The nine-episode second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things will begin streaming on October 27th. It’s been more than a year since the kids from Hawkins first faced the otherworldly monsters from The Upside Down. The show was a huge success, and this new season faces enormous expectations from fans.
Stranger Things’ eight-episode first season leaves off after the Hawkins kids confront The Upside Down’s Demogorgon and a slew of federal agents trying to contain the situation. Meanwhile, Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) travel to the other world, where they finally discover and rescue Joyce’s son Will. The monster discovers the kids, but Eleven destroys it and vanishes. The show then jumps forward a month, showing that everything is starting to get back to normal, until Will coughs up a slug-like creature and has a vision of the world he just escaped. It’s a clear setup for more dealings with The Upside Down and its creatures.
Here’s everything that we know so far about what to expect from this next season. Caution, there are likely some light spoilers ahead.
The second season takes place about a year after the events of the first
Season 2 begins on Halloween 1984, about a year after The Upside Down first threatened Hawkins. Will has been trying to cope with his experiences. According to series co-creator Matt Duffer, he’s been seeing images of the place, and it “seems like he’s having some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder.” The other kids are mourning the loss of Barb Holland and Eleven.
Joyce has begun dating a former classmate, Bob, while Hopper is trying to keep the events from season 1 under wraps. As we’ve seen in the first teaser trailer and Comic-Con trailer, those events aren’t going away, and there appear to be bigger problems on the horizon.
Thematically, season 2 is a movie sequel
The Duffer Brothers have said on a couple of occasions that they had an idea of where the show would go after season 1. Since the first season was loosely modeled after films like E.T., Alien, and The Goonies, the second season is modeled after sequel films like Aliens or Terminator 2. The Duffer Brothers singled out James Cameron as a huge inspiration: “One of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is, he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original.”
Recently, Finn Wolfhard (who plays the Stranger Things’ Mike Wheeler) described the second season as “Stranger Things but just sorta hopped up a little. It’s almost like season 1 was drinking a Coke and season 2 they drank a Red Bull.”
Expect season 2 to be more horror-oriented
As the action and drama in season 2 is ramped up from the first, expect it to be darker and more oriented toward horror, according to Wolfhard. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given what the characters went through. Netflix has teased much bigger challenges ahead for the kids and the town of Hawkins.
In this more horror-flavored season, we know to expect a couple of big things: Will Byers will continue to deal with the fallout of his time in The Upside Down, and the characters will be going back there, according to the trailers. People around Will aren’t sure what’s going on with him; we’ve seen him visiting doctors, but they’ll quickly realize that the events of season one aren’t past them yet.
We can also expect a much bigger monster: a spidery shadow creature that Will sees in visions, which we’ve seen in various trailers for the next season. According to TV Guide, the show’s young stars say it’s horrifying, and they refer to it as “The Shadow Monster.” In the latest trailer, Hopper says, “It’s not like it was before: it’s grown,” which certainly sounds like he’s talking about a creature.
The entire cast will be back, including Eleven
While Eleven vanished at the end of season 1, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that she’s back. Netflix released an image back in November that featured the entire cast, and she’s since appeared in the season’s first trailer. In particular, we know Eleven will be returning because we’ve seen her in the trailers, but Netflix also released a clip that shows how she gets back to the real world.
The one exception to the “everybody’s back” promise: Barb. She’s apparently really dead, but her death will have a major impact on the events of this season.
There will be a bunch of new characters
There are also some big names joining the show. Sean Austin (Lord of the Rings, The Goonies) will play Bob, Joyce’s former classmate and now boyfriend. Paul Reiser (Aliens) will play a “high-ranking member within the Department of Energy,” who is in town to help contain the mess made in season 1. Danish actress Linnea Berthelsen (The Desert) will play a character named Roman, “an emotionally damaged, magnetic young woman who suffered a great loss as a child.” Comedian Brett Gelman will appear as Murray Bauman, a former journalist who peddles conspiracy theories, who happens to be in town investigating a cold case.
Also joining the character roster are Max and Billy. Max (played by Sadie Sink) is described as a “tough and confident 13-year-old female.” She’ll be a series regular. Billy (played by Dacre Montgomery) is her stepbrother, a “super muscular, overconfident 17-year-old.”
We know the titles of all the episodes, and who’s directing them.
When Netflix announced the show would get a second season, it did so with a short video that revealed the titles for season 2’s episodes, which seem to contain some references. But the company apparently recently changed that lineup, and a new tweet introduced the current titles for the first six episodes:
- “Trick or Treat Freak”
- “The Pollywog”
- “Will the Wise”
- “Dig Dug”
- “The Spy”
The tweet says the last three episode titles are unknown, but here’s what was originally listed:
- “The Secret Cabin”
- “The Brain”
- “The Lost Brother”
We also know who’ll be directing them: while the Duffer Brothers and Shawn Levy are returning to helm most of the season’s episodes, the show has attracted some big names, such as Pixar director Andrew Stanton, who will direct two episodes.
There are plenty more nostalgic references
The first teaser trailer opened with an Eggo waffle commercial, and cameos of classic video games such as Dragon’s Lair, Galaga, Asteroids, and Pac-Man. Cultural references have always been a part of Stranger Things’ marketing, with posters that harken back to Stephen King and tons of classic 1980s horror movies.
Synth band SURVIVE will once again provide the score
The first season’s soundtrack was an unexpected delight, provided by synth band SURVIVE, which is returning to provide the score for season 2. The soundtrack will be out on October 20th, and the track listing features some minor spoilers. From the sounds of things, it’s going to keep the same tone and feel.
We already know a third season is on the way
There are nine episodes in this next season, but fear not: we know that the show is already coming back for a third season. It doesn’t have a release date yet, but given the voracious appetite for the show, we’ll probably be seeing hints about plans for that season as soon as the second season airs.
There’s likely still more to come: Ross Duffer teased the possibility of a fourth season earlier this year, telling Vulture, “We’re thinking it will be a four-season thing and then out.” Matt Duffer added: “We just have to keep adjusting the story. Though I don’t know if we can justify something bad happening to them once a year.”
And there’s been some talk about a fifth season as well: producer Shawn Levy told EW that “hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents.” He says “there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”