Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS is the streaming services latest project to hit the pop-culture stratosphere
STRANGER THINGS nods to Stephen King and ’80s films like THE GOONIES and ALIENS
[SPOILER WARNING: Because this is a discussion of what might take place during Season 2 of STRANGER THINGS, as well as a discussion of the end of Season 1, it’s obviously a gigantic spoiler. SPOILER WARNING]
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or don’t have access to Netflix, I’m sure you’ve seen STRANGER THINGS.
As someone whose favorite author is Stephen King and favorite decade for films is the eighties, it’s no wonder that I love STRANGER THINGS. So much so that I could talk about it all day, from the show itself to its influences. And perhaps if you guys love it, too, I might talk about it some more down the road. But since I’m sure you’ve already binge watched it the whole way through, I think it would be more interesting to discuss the end of Season 1 and what might happen next.
Because the show brilliantly uses and subverts many tropes, there’s no way I can easily predict what will happen next, so think of this as more of what might happen and what I’d like to see, rather than some kind of Nostradamus forecast.
If you want me to make the fastest prediction possible, STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 will be ALIENS meets A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE.
This is kind of a no-brainer if you saw the last episode. Chapter Eight had plenty of ALIEN references scattered about, especially within the Upside Down. The alien egg, aspects of the alien itself, and above all, Will Byers and several victims being glued to the wall and impregnated with who knows what.
So it’s not much of a stretch to say that Season 2 could be heavily influenced by ALIENS. The reason why I say ALIENS instead of ALIEN is because Will mysteriously teleported to the Upside Down for a quick second.
In ALIENS Ellen Ripley has to return to LV-426 and confront her biggest fear, this time in much greater numbers.
I’d put my money down that Season 2 will have more than one alien (and perhaps different aliens) and on a grander scale.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE
Although not quite as obvious as ALIEN, I believe that A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET had its influence on STRANGER THINGS, particularly with Jonathan Byers and Nancy Wheeler. Just as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET had the teens find a way to lure Freddy Krueger out of the dream world and into their own to stop him, STRANGER THINGS had Jonathan and Nancy find a way to lure the alien out of the Upside Down and into their own world in order to try and stop it from terrorizing their town.
Now, it’s a wild gamble to say that A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 will be a prominent influence on Season 2 since it isn’t exactly a beloved film, but hear me out.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 was different than the rest of the series because this time it had protagonist Jesse Walsh turn into Freddy Krueger and become helpless as he terrorized his town.
While Will might wind up with a chest burster or vomit a few more slugs, I have a feeling he’ll have some kind of body horror transformation.
And both protagonists feel like outsiders and different for different reasons.
This could just be me grasping for straws but knowing the Duffer Brothers’ love for eighties films, it wouldn’t be too surprising if they threw this sequel into the mix. Speaking of the eighties. …
I love how STRANGER THINGS made the look, style, music, and atmosphere exactly like it was 1983 without ever saying “Whoa, dude! It’s the eighties!” like so many poor modern imitations do. The only thing I can fault it for is anachronistically using The Bangles’ cover of A Hazy Shade of Winter, which came out in 1987.
Since Season 1 ended in December of 1983 and on an immediate cliffhanger, it’s pretty safe to bet that season two will take place in 1984.
1984 was a big year for the eighties and arguably the point where it completely shed any seventies leanings and went off with its own style: BEVERLY HILLS COP, THE TERMINATOR, PURPLE RAIN, GHOSTBUSTERS, THE THOMPSON TWINS, FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD, SIXTEEN CANDLES, LIKE A VIRGIN, GREMLINS, Van Halen’s 1984, the Cars’ HEARTBEAT CITY, THE KARATE KID, and the list goes on and on and on and on.
Suffice to say, it’s going to be a blast to see what they reference and what might influence both this season and its soundtrack.
Come on, you don’t think Eleven is dead for sure, do ya? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from movies and television it’s that they aren’t dead if you don’t see the corpse. And as STRANGER THINGS taught me, even if you see the corpse, it might not be the corpse.
Besides, there are so many mysteries left to solve: who her father is, the true extent of her powers and knowledge, and if she can one day live a normal life.
I doubt she’ll be popping into the real world immediately, but I do have a feeling we’ll be visiting her in the Upside Down.
Like a STEPHEN KING novel, STRANGER THINGS’ greatest strength is arguably its characters. Not just the protagonists but even the secondary characters are interesting enough to perhaps one day steal the spotlight. And while there are plenty of characters who have potential for greatness, whether it’s Mr. Clark, Dr. Martin Brenner (flashbacks, anyone?), or Terry Ives, perhaps the most interesting supporting character is Steve Harrington.
He starts off as the typical rich jerk boyfriend as the Duffer Brothers take notes from VALLEY GIRL and THE GOONIES. He’s the guy you love to loathe, whether it’s the way he bullies Jonathan to the frat parties he hosts or the fact that you can’t trust an eighties kid who owns a BMW.
However, as with much of the show, the Duffer Brothers ingeniously subvert the eighties tropes toward the end. It gives him believable redemption that doesn’t feel forced or resort to the cliched “sacrifice to be good.”
And rather than being the bully that Jonathan knocks out to get the girl, he instead seems to have made peace with Jonathan and is still together with Nancy.
I think it’s safe to say that Steve will play an important role in the upcoming season. If the writers wanted to make him insignificant or kill him off, they had plenty of chances in the first season.
While there will be a love triangle between the three, it’s a good bet that the show will intelligently subvert the trope. And who knows, maybe they’ll change it altogether and give Jonathan his own girlfriend, though I think the former scenario is much more likely.
This is less about what I think will happen, and more along the lines of what I want to happen.
I’m sure most of you here know that HALLOWEEN II was intended to be the final chapter in the Michael Myers story.
And it seemed that way when they made HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH, which was a brand new story and a significant departure from the first two films. Had it been a greater film with a much warmer reception, the franchise could’ve been an anthology series of new stories revolving around October 31.
Point being, I’d like for Season 2 or Season 3 to be the finality of this particular storyline and for STRANGER THINGS to be an anthology with different seasons containing different eighties horror/Sci-Fi settings.
I absolutely adore the show, the characters, and the storyline, but great Sci-Fi or horror films/shows often either end as a cult classic or live long enough to see themselves become a self-parody. And I don’t know how many seasons this particular story can go on before it completely exhausts itself.
The cast and crew have done a damn good job so far and regardless of what’s in store for STRANGER THINGS, I’m confident it’s in good hands.