Warning: GIGANTIC SPOILERS AHEAD for all of Stranger Things Season 2. If you haven't watched the full season yet, you may want to check out until you get the chance to watch.
After more than a year of hiatus, Stranger Things finally returned to Netflix with a brand new season on October 27, and an awful lot happened. Between the brand new monster and his Upside Down army, the Hawkins conspiracy, Will's prolonged suffering, and Eleven's journey, we have plenty to keep us talking while we wait for Season 3. The second season was chock full of callbacks to Season 1 and references to everything 80s, and it was easy to miss things. So, read on for our breakdown of key details that you may have missed in Season 2 of Stranger Things.
The Arcade Foreshadowing
Just like in Season 1, one of the very first scenes of the season featured the four boys of Stranger Things playing games. Instead of Dungeons and Dragons, however, the boys hit up the local arcade for some games. First, Dustin played Dragon's Lair to try and save the Princess Daphne. When he failed, Lucas made fun of him and bragged that Princess Daphne was still his, foreshadowing that he would beat Dustin for Max's affections. The other two games mentioned were Dig Dug and Centipede. Dig Dug is filled with tunnels, just as Season 2 would prominently feature tunnels. As for Centipede, the game pits the player against a big centipede that can break up into smaller critters until the screen is filled with centipedes. The Shadow Monster/Mind Flayer had a hive mind that allowed it to send its demodogs after all the characters.
The Mind Flayer Saw Eleven
Obviously it would have been hard to miss the showdown between the Mind Flayer and Eleven as El fought to close the gate and put an end to the Mind Flayer's expansion out of the Upside Down. It was intense, with the Mind Flayer's smoky tendrils reaching out, Eleven levitating herself, and demodogs leaping at Hopper and El from every direction. Still, it would be easy to forget that the Mind Flayer is actually a sentient being, not just an animal like the Demogorgon of Season 1. The fact of the matter is that the Mind Flayer got a good look at Eleven at full power, and he's not going to be happy that she slammed the gate in his face. Given that the finale ended with the Mind Flayer hunching over the Upside Down middle school, this is one detail that may come back in a big way. The Mind Flayer may have a new target: Eleven.
Where Eleven Escaped The Upside Down
Season 2 revealed that Eleven wasn't stuck in the Upside Down for very long. In fact, judging by the facts that soldiers were still in the middle school and government agents were still interrogating Mike, it's probably safe to say that she was only unconscious in the Upside Down for a couple of hours before she escaped. When she did make her escape, it was through the hole made by the Demogorgon when it burst into the middle school, drawn by the blood of all the bad men killed by Eleven. The Demogorgon is what got El stuck in the Upside Down, but it's also what indirectly got her out.
Hopper's Secret Knock
After Hopper finally found Eleven and brought her to hide in his cabin, he instructed her to never open the door to anybody who didn't use his secret knock, which made sense. Flinging flaming squirrels at hunters may have kept her alive during her time in the woods, but she would have been in a lot of trouble if somebody other than Hopper found her in the cabin. What the episode didn't explain was the meaning behind Hopper's signal. As it turns out, the secret knock was Morse code for "us." Hopper was thinking of them as a team from the very beginning, and if that's not enough to melt your heart a little bit... well, read on to the next entry.
The Blue Hairband
In the Snow Ball scene that finally saw Mike keep his promise to Eleven, El was dressed (and cleaned) up and looking positively adorable. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that El was wearing a blue hairband on her wrist, which may have seemed odd given the length of her hair. That blue hairband originally belonged to Sara Hopper, and Hopper wore it on his wrist for almost the entire series as a connection to the daughter he lost. By the end of the finale, Hopper had passed the hairband on to Eleven, who wore it on her wrist for her one night out that she's probably been thinking about ever since she had to go on run from Mike and her friends. She's the daughter he found, and the passing of the hairband is basically the sweetest thing Stranger Things has ever done.
In the first episode of Season 2, Mike was in trouble with his parents for stealing from Nancy, and he was told to get rid of two boxes of toys. He sat glumly in the basement, sorting through what he could live without and what he couldn't bear to give away. The two toys that gave him pause were a dinosaur and a plastic Millennium Falcon as they were two reminders of his time with Eleven in Season 1. The dino was Rory the roaring dinosaur that failed to impress El despite Mike's best efforts, and the Millennium Falcon was the toy Dustin wanted El to levitate with her powers. It's no coincidence that he went from holding these two toys to crawling into Eleven's blanket fort to try and contact her for the 352nd time.
Mike Wheeler Channeled Richie Tozier
Although Finn Wolfhard is best known on the small screen for playing Mike Wheeler on Stranger Things, he had a major role in the film adaptation of IT. In IT, he played Richie "Trashmouth" Tozier who was known for (among other things) swearing in just about every sentence he spoke. When he crossed paths with a character who had been beaten up, his immediate reaction was to say "Holy shit, what happened to you?!" In the Season 2 finale of Stranger Things, Mike uttered the exact same sentence when Dustin entered the Snow Ball with his Steve Harrington hair. This little detail isn't exactly a game-changer, but it's a fun nod to the movie that resulted in Finn Wolfhard dropping F-bombs on set.
Hopper And Anne Of Green Gables
Back in Season 1, Hopper was seen reading to his daughter Sara while she was in the hospital. Fans of L.M. Montgomery's novels recognized the book he was reading as Anne of Green Gables. Hop brought Anne of Green Gables back in Season 2 when he was reading to Eleven in the cabin shortly after he took her in from the wilderness. Good old Hopper was evidently already thinking of El as a daughter early on in their time together. That didn't exactly stop him from lying to her, isolating her in a cabin for the better part of a year, and then breaking the TV that was her only distraction, but the man had his heart in the right place. Besides, he pretty much redeemed himself by the end by adopting her.
Eleven's Puffed Sleeves
Fans of Anne of Green Gables probably remember that young Anne Shirley was dying for a dress with fashionable puffed sleeves, but her strict maternal figure wouldn't sew her anything fancy. Anne did finally get her dress with puffed sleeves and was over the moon with joy. In the Snow Ball scene in the Stranger Things Season 2 finale, Eleven nervously walked into the gym for her very first night out among other kids, wearing a dress with puffed sleeves. Admittedly, they weren't quite as outrageously puffed sleeves as those Anne dreamed of in Anne of Green Gables. Still, the sleeves can't be a coincidence after Anne of Green Gables was featured earlier in the season. Just as Anne got what she really wanted with her puffed sleeves, El got what she really wanted with a night out among people.