11 Questions We Still Have After Binging Netflix's 'Stranger Things'
In the eight-episode first season of Stranger Things, Netflix's 1980s sci-fi/horror/nostalgia mixtape, a faceless monster terrorizes a suburban Indiana neighborhood, shady government suits conduct paranormal experiments, and four kids make a mysterious friend who can do powerful things with her mind. The binge-worthy, reference-heavy show, from Wayward Pines writers Matt and Ross Duffer, connects many of the dots in satisfying ways, but some things remain maddeningly unclear.
In honor of the Spielbergian series' breakout character Eleven, here are a bunch of questions we absolutely need answered when Stranger Things returns for Season 2.
1. Who is Eleven's biological father?The show heavily implies that Eleven is a child born to a woman named Terry Ives, who underwent the last gasps of the super-secret MKUltra program. But who's her daddy? Matthew Modine's Dr. Brenner makes Eleven call him "Papa." Is it possible that he was sleeping with his MKUltra subjects and is the (horrible) biological father as well as a surrogate one?
2. Was there only one monster?The Duffer Brothers treat the Stranger Things monster like the shark from Jaws or a Xenomorph from the Alien franchise, hiding the flap-faced beast in shadows until the closing episodes. This distracts from the fact there seems to be only one monster in the Upside Down dimension. If there really is a whole parallel version of our world on the other side, would it be more populated with creepy creatures? Maybe Petals the Upside Down Monster was just angry because it was lonely.
3. Why did Eleven disappear when the monster disappeared?The audience doesn't witness the first moment that the monster passes through the gate into the Hawkins Lab, nor are we shown how Eleven manages to escape the sensory-deprivation tank after coming into contact with the monster for the first time. This means the rules governing Eleven and the monster's connection are all but nonexistent. In the final episode, Eleven dissolves the beast into pieces. When the monster-dust clears, Eleven is also gone. Is there some sort of conservation of mass rule that we're missing? Please don't make me flip through old physics textbooks.
4. Does Chief Harper know what happened to Eleven?Stranger Things ends with a time jump, picking up a month after the monster is (seemingly) killed. The last thing we'd seen prior to the time jump is Chief Harper (David Harbour) getting into a car with two government agents, but when we pick up with him a month later, he looks like he's back to his day-drinking self... except he deposits a box of Eggos in the woods. Does Chief Harper know where Eleven is, or is he just hoping to lure her back into Mirkwood? This is left deliberately unclear, and it's keeping me up at night.
5. Why are Nancy and Steve back together?Despite growing closer to Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) during their battle against the monster in the Byers home, the end of Stranger Things shows Nancy (Natalia Dyer) cuddling up to Steve (Joe Keery), who'd only marginally redeemed himself after being the world's worst jerk to her and everyone else for much of the series. Is she really that shallow? Did her brief stint in the Upside Down alter her senses? Or is this another way (along with the use of New Order's "Elegia") that the creators are telling us they dig Pretty in Pink?
6. Did someone create the Upside Down?No one who has seen or studies the existence of the Upside Down ever explains how the world sits alongside ours. When Eleven is in the sensory-deprivation tank, she enters an all-black astral plane that is different from the Upside Down but also connected to both the Upside Down and the real world. A science teacher simplifies possible access to alternate dimensions using an "acrobat and flea" analogy: an acrobat can only go forward or backwards on a tightrope, while a flea can go forward, backward, sideways or underneath the rope. But based on what we're shown, it’s unclear what the connection is between the real world, Eleven's astral plane, and the Upside Down. When Eleven first reports the monster, Dr. Brenner wants to contact it, but doesn't seem concerned that an extra-dimensional creature is occupying the same space as Russian spies. Is it possible that Brenner, or other humans, accidentally willed the Upside Down into existence?
7. Are there at least 10 other psychic children?The boys give Eleven her name because of a tattoo on her forearm: "011." This implies there are -- or were -- more psychic kids, right? If Terry got pregnant without knowing it during her time being subjected to MKUltra tests, the possibility that El might not be the only child is very disturbing. Was Brenner (or someone -- or something -- else) impregnating subjects long before Terry had her child taken from her? If so, will the show introduce characters with, say, a mysterious 005 -- or even cooler, 007 -- tattooed on their forearms?
8. Why did it take the monster so long to find Will?The seventh episode of Stranger Things ratchets up the tension by ending on the monster finding Camp Byers, Will's hiding spot in the Upside Down. Up to that point, the monster had been mostly focusing on other things -- dragging Barb into his dimension, mauling a deer, playing hide-and-seek with Nancy. But then all of a sudden he finds Will. What gives? Is Will unique, or somehow different than Barb, who got webbed and tentacled much more quickly? Complicating matters: Eleven has a vision of a slug crawling out of Barbara's dead body. Will suffers from the same symptom in the final scene of the show. Did the monster know something about Will that we don't?
9. Is Will the flea?On that same point, the end of Stranger Things offers a possible setup for Season 2: when Will goes to the bathroom and pukes up a slug into the sink, he is briefly transported to the Upside Down without needing a portal to pass through. It seems like staying so long in the universe's toxic atmosphere may have had some side effects. That, or Will always had the ability to portal into the Upside Down, and that's why he was a target in the first place.
10. Who fixed the Byers family house?A one-month time jump doesn't adequately explain how Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), a single mother in 1983 who needed a two-week advance to buy Christmas lights when her son went missing, manages to get her very damaged house fixed and still have enough left over to buy Will an Atari for Christmas. I'd suggest that the town pitched in to help repair the burnt hallway, the gasoline-soaked carpet, the black paint on wallpaper, and the destroyed living-room walls, but I'm pretty sure the deal made with the government meant that Joyce couldn't talk about why she messed up her house so badly. Where'd all that money and manpower come from? I smell conspiracy.
11. Why does Will roll multiple dice to cast fireball during the first Dungeons & Dragons campaign?First off, casting fireball doesn't require an attack roll; his target needs to roll a save. Second of all, even if Will was rolling a save (for some reason), he'd only roll a single d20, not two handfuls of dramatically exploding dice. Third, Stranger Things really asks for the full nerd treatment, so don't look at me that way.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.