From Will’s disappearance to Eleven shutting the portal to the Upside Down at the end of season 2, here is everything you need to remember ahead of Stranger Things 3.
You’ll probably recall that Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) went missing at the beginning of season 1, kicking off a string of supernatural events in Hawkins, Indiana, and changing the lives of our group of heroes – old and young – forever.
He was captured by an otherworldly monster – which we later came to know as the Demogorgon, after a similarly gross character from Dungeons & Dragons – and transported to a parallel universe called the Upside Down.
After an investigation by his distraught mother Joyce (Winona Ryder) and grizzled Police Chief Jim Hopper, it was revealed that a portal into the universe had been opened by government officials at a laboratory on the edge of town, where they kept a bunch of genetically-altered youngsters, who they used to open the gate.
One such 12-year-old – Eleven, played by a shaved-headed Millie Bobby Brown – has escaped the grasp of the lab’s most evil scientist, Dr Brenner. In the woods, she runs into Will’s friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) who she befriends.
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things
Eleven has telekinetic abilities: she was kidnapped at birth by Dr Brenner (who stole her from her mother, Terry Ives, who is now catatonic) and turned into a weapon of sorts in the lab. She also loves Eggo waffles; the first food she tried after escaping the facility.
Eleven, the boys, Hopper, Joyce, Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) team up to take down the demogorgon – who has been out roaming around Hawkins and causing trouble, murdering Nancy’s friend Barb (Shannon Purser) along the way – and rescue Will. Nancy’s boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery) gets caught up in the action along the way, too.
They succeed, though Eleven disappears after disintegrating the demogorgon with her powers. Will is resuscitated when he is brought back into the real world, but an epilogue shows him coughing up a demogorgon-like slug monster, suggesting all is not quite well.
Other key points to recall: we learned that Hopper had a daughter who passed away from cancer a few years prior, and that he and his wife had separated after the fact. Eleven recalled overhearing a Russian message while doing Brenner’s bidding at the lab. Mike invited Eleven to a dance called the Snow Ball with him before she disappeared.
Will’s troubles, unfortunately, were far from over. As Halloween approaches, nearly a year after the events of season one, he is struggling with “episodes” where he is transported back to the Upside Down. The doctors think these are hallucinations, but they are wrong. He is slowly being inhabited by a new monster called the Mind Flayer – an enormous, tentacled creature.
Joyce has a dorky new boyfriend, Bob Newby (Sean Astin). A fiery-haired new girl called Max (Sadie Sink) and her hunky-but-mean brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) have arrived in town. The former makes friends with the boys, while the latter just seems to be there to terrorise his sister and flirt with Mike’s mother, Karen (Cara Buono). Dustin is keeping an Upside Down slug monster as a pet (silly boy).
Eleven is, of course, alive and well, and living in a cabin with Hopper. Flashbacks reveal that she escaped from the Upside Down and hid from agents in the woods, before Hopper rescued her and took her in.
Nancy gets #JusticeForBarb by forcing Dr Owens (Paul Reiser) to admit that the lab opened the portal to the Upside Down which led to Barb’s death. She breaks up with Steve, and starts up a relationship with Jonathan, with their sexual tension bubbling over on a visit to local conspiracy theorist, Murray (Bret Gelman), who helps them to get their story out.
Finn Wolfhard as Mike, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin in Stranger Things 2
Steve strikes up a friendship with Dustin as they pair up to capture Dustin’s pet monster, who has grown quite a lot, and begun terrorising the town. He is now known as a “demodog” – there are quite a few of these about.
Hopper, Joyce, Bob and the boys bring Will to the lab for examination by Dr Owens. Bob is eaten by an Upside Down monster after risking his life for the good of the group.
Disparate groups come together after they escape the lab, and they exorcise the Mind Flayer out of Will. Eleven arrives at the Byers’ house and saves them from the attacking flock of demodogs.
She then re-enters the lab with Hopper and shuts the portal to the Upside Down.
The season ends harmoniously, with Eleven arriving at the Snow Ball and sharing a kiss with Mike.
Other things to remember: Eleven briefly went off on her own to Chicago where she met a girl with powers called number 8, who had been kept in the same lab as her.
Stranger Things 3 is released on Netflix on Thursday 4th July 2019