Warning: This post contains spoilers for season 2 of Stranger Things.
Now that we’ve tunneled our way through Stranger Things season 2, we know a lot more about the show’s mysteries. The nine-episode arc left the story open to more ways the Duffer brothers could pump up the excitement factor in Hawkins, Ind. But the Stranger Things season 2 ending also left fans with plenty of new questions.
Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) closing the gate in the Stranger Things season 2 finale brought a comforting end to the passageway through which the monster and its soldiers could stage a Hawkins takeover. But it may not last long. The Stranger Things ending scene with the monster hovering above The Upside Down version of the school laid the groundwork for an uncertain future in Hawkins.
What happened in the Stranger Things season 2 finale episode titled “Chapter 9: The Gate”? Let’s review with a rundown starting from the beginning.
Eleven Finally Reunites with Mike, Dustin and Lucas at Joyce Byers’ House
The episode opens at the Byers house where Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven are finally reunited, and they learn that for all those 353 days they were apart, she heard every one of his walkie talkie calls, even if Hopper (David Harbour) wouldn’t let her respond.
Pretty much everyone including Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) gets a hug from Eleven except Max (Sadie Sink). Eleven also checks in on Will (Noah Schnapp). Status update: he’s screwed.
Billy Meets Mike’s Mom and It’s Weird
It’s an intense time for all, which brings us to the comic relief portion of the evening raining down on us like a delicious Halloween candy topped Eggo tower. Mrs. Wheeler (Cara Buono) is taking a bubble bath, reading Heart of Thunder when Billy (Dacre Montgomery) arrives in search of his sister. Hello, softer side of Billy! Well, at least he pretends for us as he lays down the charm. She gives him directions to the Byers’ house.
At the Byers House, Joyce Comes Up With a Plan To Get the Monster Out of Will
Eleven, whose telekinetic powers are growing ever stronger, assures Hopper she can close the gate. But there’s a catch. Mike points out that closing the gate with its strong electromagnetic field will also kill the mind flayer’s army, and Will along with it because the monster is inhabiting him. Sounds like a job for Joyce, who has an idea. Burn it out of him, because the monster that hijacked Joyce’s boy likes the cold.
Nancy Is Done With Steve and Has Moved Onto Jonathan
Nancy and Steve catch up outside the Byers house where Steve (Joe Keery) tells Nancy he’s accepted his official new role as the best babysitter in Hawkins, and he acts like he’s accepted that Nancy (Natalia Dyer) wants to be with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton).
Chief Jim Hopper and Eleven Share a Cathartic Car Ride to Hawkins Lab
En route to the lab that ruined her whole childhood, Eleven and her much cooler new father figure Hopper talk regrets. She shares that she made contact with “momma.” Comfortingly, he reveals he thinks he’s a black hole that sucks everything toward it and destroys it.
We also learn that Hopper never told Eleven about his daughter, Sara. “She left us,” he says. “The black hole. It got her,” he adds leaving us in the dark about what actually happened. Eleven opts not to tell him about reuniting with Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), but on the plus side, her new punk rock look is Hopper-approved. Bonus round: Hopper learns a cool new word about her aesthetics: “b-tchin’.”
At the Byers House, Steve, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Max Come Up With a Plan to Help Eleven
Dustin, Lucas, Mike and Max figure out they can — at least temporarily — lure the Demodogs away from the gate by entering the underground tunnel system that seems to connect the lab to points throughout town. Doing this might help Eleven close the gate more safely. Steve hates the idea of this risky field trip, and communicates this to the geeks with an ill-advised sports analogy. Seriously Steve, know your audience.
Billy Fights Lucas and Steve at Will and Joyce Byers’ House
Before they can leave, they have to deal with Billy who roars over to the Byers house where he pins Lucas with the same violent move his own father used on him. He also grapples with Steve while laughing maniacally. Lucas gets him in the groin and Steve gets a few punches in, but Billy really lets Steve have it until Max sedates him with an injection into his neck. She then issues an ultimatum with Steve’s now iconic bat — he is to leave her friends alone. Billy looks forlorn when we see him in the coda but he’s likely not done making misery for everyone. Except for Karen Wheeler! She loves this guy.
Steve, Mike, Dustin, Lucas and Max Pull Off a Disruption Move in the Tunnel Under the Pumpkin Patch
Eventually, with Max at the wheel, the kids zoom to the pumpkin patch with a can of gasoline to descend into the tunnel system where Hopper dug the hole. They wear questionable safety bandanas to protect themselves from exposure to the elements. For the big disruption, Steve throws his lighter to light up the vines, and they all run like hell.
The Monster Virus Finally Leaves Will at the Cabin
To the cabin! Enraged by Bob’s death, Joyce and the crew use space heaters, a lovely hygge fire and most effectively, a fire poker (all Nancy) to rid Will of the monster.
Obstacles for the Kids in the Tunnel
Everyone escapes, but not before a heart-stopping close call for Steve and Dustin, your surprising new friendship goals. The Demodogs blast past them because they’re controlled by the monster who’s calling them so they have no interest in eating cute kids at that particular time.
Second close call: Of all the Demodogs in Hawkins to walk into their tunnel, here comes Dart. It remembers how kind its old pal Dustin was, and is very pleased with his 3 Musketeers offering. (The wrapper is among the debris later to remind us all that friendship wins, and even interdimensional ones are possible.) It’s worth mentioning that 1) Dustin’s the only one who can befriend a monster thus far and 2) he got a mouthful of Upside Down matter, which might mean he’s infected now.
Eleven Closes the Gate
Eleven appeared to use all her power and rage to seal up the gate to the spore-ridden otherworld. It’s all been building up to this showdown, and we can see it’s her most strenuous feat because she’s bleeding out of both nostrils for the first time. Some things are a two nostril job, and this one’s enough to make her levitate.
A palatable but damning version of the government conspiracy exposed, Barbara Holland’s family holds a service after accepting her death. We hear a news report blaming her death on an experimental chemical leak, and Murray (Brett Gelman) couldn’t be happier to learn high-ranking members went down for this. But only the main characters know how she really died.
Chief Jim Hopper Is Still Working With Dr. Owens
Hopper meets Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) at a diner. Before Eleven can gain entry into the most important plane of existence of all, the middle school dance, something needs to happen. There, Owens debuts the nickname “Chief-o” like they’re best buds or something and delivers a birth certificate apparently proving Terry really gave birth to Eleven, who will now be known as “Jane Hopper.”
He drops the bleak news that it’s going to be another 350 days until Eleven can start the normal chapter of her book of life, but Hopper negotiates one night out for the school dance. He agrees. After all, Owens owes Hopper his life now. To the dance floor!
Everyone at the Snow Ball Wins Except Poor Bob
The ’80s immersion continues as Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” plays. Lucas gets a dance and kiss with Max, who’s still calling him “stalker.” Will gets a dance with a girl who calls him”zombie boy,” but it still counts. Dustin, however, has no such luck.
One of the more terrifying parts of the show is Dustin getting utterly rejected the whole night. Blessedly, Nancy swoops in to save the day with a dance and the reassurance that he’s going to drive girls nuts in a few years. Eleven makes a late appearance to dance with Mike, and the pair share their second kiss of the series.
The Flame Between Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper Is Rekindled With a Cigarette
More love in the time of vine traps. Fans who want “Jopper” to happen get their glimmer of hope when Hopper turns up the charm to level one to share a nostalgic cigarette with Joyce outside the Snow Ball. Like Joyce and Hopper themselves, it’s a bleak but charming scene.
But the Monster Looms Over the Middle School in the Upside Down Proving It Still Has it Out for Hawkins
A full month has gone by once we get to the Snow Ball during the coda of the Stranger Things season 2 ending. Everything seems fine until the camera flips to reveal Hawkins Middle School in The Upside Down with the monster’s looming over it.
As far as we know, only viewers are aware of this telling hint. But that doesn’t mean that emotions aren’t high in this episode. While everyone’s busy awkwardly dancing the stress away around a winter wonderland-themed gym to The Police, the final scene assures us that all is not well. Eleven may have been powerful enough to keep that disgusting vine land at bay, but it will live to freak us out another day in the future.