection to Eleven remains strong but because her arc ended so abruptly. There wasn’t the closure this character demands. There’s a lot more to this character and more story to tell.
Are there other numbers out there?
While we’re on the subject, are there other people like Kali and Eleven hiding in the Stranger Things universe? If we’ve met Eight and Eleven, where are the rest? The flashbacks to Eleven’s childhood and the way she connects with Eight certainly implies there could be more kids out there with similar powers. This is the kind of question that may not be answered in Stranger Things 3, but could come up in later seasons — or possibly a spinoff series. Just picture it: Stranger Things 5: Eleven Meets Twelve.
Will the Mind Flayer be the antagonist of season three?
That final shot of Stranger Things 2 is a beauty, and not just because it adds another layer to the use of “the stalker song,” as Gaten Matarazzo describes the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in Beyond Stranger Things. The Mind Flayer is still watching every breath that the gang takes during the Snow Ball, as we see it stalking about Hawkins Middle School in the Upside Down. Does this mean that it’ll be back as the main villain next year? Or even further into the arc of the show? It certainly implies that we haven’t seen the last of this great TV villain.
Will Dr. Brenner return?
One of the most interesting developments in Stranger Things 2 is the strong implication that Matthew Modine’s Dr. Brenner is still alive. Not only does Kali tell Eleven that she hasn’t looked hard enough for “Papa,” but the Hawkins Lab goon that they threaten says that he can actually take them to Brenner. It’s not hard to envision a return for Modine’s formidable character in season three or beyond. After all, Eleven hasn’t completely closed the door on the first person to show her any care, so there’s a reason why she still hasn’t tried to track him down. (Also, Millie Bobby Brown has some fascinating insight into the Brenner-Eleven relationship in Beyond Stranger Things.) Whether it’s in flashbacks or an actual return to Hawkins, Brenner will almost certainly surface again.
Is Will Byers finally free?
The main narrative thrust of Stranger Things 2 was Will’s connection to the Upside Down, but are we sure that he’s been saved for good? We know that the Mind Flayer was able to hide itself pretty well inside Will’s mind. What if there’s still a deadly connection between it and Will? This poor kid just can’t catch a break.
What’ll happen to poor Steve?
The love triangle between Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan is all but over, officially leaving Steve as the third wheel. Sure, he’s become a big brother figure for Dustin, but is that enough to keep this character around for Stranger Things 3? He’ll be graduating from Hawkins High pretty soon, and as much as he’s a fan favorite, it feels like he’d be the one to go if the show decides to make room for new characters.
Is Hawkins Lab closed for good?
As most of the technicians at Hawkins Laboratory turned into food for Demodogs, and the rest drove off after Murray dropped his bombshell scoop about Barb’s death, it feels like the door is finally closed on the Hawkins Lab arc of Stranger Things. If we had to guess, season three will move away from characters like Dr. Brenner and Dr. Owens as primary characters, although a place like that surely has more secrets from its past just waiting to be unearthed.