Stranger Things 2 began slower than its action packed first season, but the Duffer Brothers ramped things up with episode nine working as an almost Avengers-like team up of our disparate groups. With every character having a shōnen style hero's journey, season two wrapped up all its threads nicely in the hour long final chapter.
The series has become well known for its smart take on nostalgia: new addition Max knowingly joked that "it was a little derivative at times" when Lucas filled her in on last season's events. The finale had a couple of really great examples of taking classic Speilbergian set pieces and repurposing them, with the Hawkins facility finally kicked out of the small town in a fantastic nod to the final moments of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hopper found himself in a reflective room full of Demo-dogs that was very reminiscent of Jurassic Park's iconic raptors in the kitchen scene. And this wasn't the only nod to the famous dinosaur flick, so could this mean that Stranger Things 3 might be heading to the '90s?
So where does all this leave our principle characters at the end of season 2?
Will and Mike
Hawkins, Indiana's most dedicated BFFs were reunited in this episode after Will was possessed by part of the Mind Flayer's hivemind. This was an interesting season for the pair. Mike, who fought so hard to get his friend back, lost Eleven in the process and as we joined them in episode one hadn't really gotten over that. But as we left him at the end of season two, slow dancing with Eleven after their first kiss, it seems like he might finally be starting to get back to normal. Well, as normal as can be in Hawkins, Indiana, which literally seems like it's built on some kind of alien centric Hellmouth.
As for poor old Will, after spending a week in the Upside Down in season one he seems to have lived his last year in a state of constant terror as he balancing between two worlds, possessed by the Shadow Monster and slowly spinning out of control. Episode nine once again saw Joyce rescue her son from the brink after literally burning the monster out of him in Hopper's cabin in the woods that looked like it was straight out of The Evil Dead. Just like his best bud, we left Will slow dancing above the Upside Down, seemingly unaware of the threat that lurks below him.
Dustin and Steve
One of our fave friendships of this season was the unexpected team-up between Dustin and Steve. After breaking up with Nancy, Steve made a full-on transition from fluffy-haired waste of space to full-on cute soccer mom, taking charge of the gaggle of unruly kids as they tried to battle the incoming apocalypse. Dustin and Steve's blossoming brotherhood began after Dustin enlisted the lovelorn teen to help him catch the Babygorgon, Dart, and ended with Steve sharing his haircare secrets with Dustin and dropping him off at the school dance. It was a heartwarming end to one of the better character arcs of the season.
Lucas and Max
From the moment Lucas and Dustin discovered that the gamer who beat their high scores in the arcade was actually the new girl in town, the showrunners pitted them in a fight for her favor. Ultimately, it was Lucas who won after opening up to Max, and following this season's themes of truth and trust, the only one of the group who was honest to her learned the truth of her brother's brutality.
Max and Lucas' bond only strengthened after Billy tracked her down and attacked her new friends. The new girl proved her handiness after taking her brother down, and then cemented her place in the party as their Zoomer by driving them to the pumpkin patch to save the day. After finally getting up the courage to ask Max to dance, the pair shared an intimate moment, which Dustin realized made them both very happy.
Nancy and Jonathan
After their shared trauma last season it was clear that Jonathan and Nancy were probably going to get together. Whilst following their trail of justice for Barb, they sealed the deal by spending the night together. The scene not only recalled a Temple of Doom moment between Indy and Willie, but also made it clear that the pair were now an item. We last saw the pair chaperoning the school dance, with Jonathan taking prom photos and Nancy making Dustin's night with a slow dance. Will their love last? They even have Steve's blessing, so as long as they don't get eaten by a Demogorgon we think they've got a good chance of lasting until season three.
El and Hopper
Eleven and Hopper had a tough run this season, with El essentially being kept prisoner by a well-meaning but slightly unstable Hopper until she took flight on a journey of self discovery. Hopper was less of a stalwart this season and more of a side player who seemed unsure of his place in Hawkins after the discovery of the Upside Down. This was reflected in El's development as she sought out a home, a thematic thread which ran through her journey to her mother, her adventures with Kali, and her ultimate return to Hawkins.
The season ended with Hopper being given a birth certificate for his surrogate daughter, which is slightly perturbing considering he way he treated her in the cabin. We're sure that Eleven and Mike will likely stay close, but we know that El's connection to the Demogorgon is stronger than ever. Will that put their budding romance and El's normal life at risk? We'll have to wait until next year to find out.
Joyce and Bob #RIP
Hawkins' most dedicated mom, Joyce Byers, once again saved her son this season but also lost someone dear to her. After being branded as crazy and raising her two sons alone, Joyce finally seemed to find happiness with Sean Astin's Bob. The sweethearted problem solver ended up having his own arc as a brave hero who gave his life for the woman that he loved and her family. Though Joyce lost Bob, his sacrifice likely saved her son--and gave us another great Jurassic Park moment as he recreated Laura Dern's terrifying trek to turn on the electricity--and gave Joyce back the one thing she cares about more than anything: family. It also opens up the potential for a romance between her and another fan fave, Hopper, with the pair ending the season by recreating their teenage romance and sharing a smoke behind the middle school gym.
Kali and her crew
After her introduction in the first episode of season two, fans were dying to know more about the mysterious illusion-caster. In episode seven we discovered she's called Kali A.K.A 008. Eleven's spiritual sister and another victim of the Hawkins facility experiments, Kali and her X-Men-ish crew were seeking violent retribution against the people who's tortured her and Eleven. But after a brief reunion, they were separated again after Eleven found their methods too brutal. Kali is still alive so it's likely that we'll see her return in season three, and maybe even see the arrival of some other kids from the experiments.
But what do you think we will see in the next season of Stranger Things? Can you believe it's over already?
Catch Up On Every Episode of Stranger Things 2!
- Episode 1 – Stranger Things 2 gets off to a surprisingly somber start
- Episode 2 – Stranger Things characters try to get back to normal
- Episode 3 – What do you do when your bully is a transdimensional being?
- Episode 4 – The real and figurative monsters plaguing Hawkins
- Episode 5 – Stranger Things explores the tropes of trust and truth
- Episode 6 – Stranger Things goes Aliens
- Episode 7 – Why Eleven is the heart of Stranger Things 2
- Episode 8 – All the Jurassic Park references this season
- Episode 9 – Where does the Stranger Things finale leave its characters?