Stranger Things is almost back! Yes, we know it isn’t until October but that’s this year! That counts! And to tide us over, here are 20 things we know in advance (or think we know…) going into season 2.
1 Max and Billy, Billy and Max
A slew of new faces join the show this season with Dacre Montgomery and Sadie Sink as brother and sister Billy and Max being the first. Montgomery is about to hit the big screen in the Power Rangers movie while Sink is best known for her work on American Odyssey.
Meanwhile, Doctor Owens, the new head honcho of the Department of Energy is none other than CARTER J BURKE! Well, Paul Reiser, but the veteran comedian’s memorable turn in Aliens is what his appearance here instantly puts us in mind of. If there was a (tiny) issue with the first season it was just how little Matthew Modine’s Doctor Brenner got to both do and say. Reiser is a talker of positively Affleckian proportion and we cannot wait for his plausible brand of likeable slimeball to meet the Hawkins residents. Interestingly, word is Owens’ task will be to contain the events of the first season. Given what Hop is doing, we suspect the two men are going to share a lot of screen time.
Dutch actress Linnea Berthelsen has been cast as Roman, an emotionally damaged young woman who suffered a major loss as a child. She isn’t a Hawkins resident but is closely connected to events there. Her carefully vague character description (and possibly even name) all hint that there’s something pretty significant about her. If we had to guess? We’d say she lives near a non-Hawkins portal to the Upside-Down. Given that the first scene of the season does not take place in Hawkins, we’d lay odds on it featuring Roman.
Also new this season is the wonderfully named Bob Newby played by Sean Astin of Lord Of The Rings (“I can carry YOU!”) and The Strain fame. He’s an old high school friend of Joyce and Hop who runs the local Radio Shack and becomes a shoulder for Joyce to lean on after the events of season one. The obvious thing here is to assume Bob has nefarious intentions but wouldn’t it be awesome if he was just a straight up, decent guy?
Brett Gelman of the excellent Fleabag joins the show as Murray Bowman. Murray is a disgraced journalist turned conspiracy theorist who comes to Hawkins to investigate a cold case. Interestingly, there’s no hint this cold case concerns what happened to Will, and Murray may well be looking at something else in the town’s past, which would be fun. That being said, he positively screams “Hopper is going to argue with this man a lot,” which should be even more fun.
6 Every Main Character Still Alive Is Back
And, maybe, Doctor Brenner. Matthew Modine has certainly hinted at that on his Instagram…
7 Justice for Barb. Sort Of
Shannon Purser’s Barb was taken to the hearts of the audience almost as fast as she was taken to her death in the Upside-Down. The producers have promised that Barb’s death hangs over the show and exploring the consequences of it is a big part of what drives this year’s story.
8 Hopper’s Taking The Brunt
David Harbour’s long-suffering Chief Hopper was one of the best parts of season one and Harbour has been talking about what Hop’s doing in season two. Remember, last time we saw him he was leaving Eggos for Eleven in the woods. It turns out he’s working hard on covering up what happened in order to protect Joyce and the boys. So does he know Eleven is still on this side? Is he hiding her? Perhaps in the Secret Cabin?
“It kind of falls on Hopper to be the voice of authority to say, ‘This did happen and this didn’t happen,’” says Harbour. “He’s struggling with the compromise that takes him to, having to lie and cover things up.”
Poor guy has no manner of luck at all.
9 Nancy and Mike Are United By Grief
Co-creator Ross Duffer has talked about how a big part of this season will be Nancy and Mike dealing with their personal losses. Nancy’s best friend died in a singularly horrific manner and Mike met a girl he was maybe sort of falling for who then apparently died saving them from a ravenous inter-dimensional predator.
These kids have had it ROUGH.
Season two is going to explore the toll those events have taken on both of them. And, presumably, what happens when Eleven and Mike are reunited and Nancy and Barb aren’t…
10 Will Is Hallucinating. Hopefully
Given that the last time we saw Will in season one he was vomiting up a translucent slug, it’s clear something isn’t right with the poor kid. That’s going to be a big part of year two, as he begins hallucinating horrific creatures from the Upside-Down. Creatures that, the trailer hints, may not be hallucinations at all…
11 Max Joins The Gang
Sadie Sink’s Max looks set to join the leads on their adventures. She’s also set to form one corner of an adolescent love triangle between Lucas and Dustin. Given that Lucas was one of the few characters poorly served by season one, this is really good news. Plus it’s a smart way of showing the main characters are growing up.
12 Billy Is Going To Be A Problem
While Max fits right in, Billy does not. Described as a muscular, over confident 17 year old it sounds like he’s going to cause trouble and may do so deliberately. Matt Duffer teased him with the following comment: “Stephen King always has really great human villains. The evil in the real world is often as bad or worse than the supernatural evil, so we wanted to introduce a character like that.”
13 One Year Later
A full year has passed since the events of season one. This is a really smart move as it helps cover the growth of the cast (remember poor Walt on Lost? Who once basically had to stand in a hole to conceal his growth spurt?). And also beds in the idea that things have “got better’. Plus, when things assume the shape of a pear once again, as we know they will, it’s going to be all the more impactful.
14 Small Town Rules
That time jump is also going to cause problems for the people who know what really happened. According to David Harbour, “There are certain people in the town that know what happened, and then certain people that don’t know what happened. So there’s a lot of fall out with who knows what.”
15 Hopper’s Past
Speaking of Hop having no manner of luck whatsoever, Harbour has also hints that there may be more to his daughter’s death than first appeared and that this could be explored in season two.
16 Nancy, Steve and Jonathan Too
One of the weirdest, but most interesting, groupings of season one was this trio. Joe Keery, owner of possibly the best ’80s hair in TV history as Steve, has talked about how he wants to explore the odd bond these three monster fighters have. It’ll be interesting to see how the arrival of Billy shakes up that dynamic too, and it’s notable how quiet everyone on the show has been about the impact (probably literally) Billy will have on Steve and Jonathan in particular.
The time jump also opens the show up to a raft of new cultural touchstones and 1984 was a very good year for geek culture. We’ve already seen the Ghostbusters outfits in the trailer but Gremlins, Aliens and Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom were also released that year. Duffer, talking to IGN, said, “We’re trying, hopefully, to capture a little bit of the magic of those films,” so if there’s a mine cart chase or flying bicycles this season, you know why.
18 There Is An Endgame (Mostly)
The Duffers are very aware of the importance of leaving the stage on a high. Their current plan is that the show could run four or five seasons but have a definitive ending. Matt Duffer added: “I want it to have a really finite ending. I don’t want it to be one of those shows that runs out of gas and they lose it because they’re losing interest. You wanna end when you’re on top.”
19 Episode Titles
The Duffers have hinted that some of these are deliberate misdirection or temporary titles but here are the episode titles for season 2, right now:
- “The Boy Who Came Back To Life”
- “The Pumpkin Patch”
- “The Palace”
- “The Storm”
- “The Pollywog”
- “The Secret Cabin”
- “The Brain”
- “The Lost Brother”
Two interesting things to pull from that. Firstly, much like episode nine of a Marvel Netflix show being the point where things get REAL, a Stranger Things episode without a “the” in the title is a pretty big deal. Last season it was “Hollyjolly”, this season “Madmax”. Looks like Sadie Sink’s Max really is very important doesn’t it?
Secondly, “The Boy Who Came Back To Life” is the headline of one of the news stories glimpsed about Will in season one. So it looks like the show isn’t hanging around in giving us answers which is really good news.
20 Clear Halloween
Stranger Things season 2 arrives on Netflix on 31 October. Halloween? SORTED!