WARNING: This Article Contains Spoilers Throughout
Who is Bob? What is a demodog? What happened to Dustin's hair? And who is Kali? After watching nine solid hours of the latest season of 'Stranger Things', I can now reveal the answer to these questions and more in my A to Z of #StrangerThings2.
The new season delivers everything you'd expect if you're a fan of the first season, a loveable cast, an engaging storyline plus a new, bigger, darker threat to the town of Hawkins. The new season looks much bigger and more cinematic but doesn't detract from the charm that made us fall in love with the first season.
A is for arcade
The arcade is where it all begins. After scraping up some spare quarters, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin jump on their bikes and head to the arcade where they meet Will to play the classic 80s video game, 'Dragon's Lair'. It's in the arcade that we first hear of "Mad Max", a mysterious gamer who's managed to knock Dustin's high score off of the top of the leaderboard on a game called 'Dig Dug'. Later in the episode Mad Max is revealed to be the new girl at school, Max.
The arcade is also the first time we see Will drift back into the nether, or "the Upside Down" as the kids call it.
B is for Bob
Bob makes his first appearance in the first episode of the second season of 'Stranger Things', he's the new boyfriend of Joyce, Will and Jonathan's mother. Bob seems like a bit of a square to start with, especially when he makes a cringe joke while dressed as a vampire for Halloween, "I hope it doesn't suck".
As the season goes on Bob turns out to be not so bad after all, he works in Radio Shack which turns out to be pretty useful and in the season finale Bob saves the boys, but makes the ultimate sacrifice. His downfall was clearly stopping to smile at Joyce. If he'd have kept running he probably wouldn't have been eaten alive by a demodog.
C is for cliff hanger
Throughout the season Will is seen to drift between the real world and the other dimension, the Upside Down. During his time in the creepy alternative reality he encounters a huge Shadow Monster, and its oncoming storm of destruction. And while Eleven closes up the gate into the Upside Down, it seems the beast lives on and in the final shot of the season we see it towering ominously over the alternate version of the town in its realm.
D is for demodog
If you've seen the first season then you'll know the demogorgon, a strange faceless creature. Well, in season two Dustin introduces us to the demodog. We first see this variation on the humanoid demogorgon when Dustin catches a strange creature, which he calls D'Artagnan, on Halloween in his Ghostbusters trap.
Starting off, small, slimy and tadpole like (or a pollywog to use the technical term, apparently), D'Art sheds his skin a few times and rapidly grow into a ferocious dog-like creature. This result is Dustin coining the phrase "demodog". Demogorgon, dog... demodog, see what he did there?
E is for Erica
Erica is Lucus' sassy younger sister. She has little respect for the gang's secret radio call signs and emergency codes, "I've got a code for you instead, it's called 'code shut your mouth'." But, she does come out with some pretty funny lines in the three episodes she appears in. One of her best moments, "Lucas, you are such a nerd. No wonder you only hang out with boys."
F is for Farrah Fawcett
Steve Harrington has changed this season, he's no longer the antagonist, that role has now been claimed by Billy, Max's older sister. Steve has evolved in to a nice, more sensitive character and even ends up becoming a bit of a love coach to Dustin. While on their way to certain danger, Steve shares with Dustin his secret to having perfect hair, "four puffs of the Farrah Fawcett spray". A technique Dustin laters tries out at the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball.
G is for the gate
The gate is the portal into the Upside Down and it's revealed that it was opened by Eleven during the early experiments she was involved with at Hawkins Lab.
A vision of "Papa" which was shown to Eleven by Kali, described the gate as a festering wound, "you have a wound, Eleven, a terrible wound, and it's festering and it will grow, spread, and eventually it will kill you". And it almost did, closing the gate looked like it required every last bit of Eleven's powers.
H is for Hawkins Lab
We were introduced to the mysterious government research facility known as Hawkins Lab in the first season, but the location plays a much more important role this season. Not only do Jonathan and Nancy purposely get arrested and taken there, Will also has to go to the base regularly for check ups with Doctor Owens due to the last effects of his traumatic experience in the first season.
The lab is also the location of the season finale when Eleven pushes her powers to the maximum and closes the gate to the Upside Down. For a moment she levitates as she battles against the power of the void.
I is for incendiary tape
After Nancy and Jonathan surreptitiously obtain a confession from the staff at Hawkins Lab using a concealed tape recorder, they take their evidence to a disgraced journalist-turned-conspiracy theorist called Murray Bauman. Murray uses his contacts to leak the story of how the lab was responsible for and covered up the death of Barb Holland.
In a local news report, which we catch a glimpse of on a television, describes the evidence as an "incendiary tape". The local news anchor recounts the story of the events at Hawkins Lab, finally making their irresponsible actions public knowledge. Although, the tape is a watered down version of what really happened as Murray thought the public weren't ready for the whole truth.
J is for junkyard
The junkyard was a major location in the first season, this time round the gang only visit this location once, but it becomes the scene of a major battle with a pack of demodogs and it's Steve who fights them off and protects the kids, proving that he really has changed since the events of season one.
K is for Kali
In the second season of 'Stranger Things', Eleven finds out a bit more about her early years and her family, including her mother and her sister who she manages to track down using her psychic abilities. Eleven meets Kali in a rough neighbourhood where she's part of a criminal gang who hunt down and kill the "bad men" who have hurt people like her and Eleven.
L is for lizard?
One of the funniest quotes in season two is when Steve asks Dustin how he knows that his new pet, the strange creature he calls D'Artagnan, isn't a lizard. Dustin's reply, "how do I know it's not a lizard? Because it's face opened up and it ate my cat."
M is for Mad Max
Max is the new girl in town, she's moved to Hawkins from California with her hotheaded step brother, Billy. Although she initially thinks the boys are weird stalkers, Max eventually ends up in the middle of a love triangle between Dustin and Lucas. While Mike isn't keen to allow Max into their gang, Lucas is the first to cave and tell her the secrets of what the town has been through and thus inducting her into their adventure.
N is for the new faces
Season two introduces us to several new characters, most notably Max and her step brother Billy. He is aggressive, short tempered and a bully. Later in the season we learn that his issues stem from he troubled relationship with his strict father.
Billy takes an instant dislike to Steve and at one point is on the verge of beating him to death, until Max steps in and stops him by injecting him with a syringe. Other new faces to look out for this season are Joyce's new love interest Bob, conspiracy theorist Murray, and Doctor Owens of Hawkins Lab.
O is for Doctor Owens
Doctor Sam Owens is a senior member of the team at Hawkins Lab, he is responsible for containing the incidents which took place in the first season. He took over Doctor Brenner, the "bad man" that Eleven called Papa. In this season Doctor Owens helps Will with what initially seems like a case of post-traumatic stress after his time in the Upside Down.
P is for psyonic abilities
In this season we learn that Eleven isn't the only person with magical abilities. When she pays a visit to her birth mother we find out that she too has similar abilities to her daughter and of course there's Eleven's sister, Kali. When first meet Kali right at the start of episode one during a car chase. She's in a van full of people trying to escape the cops and uses her powers to stop the police dead in their tracks.
What are the extent of these abilities and who else has these powers? I guess we're still to find that out. But, we do get to see much more impressive displays of psychic power in this season compared to the last. Eleven pushes her powers further than ever before by dragging a whole train across a rail yard, and the season ends with her using her skills to seal the gateway to the Upside Down.
Q is for questions
The first season of 'Stranger Things' left fans with lots to think about.
What deal did Hopper really make with Hawkins Lab?
Did Eleven survive, if so where is she?
Why did Hopper leave Eggos in Mirkwood?
Why did Will see a glimpse of the Upside Down?
Thankfully, all of these questions were answered in the second season. We find out Hopper's deal was to keep what happened quiet, and in exchange the scientists at Hawkins Lab promises to keep their experiments from leaking out into his town.
We find out that Hopper was leaving Eggos for Eleven and later took her in and gave her somewhere safe to live, at the end of the season he's given a copy of her birth certificate making him her legal guardian.
And we find out that Will has an on going connection with the Upside Down, which grows even stronger when he allows the Shadow Monster to make contact with him.
R is for the real star
For me the real star of 'Stranger Things' 2 was Dustin, a lot of story line revolved around him, he also got most of the funny lines. There are many amazing Dustin quotes in this season, one he'll probably be remembered for is during the scene in the library when he's trying to convince the librarian to let him take out some book, "I am on a curiosity voyage, and I need my paddles to travel, these books are my paddles".
S is for the Snow Ball
The season ends with an emotional reunion between Mike and Eleven at the Hawkins Middle Snow Ball '84, the end of year dance and a chance for Lucas to show off his flirting skills and Dustin his new improved look.
After Lucas pairs up with Max for a dance, Will gets offered a dance from a classmate, and Dustin gets a sympathy dance from Nancy, it looks like Mike is left on the shelf, that is until Eleven is brought to the party Hopper for one dance... it's kind of a Cinderella deal before she has to go back into hiding.
T is for train
T doesn't just stand for train, it also stand for train. Kali helps train Eleven using a train. In a Yoda-like role, Eleven's lost sister helps her realise the potential of her powers and encourages her to drag a train carriage through a rail yard using the powers of her mind. Eleven succeeds in the challenge but is left drained and exhausted.
U is for the Upside Down
The Upside Down plays a more significant role this season than in the first, the black vine like tentacles spewing out and spreading from the gate at Hawkins Lab are worming their way under the town which means it's even easier for the characters to find themselves in the Upside Down, as Hopper found when digging in a pumpkin patch.
V is for villain
The show's creators, the Duffer Brother, explained how they wanted the monsters in this season to be more of a threat. They likened the demogorgon of season one to sharks, threatening but not sinister. In this season they wanted a villain to rival Lord Voldemort, and so the Mind Flayer was born. Throughout most of the season the boys simply refer to the black towering beast as the "Shadow Monster". As Will's connection with the monster grows they realise that it has a hive mind which connects all of the matter spewing out from the Upside Down and it becomes clear that it is intent on taking over our realm and killing everyone.
The name Mind Flayer was coined by Dustin and comes from a 'Dungeons And Dragons' book, the description of the character from the fantasy role-playing game is perfectly suited to the Shadow Beast.
W is Winston Zeddemore
Who would want to be Winston? He was the last to join the Ghostbusters, coming in super late. He's not funny, and he's not even a scientist, right? Well, it might have been that very argument that every kid was having in the playground in 1984, the year the iconic 'Ghostbusters' was released and the year 'Stranger Things' 2 is set in.
The gang dress as Ghostbusters for Halloween in episode two. Will is Egon, Dustin is Ray, but both Mike and Lucas come as Peter Venkman which leads to an argument, with Lucas putting his foot down and saying "I specifically didn't agree to Winston."
X is for "X marks the spot"
As Will's connection to the Shadow Monster grows, he starts to share its thoughts, or "now memories" as Will calls them. Through this new insight he becomes aware in a vision that Hopper is in trouble after stumbling into the Upside Down.
Luckily Will had previously gone into a kind of trance and using a sort of "automatic writing" technique had drawn a map of the sprawling tentacle-like tunnels of the Upside Down underneath the town. Will knew exactly where Hopper was in these tunnels and Joyce marks the spot with an 'x'.
Joyce and Will need a little help narrowing down the location of the 'x' and ask Bob to help. Although at first Bob doesn't take it seriously, "what's at the 'x', pirate treasure?", he eventually tracked down and helped save Hopper.
Y is for 'You Better Go Now'
'You Better Go Now' is a 1950s song by Billie Holiday, it's just one of many songs which make up the soundtrack to the new season of 'Stranger Things'. Other songs include The Clash, a familiar song to fans as it was also used in the first season.
Queen, Bon Jovi, and Kenny Rogers also appears in the list of songs which feature in the show. The Police's 1983 hit 'Every Breath You Take' was used during the emotional slow dance scene during the end of year Snow Ball at Hawkins Middle School.
Z is for Zombie Boy
Any kid who goes missing, is pronounced dead, has a funeral and then comes back to life is obviously going to get some attention in school. After Will's rescue from the Upside Down and seeming return from the afterlife, some of the kids in school gave him the nickname "Zombie Boy", something Will wasn't too please about until a girl approached him at the Snow Ball and asked, "hey Zombie Boy, want to dance?"
Will's older brother, Jonathan did try to convince him that it's not so bad being different, "nobody normal ever accomplished anything meaningful in this world."
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