I’m pretty sure that most of you guys spent the weekend past binging Stranger Things 2 on Netflix. My own binge session got halted mid-way by some family drama which meant I only got to finish the follow up to Netflix’s 80s nostalgia-fueled horror romp on Monday evening, but I sure as hell enjoyed it. While I personally think it is a step behind the original series thanks to some early pacing issues, splitting Eleven off from the gang robbing it of some group charm, and a couple of new characters/plot points that don’t appear to serve any purpose (seriously, why was Billy there other than to show off how bad hair in the 80s got?), it was still immensely enjoyable from start to finish.
And speaking of that finish, I ended up with a gigantic goofy grin plastered on my face for that entire Snow Ball dance sequence that wrapped everything up (Dustin’s hair in that scene is my spirit animal!). It was just the perfect bit of John Hughes-ian teenage coming-of-age, and I loved it. But then things got dark again, as the camera pulled out from Hawkins Middle School to reveal the image of the hulking Mindflayer, perched over the Upside Down version of the school. Clearly, despite Eleven closing off the gate, the shadowy monster was far from done with the inhabitants of this town. In particular though, it had its eye (does it even have eyes?) on everybody’s favourite psionic girl as creators The Duffer Brothers explained to THR:
The hope we wanted people to get out of it is that this thing [is still out there]. They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.
Why this tease of the Mindflayer is so unexpected though is that at first glance, all the threats in Hawkins appears to have been dealt with. Even the various relationships between the gang look to have worked themselves out, with everybody ending up in the right place. And that finality was definitely part of the plan.
Very much like season one, we wanted to give the story a sense of closure. In that sense it feels like its own thing — its own sequel with its own beginning, middle and end. Hopefully, it’s satisfying on that level. Last year, we had a lot of little cliffhangers at the end of the season. We didn’t want to do that again. We didn’t want to box ourselves in for season three. We wanted to be able to start season three on a very clean slate. It felt totally unnecessary, when we had the Snow Ball. Once we had the Snow Ball, we didn’t know [if we wanted to do] anything else as an ending.
No major cliffhangers also mean that Stranger Things 3, whenever it gets here, won’t have to pick things up immediately where the second season left off. Much like between season 1 and 2, there will probably be a time jump and that is a major logistical saving grace.
Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t. Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.
Even if we wanted it to be static and we wanted to continually recycle the same storyline — and we don’t — we would be unable to, just because the kids are changing. It’s cool, though. The audience is going to be able to watch these kids come of age every year. The closest example is Harry Potter. Watching those kids and actors grow up in front of the camera was, to me, very powerful. I mean, I wasn’t a kid when I experienced that, and I can only imagine if you were a kid and you were their age, it would have been even more powerful. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.
As for whether we’ll finally get all the answers on exactly what the Upside Down is or how it operates – Is it just a reflection of the real world? – you probably shouldn’t expect everything to be explained.
It’s a balancing act. If you tell too much, it loses a little bit of that mystery. We obviously will shed more light on it moving forward, but we want to do it a little bit at a time. Even at the end, I don’t think we’re going to answer all of those questions, and I don’t think we even necessarily need to. We’re telling this story from the point of view of very human characters. There’s no way they can ever truly fully understand this place.
We have our Upside Down document which describes its rules and its mythology in quite a bit of detail, but I think we’re just going to slowly parse that out, and maybe not even fully use all of it. Our favorite thing to do on this show is that these characters, especially the kids, are able to make these leaps about the Mind Flayer and how it operates and what it wants, but they’re just basing this off of games that they’ve played. They don’t really know for sure. There’s really no way for them to fully understand it. In real life, you wouldn’t be able to fully understand this entity from another place. You could never fully understand its motivations. That, to us, is scarier than knowing exactly what it wants.
Stranger Things 2 is available on Netflix right now, and if you don’t watch it then I’m not sure that we can be friends.
Last Updated: November 1, 2017