"These are not nightmares. It's happening."
In the final episode of Stranger Things Season 1, kidnapped 12-year-old Will Byers was back at home, having escaped the parallel universe known to Hawkins, Indiana as the Upside Down. He survived a run-in with the Demogorgon… but as we learn in the final sequence of the season, once one goes upside down, he or she can never be completely rightside up again. Just when we think everything will be alright, Will coughs up a slug, a sign that he's still tethered to the monster-filled beyond.
Stranger Things Season 2 (referred to as Stranger Things 2 by creators Matt and Ross Duffer because of its sequel-like nature), picks up a year later, and despite a year's worth of promotional material for the horror-throwback series, it's still unclear exactly what Will and the other boys of Hawkins will face in their latest adventure. We've seen glimpses of a Lovecraftian cloud creature; we've seen the return of Eleven, now with an '80s-appropriate perm; we've seen more members of the Hawkins Laboratory, or if not direct employees of the facility, more government goons ready to play with otherworldly fire. What hasn't been introduced is a dramatic thrust for the season -- but a final trailer for the season gives us a taste of what to expect.
In this two-and-a-half-minute preview, it's clear to Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) that her son is screwy. Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) agrees, and at one point we see him and actor Sean Astin's new character, Bob, fleeing a medical facility with an unconscious child -- they're all in on the battle against… that's unclear, but it's probably a parallel to the real-life Montauk Project. The gang (Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve) all look ready to push deeper into the open channels to the Upside Down. But why???
Multiple times in the trailer we hear characters allude to the end of the world. Will's visions -- whether they're premonitions or telekinetic glimpses into the Upside Down -- suggest an apocalyptic intrusion by the shadow monster. But this is Stranger Things, so whatever the end game holds, we can expect it to have some connection to both the overarching government conspiracy and '80s movies.
Perhaps we should take the kids' Halloween costumes at face value. Ghostbusters was the big hit of the Summer of '84 and the gang's decided to don the uniforms for Trick 'r Treating. Their mission could easily parallel the movie: In Ghostbusters, Dana Barrett becomes possessed by Zuul, the demigod who acts as a gatekeeper for Gozer the Gozerian, a destructive, shape-shifting god bent on wiping out humanity. If we think of Will as the new Dana, his visions, his dead-eyed stares, and diminishing health all start to make sense. So do the monsters.
So how do you stop the Zuul of America's heartland? If Hopper is to be believed, rifles. And a multiple kids with superpowers. U-S-A! U-S-A!
Get ready for whatever Stranger Things 2 has in store (something something Barb) when all nine episodes drop on October 27.