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After spending almost an entire season away from Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) and the rest of her friends, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) has officially returned to the party. Over the course of Stranger Things‘ second season, the powerful telekinetic sometimes known as Jane went off on a search of self-discovery, traveling all the way from Hawkins to Chicago and back again, returning home just in time to destroy the border between our world and the Upside Down — landing on the Mind Flayer’s radar in the process.
With the exception of her scenes with Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour), Eleven’s entire season two arc played out far away from the core cast of Stranger Things, up until the finale. Now that she’s back in the Hawkins orbit, it’s anyone’s guess how things will play out next for the character.
With that said, here are five of our best bets:
1. Out of the Woods
Whenever Stranger Things returns, it’s very likely at least a year will have passed between seasons. That’s the length of time until it’s safe for Eleven to wander around Hawkins under the guise of “Jane,” according to Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser). Expect season three to focus heavily on Eleven’s continued growth as a social creature (if not exactly a social butterfly), especially through her relationship with Mike. As exciting as it will be to see her reunited with Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) as well, Eleven’s new friendships (or even rivalries) with Will (Noah Schnapp) and Max (Sadie Sink) are even more enticing prospects.
2. The Fate of Eight
Even as she develops new relationships within the world of Hawkins, Eleven has other family she must consider as well. First of all, her biological mother and aunt are still out there in the universe; who’s to say how they might be integrated into Eleven’s larger family next season? And then there’s Kali, also known as Eight, played by Linnea Berthelsen. The leader of a small army of outcasts, Kali is all but sure to return to the world of Stranger Things in season three — and if we’re lucky, she’ll bring some other super-powered “siblings” into Eleven’s universe as well.
3. Papa Strikes Back
Matthew Modine’s malevolent Dr. Brenner appeared in a small handful of scenes in season two, both in flashback and hallucinatory form. Outside of those cameos, a former Hawkins Lab employee tells Kali and Eleven that Brenner is still alive. The Duffer Brothers have all but confirmed as much, saying they wouldn’t give a character like Brenner an off-screen death. Stranger Things can withstand a single season of teasing out Brenner’s return, but it can’t pull the same trick two seasons in a row — which means the evil doctor has to strike back in season three, or else risk stretching the audience’s patience past the breaking point.
4. A Meeting of the Minds
Speaking about the final scene of season two, in which the Mind Flayer stalks over Hawkins from the Upside Down, the Duffers have previously told THR, “They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.” Viewers know what it looks like when the Mind Flayer has Will Byers under its influence. What would it look like if the Mind Flayer could control Eleven? Very bad indeed — and perhaps fans will see exactly how bad as soon as season three.
5. Into the Vortex
In suggesting that dark turn for Eleven — that she could be next season’s “Will the Wise,” but worse — it’s worth weighing the possibility we could lose Eleven once again. Toward the end of the season, Hopper confides in Eleven his belief that he’s essentially damned, and anyone who comes too close gets sucked into the vortex of oblivion. Could these words end up being prophetic? Will Eleven become consumed by the Upside Down in season three, either leading to her figurative or literal destruction? It’s a brutal outcome to consider, but one worth weighing all the same — even if it feels less like a season three plot turn, and more like the foundation of the Stranger Things end game.
Follow THR.com/StrangerThings for more theories, deep dives and interviews about season two.
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