• Do you remember where everyone left off at the end of Stranger Things 2?
• If not, no worries—we’ve got you covered with a recap of the second season.
• Stranger Things 3 debuts on Netflix on July 4.
We’re in the home stretch, people. Yup, that’s right—Stranger Things 3 is dropping on Netflix on July 4th, and we’re very ready. But there’s a catch. Did you watch the final trailer for Season 3 and maybe not quite remember what everyone was talking about?
The way these Netflix seasons are structured, it’s not uncommon to binge a whole season super quickly and then not watch it again. That means we’d have to remember all of our Stranger Things backstory, lore, and plot developments for two full years, and with all the character and supernatural happenings, that might be asking a lot. So, that’s why we took the liberty to catch you up on where we last left all of our characters, and where we know them to be as we enter the third season of arguably Netflix’s biggest show.
So, here’s a recap of where we left off with all of our Stranger Things characters…
After being hidden away (for her own safety) in Hopper’s cabin, Eleven breaks away in the middle of the season to go see her mother, Terry Ives, and eventually meets up with her sister, Kali (Eight).
She gets back to the party in Hawkins in time to use her superpowers to save the day once again, closing the gap that had been open since season one. (Or so we thought. The final season three trailer suggests that this may have created further issues.) She’s adopted by Chief Hopper at the end of the season—her legal name now Jane Hopper—and hope for her living a normal life is finally in sight. She also gets a night at the Snow Ball, the middle school’s dance, where she gets to dance with Mike and hang out with the rest of her friends. We’d love for her to live a normal life, but surely it won’t be so easy—especially after season two’s closing shot, which sees the Mind Flayer/Shadow Monster still alive and well in the upside down.
Chief Jim Hopper
As we mentioned above, Chief Hopper closes the season by officially taking in Eleven as his own daughter. The Chief is probably the most developed character on the show, and given what we know about his family history—he had a daughter named Sarah, who passed away as a child—you know the adoption is a big deal for him.
Hopper went through a lot last season, nearly getting killed by underground monster vines, and helping Joyce recover after the shocking death of her kind-hearted boyfriend, Bob, but the most important thing was the establishment of his relationship with Eleven. Hopper has been shown not only to be the show’s biggest badass, but one of it’s kindest souls, as well.
Winona Ryder’s character gets very little time to be a normal, loving mother. In the first season, she gets exactly 21 seconds of screen time before noticing that her son, Will, is missing—the rest of the time, she’s frazzled and frantic. Joyce finds love by season two, with Sean Astin’s very sweet and supportive Bob. Unfortunately for everyone, Bob gets mauled to death by a Demo-dog, so there will be no more Bob. Maybe we’ll see a deeper exploration of Joyce and Hopper’s relationship in season three? We know that they went to high school together in Hawkins, and seem to have some history (outside of a very strong platonic relationship, at least).
Hopefully season three will give this poor kid a break, huh? After being trapped in the Upside Down for the majority of season one, Will has an equally tough time in season two: flashing back and forth between the real world and the upside down, and then getting possessed by the Mind Flayer. They finally manage to get the monster out of him with some intense heat lamps, and Will even gets to dance with a random girl at the Snow Ball during the finale. Will probably won’t ever be normal, considering all he’s already gone through, but maybe in season three something can happen to someone else.
Stranger Things basically revolves around Mike, but he has a little bit less to do in season two than he does in season one. Much of his season two storyline has to do with his feelings about Max joining their party; he views her as taking Eleven’s place, while he’s constantly hopeful that Eleven will return.
Mike’s defining quality, though, is being a loyal friend. He’s by Will’s side throughout his supernatural ordeals, and when he thinks Hopper has done Eleven wrong, he blows up and starts yelling and hitting him (a side of Mike we haven’t seen before). Finn Wolfhard is really great as this character, and might be the best actor of all the kids on the show. (His outside roles in The Goldfinch, The Addams Family, It, and more would also indicate as such). We last saw him smooching Eleven on the dance floor at the Snow Ball, wearing a pretty snazzy tie/sweater/jacket look. These two have been through enough—they deserve that nice ending (for now).
Lucas’ biggest development in season two (outside of our first glimpse at his family) is the relationship he builds with Max, the new girl in town. While Dustin and Lucas are eager at first to get Max to join their gang, Lucas eventually grows close to her, lightly mocking her skater-girl persona by repeatedly saying “totally tubular.” The two develop a playful relationship, and he starts to take a liking to her—which upsets Max’s stepbrother, Billy. Billy almost beats Lucas up (for literally no reason) until Steve steps in and distracts him. Lucas and Max have their own nice moment at the Snow Ball, and we think their characters will have more to do when season three drops.
Dustin’s season two journey is a wild ride. Much like Lucas, he’s eager to earn Max’s affection (but doesn’t get much traction). He harbors a baby demo-dog, and then finds it and keeps it secret from everyone, which is a seriously risky move and basically ends up getting poor sweet Bob killed.
But Dustin also immediately realizes how badly he messed up with D’art (the name of the creature he found), and that leads him to Steve. The two end up becoming the show’s most entertaining pairing, as Steve gives Dustin girl advice, and Dustin basically cracks wise and fawns at how awesome Steve is in return. (The kids watching from the abandoned bus as Steve takes his bat to fight the demo-dogs is an all-timer).
Once all the drama calms down, Dustin and Steve are still friends—Steve helps Dustin do his hair, drives him to the Snow Ball, and gives him a pep talk. Dustin comes into the dance guns a’blazing, full of confidence and ready to ask girls to dance. “Shall we?” he asks one without preface, in one of the funniest moments of the season. After his invites to dance are repeatedly declined, Nancy sees Dustin alone, and goes over to dance with him, as his now-jealous classmates look on.
Max is the new kid in season two, and the boys are made aware of her presence because she’s just locked in the new high score on Dig Dug at the local arcade. She becomes friends with the gang, despite Mike’s objections. Dustin and Lucas both like her, but when her stepbrother, the violent jerk Billy, sees her with Lucas he has a big problem. When Billy is threatening the gang, and has just beaten Steve basically to a pulp, Max sticks him in the neck with a sedative, and gets him to promise to leave them alone.
Ok. So. Steve is kind of a jerk in the first part of season one—he breaks Jonathan’s camera, and later gets into a fight with him. But he realizes his wrongs, buys Jonathan a replacement camera, and generally seems to get into everyone’s good graces by the end of the season.
In season two, Steve becomes an absolute legend. He dances around at a party, becomes a friend/babysitter to Dustin and the other kids, battles the demo-dogs, fights (and unfortunately gets his ass kicked by) Billy, leads the kids into the tunnel to help them further defeat the monster, and, finally, gives Dustin the secrets to his cool hair. We’re excited to see what he gets into in season three.
Nancy and Jonathan
These two spend the vast majority of their season two screen-time together, between visiting Hawkins lab, finding Murray the conspiracy theorist, and finally getting #JusticeForBarb. Also, after a bunch of will-they won’t-they crap, they finally hook up thanks to a little (awkward) social engineering on Murray’s part. Who knows if this will go anywhere, but that’s where we left them, basically.
The Wheeler Parents
Much of the same here. Mr. Wheeler is just a lazy, useless, vanilla man, while Mrs. Wheeler, who certainly deserves better, remains confident and put together (outside of when Billy shows up on her front porch, shirt basically all the way unbuttoned, and takes her breath away).
The moment Billy shares with Mrs. Wheeler is basically his only nice moment, since the rest of his time on screen is spent being a huge asshole. He’s a dick to his sister, he is constantly picking fights with Steve, and he really hates Lucas. Billy gets abused by his father, and in his own retaliatory rage, comes looking for Max, where he finds Steve, beats him up, and is sedated by his sister and told to leave them alone. We’re guessing that won’t last, and it sure looks like Billy is in for some more sinister happenings in season three.
It’s not certain if Dr. Owens will be back in season three at all, but the replacement in charge of Hawkins Lab ends up being a pretty useful contact for our heroes. He helps to figure out a lot of the science behind Will’s sickness, tells Jonathan and Nancy the truth about Barb—which they get on tape and use to leak their information to the press—and helps Hopper legally adopt Eleven.
The final season three trailer confirmed that Murray, the former Chicago Sun-Times investigative reporter and current private eye/conspiracy theorist, will return to Stranger Things 3. We last saw him waving goodbye to the Hawkins Lab presence, as their humvees exit the facility, exposed for the cover-up that he, Nancy, and Jonathan cooked up to explain Barb’s death: She died after being exposed to chemicals that the lab allowed to leak.
We get two glimpses of Eleven’s sister Kali/Eight (“sister” in the classic sense—you know, that they were both kidnapped and experimented on by Dr. Brenner). The first is the season’s opening scene, where she and her gang are robbing a bank and escaping from the police, and the second time is in episode seven. That episode focuses entirely on Eleven, as she meets and embraces her sister, and contemplates joining her full-time. We find out here that not all of the children have the same powers. Eleven has telekinesis, but Kali has something different: She can make people see whatever she wants them to see, for good or for bad. She is very fueled by anger and has a strong sense of wanting to inflict revenge, too—she’s willing to murder her enemies in cold blood.
Dr. Brenner only shows up in a couple of flashbacks/visions in season two, but there’s a huge bombshell that drops: He’s still alive. This is a stunner, considering the last time we actually saw him, he was getting pounced on by the demogorgon; when Eleven and Eight are torturing him, he reveals that Brenner is still out there.
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