The Duffer Brothers 8-episode ode to '80s nostalgia with a sci-fi flair (think ET, Close Encounters, The Goonies) has become the sleeper hit of the summer. Here we breakdown our burning questions after the binge. **SPOILERS BELOW**
Could Eleven be alive?
After heroically sacrificing herself to destroy the Demogorgon, Eleven seems to disintegrate into tiny fragments along with the monster. After our devastating realization that she’ll never get to attend the Snow Ball with Mike, we’re given a glimmer of hope when we see Hopper sneak some food, including, tellingly, Eggos (Elle’s favorite) into a canister in the woods a month later. Did Eleven’s superhuman abilities allow her to regenerate somehow? Was the disintegration an illusion, and she and the Demogorgon are back in the Upside Down? Is there yet another dimension they're romping around in?
Has Hopper been in contact with Eleven?
Speaking of Hopper’s sojourn into the woods, do we think he’s been in contact with Eleven? After betraying her location to her “Poppa,” Dr. Brenner, and the rest of the sociopathic Department of Energy drones in order to save Will, Hopper undoubtedly felt some serious guilt. Do we think he’s leaving the food as a desperate show of hope that Eleven is out there somewhere? Or has Hopper already communicated with her?
What will happen to the Hawkins laboratory?
Though it seemed like a lot of heavyweights (Dr. Brenner, blonde assassin lady) and henchmen were taken out by Eleven and the Demogorgon during the showdown at Hawkins Middle, it seems like at least some semblance of the operation remains. Two mysterious, suited men roll up to talk to Hopper, and he gets in their backseat without a word. Is Hopper part of the conspiracy now? After all, part of the original bargain was that the facility could continue their experiments, and all would be forgotten.
Could there be a 1-10?
In meeting Eleven’s mother and seeing her disassociated, vegetative state, Hopper realizes that many sacrifices have been made in the name of Dr. Brenner’s experiments. Could it be that Eleven’s number tattoo indicates the existence of subjects 1 through 10? Could Eleven just be the latest in a series of super-human “weapons” created in the Hawkins lab?
Is Will really safe from the Upside Down?
The Norman Rockwell version of the Byers’s Christmas celebration as a reunited family is shattered when Will, by all outward appearances back to his pre-Upside Down self, excuses himself to the bathroom and vomits green, slimy slugs into the sink. These creatures are reminiscent of the reptile Eleven saw slither from the mouth of Barb’s decaying corpse. Will then sees his surroundings briefly flicker back to the alternate dimension, with the telltale floating particles. As Brenner warned Joyce and Hopper, the atmosphere in the Upside Down is toxic - and Will spent almost a week there. Is he “haunted” by his experience with flashbacks, or is this a deeper connection that may enable him to find his way back?
Why is Nancy back with Steve? ...and what’s with his sweater?
Let’s be honest – once Steve re-entered the picture at the Byers’s house, we knew it was over for poor Jonathan. After ditching his no-good friends and (literally) scrubbing away his indiscretions, Steve was primed for redemption – helping trap the Demogorgon was just icing on the cake. Although Jonathan endeared himself to Nancy with his sensitivity, frankness, and devotion (truly the Duckie of his time), ultimately he was no match for her school-girl crush on Steve and his perfectly feathered hair. And, Steve: not even the god Colin Firth could pull off the reindeer jumper.
Are the Wheeler’s the most clueless parents ever?
Despite Mama Wheeler’s best efforts at parental concern, she could not be less in control of her household. Not that she has much help – Ted “they’re from the government. we can trust them!” Wheeler is hardly a paragon of parental excellence. Nonetheless, Karen Wheeler repeatedly loses track of her children, despite the fact that each of their closest friends has gone missing. That house should’ve been on goddamn lockdown Minute One after Will’s disappearance. Even Baby Holly nearly wanders into the path of a monster for God’s sake! You don’t have the range, Karen.
When will the gang return for Season 2?
Though there’s been no official confirmation yet from Camp Netflix on a Season 2, there's no way they won’t be capitalizing on their most buzzed-about, critically-acclaimed series since their first forays into original content back in 2013. Based on the release pattern of Netflix’s other prestige hits (Orange is the New Black, B̶l̶o̶o̶d̶l̶i̶n̶e̶, House of Cards), we have at least a year to wait. What we do know: according to the Brothers Duffer, there will be a one-year time jump to start Season 2. While this is partially due to the young cast and the inevitable physical changes they will experience as a part of growing up, it does open up interesting possibilities creatively.
What about Barb?!
[Moment of silence for Barb.] We are all Barb. RIP, Kween.
All 8 episodes of Stranger Things are now streaming on Netflix.