SAN DIEGO (USA TODAY) — The first season of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things definitely lived up to its title, though its characters just want their ordinary lives back.
The brave kids and adults in the town of Hawkins defeated the monstrous Demogorgon and saved young Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) from the horrifying alternate dimension of the Upside Down in the 1983-set first season, but the second (streaming Oct. 27) revisits youngsters Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin Harrison (Gaten Matarazzo) and the rest trying to move on from the terror a year later.
“They’re just trying to sweep everything under a rug and pretend everything is fine and back to normal, and it’s not,” says Matt Duffer, co-creator of Stranger Things with twin brother Ross. “People have been affected psychologically, and then there are some potentially supernatural after-effects.”
USA TODAY sat down with the Duffers and executive producer Shawn Levy at Comic-Con to find out five things fans need to know going into Season 2.
Will’s haunted by his experience.
In the first season finale, after being rescued Will coughs up an eerie black worm and has a vision of the Upside Down in his bathroom, so his wasn’t exactly a happy ending. “Everyone treats him differently because of what he went through,” Matt Duffer says. “At school, they don’t know the true story of what happened but he’s still the boy who everyone thought was dead and there was a funeral for and all this insane stuff. So he feels like more of a freak.”
Mystery surrounds Chief Hopper.
David Harbour’s recent Emmy nomination for playing Hawkins’ top cop “made me happier than all the other 17,” Levy says. “He is the rock of our cast, he is the center of the show.” The last time viewers saw Hopper, he was getting into a strange black car. “Clearly Hopper is caught up with someone, certain people, presumably involved in that car, and Season 2 explores what that involvement is,” Levy says. Plus, Hopper "made a deal with the devil" — in his case, bad-guy scientist Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) — to help get Will back, Ross Duffer says. “You’ll see him wrestle with that, too.”
Eleven’s definitely coming back.
Played by Emmy-nominated breakout Millie Bobby Brown, the enigmatic, Eggo-loving psychic heroine sacrificed herself and vanished into the Upside Down, and the new trailer shows her alive and trying to find a way out. The Duffers won’t say how long fans will have to wait to see her back, but “it’s not an Eleven cameo. She’s a full-on character this season.” Levy also promises more revelations about her backstory: “Her role is substantial and really satisfying.”
New kids are in town.
Sadie Sink joins the cast as Max, a skater who’s just moved from California and has a different vibe from the other girls in Hawkins. “She’s someone who the boys think is pretty cool — not all of the boys, a few of them,” Ross Duffer says. But she’s got a bit of a wall up that “drives them even more crazy. There’s a little competition for her attention.” She also has an older brother Billy, who “is that Stephen King model of not all evil is paranormal,” Levy says. “Billy is a very scary real-world character that Dacre brings to life incredibly well.”
They still love the '80s.
Ross Duffer admits that 1984 was “an incredible year” for pop culture, especially with summer films. “Those kids in the fall of ’84 would have been obsessed with Ghostbusters.” That and Gremlins are big influences on the show, though Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Karate Kid find their way in, too. “There is definitely some Cobra Kai bullying,” Levy says, though the references aren’t as deliberate as people may think. “We never sit around going, ‘And in this episode, we shall reference this movie.’ It’s all this stew of influences and memories, frankly more memories of the movies of the ‘80s than the ‘80s themselves.