Stranger Things Season 2 recap – what you need to know

May 17, 2022
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, Streaming Service
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This Stranger Things Season 2 recap contains major spoilers for the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things. You can check out all of our coverage on the show by clicking these words.

Stranger Things Season 4 is right around the corner, and in the six(!) years since it debuted, an awful lot has happened. With such a hefty gap between seasons, and a plot already shrouded in mystery anyway, there’s a good chance that even die-hard fans will have a hard time remembering what’s what. For the benefit of those who don’t have time to re-watch all three previous seasons, or even for those who haven’t watched them at all, here’s the second of our story recaps giving you a rundown of everything you need to know.

Needless to say, and as stated above, major spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2 follow.

Stranger Things Season 2 recap

With the Demogorgon having seemingly been defeated and Will having returned apparently unharmed from the Upside Down, the second season of Stranger Things builds on the cliff-hangers left behind by the first season, particularly regarding Will’s inability to disconnect himself from the alternate dimension and Eleven’s secret survival.

In this season the Demogorgon is replaced by a creature called the Mind Flayer, a much more substantial threat that wants to flip the appropriately-named Upside Down right-side-up, leaving Hawkins on its underside. To do that, the Mind Flayer extends its corrupted roots beneath the town while possessing Will to use him as its agent. This is the big-picture otherworldly threat of the season, but there’s plenty of character drama besides.

For instance, Sheriff Hopper, who has been living in isolation between seasons while secretly looking after Eleven, has a much closer relationship with Joyce, and the two of them are much more inclined to believe the idea of an existential threat to Hawkins stemming from the experiments that they know were occurring in the lab. This gives their investigation into the Mind Flayer a lot more consistency with the first season and allows the whole matter to hit the ground running rather than wasting time.

A bold decision this series makes though is keeping Eleven isolated from the goings-on in Hawkins for quite some time. After becoming frustrated with Hopper’s overbearing rules, she goes off in search of her mother and meets a contemporary of hers named Kali, or “Eight”, a fellow superpowered teen girl who can make people see whatever she wants them to. Disillusioned by what happened to her and the lack of consistent protective figures in her life, Eleven becomes consumed by revenge and suckered into Kali’s ideology, aiming to target and kill everyone who was involved in what happened to her at the Hawkins Lab.

Eleven isn’t the only one with revenge on her mind. Nancy and Jonathan are determined to expose what happened to Barb, and in so doing whip up enough public scrutiny around the Hawkins Lab that it’s forced to shut down by the end of the season. Nancy and Jonathan are a romantic item, which leaves her initial boyfriend, Steve, to join forces with the kids and become a clear fan-favorite.

In Eleven’s absence, the kids find a new crush in the form of Max, whose arcade high scores create a kind of mythic appeal around her until the others finally befriend her and bring her on board. Max’s brother, Billy, is a bully who terrorizes the town and eventually becomes an antagonist. When Eleven eventually returns, she doesn’t take to Max, even though the boys have, but she is still able to use her powers to stop the Mind Flayer from extending its influence through Hawkins by closing the interdimensional gate. Will is also saved from his possession by being heated up after a clever scheme to keep him sedated in a disguised version of the family shed so that the Mind Flayer, which could see through his eyes, wouldn’t be able to identify where he was.

The Mind Flayer has a kind of “offspring” in the form of Demodogs, four-legged monsters within the same hive mind that evolve from the slug-like creatures, one of which was vomited into the sink by Will at the end of the first season. (Another of which is kept by Dustin as a pet, until that predictably goes badly wrong.) The Demodogs form a major threat during a standoff in the lab where Joyce’s nice-guy new boyfriend Bob (played by the eternally loveable Sean Astin) is sadly killed.

Stranger Things Season 2 builds to what is by all accounts a fairly mild and optimistic conclusion, using the Snow Ball to solidify most of its character relationships, the high-school dance being such a reliable genre trope. But that doesn’t mean that everything is neatly resolved. The Mind Flayer is revealed to still be alive and poised to make a comeback, threatening to ruin all the happiness that the kids (and the adults) seem to be experiencing after their ordeal.

Thanks for reading our Stranger Things Season 2 recap. You can stream Stranger Things exclusively on Netflix.

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