Stranger Things 2 drops on Netflix on October 27, and if the Season 1 finale is any indication of what to expect, we’re in for a hell of a nail-biter.
“Season two is a lot darker,” Caleb McLaughlin recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “It puts a lot on your spirit. It takes place after the finding of Will, from where he was in the Upside Down, where you saw him in the last episode of season one and he was throwing up this slug into the sink. Everyone knew it came from the Upside Down. It moves from there. We all see what happens to him—the aftermath, and how it affects everyone in the town.”
We know that, like most of Team CASSIUS, you’ve probably forgotten what happened since last year’s premiere, so we’ve put together a no-nonsense refresher to get you caught up.
When you’re done reliving the magic, you can also watch Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo recap the season in under seven minutes below.
Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers (Episode 1)
In the first episode of the Season 1, we’re introduced to “The Party”—the circle of pals consisting of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas Sinclar (Caleb McLaughlin). As the title suggests, this is the episode during which Will goes missing. But not before a riveting game of Dungeons and Dragons.
Set in 1980s sci-fi Hawkins, Ind., the series opens with the boys playing the fantasy RPG game in Michael’s basement. When it starts to get late, Michael’s mother insists Will and Dustin head home. Subsequently, the two boys hop on their bikes and head to their respective abodes.
But after crashing his bike near laboratory grounds (in which we see a man running down a hallway in a lab coat during the opening scene), something rustles in the distance. Frightened, Will attempts to make it home by foot and finds himself cowering in a backyard shed as he attempts to load a gun in defense of… we’re not exactly sure of what’s after him at this point in the series. It (presumably) snatches him up, however, sending Will’s mother (Joyce Byers, played by a discombobulated Winona Ryder) and the rest of the cast into a frenzy.
After Joyce summons the help of Police Chief Hopper in search of her son, a young girl in a hospital gown and a shaved head (who we later come to know as our beloved and bad-ass Eleven) finds her way into Benny’s Diner. “Social services” (which is really most likely the government) are called and arrive to scoop her up, but after they end up killing Benny, Eleven escapes into the woods where the boys later find her. Meanwhile, Joyce gets a phone call from an anonymous, heavily-breathing entity she says she thinks is Will. Then, the lights flicker.
Things are about to get weird.
Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street (Episode 2)
Michael brings Eleven back to his house to sleep, which Lucas thinks is a horrible idea, and suggests they should reach out to his mom for help. But Eleven says “bad people” are after her and telling someone will only make it worse, so they scrap that idea. Meanwhile, Joyce tells Chief Hopper about the weird phone call she received, and also heads to her job to purchase a new phone since the other one was zapped during a power surge shortly after the call.
Back at Michael’s house, Eleven recognizes Will in a photo of him and the boys, but before Michael can put the pieces together, his mom comes home, and he hides Eleven in a closet. Triggering a bout of PTSD, Eleven is shaken by memories of being tormented in a dark cell back at the lab. Michael comes back to comfort her, and Lucas finally comes around to appreciating her a little bit.
All hell breaks loose when Joyce receives another strange phone call and Barb, Nancy’s friend, is abducted by the monster (or whatever it is, because we still don’t know). Through Eleven, the boys also learn that Will is running from the very same monster. Things are slowly, but not really, beginning to make sense.
Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly (Episode 3)
Chapter Three continues to connect the dots. Here, we learn Barb has been whisked away to some strange underworld (which we later learn to be The Upside Down) and more details surrounding what happened to Will begin to come together. While Eleven—whose mighty superpowers come to the forefront—leads the boys to where Will is hiding, Hopper makes his way into the Hawkins laboratory for further investigation. Things are not pretty, and Hopper is slowly beginning to think Dr. Brenner, who he’s more than familiar with, is up to no good.
At the climax of the episode, the kids watch as Will’s body is pulled out of a lake. But was it actually Will?…
Chapter Four: The Body (Episode 4)
…Joyce doesn’t think so. In fact, she’s almost still positive he’s alive, you know—since she’s been talking to him through walls and lights and what not. As crazy as it sounds to everyone else, Joyce is likely on to something, especially since Eleven, who reveals more of her powers during this episode, has picked up Will’s voice via Michael’s walkie-talkie. Not only that, but when Hopper visits the morgue, he’s told Will’s autopsy was performed by some “state” folks (he later finds stuffing inside of Will’s “body,” confirming all suspicion). Joyce subsequently refuses to sign off. Something’s not right, and everyone’s starting to realize it.
Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat (Episode 5)
After breaking into the Hopkins laboratory, experiencing some strange ish (there’s an unexplained goo-covered wall), and later hearing Barb’s car was found near a bus station (which is B.S.), Hopper realizes Joyce wasn’t crazy after all. Eleven and the boys head out in search of the “gate to The Upside Down” shortly after Will’s funeral since that’s where they believe he actually is. But after Eleven starts to freak out (a flashback reminds her of her memories of the dangerous underworld), they’re thrown off their path, which REALLY pisses Lucas off. Lucas and Michael begin to fight before Eleven uses her powers to break it up. Unaware of her own strength, her blow sends Lucas into his ninth dream. Lucas storms away when he regains consciousness, and Eleven is… Who knows. She’s been gone.
Later, Nancy and Will’s brother, Jonathan, search for answers regarding Will’s death. They’re distracted by a wounded deer, which gets snatched up by the weird monster thing. Next thing we know, Nancy’s standing before a tree covered in a strange goo-like substance (which Hopper also saw at the lab). Nancy crawls through and discovers The Upside Down. Meanwhile, Jonathan doesn’t know where she disappeared to.
Chapter Six: The Monster (Episode 6)
Nancy is trying to escape the Upside Down monster. Thank god Jonathan is able to pull her out just in time. Shaken, Nancy asks Jonathan to stay the night with her, which doesn’t settle with her sorta-kinda boyfriend, Steven. Jonathan temporarily ends up in jail following a fight that breaks out between the two later on in the episode.
Tension remains high between Michael and Lucas, who makes it his mission to find the gate on his own. Instead, he finds the Hawkins laboratory. While Lucas is on his own expedition, Dustin and Michael search for Eleven. And this is where all those Eggo waffle memes you’ve probably seen came from. Eleven is a lost puppy, eventually making her way into a grocery store and swiping a few boxes of Eggos. She doesn’t leave her surroundings unscathed, of course, leaving enough of a clue that they’re hot on her heels when they stumble upon the smashed automatic doors she leave behind.
Eleven is reunited with the boys when she comes to their rescue in the woods (a bully has just pulled a knife on Dustin and threatened to cut out his teeth). On the flipside, Joyce and Hopper meet who could possibly be Eleven’s mother, who believes her child had been born with superpowers.
Chapter Seven: The Bathtub (Episode 7)
Lucas warns the boys via walkie-talkie that “bad men” are on the way, so when a sketchy van of men pull up outside of Michael’s house, the team makes off on their bikes and meets Lucas on the way. Hopper sets out after the boys after Mike’s bully tells him about Eleven’s powers, arriving in enough time to fend off government agents and safely transport everyone back to Joyce’s house.
Eleven has the ability to get in contact with Will and Barb, but it’s going to take “a bathtub” (which ends up being a sensory deprivation chamber used in the Hawkins lab) in order for her to make it happen. Since the lab is clearly the last place Eleven would want to be, the gang ends up making a chamber of their own using a kiddie pool, a ton of water, and 1,500 pounds of salt—all in the middle of the Hawkins Middle School gym.
Success! Eleven is able to cross over, but what she finds—a dead Barb—is not what anyone wanted to see. She also finds Will, alive, huddled up inside The Upside Down. So now they need to find a way to get him out. Joyce and Hopkins find their way in through the wall Hopkins found in the lab back in Chapter Five. They’re captured, but Nancy and Jonathan are already picking up some hefty tools to help them kill the monster.
Enter season climax.
Chapter Eight: The Upside Down (Episode 8)
Jonathan and Nancy are prepared to take on the monster alone. Steven, who is still feeling a way about Jon and Nancy’s companionship, shows up just as the monster appears through the roof and unleashes its wrath against all of them.
In The Upside Down, Joyce and Hopper find Will and pull some sort of tentacle out of his mouth. Things aren’t looking too great for a moment, but they’re eventually able to resuscitate him and Will ends up living. Of course, since all these dimensions are tied (it makes more sense when you watch the series), Nancy and Jonathan aren’t able to take out the monster alone. It shows up at the lab where Eleven eventually uses all the power she can muster up to defeat it. She’s successful, but then she has to go. Does Eleven die? We’re all left to question this as she says goodbye to Mike.
Fast forward to Christmas dinner a month later. Everything seems to be back to normal, but we’re still left with questions. Where’s Eleven? Why did Hopper leave those Eggos in a random box in the woods? And what the hell did Will excuse himself from the table to go cough up in the bathroom?
All of this and more will be (hopefully) answered this Friday when Season 2 drops on Netflix.