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Something wicked is on its way to Hawkins.
The second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things premieres Friday, bringing with it a whole host of expectations. How can the Duffer brothers possibly top their first year on the show, which centered on the disappearance of a young boy named Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), the arrival of a mysterious young girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and the Upside Down dimension that drew both figures and others into its horrible vortex? Season one burst onto the scene without warning, and became a massive hit in large part due to its subsequent shock factor. Can season two achieve the same, given all of the hype?
The question of how season two shakes out against season one will be answered imminently — as will the veracity of all of these wild predictions about what to expect from the newest iteration of Stranger Things. With mere hours standing in the way before we return to Hawkins, here are seven of our eleventh-hour predictions about what the future holds for season two.
1. There Will Be Barb
Not the boldest prediction in the book, given how much love there is within the Stranger Things fan community and the Stranger Things family at large for Shannon Purser’s turn as Barbara Holland, the other young Hawkins local who disappeared around the same time as Will Byers — except she never turned up. At least not until season two, when viewers should fully expect some form of “Justice for Barb,” with a cameo from Purser to boot. Really, if Stranger Things manages to make it through an entire second season without bringing Barb directly back into the mix, it deserves highest praise for exercising such restraint under enormous fan pressure to do otherwise.
2. Acid for Blood
It’s no secret that the Duffer brothers are drawing upon Aliens for inspiration this season. Ever since the first iteration of Stranger Things concluded, the creators have expressed their love for the James Cameron sci-fi classic, and used it as a point of reference for their second year of the show. In that regard, here’s one way Stranger Things may pay homage to the second saga of Ellen Ripley: a scene in which someone mistakenly destroys a monster (or an otherwise foreign object) from the Upside Down, resulting in some sort of fatal acidic splashback, a la the death of a certain marine midway into Aliens.
3. Seven Eleven
At the end of season one, Millie Bobby Brown’s telekinetic wunderkind vanished into thin air, right after solving Hawkins’ Demogorgon problem. Well, solved for the moment, anyway. In any case, Eleven’s gone, and no one knows what happened to her. If Stranger Things wants to boldly push that sense of suspense forward, the show would be wise to keep her away from the action until deep into season two, taking advantage of the binge format in order to have a huge payoff late in the story. Our prediction (though really it’s more of a hope): Eleven sits this one out until episode seven of nine. Not an intentional Star Trek shout-out, but it would be a voyage all the same.
4. Max Powers
No matter how long it takes for Eleven’s return, the Hawkins party will have a new friend in town: Max, played by Sadie Sink. It’s hard to imagine why Stranger Things feels the need to expand its young roster this season unless there’s an Upside Down connection of some kind — and in that regard, here’s betting that whoever Max is, she’s powered up, not unlike Eleven. Is she another veteran of the Hawkins lab experiments, someone whose own history can help shed some light on Eleven’s enigmatic origin? Probably not, but if our predictions are doubling as wishes, then we’re tossing this one into the well and hoping for a return.
5. Return of the Goonie
Speaking of tossing wishes into a well, Stranger Things is dipping into The Goonies territory in a very real way this season with the arrival of Sean Astin as Bob Newby. The Duffers love drawing on films from the ’80s, but there’s also an attempt to subvert some expectations in the process. With that in mind, we’re predicting an about face for the erstwhile Mikey: Astin’s aboard the good ship Hawkins in a villainous capacity — if not quite the Mama Fratelli of season two, then at least the Mr. Perkins hatching some dastardly real estate plan.
6. The Papa of All Evil
On the flip side, Paul Reiser of Aliens fame will also have a role this season, and it seems logical to predict a similar subversion here: the former Burke, Carter J. will actually be more heroic here on Stranger Things than anticipated, despite his involvement with the Hawkins lab. But that doesn’t mean the lab won’t still be the source of some sinister shenanigans: Doctor Brenner, played by Matthew Modine, could very much still be out there in the universe somehow. This appears a safe bet given that Modine remains an outspoken proponent of the show, so much so that he appeared on the Comic-Con panel earlier this year. Count on it: Brenner’s back, and it won’t be good for any of our Hawkins heroes.
7. Last Will and Testament
Somebody will die this season. Whether it’s a new character or someone viewers already know and love, the second season of Stranger Things is guaranteed to break hearts in this regard. One possible guess for the season’s big sacrifice? Will Byers, fresh from his stint in the Upside Down, somehow lost along the way again in season two — except this time, permanently, perhaps as a means of confronting and destroying the monsters who have haunted him for the past year and change. This is one prediction where we would be thrilled to be wildly wrong.
Follow THR.com/StrangerThings for more coverage of the series as season two looms.
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