Stranger Things: What you need to know before Season Two

Ryan Leston
UK Movies Writer

It’s almost time for ‘Stranger Things’ to return.

But are you all caught up ready for Season Two?

It’s been a long wait since ‘Stranger Things’ first appeared on Netflix back last year. An explosive mix of ‘80s pop culture and terrifying sci-fi horror, ‘Stranger Things’ captured imaginations across the globe. Following a group of children as they encounter otherworldly evil and are forced to save one of their own, ‘Stranger Things’ made quite the impression.

And we’ve been eagerly awaiting ‘Stranger Things’ Season Two.

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Now, with the new season just days away, it’s time to look back at what happened…

The Vanishing of Will Byers

It all began when Will Byers (played by Noah Schnapp) went missing.

In fact, it’s the defining story arc of the entire season. At first dismissed as a young boy playing hookey, the vanishing of Will Byers turned out to be something far more sinister.

After a particularly intense game of Dungeons & Dragons with his pals, Will Byers was pursued by an inter-dimensional evil – a creature we later came to know as the Demogorgon. Seemingly kidnapped by the demonic-looking creature, he ended up in the Upside-Down – a parallel dimension full of strange black vines, and a toxic atmosphere.

And that was the least of his worries.

Stalked by the Demogorgon through this strange, new world, Will relied on his uncanny wits to keep himself alive… and to stay hidden from the ‘80s inspired creature.

Thankfully, his family never gave up hope… and it made for some of the most memorable moments in TV history. Back in our dimension, Will’s mother, Joyce (played by Winona Ryder) realises that a series of static-filled telephone calls and flickering lights are actually her son trying to communicate.

And in one of the most memorable moments of ‘Stranger Things’ Season One,  she even managed to contact her son using only a string of fairy lights and some intense scribbling across the living room wall.

But where did the Upside-Down come from?

Sherriff Hopper (played by David Harbour) is finally convinced that something strange is going on… and after a bit of digging, he concludes that all the weirdness is connected to the shady goings-on over at Hawkins National Laboratory.

And he’s not wrong.

The Upside-Down has likely always been there… but the fabric between worlds was weakened following a series of tests over at Hawkins lab. The secretive government facility was led by Dr Martin Brenner (played by Matthew Modine) – a powerful government bod conducting clandestine experiments on a number of children at the facility.

And one of those children is Eleven.

The young girl known as Eleven (played by Millie Bobbie Brown) managed to escape the facility using her innate psionic abilities – that’s right, she can do some crazy stuff with just her mind. And that includes killing off her abusive guards as she makes an action-packed escape.

Obviously, it’s not long before she crosses paths with Will’s friends – Mike, Dustin and Lucas – while they’re out searching for their lost pal. In time, she became one of the gang, and even ends up hiding out at Mike’s family home. But the powerful forces of Hawkins Power and Light are hot on her heels… and they’re not going to let her go that easily.

After all, she’s a very valuable asset.

What’s the deal with Eleven?

Now, this one is a bit trickier to answer.

Although Eleven isn’t exactly an open book, ‘Stranger Things’ does give us some explanations as to where she really comes from. There are hints of the infamous government project MK-ULTRA – an experiment into drug-induced mind-control and psionic abilities.

And it seems Eleven was born of this project.

Taken from her mother at an early age, she was likely raised by Dr Brenner – who she now refers to as ‘Papa’ – at the Hawkins National Lab. And we see a number of flashbacks into Eleven’s past which highlight the relationship between Brenner and Eleven. There’s a weird kind of love there… but clearly, it’s not going to end well. After all, her story is essentially that of a child, abducted from her mother as a baby because of her ESP abilities, in an effort to get one over on the commies and win the Cold War.

Most importantly, as ‘Stranger Things’ Season One progresses, we get to see the true power of Eleven’s abilities. It’s crazy. She’s telekinetic, does some weird kind of astral projection, and she can even super-power the kids’ walkie-talkies so they can communicate with Will in the Upside-Down.

And the best part – Eleven is able to help save Will.

Inside the Upside-Down

After some psychic shenanigans involving Eleven and a home-made sensory deprivation tank… they manage to find Will. And a swift rescue courtesy of Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers results in them dragging the missing boy out of the Upside Down.

And they’re just in the nick of time.

It’s a dark, depressing slog through a horrifying alternate dimension… and it even turns up another missing character – Nancy’s friend Barb. She was also dragged into the Upside-Down by the demonic Demogorgon. But it seems her fate as the gorky friend of the pretty girl was sealed the moment we first saw her – despite an unexpected fan campaign to bring her back.

Still, Will is alive… and that’s sure something.

But again, it’s not as straightforward as it seems.

The nightmare continues for Will Byers

It’s all happy families again by the end of ‘Stranger Things’ Season One… but that’s not going to last for long. Will Byers is back home, enjoying a festive Christmas with his mum and his brother, Johnathan. Awww, how lovely. But when he sneaks off to the bathroom, it becomes clear something isn’t right.

In fact, it’s very, very wrong.

First of all, Will coughs up a horrifying slug-like creature into the bathroom sink, which slithers off down the plughole. It’s exactly the same kind of slug we saw in the Upside-Down, slithering out of a then-deceased Barb. What is it? We have absolutely no idea… but it’s not looking good for poor old Will.

Then, there’s that inexplicable reality-flickering moment.

It looks as though the Upside-Down has affected Will in ways we can only imagine. And now, he’s inextricably linked to that alternate place. Experiencing flickering visions of the Upside-Down, it looks as though Will can now perceive both realities. And this is likely to come into play in ‘Stranger Things’ Season Two in a big way.

Of course, it’s not just Will that’s been affected.

After confronting the Demogorgon, Eleven is now missing – presumably banished to the Upside-Down by the dying creature. And Dr Brenner was seemingly killed by the monstrous Demogorgon in some horrific final scenes. But whether or not he actually died, remains to be seen… and I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of him.

So, there we have it – you’re now all caught up ahead of Season Two.

But what ‘Stranger Things’ await us? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.

‘Stranger Things’ stars David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Charlie Heaton, Millie Bobbie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Sean Astin, and Dacre Montgomery.

‘Stranger Things’ Season Two is available now on Netflix.

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