Back to the future
QUIET COMPANY - Carina Santos (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2016 - 12:00am

If you’ve got a soft spot for ‘80s adventure stories with a killer soundtrack, conspiracy theories and paranormal oddities, be sure to look into Stranger Things. Starring Winona Ryder, in her first significant role in recent memory, and a handful of charming children who like to meddle, the latest Netflix original series dives into the investigation of a missing child, and the appearance of a strange entity that seemingly comes out of nowhere.

Stranger Things careens its way into our hearts and whatever part of the body it is that causes cold terror, delicately mixing an excellently paced whodunit with tenderness and a touch (okay, a generous share) of spookiness. While the last scene of the season finale ties up several loose ends, it also prods your brain into thinking of questions, setting up the next, already confirmed, second season.

If, unlike the rest of us who possess little to no self-control, you haven’t seen the entire eight-episode season, please avert your eyes, because here’s what we think we may be looking forward to next.

What’s the deal with Eleven? As Young STAR editor Jonty Cruz pointed out, “Eleven” implies 10 others that came before her. While we know about the child experiments conducted by (the seemingly obliterated) Dr. Brenner, we don’t know much else about the rest of his operations. Were there 10 others that came before El? What was he trying to do? Why does he make them call him “Papa”? The second season feels like an opportunity for lots of backstory (that may or may not include Eleven’s currently catatonic mother) and a search and rescue.

Is Hopper, indeed, a Lando? Although Chief Hopper’s allegiance seemed clear at first, he has proven to be a compromised figure. His last few scenes are a little ominous to me — despite the Eggos — suggesting his current position as either a turncoat or a double agent. Like Lucas, I’m always a little suspicious of people’s intentions, but Jonty seems to think he’s working with Brenner’s team at Hawkins National Laboratory “in a positive way.” I personally feel like he’s turned: with the late revelation of his backstory, what else does he have left to lose?

Protect Will Byers at all costs. Stranger Things ends on a rather bittersweet note: a cheery Byers family Christmas one month later — mom and kids together at last — coupled with Will excusing himself to “wash his hands,” only to cough up alternate universe slugs and get freaky flashbacks that seem to physically pain him instead. Will the aftereffects of his week in demagorgon hell catch up to him in real life?

Joyce Byers: Super Mom. With the return of Will, Joyce (played by Ryder), a single mom whose talking-to-lightbulbs hysteria was witnessed by pretty much the whole town, mellowed out and looked joyful when we last saw her. Something tells me that she will have a hand in potentially rescuing Eleven or figuring out what the hell is wrong with Will.

Whose funeral was it? Along with the return of Will Byers comes the realization that they held a funeral for a cotton-filled rubber body made in the image and likeness of Will. What have they told the town? Do they know the real story or did they just get another cover-up? Is anybody else as suspicious as I am?

Plight of the Party. One of the last scenes shows the end of a 10-hour campaign with adorable Dustin and Lucas questioning its shortness, Will getting picked up by his older brother, Jonathan and dungeon master Mike looking forlornly at the basement bedroom he set up for Eleven, but has yet to tear down. If the next season means more adventures, it seems to me that there will be another challenge to the party’s friendship, another roadblock, another test of loyalty. “Friends don’t lie,” they kept repeating, but what if one of them does?

More Holly. She’s just always there, and it’s both amusing and comforting.

Justice for Barb. Although the finale wraps up with Nancy and Steve cozily canoodling, I wonder if she has vengeance on her mind, what with the AU monster taking captive — and killing! — her only friend, Barb. Will the next season reveal a Jonathan-Nancy-Steve Golden Trio-type team-up? Season one can’t be the last we see of Steve! Is this wishful thinking on my part? (Probably, yes.)

Potential Snow Ball sadness. Because this is surprisingly feel-good and tender for what is essentially a horrifying story overall, part of me thinks that there will be a Mike/Eleven reunion at the Snow Ball. But because of my aforementioned suspicious nature, part of me thinks that there will be a shot of Mike, looking forlornly at the dance floor, by his lonesome. I’ll take either scenario.

More killer songs. One of the highlights of Stranger Things is its soundtrack. I don’t know about you, but I will never hear The Clash the same way again.

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