Posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Netflix’s latest television series Stranger Things is filled with mystery and leaves viewers with many fun questions. Having just binge-watched my way through the first season post-Comic Con, I found myself searching the web to obtain some answers. What follows is a list of 11 questions (eleven? how appropriate) and the possible answers compiled from quotes fro many interviews with showrunners/writers/directors The Duffer Brothers and producer Shawn Levy, and we also dive into some fan theories from various forums. In addition to your burning Stranger Things questions, we take a look at what season two of the series might bring. Are you ready?
Warning: Extensive spoilers for Stranger Things follows. If you have not finished watching the series, please do not continue.
Also, the header image is cropped from a now-sold-out limited edition Stranger Things print created by Matt Ferguson.
What exactly Is Dr. Brenner experimenting with In Hawkins Lab? Is Dr. Martin Brenner Still Live?
At first, it appears that they are using Eleven to spy on some Russian guy, but the hole to the Upside Down opens, and all hell breaks lose. So is the group at Hawkins Lab actually a secret military group working to uncover Soviet secrets? Sounds reasonable for the 1980’s. Or was their ultimate plan to open a portal to this other dimension. If so, what were they hoping to achieve? Maybe they wanted to catch the Demogorgon and use it as a weapon of war?
We do know that the Duffer Brothers have an explanation for all of it. Matt Duffer told The Huffington Post that they “have a lot more backstory built in” for Brenner and Eleven.
“Every time that we were writing scenes in the Hawkins Lab, we wanted to stop writing them, just because it seemed like we wanted to experience as much of it as possible in the present day and through the eyes of our ordinary characters. We just wanted to leave that as mysterious as possible.”
As for Dr. Brenner’s fate — Last time we see Dr. Martin Brenner, he is about to be killed by the demagorgon which is rampaging through the school. But the camera cut away, and we never are told of his fate. Was he killed in this encounter? You would think so, right? When French-language movie news site Premiere asked actor Matthew Modine, about the future of the series, he smiled and said: “Oh, there will be a season two.” While this is nothing definitive, I guess that at very least Modine will reprise his role as Dr. Brenner in flashbacks.
We should find out more about Hawkins Lab in season 2. I expect this will happen in a way similar to how the Dharma Initiative was explored in Lost. Matt also told IGN that the idea of Season 2 is “going back to the laboratory and [pulling] back the curtain a little bit. Maybe they brought someone new in. It’s not as evil and mysterious as it was in Season 1. We might start to get into what they’re doing a little more.”
Who Is Eleven? Was There Ten More Before Her? Do More Superpowered Children Exist?
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) gets her name from the “011” tattoo on her arm, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that she may be Dr. Brenner’s 11th test subject. There were likely other pregnant mothers involved in Dr. Brenner’s drug experiments, and I’m sure that resulted in more children as part of this program. But if so, what happened to the previous test subjects? We don’t see any evidence that other children are being held for experiments at Hawkins Lab, not to say that means there aren’t any. But you’d think that if there were other superpowered children in their custody, they might have used them in their recovery of Eleven.
Eleven calls Dr. Brenner her “Papa,” and we know that he supervised the drug study that probably gave Eleven her super powers, so in a way, he is a part of her creation. But is Brenner literally Eleven’s father? If not, who is? Perhaps a real father is looking for her?
Is Eleven Still Alive? What Happened To Her?
The climax of Stranger Things involved Eleven sacrificing herself to kill the monster. At this moment she disappears from out existence, but is she gone forever? Later in the episode we see Hopper leaving leftovers and Eggos for her in a concealed box in the woods. Does this mean Eleven is still alive? The scene is presented as if he had dropped food off for her previously, which means that someone has been eating those waffles.
Is Eleven stuck back in the Upside Down or caught somewhere in the In Between? Ross Duffer tells IGN that they wanted to leave it “purposefully ambiguous.”
“The goal was to make it as complicated as possible and really tear them apart at the end of that season, to make things much more difficult.”
But Matt Duffer teases that we’ll probably see more of Elle in Season 2, stating “The great thing about having a portal to another dimension is that you’re not boxed in, narratively.” Over at Variety Matt gives a bit more:
Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don’t know where she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows… Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she’s out there or has he already made contact with her? We don’t answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.
I kind of love the idea of a Hopper/Eleven buddy adventure storyline.
Was Hopper’s Dead Daughter’s Stuffed Animal In The Upside Down?
When Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is looking for Will in the Upside Down, he comes across a stuffed animal that many people believe to be the same stuffed animal that Hopper’s daughter had before she died of cancer. It also looks to be a similar stuffed animal as the one Eleven has in Hawkins Lab. So why do all three characters have the stuffed tiger/lions? Could Hopper’s daughter somehow be alive in the Upside Down? Remember at one point the science teacher said there were multiple other dimensions including one where Will Meyer’s death didn’t happen. I’m just not buying this theory. Also, I’m not sure why Hopper’s daughter would be in the Upside Down especially since she died of cancer well before the portal to that dimension was opened.
Some fans have theorized that it’s just a coincidence, pointing out that the tiger was the Hawkins school mascot. But I’m not sure that makes sense as Hopper didn’t live in Hawkins when his daughter was alive, he lived in “the big city.” He moved to Hawkins after her death.
While a Tiger stuffed animal is probably pretty standard, it seems weird to me that the Duffer Brothers would make this detail consistent if it didn’t mean something more.
Symbolically, CreatureThePirate points out that the stuffed animal could represent “bravery in the face of constant danger.”
The lion in The Wizard of Oz was missing his courage, when he should innately have it as a lion. When the lion appears in the show it signifies the immense courage the character it belonged to showed.El had the lion and was brave and strong in the face of Brenner and the Upside Down. Will had the lion and was strong being alone in the Upside Down against the monster. The lion behind Nancy and Jonathan at Hawkins Middle is shown right before they show courage and head to the police station to get the materials to fight the monster. The lion is with Hopper and Sarah to show how they were both strong against the sickness and Hopper continues to be strong in order to find Will and bring him back.
Also remember that Nancy mentions that the monster hunts at night like a lion or tiger, only not in packs but alone, like a bear.