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Stranger Things: Season 2 Ending Explained


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We break down what’s in store for Hawkins in Season 3.

Full spoilers follow for Stranger Things: Season 2. Make sure to keep up with all of our Season 2 reviews here. And again, don’t keep reading if you haven’t already seen the end of Season 2!

The ending of Stranger Things Season 2 is setting up a much more extensive universe for its writers to explore in future seasons. Seeing the Mind Flayer alive and well in the Upside Down indicates that he has now entered the realm of “supervillain.” Much like a video game or epic fantasy tale, this creature is going to be the big-bad the kids of Hawkins are going to have to battle at the end of the series. In other words, he’s not your typical villain of the week. So, what does that mean going forward and how will Eleven and the rest of the gang defeat such a formidable foe?

To begin, we need to understand better what the Upside Down actually is. We know it’s another dimension, and for all its grey skies and deserted streets, it looks exactly like the Hawkins our characters currently inhabit. If you’ll forgive the comic book analogy, the Upside Down is the “Earth-2” of the Stranger Things universe. Just like The Flash (minus all the speedsters), a parallel earth is one of an infinite amount of other earths that exist simultaneously. The Upside Down is one of those endless possibilities. If that’s confusing, fear not, the writers have provided us with clues, which will help to unlock some of the Upside Down’s secrets.

Dustin and Dr. Owens describe the Mind Flayer and its minions as symptoms of a virus. Using his trusty Dungeons & Dragons manual, Dustin further surmises that this virus is so old, it doesn’t even remember where it came from. The shadow demon is merely the epicenter of that virus. Imagine the worse kind of cold with the potential to destroy the world. In the Upside Down version of Hawkins, the virus has already won.

But Eleven closed the gateway, right? Well, yes, but there are a few exceptions to the rule, that proves you don’t need an open portal to enter the Upside Down. An example of this abnormality is Will, who after being possessed by the Mind Flayer, was able to travel between dimensions with little effort. The only problem is that he was never in control, and his physical body stayed in the Earth-1 version of Hawkins. Meanwhile, we know Eleven can create portals when she uses enough of her powers.

Another implication from the Mind Flayer ending is that the Hawkins group is going to need some outside help. Even at full strength, with all of her rage and hate focused on closing the gateway, Eleven’s power was depleted. She’s not always going to be able to swoop in and save the day. The answer to this dilemma is simple…Start looking for more superpowered individuals like Eight.

Kali (Eight) understands her abilities more than Eleven. While she’s no Professor X, she was able to teach Eleven how to use her powers better. She also gave her a warning in the form of her father, Dr. Martin Brenner. He speaks to Eleven about her wound and how it will kill her in the end. This wound he mentions could be interpreted as a kind of metaphor, but I think he’s speaking about an actual physical injury. The more Eleven and Eight use their powers, especially in intense situations, the more their noses bleed. That bleeding can’t be a good thing, and unless they can find a way to use their skills without these deadly side effects, both ladies could be looking at shortened lifespans.

With the Hawkins Lab abandoned, perhaps there are some documents or clues left behind that could lead to the discovery of more kids like Eight and Eleven? Dr. Brenner is another source of knowledge. Eleven’s gift of being able to find people with just a photo will help aid in his discovery. Still, even searching for people like she does causes intense amounts of pressure. How long can she keep going?

Finally, let’s talk about post-war Hawkins. The shady government scientists may have left town, but there are several Demodogs still laying around. Don’t forget, Dustin and Steve put one of the dead Demodogs in a refrigerator. Those decomposing bodies could spread the virus, but they can also be used as a way to study the creatures. Steve and Dustin better brush up on their science lessons.

No matter how you look at it, Hawkins is still the focus of this ancient evil virus known as the Mind Flayer. Watching its shadowy figure looming over the Middle School is a vivid reminder of the danger everyone’s in. Eleven and the rest of the gang are going to have to acquire more knowledge and gifted youngsters to help them in their fight. What’s scary is that they don’t even realize the Mind Flayer is looking for a way back in. Currently, they’re a bit preoccupied with school dances. Hopefully, they won’t be caught off guard when the Upside Down comes back for revenge.

David Griffin still watches DuckTales in his pajamas with a cereal bowl in hand. He’s also the TV Editor for IGN. Say hi on Twitter.


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