Summer has started, and Stranger Things is finally back on Netflix with its third season. But there were a lot of unanswered questions left last season. What is next for Eleven, Max and the boys? Where is Eleven’s sister now? What about Nancy and Jonathan? I never thought I’d say it but I miss Bob. Anybody else? Anybody? Are El and Mike the real deal? Is it possible for Hawkins, Indiana to get even creepier?
(I’m going to go with yes.)
A lot is going on so here’s a recap of the first two seasons to get you up to speed and ready for the release of Season 3 on Netflix, July 4, 2019.
Let’s start with the friends that started it all: Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas.
It all began when these pre-teen boys decided to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons in Mike’s basement. When they finished playing, the four boys head home. Since it’s the 1980’s, they traveled by bike. Everyone makes it home safely except for Will who gets attacked by a Demogorgon and then taken by this frightening monster (that we can’t see) to the upside down, which is the mirror world of Hawkins except dark, creepy and run by evil monsters.
So he’s out, and Eleven, or El, is in. She’s kind of everyone’s favorite IRL. She starts out as the weird girl with the shaved head in a hospital gown that ends up being the boy’s connection into the upside down, where Will is trapped. She pops up from nowhere and stays hidden at Mike’s.
Mike has a sister named Nancy who happens to be the age as Will’s brother, Jonathan. Nancy starts out by dating cool-guy Steve Harrington. When Nancy’s brings her best friend Barb to Steve’s for a party, that’s really just Nancy and Steve’s chance to hook up, the Demogorgon takes Barb, who turns into the easy target by isolating herself outside. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t come back. She’s a goner. Ugh I really liked her.
Will’s mom, Joyce Byers, is losing her shit, understandably, trying to find her son with the help of Hawkins chief of police, Jim Hopper. Will finds a way to somehow communicate with his Mom from the upside through electricity and the flickering of lights. It’s not much at first until Joyce fills her entire house with Christmas lights which ends up creating a system that can communicate with Will between dimensions.
Everyone thinks she’s crazy, but she’s doesn’t care, because the only thing that matters is holding onto hope that she’ll see her son again one day.
But then, the police end up finding Will’s dead body in the reservoir. Hmm…suspicious? I think so.
Chief Hopper isn’t sold, and he’s right. It turns out the “dead body” was just a stuffed duplicate of Will’s body planted by the evil masterminds from Hawkins lab. The lab is full of scientists and government agents, known as the bad guys, actively working to discover connections between the upside down, that they don’t want the general public to know about. By planting a fake corpse, they were hoping that people would stop asking questions about Will’s disappearance.
Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen.
No answers, but more questions, and the boys begin to learn of Eleven’s connection to the upside down through her telepathic powers.
The boys, El, Nancy, and Jonathan, head deep into the woods to try and find Will, at night, totally safe right? This shit would not fly in 2019, I’m just saying.
Well, Nancy gets stuck in a tree hole which ends up being a portal into the upside down. After almost getting sucked in, Jonathan saves the day by pulling her out before she gets taken by the Demogorgon.
With El in hiding, it isn’t long until she’s spotted after using her powers to defeat a boy that’s bullying Mike at school. The bad guys set out to re-kidnap Eleven, but she’s able to flip their van with her mind to buy some more time. El’s kind of the coolest.
With the help of the adults (Joyce and Hopper), the kids (the boys and El) build a sensory deprivation tank to see if Eleven can try connecting with Will in the upside down. She does, of course, and Joyce and Hopper head to Hawkins lab, confident there will be a way for them to enter the upside down and save Will. They’re immediately caught by Dr. Brenner, the man who has held Eleven captives her entire life while exploiting her telepathic powers. They make a deal with the bad guys to let them look for Will in the upside down, and agree to never talk about any of this ever again.
Meanwhile, the unlikely trio of Jonathan, Nancy, and Steve end up calling out and trapping a Demogorgon. Once it’s in the bear trap, they light it on fire.
Instead of dying, the Demogorgon joins Eleven and the boys who are hiding out at their school and are also now joined by Dr. Brenner and his government agents.
Obviously, Eleven annihilates the Demogorgon with her powers, and it finally dies.
But then, El disappears too, and no one knows where she went. Sigh.
Joyce and Hopper end up finding and saving Will in the upside down and take him back to the real world and things appear to be back to normal, except we all don’t know where El is. Double sigh.
Oh and then Will throws up a nasty black slug, but that’s it everything else is fine.
Everything is not fine.
Then starts Season 2, and we briefly meet a new girl who turns out to have powers just like Eleven. She’s able to send visions to people’s mind that tricks them into seeing something that isn’t really there…freaky. We quickly shift back to Hawkins, where the boys are focused on finding MadMax, the current and unknown name that holds nearly every high score to all the games at their local arcade. Will has other problems like realizing he isn’t fully back from the upside down. He has terrifying visions that look and make him feel like he’s back there again. Poor will.
MadMax is revealed as female Max alongside her brother Billy who turns out to be handsome and evil, classic. They are both from California and don’t share the best relationship, mainly because Billy is a total psycho and somewhat abusive.
With Eleven MIA, Max is now the new member of the kid’s friend group. And she gets along great with all of them, especially Lucas.
To everyone’s surprise, Joyce isn’t dating Hopper, and instead is dating the painfully dull but oh so sweet manager at the local Radio Shack, Bob.
Will is getting therapy from a doctor named Dr. Owens, from Hawkins lab, that is trying to help him with his PTSD. But after Will threw up the black slug, we start to sense it may be more than that. (DUH) It’s not looking great for Will.
Turns out El is alive, thank goodness, and she’s secretly living in a remote cabin with Hopper because the “bad guys” still want her for themselves. Poor El can’t catch a break.
Nancy and Steve break up, and she starts to warm up to Jonathan.
Will still tries to keep things regular as he trick-or-treats with his pals dressed up as the Ghostbusters, naturally, until Will is confronted by a shadow monster, from the upside down, that only he can see.
El, who is pissed she wasn’t allowed to trick-or-treat or see her friends, uses her powers to contact Mike without saying much.
Then Dustin finds a small salamander-creature-thing rummaging through his trash, that he idiotically decides to harbor as a pet and grows an attachment to it. I don’t know about you but I’d say that thing SCREAMS connection to the evil upside down world. He names it Dart and chooses to keep it from his friends. Naturally, Dart turns out to be a baby Demogorgon who eats Dustin’s family cat. Shocker Dustin, shocker.
Jonathan and Nancy pull a “Joyce and Hopper” and get scooped up by government agents for trying to “nancy drew” Will’s situation by asking more questions. Eventually, Dr. Owens decides to show them the portal to the upside down, that still lives in Hawkins Lab, to scare them into silence. Instead, they enlist a private investigator, Murray Bauman, to further inspect. This brings them closer together, ultimately pushing Nancy from Steve’s arms right into Jonathan’s. It’s hard because Steve has grown on me, but Jonathan is the sweetest!
Will runs into the shadow monster, yet again only this time it inhabits his body, and now the two are one. So, he starts drawing the creature, along with tunnels from the upside down. Hopper explores one of these tunnels only to be paralyzed from the shadow monster. He’s a brave (stupid) guy.
Eventually, with the help from Radio Shack Bob, Joyce alongside scientists from Hawkins Lab find Hopper and save him. They begin to burn the tunnel so that they can burn the shadow monster. Only thing is, the burning ends up hurting Will simultaneously. It’s like a real-life voodoo doll situation. The monster, still connected to Will, chooses to spy on everyone through Will and eventually summons armies of Demodogs to go and kill everyone. Will has no control over this, but still knows what he’s doing so he starts to freak the fuck out. I don’t blame him. I’ve freaked out over less…
Remember cute (not cute) little Dart? Now Dart is a full-grown Demogorgon. After Dustin traps Dart in his basement, it escapes, because it’s enormous and unstoppable. So, Dustin and Steve (ya they’re friends now) head into the woods to look for Dart.
Eleven ends up discovering that there are other kids just like her, you know with the powers and stuff. And then remember that girl at the beginning of the season, well it turns out that is Eleven’s sister, so now she’s got to find her. Turns out her sister has a crew of misfits that are currently getting revenge on anyone involved with their torture from when they were kids for having powers. Eleven’s isn’t really into the murdering aspect as much as the others so she makes her way back to Hawkins where she is needed in more ways than one.
Back at the hospital, dozens of Demogorgon’s have broken out and are literally ripping apart scientists, soldiers, and anything else in sight.
It’s a blood bath, so they end up putting Will to sleep because he’s unwillingly working as the monsters spy. Again, not his fault, but taking power away from Will takes sight away from the monster.
Remember Radio Shack guy? Bob? Boring, dull, and to everyone’s surprise a hero. He’s able to help free everyone that hasn’t been killed at the hospital, only to get gruesomely disemboweled by a group of Demodogs.
Joyce mourns but knows they can’t stop now, or they’ll be next. The gang makes it back to the Byers house, only to get bombarded with more Demodogs. Before they can fight, and oh they’re ready to fight, the corpse of a Demodog flies through the window, because obviously, Eleven has returned to save everyone yet again.
Meanwhile, Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy try to exorcise the shadow monster from Will, before it consumes him, using the weapon that worked before: heat.
Babysitter Steve, who we know all sort of love because he’s really good at protecting the boys now, heads back to the tunnels, mirroring what the scientists did earlier by lighting them on fire. Meanwhile, Eleven continues to dominate in the saving the world category, by heading into Hawkin’s Lab gate with Hopper. As more demodogs try to attack, Hopper fires at them, long enough for El to use her powers to fully close the gate to the upside down beneath Hawkins Lab, and save everyone. Ugh, she just the best.
A few months later, we learn that Hawkins Lab was finally shut down for good (it’s about time).
Finally reunited, El and Mike share their first kiss. Lucas and Max are a couple now too. Dustin’s still mourning the loss of Dart.
So everything is good, right?
No, it is not good. Season 2 ends with a massive new fiery thunderous monster creature thingy that seems like it’s going to fuck things up all over again for Hawkins, Indiana.
They’re just lucky they have Eleven.
Get ready for Season 3. We are days away!