WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the second season of Stranger Things, streaming now on Netflix.
Stranger Things picked up on the dangling threads of its debut season, with Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) still connected to the Upside Down and seeing visions of that mirror universe a year after being rescued from it. Events came to a head in Season 2 when he was possessed by what he called the Shadow Monster, later renamed the Mind Flayer after a creature from Dungeons & Dragons, leading to a desperate by his friends and family to break Will from its grip. His possession tied together everything, as the Lovecraftian monster turned out to be a hive-mind entity and a virus that controlled the "Demodogs" that stalked Hawkins, Indiana.
That also led to the breach at Hawkins National Laboratory growing even larger, with the sentient vines from the Upside Down spreading through a network of tunnels beneath the town. To stop those combined threats, everyone had to once more unite as part of a master plan. Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Steve (Joe Keery), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and newcomer Max (Sadie Sink), torched the vines, drawing the Demogorgon dogs (or Demodogs) to them, giving Chief Hopper (Jim Harbour) and the only person who could really fight the Upside Down, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), time to seal the rift.
While Eleven maxed out her powers, Will's mom Joyce (Winona Ryder), brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Mike's sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) exposed Will to heat, driving the Mind Flayer out from him and back to the Upside Down. When Eleven sealed the breach, she also fought off the Mind Flayer's attempt to return to the real world, and as usual, saved the day. With the cast for Season 2 expanded and a lot more going down, let's take a look at how the Duffer Brothers wrapped the finale, fittingly titled "The Gate," and set up Season 3.
Justice For Barb ... Finally!
Season 1's focus on Will's disappearance and not Barbara Holland's (Shannon Purser) was a point of contention among fans. Nancy's best friend, Barb perished after being abducted by the Demogorgon while she lingered alone by Steve's pool, waiting impatiently for the lovebirds. Her fate was harsh, as she was only looking out for her friend and trying to protect Nancy's innocence when she was snatched away. We eventually saw that she was indeed dead in the Upside Down, and series creators the Duffer Brothers smartly used this as Nancy's emotional driver in the second season.
Racked with guilt, Nancy worked with Jonathan and Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), a kooky investigator hired by the Hollands to find their daughter, to secretly record researchers at Hawkins National Laboratory incriminate themselves, and then release the tapes to the public. In some of the final seasons of the season, Project MKUltra is shut down, and Hawkins National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy are forced to admit "their involvement in the death and cover-up of Hawkins resident Barbara Holland," whom they claim died because of exposure to "an experimental chemical asphyxiant" that had leaked from the grounds of the lab.
With that, a year after the events of Season 1, Barbara Holland at last receives a funeral.