netflix's stranger things evoked a lot of emotions in fans of 1980s sci-fi and horror. a love nostalgic love letter to the classic works of stephen king and steven spielberg, from stand by me to e.t. the extra-terrestrial, the first season revolved the frantic search for 12-year-old will byers, the appearance of a mysterious girl named eleven, and the dangers posed by a shadowy mirror dimension, the upside-down.
arriving friday on the streaming service, the second season of stranger things will return viewers to fictional hawkins, indiana, in 1984, about a year later, where any attempts at normalcy are destined to be disrupted by intrusive government agents, the further encroachment of the upside down, and whatever’s wrong with will.
as fans await the new episodes, we revisit the key events of season 1, to get you up to speed for whatever comes next.
will's still connected to the upside down
after bicycling home from a dungeons & dragons session with his friends, 12-year-old will (noah schnapp) was abducted by a creature, later dubbed the demogorgon after a monster in the game, and dragged into the upside down, a shadowy mirror dimension breached by researchers at hawkins national laboratory. the search for the boy leads his friends mike, dustin and lucas (played by finn wolfhard, gaten matarazzo and caleb mclaughlin) to find eleven (milly bobbie brown), a girl with extraordinary abilities who escaped from the lab.
although will’s body was purportedly discovered, his mother joyce (winona ryder) refused to believe it was her son, who continued to communicate with her from the upside down using strings of colored christmas lights. despite a conspiracy by scientists and the u.s. government to keep secret hawkins national laboratory’s and will’s true fate, eleven was able to use her own connection to the upside down to help joyce and hawkins police chief jim hopper (david harbour) recover the boy.
that came at a price, however, as eleven disappeared while seemingly destroying the demogorgon. what’s more, even as everyone attempted to pretend life had returned to normal, will tried to hide the after-effects of his stay in the upside down: in the final episode of season 1, he excused himself to the bathroom, were he coughed up slugs as flashes of the mirror dimension appeared. we're not sure whether it was all in his mind or if he actually teleported there, leaving season 2 to explain this connection.
when the boys found the silent and terrified eleven, she recognized will from a photo, cementing his friends’ belief that he was still alive. after the sinister mkultra program tried to fake will's death, by planting a fake corpse, hopper and joyce to investigate hawkins national laboratory and its test subjects.
they tracked down terry ives, a former test subject of dr. brenner (matthew modine), whom she claimed stole her daughter jane at birth. that baby is believed to be eleven, whom brenner used in experiments to telepathically eavesdrop on the russians. however, in the process, eleven discovered the upside down and the demogorgon, leading a rift to open to the real world, forcing her to flee the mkultra lab in hawkins.