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TheoryBox: What Will Happen In Season 2 On Stranger Things

Welcome to TheoryBox, a Looper series focused on original TV and movie theories. From Game of Thrones to Star Wars and beyond, join me on a trip down the rabbit hole with my own slightly crazy theories every week. Even though I am personally of the mindset that spoiler tags are for the weak, I'll offer this disclaimer: Below the cut, this article contains untagged spoilers from the first season of Stranger Things, as well as other related works, interviews, set photos, rumors, and more. You've been warned!

First, a little recap

Before we get too deep into my ideas for season two, let's take a look back at season one—particularly the last episode. During the season finale, Hopper and Joyce rescue Will and get him back to the real Hawkins—presumably back through the gate in the Hawkins Lab. They manage to do this after Eleven and the Demogorgon disappear back into the Upside-Down, so I have to assume that gate in the lab still exists. We see some news articles on the bulletin board of the police station (more on that later) which suggest Hawkins Lab is still in the middle of things.

Hopper takes a mysterious ride with government agents after leaving the hospital, and then we later see him leaving Eggos and other food in a small box in the woods. The boys have another D&D campaign, which introduces the Thessalhydra, and asks the questions: What happened to the lost knight, the proud princess, and those weird flowers in the cave?

With Steve no longer acting like a complete dick, Joyce and Steve are back together. Jonathan, Joyce, and Will celebrate Christmas in a fixed-up house, with Lonnie nowhere to be seen—for now. While things appear happy for Will at first, we later see him spitting up a slug into the drain and having a momentary vision of the Upside Down, which can't be good. What does it all mean? Where are we going from here? Here are my thoughts on what we'll be seeing in season two.

The Demogorgon and the Thessalhydra

While the demogorgon has been banished back to the Upside Down by Eleven, I don't think it's dead. Personally, I think Eleven has to be holding it captive in the shadow realm—preventing it from crossing over. I'll go into more detail on that later, but let's talk about the "flowers in the cave"—which probably refers to the strange eggs that Hopper observed in the Upside-Down, or perhaps the slugs being incubated inside the human victims of the monster. It's interesting to note that the Demogorgon's "nest" included some sort of living organisms—the tentacles that were depositing the slugs into victims' stomachs. While I don't know if that nest is just some sort of biological construct or represents another being entirely—like a massive, tentacled, queen—I do know that our protagonists are probably going to have to deal with it at some point.

The thessalhydra is introduced at the end of the season finale, and like the mythological hydras of ancient legend, you can't just chop a head off and be done with it. With hydras, every time you cut off one head, two more immediately grow to take its place. This is a metaphor for the slugs incubating within Will Byers. Just like in the first episode, Will chooses to cast a fire spell against the monster—and this time, it works. That makes sense, because according to old D&D manuals, the best way to defeat a Thessalhydra is to cut off a head and then immediately sear the stump with fire, thus preventing more heads from growing. I think that at some point during season two, someone (maybe Will) is going to end up taking a page from Mance Rayder, and lighting the biggest fire the Upside Down has ever seen.

Those newspaper clippings

If you were paying close attention during the finale, you probably noticed the newspaper clippings on the bulletin board at the police station. Their presence is evidence of Hopper's "double agent" status. He's publicly working for Hawkins Police and perhaps assisting in these investigations, and these clippings are evidence of the Lab's complicity in the monster's existence and subsequent cover-up. However, he's also now working for the Lab itself in a secret role—more on that in a moment. Back to the articles themselves: if you pause the show to read them, they reveal several illuminating details that will have an impact on season two.

"The Boy Who Came Back to Life"—incidentally, this is also the title of the second episode slated for season two, and presumably may focus on Will. In this article, there's some tantalizing information. Joyce has spoken out to the press, blaming Hawkins Lab for the disappearance of her son. The article also reveals a massive investigation is underway into Hawkins Lab and its activities. "The abuse detailed in the first report includes prolonged physical duress and psychological interrogation."

Someone with the last name "Ives" (presumably Terry) issued a statement about her "disgust" with the lab, saying that "our own American people are being treated like the enemy. We should be directing our attention to the real target, the Soviets, not our own daughters and sons." The most tantalizing bit comes near the end of the clipping: "under legal advice, Brenner has issued no comment." That's right, good ol' "Papa" survived his encounter with the Demogorgon and will be back to wreak more havoc in season two.

"Hawkins Lab Blocks Inquiry"—this is a paragraph of text which has been copied to make it look like three columns of text. It reads: "The lab and the its involvement in government lead drug experimentation was first brought to the attention of the Post after documents naming Dr. Richard Brenner, head of the Narcotic Enforcement Division from 1954-1971, came to light. These documents, although thoroughly coded, point to a secret organization involved in..." It's actually an older article—not from after the Will Byers incident, and first appeared in episode three, when Hopper was scanning microfilm. The text visible in that episode reads, "Despite their legal obligation, the Hawkins Lab, suspected of conducting extensive mind control experiments on unsuspecting human subjects, has managed to escape requests made by..."

"Coroner Arrested for Falsifying Autopsy"—can't make out the text on this one, but presumably it has to do with the "state" coroner who was brought in to do the false autopsy on Will instead of the local guy.

"More Heads Roll in Ongoing State Trooper Scandal"—unfortunately, this article isn't fleshed out with details from the show, and is just a headline with prop text. The content of the article is from an unrelated real-life news piece from the Baltimore Sun in 1994. I'd imagine the headline refers to O'Bannon—the trooper who called in Will's body at the quarry, and any other troopers involved in that whole mess.

Thessalwill?

I'm going to delve more into the origin of Demogorgons and Thessalmonsters, as well as the true nature of the Upside Down in a future post—so stay tuned for that. For now, let's just talk about what we might see happening with Will in season two. As I previously mentioned, things aren't 100 percent back to normal for Will Byers. In the bathroom of his home, he chokes and spits up a nasty black slug—just like the one seen issuing forth from the mouth of poor Barb. I'm assuming this slug has something to do with the Demogorgon or Thessalhydra's reproductive cycle, meaning Will could be carrying potentially dozens of nasty little facehugger-like babies in his innards. To me, more troubling is Will's momentary vision of the Upside Down. Does this mean he's developing the ability to cross over between the realms like the Demogorgon?

One notable thing about Thessalmonsters in D&D lore is that the original Thessalmonster was able to cross-breed with other species, thereby making Thessalhydras, Thessalcockatrices, etc. If that lore is brought over into the Stranger Things canon, that means Will could potentially be permanently changed by his encounter in the Upside Down—and not just mentally. He could be a new hybrid species himself, a "pollywog," if you like—which is another episode title from season two. If he's able to pass on his new genetics to others, or those slugs of his start to spread, we may quickly see the other residents of Hawkins become hosts to some truly nasty parasites.

Mike, Dustin, and Lucas

We see Mike gaze at Eleven's old basement hiding place in the season finale, and it's clear he hasn't forgotten about her. While he thinks it's likely she's dead, he definitely has some doubts about her fate. Mike was the driving force behind most of the events in the first season. Without his initiative, the boys would never have found Eleven, never have learned that Will was in the Upside Down, and never have saved their friend. He plays the Dungeon Master in their campaigns, and I think once he learns Eleven is still alive, Mike will stop at nothing to rescue her.

Dustin is extremely observant, as evidenced by his analysis of the friendship between Mike and Lucas. He notices things others may not, like the lunch lady secretly hoarding all the chocolate pudding. If anybody in the group is going to notice that not all is right with Will, I think it will be Dustin.

The actor who portrays Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) revealed in an interview that Lucas' father is ex-military, which explains a little more about Lucas' personality. I think we're definitely going to see more exploration of that history on season two, with his father perhaps previously involved in something to do with MK ULTRA or the Hawkins Lab.

Joyce and Jonathan

Despite Hopper's warning, Joyce has been talking to the press about what happened to Will. While she seems happy and relatively sane in the epilogue scene at Christmas, you really have to wonder if the Hawkins Lab will make attempts to shut her up—and what Hopper will do if he learns of these attempts. Also, if Joyce is speaking to the press, has she or will she go speak to Terry Ives? Who was the Ives quoted in the news article? If it's Terry, and she knows that her daughter Jane truly exists and still lives, that may bring a powerful new force in the search for Eleven into Hawkins—and soon. I also am not ruling out a reappearance of Lonnie into their lives. He may want to make amends with his children, or he may be the same old con artist and want to make a quick buck in a lawsuit against Hawkins Lab. Either way, I think we haven't seen the last of him.

Jonathan will clearly have a role to play in the next season. He's got his camera back, and I can't imagine the Duffer brothers gave him a new camera just to tie off Steve's redemption arc—although that was part of it. I think Jonathan and his photographic abilities will tie into next season somehow. Maybe he'll start investigating in the woods near Hawkins Lab, and discover something (like the Eggo box) which reveals to the rest of the cast that Eleven is still alive. I also would really like to see him team up with Nancy (and Steve) again. One thing has me worried for Jonathan, however. The season two finale episode is currently titled "The Lost Brother," which can only refer to a few candidates—Jonathan, Will, Mike, and new cast member Billy. We may see the season end on a cliffhanger with yet another character lost to us, and this time, it might be Jonathan.

Nancy and Steve

Speaking of Nancy and Steve, what's next for the happy couple? Unlike Will's friends, Nancy didn't get a happy ending for her friend Barb. Barb is dead, and Nancy is likely to be dealing with that grief and guilt in the upcoming season. Even though Steve has appeared to turn over a new leaf, it remains to be seen if he will continue on that path. I'd like it if he did, but Nancy's grief paired with Steve's desire to fit in with his friends may drive him back to his old ways. If Jonathan is put in danger during the upcoming season, we may see the pair split over that—she will likely be motivated to help him, while Steve may resist.

The "lost knight"

Hopper definitely fits the role of the "lost knight." He is a police officer—a modern-day equivalent of a chivalric knight. Early in the first season, we can see he's trapped in a fog of alcoholism and depression, because he loses his way after the death of his daughter and dissolution of his marriage. Even though he finds some redemption through locating and saving Will's life, Hopper still has major problems to address. On top of that list is the fact that he now is secretly in the employ of Hawkins Lab and Dr. Brenner.

Hopper made a deal with Brenner, giving up El's location in exchange for access to the gate to the Upside-Down. He also swore that they would never talk about the situation, and even though he has kept mum on the topic, Joyce is clearly talking to the press if the newspaper clipping can be believed. Brenner's colleague questioned how wise that deal with Hopper and Joyce was, in case they found the boy (Will.) At the time, Dr. Brenner told her that would never happen—oops.

What's next for Hopper?

When Hopper leaves the hospital after checking on Will, he's whisked away in a black government car, presumably to Hawkins Lab to be debriefed and discuss the terms of his continued cooperation. A month later, Hopper leaves the Christmas party at the police station, and drives to a location in the woods (probably near Hawkins Lab), where he leaves the pilfered food from the party and some Eggo waffles inside a small box. This suggests that he has been in communication with Eleven—either via the gateway, or perhaps telepathically—and he's assisting her in some way, maybe without the knowledge of the Lab or Dr. Brenner.

I think that in season two, we're definitely going to see some resolution to Hopper's tale. While he's on the path to redemption, he's still not there yet—if he had no longer been "lost," he never would have sacrificed Eleven, even to save Will. I think we're definitely going to learn more about the cancer that took his daughter's life, and I think Hopper is going to be integral in the plan to save Eleven.

The "proud princess"

Eleven is clearly the "proud princess" referred to in the boys' D&D campaign in the season one finale. While she appeared to disintegrate—along with the Demogorgon—following her battle with the monster in the school, we definitely haven't seen the last of her yet. As I mentioned previously, Hopper has been leaving food for her in a box in the woods. I don't think that El is hiding out in the real-world version of Hawkins, but is likely in the Upside Down, along with the Demogorgon. She may have realized she could not destroy the monster, and is using her powers to hold it in the Upside Down—preventing it from continuing to attack the townspeople.

"The Secret Cabin" is the title of the seventh episode in season two. I think this likely refers to wherever Eleven has been hiding in the Upside Down. As was noted by a scientist at the Hawkins Lab, the atmosphere in the Upside Down is toxic. We know that the new season will be set a year later after events of season one. We saw the effect it had on Will after only a week—how will Eleven survive it for an entire year? The only way I can see it happening is if she's constructed some sort of safe place for herself, perhaps secretly stocked with equipment for her by Hopper. Either way, she will definitely need to be rescued from that horrible place, and the monster dealt with so she no longer has to guard it.

As the newspaper clippings showed, someone named Ives is speaking up about the Hawkins Lab along with Joyce. Terry's sister seemed completely disinterested in the topic when Joyce and Hopper visited their residence, so I think it's likely that Joyce has been in contact with Terry about her daughter, which may have brought the poor woman out of her fugue state. Even though she's probably very unstable, and judging by that shrine of a bedroom she's built for her lost Jane she might not be sane enough to be a mother yet—it would make me really happy to see Terry reunited with Eleven.

New faces

We've recently gotten confirmation that there will be three new regular characters joining the cast for season two, named Max, Billy, and Roman.

Max is described as "a tough and confident 13-year-old female whose appearance, behavior and pursuits are more typical of boys than of girls in the era. She has a complicated history and a difficult relationship with her stepbrother, Billy, that's made her protective of her past and generally suspicious of those around her. She's also good on a skateboard, which she uses to get around pretty much everywhere." I want to note that the first episode of season two is titled "Madmax," which hints that it will hinge on introducing her and her older brother to viewers and probably the crew of Will, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin.

Billy is "a super muscular, overconfident 17-year-old. He's so captivating and edgy that there are rumors flying around that he killed someone at a school he attended in the past. Billy steals peoples' girlfriends, is a drinking-game pro and drives a black Camaro. But his violent and unpredictable nature shows itself to those closest to him, especially to ones who are younger than he is." I could see Billy causing problems between Steve and Nancy, and potentially being the new leader of the bullies at the Hawkins school, like Tommy and Carol. Also, this description of his violent tendencies makes me think we're going to see a confrontation between him and the D&D crew at some point, perhaps a la Kiefer Sutherland in Stand By Me.

Lastly, we have Roman, who is described as "a male or a female of any ethnicity between the ages of 30 and 38. After growing up homeless with a drug-addicted mother, he or she suffered a great loss at an early age and has been seeking revenge ever since. Roman is ultimately an outsider who doesn't understand how to connect with people." While this character is pretty mysterious, we can infer a few things. We know from the information about Terry Ives, MK ULTRA, and the newspaper article naming Dr. Brenner as linked to the "Narcotic Enforcement Division" that Brenner was involved in drug experiments. I'm guessing Roman's mom was part of MK ULTRA at some point during Roman's childhood, probably to make some easy money. She died as a result, and Roman has finally tracked Brenner down in Hawkins following the news coverage of Will Byers' disappearance. Given the "outsider" nature of the character, we may see Roman team up with the other loner on the show—Jonathan.

Unanswered questions

Dr. Brenner tells Joyce that the monster has taken six people so far. We know about Will, Barb, and the two missing deer hunters—but who are the other two? Are we going to see the aftermath of what happened in season one dealt with in Hawkins? Barb is dead, and at least four other people are still missing. The school was practically destroyed by the Demogorgon and tons of automatic weapons fire—shouldn't the townspeople be clamoring for answers? Did Brenner actually survive (as indicated by the articles), or is someone at the lab posing as Brenner to issue those statements and keep up appearances?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but I'm sure that the Duffers will tie up most, if not all of their loose ends in season two. While we don't have a release date yet, it should be sometime in the summer of 2017, which can't come soon enough! So what are your thoughts on season two of Stranger Things? Are my ideas plausible, or do I need to immediately repent and pray at the altar of the tinfoil thessalhydra for forgiveness? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know!