Stranger Things season 2: New Upside Down details revealed, "fantastic" first episode reactions, and everything you need to know

Image: Entertainment Weekly

Fast Facts:

  • Stranger Things season 2 release date: October 31, 2017
  • Cast: Millie Bobbie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Caleb McLaughlin, Dacre Montgomery, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Noah Schnapp, Sean Astin, Linnea Berthelsen, Winona Ryder, Paul Reiser, David Harbour
  • Producers: Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen
  • Showrunners: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer

Update: March 6, 2017 - Will might have PSTD, and we'll be seeing a lot more of the Upside Down

Remember that final scene of Stranger Things season 1 where Will's bathroom appears to turn briefly into the Upside Down? That all might have been a hallucination. Speaking at SXSW, showrunner Matt Duffer said that "Will seems to be seeing images from the Upside Down - the question is whether they're real or not. So it seems like he's having some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder". Returning to normal life - or however close Hawkins can get to normal after the events of season 1 - can't be easy, and those hallucinations aren't going to make it any easier. 

But wait, there's more! Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, the composers for season 2, revealed that "the Upside Down will be more of a place […] you'll spend more time. So we'll make a lot more weird music this time around". Enticing. The Upside Down definitely has a lot of potential, and the glimpses we got of it last season left viewers with tons of questions. Why does it look like a spider has spewed black webs over our world? If you change one thing in the real world, does it instantly change in the Upside Down too? Looks like these questions are going to be answered, with an equally eerie soundtrack to match. 

Update: March 6, 2017 - Netflix official praises the "fantastic" first episode of Stranger Things season 2

The verdict is in: the first episode of Stranger Things season 2 is "fantastic". Lucky Netflix high-ups Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer) and co-founder Reed Hastings have revealed to Digital Spy that they've already seen the first episode, and have quite a few promising things to say about it. Sarandos says that "it delivers on everything that every fan wants". Try to contain yourself, okay? Even though there's still eight months left till we get a chance to feast our eyes on it, Sarandos goes on to say Netflix already has the "sense that it's going to be really big", as "the reaction and momentum in Netflix internally is building". Sounds like they're well on the way to getting hyped about it in the streaming service's lair. 

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The first episode is gold, and Will could be hallucinating rather than flipping into the Upside Down - the former is definitely good news, and I assure you that the second is too. Even if it does involve a child's trauma. Ahem. The reason I'm rather glad that Will is having a rough time of it is because it brings us even closer to more details about season 2, and with those tidbits come questions. How is Will going to be treated at school? What exactly is in the first episode? Some of our burning questions have already been answered, as it's been revealed that the series will be hitting our screens on All Hallow's Eve (i.e., October 31st). I guess all that's left is to wait patiently for Eleven to appear once again. Even though it's really, really hard. 

Stranger Things season 2 release date is Halloween 2017

Plan on dressing up for Halloween? I have good news: your Eleven costume might be more topical than you realise, as Stranger Things season 2 will be hitting our screens on October 31, 2017 (not 2018, thankfully). Meaning you can get your scare on with spidery Upside Down monsters right before you go out to trick and treat... although I wouldn't be surprised if most people stayed in to binge-watch it with a carton of Eggos nestled by their side. 

Stranger Things season 2 trailer turned our world upside-down

What we've all been waiting for is here: the trailer for Stranger Things season 2. There's plenty for us to dissect to give us clues about what's going in Hawkins. Namely, Will seems to be partly absent. Lying on a hospital bed with all kinds of tubes connected to him, it's safe to say he might be in a bit of trouble. Plus there's that massive spider-like thing poised over the town amidst totally not-ominous shades of red. I wouldn't like to be beneath whatever Hopper is using to vigorously stab something one of the scenes, and the sight of what looks like yellow quarantine suits suggests Hawkins is still the subject of shady government activities. Needless to say, there's quite a few questions raised by this trailer. Brace yourself for the fan theories that'll emerge in the coming days!

The teaser trailer is short but sweet. It might not have any footage from season 2, but it does flash up the name the nine episodes for us to dissect and inevitably overthink. Plus, the theme music which makes my hair stand on end is back. Alongside it we've got a very 80's teaser trailer in the form of a news report by Brenda Wood, who alerts us to a mysterious girl with a shaved head shoplifting Eggos and lets us know Barb is still missing. Take a look for yourself!

Stranger Things season 2 episode titles and what they might mean 

So, the teaser trailer for Stranger Things season 2 has given us the name of each of the nine episodes (one more episode than season 1) which makes it a tantalising glimpse into what the episodes may hold. After all, the titles sure to cause speculation and fan theories galore. Here they are along with my wild speculation as to what some of them could involve:

Madmax - This first episode will likely introduce the new character Max, which I’m especially excited about because you can never have too many badass little girls on TV. By the sounds of it, she’ll be a central character in season two. 

The Boy Who Came Back To Life - This is an obvious nod to Will, so we might be seeing an episode about how he was received by the citizens of Hawkins upon his return from the Upside Down, especially considering the title was plastered on the front of the newspaper in the last episode of season one. 

The Pumpkin Patch - Perhaps this episode will have something to do with that weird egg from the Upside Down we got a glimpse of in one of the episodes. But one pumpkin doesn’t make a patch, so we could be seeing even more eggs.

The Palace - This very well might be another location in the Upside Down, and it certainly sounds like it’s a place of serious importance. Maybe this is where we’ll find the ‘proud princess’ hinted at in the last episode of season 1. 

The Storm - This episode is probably going to deal with a real-life storm, as 1984 was a big year for extreme weather. The Atlantic hurricane season pummelled America pretty badly around this time, and I bet there will be equally dramatic events in the episode to match the weather. 

The Pollywog - A pollywog is a tadpole, but in this case it’s probably that gross slug which Will coughed up in his bathroom. If that slug is a tadpole, I hate to imagine what a frog would look like…

The Secret Cabin - This might be where Eleven is - after all, think back to when Hopper put those eggos in that box in the woods. Cabins are found in woods, so maybe Eleven has found herself somewhere in the Upside Down to stay - or hide. 

The Brain - We all know Eleven has some advanced telepathy skills, so maybe this episode will be dealing with her powers - or maybe someone else will discover they’ve got the same abilities. The Brain could also be the title of the new big baddie, as it certainly sounds ominous enough. 

The Lost Brother - This might be the fourth key character who has yet to be cast. Maybe he’ll be called Twelve. We know Eleven’s mother wasn’t the only one to be experimented on, so there very well might be more kids like Eleven somewhere in that shady government facility.

So how many seasons will the 80's supernatural show have? Well, the answer is tricky. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the Duffer brothers said that they're not planning to drag the Netflix phenomenon out for five or six seasons. They're planning for it to have a "really finite ending". Hoping that the end of season 2 leaves viewers "fully satisfied", they want people to feel like it's "come to a conclusion", hinting that they'd be happy to leave it at two seasons. That doesn't necessarily mean that this is the final season, though - the brothers have "laid the ground work for further seasons" in case they're given the green light. Sounds like the finale to season 2 - The Lost Brother - will wrap up all the loose ends and not be as open to interpretation as the ending to season 1, with Hopper leaving Eggos in a box in the middle of the woods. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. 

Stranger Things season 2 cast has some (kind of) familiar faces

In case it isn't obvious by now, Millie Bobbie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, and Natalia Dyer are returning to our screens. Joe Keery is also returning as a series regular in his role as Steve Harrington, the cliché-busting high school popular kid. 

So what about new cast members? We know that we’ll have four new additions to the central cast thanks to The Hollywood Reporter. One of the new characters remains a mystery, but the other three are called Max, Billy, and Roman. 

Entertainment Weekly has revealed that Sadie Sink will be playing Max, a 13-year-old tomboy who shreds on her skateboard. She’s has a tricky relationship with her step-brother Billy, which means she’s “suspicious of those around her”. Sounds like she’ll be another badass character who I'd love to see come face-to-face with the telekinetic prodigy Eleven. 

Dacre Montgomery, from the upcoming Power Rangers movie, will be playing Billy, Max’s step-brother, who sounds like a wild card. He’s a cocky 17-year-old who is so edgy that rumours are flying around that he killed someone at one of his old schools. He’s got a reputation for stealing people’s girlfriends, being a dab hand at drinking games and drives a black Camaro. But he’s got a dark side. Those closest to him know about his tendency to be aggressive and unpredictable, especially those younger than him. Sounds like him and Max aren’t best of buds. 

Linnea Berthelsen will be playing Roman according to Variety, who has had a tough life: having been homeless from a young age with a drug-addicted mother, she suffered a great loss when she was younger and has been “seeking revenge ever since”. Sadly, Roman is described as an outsider “who doesn’t understand how to connect with people”.

Sean Astin has been cast as Bob Newby, an aged nerd who went to school with Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour), and is now dating Joyce. Bob has a kind heart, and is now manager of the Hawkins RadioShack. Maybe he’ll get along with Mike and his geeky crew, considering he seems to be just as nerdy as they are.

Paul Reiser will be playing Dr Owens, who works at the Department of Energy and has been tasked with ‘containing’ all the fallout from the supernatural rigamarole. Presumably he’ll be having some chats with Hopper, especially as it looks like Hopper is now under the thumb of the government following the deal he made at the end of season 1. 

Comedian Brett Gelman has been cast as conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman, billed as “a disgraced journalist who has dug deep into conspiracies and is currently investigating a cold case in Hawkins”. Perhaps he’ll be on the hunt for other test subjects like Terry Ives, or even trying to find out if the rumours about a mysterious telepathic girl with a shaved head are true. 

And Barb is still dead. Sorry, but it sounds like she's not about to be resurrected any time soon. 

Stranger Things season 2 plot has already been hinted at by the Duffer brothers

In the not-so-sleepy town of Hawkins, there's been plenty of time for the events of season 1 to percolate. Although the dust might have settled a little bit, David Harbour revealed that "it’s a year later in the story, so there are several things that happened last year… There are certain people in the town that know what happened, and then certain people that don’t”. Sounds like there will be plenty of shifty looks and suspicion amongst the town's citizens, as Harbour added that  “[t]here’s a lot of fallout with who knows what". People other than those who knew about the supernatural events might twig that something's being kept quiet, and I doubt they'll be very happy about that. 

Plus, Joyce has a new man. No, it's not Hopper (insert disappointed sigh here). Sean Astin is playing her beau Bob Newby, a manager of a RadioShack and former classmate of Hopper and Joyce. I doubt Hopper is particularly chuffed with that, as Harbour mentioned that he's now close to Will's tenacious mother "much to the chagrin of the Chief of Police". Judging by season 1, Stranger Things makes it clear that personal issues influence larger-scale events quite a bit, so perhaps this love triangle will have a bigger effect than we realise. 

The official logline has already revealed the crux of season 2:

"When terrifying supernatural forces once again begin to affect Hawkins, they realize Will's disappearance was only the beginning. And so the adventure continues…"

By the sounds of what Matt Duffer said in an interview, the consequences of living in the Upside Down for a week are going to be pretty central, so Will isn’t going to be in the best shape. We already saw him regurgitating that gross slug, as well as the brief flick into the other dimension, so maybe he’ll be constantly jumping between the Upside Down and the real world - or the Upside Down might start to leak into Hawkins. Matt is eager to remind us that  "three of our other characters were in there [Nancy, Joyce, and Hopper]. They took off their helmets." So it looks like Will isn’t going to be the only one experiencing the consequences of being in the Upside Down - although it’s fair to assume that his symptoms will be the most drastic. The inter-dimensional tear is still open, and with it the lab became ever-more unnerving and grimy, filled with black gunk. I somehow doubt that’s not going to be important.   

Get some salt ready, because Noah Schnapp revealed that season 2 is going to pick up at the point just after Will threw up that slimy slug. He goes on to say that "I may or may not have turned into a monster. You’ll have to watch to find out". How interesting. Could Will be the next threat to Hawkins, with something distinctly unnerving maturing inside him? Hopper and Joyce did have to haul a long snake-thing out of his throat when they found him in the Upside Down. Perhaps it left something behind. Shawn Levy also let slip that "season 2 is bigger and potentially darker in its stakes. The threat, which in Season 1 was to Will Byers, has grown. That’s all I’m going to say!" By the sounds of it the Upside Down might have begun to affect the entire town, rather than a couple of individuals. Hopefully we'll be getting a release date soon, because I certainly can't wait to see what's going on in the not-so-sleepy town. 

Stranger Things season 2: Eleven is alive, but what's she been up to?

Joy of joys, Eleven is ALIVE! The Super Bowl trailer sees her wake up in a telltale blue-toned world, hinting that she's in the Upside Down. Her nose is also bleeding in the split-second we saw her onscreen, so perhaps she's still feeling the effects of destroying the Demogorgon at the end of season 1.

In an interview Dave Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper, said that Hopper is still struggling with the fact that he sold out Eleven to the government. The Eggos at the end have special significance for him, as Harbour suggests that “maybe he has to find redemption with Eleven if she still exists somewhere in the universe, and he clearly believes she does. He wouldn’t leave the waffles if he didn’t.” 

The Upside Down is a clear manifestation of our world through a twisted mirror, so I assume that the Eggos would appear in the other dimension after being put in that box in the woods. Please join me in praying for the moment when she comes back into Hawkins, more powerful than ever. 

Stranger Things season 2 theories: are Eleven and the Demogorgon one and the same?

Seeing as we’re all clearly thirsty for some idea of what might be in store for us, I’ve compiled some of the most convincing Stranger Things season 2 theories around. 

As far as fan theories go this one is pretty obvious but still key: the Thessalhydra is going to be the big bad monster for season 2. At the end of the final episode, the boys are just finishing up a Dungeons & Dragons session when they’re faced with a Thessalhydra. Thessalhydras have eight heads which centre around a circular mouth filled with pointy teeth - but when the boys vanquish it in their Dungeons and Dragons session at the end of season 1 Lucas only cuts off seven heads. Which means there’s still one left. Could this foreshadow the finale of season 2, where you think the big bad guy has finally expired but it’s not quite dead? Or maybe there won't be one but eight monsters to match the eight heads of the Thessalhydra. 

The next one is giving me distinctly Alien vibes: Will could be an incubator for the next monster. That slug he puked up might mean he’s infected with something, and worryingly after the bathroom flipped into the Upside Down he didn’t seem as shocked as I expected. 

Okay, buckle up. This one’s a doozy. Reddit user peters45 has come up with a theory that Eleven and the Demogorgon are one and the same. There are some key facts that point to this, all of which work together to become surprisingly convincing. The Demogorgon, despite being drawn to blood, never comes when Eleven has her nosebleeds. When Eleven faces off with the monster in the final episode at the school, she raises her right hand to pin it to the wall and the monster does exactly the same, mirroring her. Eleven recognises both Will and Barb despite never having seen them before - maybe she met both of them through the demogorgon’s eyes first? Plus, each time Eleven concentrates to find Will - first via the ham radio and second at Castle Byers - the demogorgon finds him straight afterwards. Coincidence? I think not. And finally, when Eleven saves Mike from jumping off the side of the cliff, she tearfully says: “I’m sorry. The gate… I opened it. I’m the monster”. Who’s to say she meant this metaphorically? Maybe she was being very honest, admitting that she and the Demogorgon are one and the same. 

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