Don’t get your mom jeans in a twist: Stranger Things is coming back for more.
The Duffer Brothers’ summer hit was officially renewed for a second season on Wednesday — a move Netflix announced with a video (below) that capitalized on the show’s captivating title sequence. The series’ eerie opening credits and chapter book-style titles helped set the tone for season 1, and it doesn’t look like season 2 has any plans to mess with success: The apparent episode names in the teaser (all nine of them) are too tantalizingly vague to draw any real conclusions. But Chief Hopper (David Harbour) would be so disappointed if we didn’t do a little digging anyway.
What can season 2’s episode titles tell us about the future of Stranger Things? Join us for coffee and contemplation.
“Madmax”: In the early ’80s, George Miller followed up on Mad Max with an even more well-received sequel: exactly what the Duffer brothers are aiming to do with season 2. The Duffers tell EW that they looked to the sequels of James Cameron when outlining season 2, and Cameron, in a 1986 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, cited Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior as a sequel that had influenced his work.
But the title is more than a season 2 mission statement: It isn’t hard to draw parallels between Stranger Things and a movie series about rebels on bikes who are up against an oppressive government. There was also a refreshingly literal streak to season 1’s episode titles. Could a character named Max be one of the four new faces the Duffers said are set to debut next year?
“The Boy Who Came Back to Life”: If the season 2 premiere looks at the big picture, episode 2 seems like it’s going back where it all began. Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) “came back to life” at the end of the first season, but did he come back exactly the same? The slugs in his bathroom sink say no. If there are more complications to Will’s return, this could be when Joyce (Winona Ryder) starts to catch on.
“The Pumpkin Patch”: Episode 3, “Holly, Jolly,” was one of the standout hours of season 1. Here’s hoping “The Pumpkin Patch” does for jack-o’-lanterns what “Holly, Jolly” did for Christmas lights. Get ready to be spooked.
“The Palace”: Season 1 found a kind of palace in Will’s backyard fort, a.k.a. Castle Byers, which became his safe haven in the Upside Down. The Demogorgon destroyed the Upside Down’s version of Castle Byers. Is Will going to be able to rebuild his childhood, or is his palace just proof that nothing is really safe in the end?
Then again, maybe “The Palace” is a movie palace; Hawkins’ old-school movie theater, The Hawk, was a background feature in season 1. Given how much Stranger Things is indebted to the movies, it wouldn’t be surprising if the theater plays a larger role next season.
“The Storm”: Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) met Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in a downpour in season 1. With any luck, they’ll find her again here. It’s also worth pointing out that “The Storm” sits at season 2’s halfway point, like an eye in the middle of a hurricane.
“The Pollywog”: Unless the boys are going tadpole hunting, there’s probably more to this polliwog than meets the eye. Is the Pollywog the creature that was shoved down Will’s throat? There’s another option, and it’s even scarier: Maybe the Demogorgon was just a tadpole version of an even bigger monster.
“The Secret Cabin”: If someone (Hopper?) is trying to hide Eleven from the world, there are worse places to do it than a secret cabin. One of the season’s new characters could also be hiding in the woods — but will the new face be on our side?
“The Brain”: Eleven can flip cars with her mind, so if everyone’s favorite telekinetic hero does return in season 2, “The Brain” could be the episode that takes her powers to another level. Season 1 also took Nancy (Natalia Dyer) from brainiac to badass; it would be fun to see her flex her smarts in this fight.
“The Lost Brother”: Season 1 ended with one brother found; is season 2 going for a bigger cliffhanger? If so, we’re putting our feet down: Joyce is not allowed to lose another son. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) won’t be the brother to go missing here. Does Steve (Joe Keery) have a brother we don’t know about? Any one of the Dungeons and Dragons kids could lose a sibling here. To paraphrase Dustin, we don’t feel good about this. But when has Stranger Things ever wanted us to feel good about anything?
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