Stranger Things 2: Unanswered Questions

Stranger Things 2 may be in the rear view mirror, but there are still some mysteries to ponder and speculate upon.

This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 2.

Now that Stranger Things 2 is out there ready to binge, viewers will be heading to the water cooler to discuss some of the season 2 nuances. Although the lingering questions aren’t quite as plentiful as they were for season 1, there are still a few hanging threads for dedicated fans to pull on. For people who like to speculate and theorize, here’s a small exploration into the possibilities behind some of the persistent mysteries. Warning, spoilers ahead!

Is Matthew Modine’s Dr. Martin Brenner still alive, biding his time?

Stranger Things 2 introduced us to Kali, a girl with abilities just like El who had decided to use her skills to seek revenge on everyone from the Hawkins Lab who had exploited her. El recognized one of the men on Kali’s board as Ray Currell, the lab technician who had administered electroshock therapy to her mother, Terry Ives. When El helped track Ray down and his life was threatened, he caved and told the girls that he would tell them where Dr. Brenner, whom they knew as “Papa,” was hiding.

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It certainly didn’t seem like Ray was lying about Brenner having lived on beyond the demogorgon attack at the end of season 1, and Matthew Modine’s appearance in flashbacks and in Kali’s illusory conversation with El speaks to the actor’s availability for the show. We didn’t actually see Brenner die in the massacre at the school, and as one of the few truly distinct hanging threads in season 2, the doctor’s reappearance in season 3 or beyond seems a near certainty.

So what is Martin Brenner up to in the meantime? Has he followed the news as it broke of the experimental chemical asphyxiant leak at Hawkins lab? Is he perhaps working with another subject even now? Which brings us to the next question…

If Kali was subject #8 and Jane was #11, does that mean there are others?

Ever since we first heard about “Eleven” in Stranger Things season 1, we asked ourselves, “What happened to 1 through 10?” Having another MK Ultra subject with a number was an often wished for element during the long hiatus between seasons 1 and 2, and the opening sequence of Stranger Things 2 delivered on that wish in grand fashion. Fans likely leapt for joy seeing a gang of criminals evade police capture when a girl with “008” tattooed on her wrist created the illusion of a tunnel collapse. One of the editors here at Den of Geek even tweeted, “Almost broke my hand by slamming my table in excitement after the cold open.”

Surely that must mean there are others! Would they each have different powers the way Kali and El did? Although this is pure speculation, it seemed like the Department of Energy group was close to achieving their goal with Eleven, a remote viewer who they hoped could spy on the Soviets, so it’s unlikely the number of subjects is more than eleven, but who knows? Perhaps the first half-dozen or so were fatal losses as the project made its mistakes in the early stages, or maybe there’s a 001 who will return as a villain, psychologically scarred by botched experimentation. The possibilities are endless!

Stranger Things on the November Sci Fi Fidelity podcast (at 36:55):

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Why did the threat shift from a seemingly solitary demogorgon to the Mind Flayer and its army of demodogs?

When Eleven first opened the gate by using her power, no one was sure the astral plane she used for remote viewing was inhabited, and even once the demogorgon made itself known in season 1, there was no indication that it had friends. For all we knew back then, the semi-humanoid figure with the face that split open in rows of teeth was alone in the Upside Down, not necessarily preying on creatures that entered the rift between worlds but rather protecting its territory from scary interlopers like… well, Barb.

But what if the demogorgon was merely a scout for the Mind Flayer, searching for threats? Perhaps the biped version is just a more sophisticated version of the average “demodog” soldier. The creature from Stranger Things season 1 had plenty of time to send word to the general, a mind flayer, who himself might not even be unique in the Upside Down. If the goal is conquest, the demodogs are an effective infantry, but to be honest, we don’t really know what the other-dimensional creatures want.

And speaking of the demodogs…

Was “Dart” truly bonded with Dustin?

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There’s a lot of talk about the creatures in the Upside Down being part of a hive mind, so is it really possible for Dustin to have raised d’Artagnan a.k.a. Dart such that the “dog” would recognize him as a caretaker? As scary as the beast was, especially when it was feeding on poor Mews, it never directly threatened Dustin, even when it was being lured into the cellar. But did Dart possess enough individuality to allow the group of boys to pass by on their way to torch the hub room because of his bond with Dustin? Or was it just the nougat?

It seems like if there’s a central brain that rules the hive mind, especially one that’s in crisis mode, a minion would simply ruthlessly defend its community whether there was a 3 Musketeers involved or not. Nevertheless, Dustin’s apology to Dart for knocking him into the cellar says more about Dustin not really having learned his lesson than it does about Dart’s hurt feelings. That being said, watching the little guy perish next to the empty candy bar wrapper elicited no small amount of sympathy. Humans are such suckers…

Could Hopper be infected the way Will was?

Make no mistake: Will spent a lot more time in the Upside Down in season 1 than Hop did in season 2. Breathing in all of those floating spores or whatever they are could not have been healthy for his respiratory system. But the long term effect that made the Stranger Things audience so nervous after the season 1 finale was that Will’s lungs had black goo in them, and a pollywog, as Dustin originally called the demodogs, emerged from his throat. Possibly that slug-like creature was actually d’Artagnan himself since he was found in a trash can outside of the Upside Down. Not likely because a year has passed since Will coughed up a black loogie, but still…

So although the chief was only in the underground tunnels for a few hours, he was enveloped by vines and did spend some time in the Hawkins Lab coughing up black phlegm. If we make the assumption that the floating debris in the Upside Down is some sort of spore (those glands that spewed out clouds of the stuff sure did have a reproductive look to them), isn’t it at least a slim possibility that Hopper got a little lung critter himself? The fact that only a small amount of attention was drawn to the chief coughing into the pail makes it doubtful, but it’s worth filing away.

What will be done with the demodog in the freezer?

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There’s a dead demodog in the freezer, guys. Who’s going to study it, and to what end? Perhaps Dr. Owens will have a new field of work: xenobiology.

Why was Dr. Owens allowed to roam free after being the star of the incriminating tape?

Sure, Sam Owens became a good guy in the end, handing over a birth certificate to Hopper saying he was Jane’s father, but Murray gave the Chicago Times an audio tape of the doctor confessing to, as the investigative reporter put it, a “watered down” version of the truth that included criminal negligence at the very least. And at most, the tape did say he had to stop the spread of truth “by whatever means necessary,” making him guilty of obstruction of justice in the case of the wrongful death of Barbara Holland. So why isn’t he rotting in prison?

A good guess might be that the government was so relieved to have Murray’s watered down version to cover up what was really going on, they didn’t mind shutting down the facility and sweeping everything else under the rug rather than punishing the culpable parties visibly in court, which would draw more scrutiny. And Murray, for his part, is more than satisfied with shutting down the Hawkins Lab; he doesn’t seem to care about individuals like Owens or even Brenner.

Maybe Owens will end up being an ally again in a future season of Stranger Things. Maybe the government will end up sticking their nose in El’s business again. Owens did tell Hopper he should wait a year for things to cool down. In the meantime, fans will also have to wait a year for things to cool down from yet another amazing season of Stranger Things. Until then, let the speculation and crackpot theories run wild!

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