Caution! This contains spoilers for season 1 & 2!
Stranger Things is a show that most of America has watched. I mean, literally. 15.8 million Americans have seen at least seen episode 1. Before we begin, here comes a giant spoiler alert. So if you are planning on watching Stranger Things anytime soon or haven’t finished it, I’d suggest you leave the article. If you aren’t planning on watching it, or already have, here’s a quick summary. Stranger Things takes place in Hawkins, Indiana The first season takes place from 1983, while the second season takes place in 1984. The beginning main characters are Mike, Will, Lucas and Dustin. They get caught up in an insane adventure that involves a government’s experiment called “MK Ultra”. There are 2 very intense characters named Dr. Brenner and Eleven. Eleven becomes one of the stars of the show and has a cult-like following. Mike, Lucas, and Dustin go looking for Will who went missing. While they are searching for Will, they find Eleven, who seems a bit foreign. They learn that Eleven has psionic (telepathic) abilities, and saves them countless times. Will was taken into the Upside Down. An alternate dimension where everything looks the same, but it’s cold, scary, and empty. Will was brought there by the Demogorgon which is a creature that lived there. If you’ve played Dungeons and Dragons, the Upside Down is literally the Vale of Shadows. Eleven finds Will in the Astral Plane, but senses that someone else is dead, which happens to be Mike’s sister’s friend named Barb. Eleven kills the Demogorgon, and then we move to the next season. In the second season, Will gets possessed by the Mind Flayer (Poor Will). He winds up having traumatic episodes which take place in his mind, but are a reflection of what is actually happening in the Upside Down. We learn near the end of the season that Will is actually acting as a spy for the Mind Flayer, the antagonist of the season. While all this is happening, El starts living with Hopper, but runs away after a big fight and finds her biological mother, Terry Ives. Turns out that Eleven was taken away from Terry by Brenner because he knew she would have powers. Then Eleven makes her way back and closes the gate to the Upside Down to save all of her friends and they all live happily ever after. Just kidding, there’s obviously a new season coming out, or else I wouldn’t write this article.
The crew of Stranger Things hasn’t given us a lot of clues to help us make guesses about the new season. However, there is enough evidence for us to come up with a solid theory. So far, the most burning question that most fans have is this: Is Dr. Brenner still alive? Dr. Brenner is the main antagonist in Stranger Things season 1. He was the man who did experiments on Eleven and tried to improve her powers. Eleven wasn’t the only one, Dr. Brenner also did experiments on her mother and a girl named Kali. Giving all 3 of them special powers. Most people thought Brenner was dead when the Demogorgon jumped on to him, but the screen cut away from his so-called death. One of the Stranger Things directors, Shawn Levy, said in an interview with Insider that his death wasn’t satisfying enough for such an evil character. To quote him exactly, “I would say that if we were going to kill Brenner … as an audience member watching the show, if that was his death, that would be very unsatisfying to me — when the monster jumps on him and we cut away. He would deserve much more than that as an ending. So yes, there’s a possibility of seeing him again.” Another interview with Collider Levy said, “It now seems clear that Brenner is alive.” With Ross Duffer, one of the creators, nodding beside him. From this evidence, we can safely assume that Brenner will be in the next season.
There’s one question that’s been in my head for quite a while. How exactly is Eleven’s mother the way she is? It makes no sense. She gets Electroconvulsive Therapy, she’s near comatose, blah blah blah. But, she seems to be able to communicate with the lights, which indicate she has powers. In episode seven, we see Terry go to the Rainbow Room by force, but with a gun and not her abilities. So, it makes no sense! If she had powers like Eleven, why didn’t she just use them to get her back? But what exactly did Dr. Brenner do to her? Although I may not be able to answer that question, there is a theory around how she’s able to communicate through the lights, and I’m going to dive further into it in an effort to prove that it is definitely possible. Thriller basically sums up what happened. “In the first season of Stranger Things, electricity and activity in the Upside Down were linked. Lights were how Will was able to communicate with Joyce from the Upside Down version of their house, and flickering lights were the warning that the [Demogorgon] was about to cross over into the real dimension… which is why the lack of lights as an indicator this season was so unexpected. We only get one light-centric trick, and it happens when Eleven visits her near-comatose mother, Terry Ives. The lights in the Ives house start blinking, leading Eleven back to the room where Terry watches TV… then the TV goes to static and we see Terry’s nose bleeding. Eleven says that she “wants to talk” and meets her in the Astral Plane to [download] the origin story directly into her brain.” First of all, anything dealing with lights in Stranger Things is almost always connected to the Upside Down, as Thriller and I has stated. For example, whenever the Demogorgon draws near, the lights start to flicker. When Eleven (who opens the gate to the Upside Down) uses her powers, the lights flicker. We don’t know what Terry Ives’ powers are, but no matter what, a true Stranger Things fan will know that this scene is weirdly placed. Although we don’t know all of Terry’s powers, we definitely know that she has access to the Astral Plane. We also know that she’s near-comatose, but is still conscious for sure. This all is pretty reliable evidence that Terry, or her consciousness is in the Upside Down. But that’s not all. Soon enough, we’ll have a well completed theory.
Now, time to connect the dots. Everyone loves the relationship between Eleven and Hopper. Hopper’s got Eleven’s back, Eleven’s got his. But we all will never forget what happened to poor Sarah (Hopper’s biological daughter, who took a bite from cancer). Hopper will never forget that fateful day. Or has he already? There’s another theory around how Hawkins Lab took Sarah as well as Eleven, and erased Hopper’s memory and replaced them with others. So, let’s say that were true. Since Brenner might still be alive, he also might have Sarah. Eleven would’ve found out about her mother, and would go looking for her. While she was gone, Brenner would go to Hopper and tell him that he had Sarah, but he would only give her to Hopper for Eleven. This could go three distinct different ways. #1, Hopper could betray everybody and go after Sarah, and help track down Eleven, although this is less likely than the other ways. #2, he could use morse to tell Eleven about this, and they could work together to get Sarah, and #3, he wouldn’t believe Brenner, and continue with his life while Sarah finds a way to escape and comes back to Hopper.
I encourage those who have yet to join the Stranger Things fandom to begin binge-watching the first two seasons, so that when season 3 is released you can discover for yourself if my theory is correct!