How a staircase in the Stranger Things season 2 finale hints at the show’s biggest reveal yet (yes, really)

Stranger Things season 2 loves playing around with ‘80s references as well as plenty of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it background shenanigans to hint at what’s coming next. But what if we missed the biggest one of all? It all ties in to Hopper’s flashbacks from season 1 and one of season 2’s most bloody episodes. Spoilers for Stranger Things season 2 follow…

It’s probably been a few weeks since you binged it in a hazy, sleepless weekend so let’s rewind a little. Remember episode 8 of Stranger Things 2, the one with that death and most of the gang trapped within Hawkins Lab? Then think forward to the finale when Hopper and Eleven went back and Hopper came face-to-face with a bloody – but still alive – Dr. Owens.

If you thought that scene looked familiar, you’re not going mad. As Insider points out, that winding handrail and staircase has been seen before – in Hopper’s flashbacks with his daughter Sarah. Skip to 1:25 in the video below to see what I mean and compare it with the picture above.

See? It all looks very similar. So, what does that mean?

For one thing, we’ve only had the cause of Sarah’s death communicated through these flashbacks. Hopper is reluctant to go back into his memories and talk through it with anyone, even Eleven. But if she, too, was in Hawkins Lab for an undisclosed amount of time, does that mean she’s one of the kids experimented on? We obviously have Eleven, and now Eight… is Sarah one of the original batch of children, before even those two?

I’m gonna say… probably. It’s a little weird to see Hopper not go completely crazy at any Hawkins Lab employees, but he’s been great at bottling up his emotions before. David Harbour even reveals to Insider that it “is the same location.” The plot thickens...

If this theory rings true it might mean that – somehow, someway – Sarah is still alive. After all, there has to be a reason why the show is fixated on the memory of her, other than the none-too-subtle exploration of Eleven being Sarah’s surrogate replacement. 

What do you think? Interesting theory or complete coincidence? I’d love to hear what others make of it, so be sure to sound off in the comments.

Image: Netflix

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.