Stranger Things, Netflix's eerie horror pastiche that mixes elements of Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and John Carpenter, has been the surprise hit of the summer - and it's coming back for a second season in 2017, it was announced today.
A new video, posted on the Stranger Things Twitter page, has also confirmed the episode titles for the new season, triggering furious speculation among fans of the show.
The adventure continues. Stranger Things 2 is coming 2017. pic.twitter.com/3H4WR3DGEj— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) August 31, 2016
Created by the Duffer brothers, the series is set in small-town Indiana in 1983, and spins a nostalgic yarn of missing children, psychic phenomena, and things that go bump in the night.
If you're reading this, then the likelihood is that you've made it to the end of season one, with Eleven (Millie B Brown) having just sacrificed herself to defeat the faceless creature, and Will (Noah Schnapp) recovering from his ordeal in the Upside Down.
Here, then, is what we know - and what we're hoping to find out - about the second series, which co-creator Matt Duffer has said will be "a little bit different... a little bit darker":
What are the new episode titles?
Good news: this time round, we're getting an extra helping of Stranger Things. The second series will consist of nine episodes, in contrast to season one's eight.
2. The Boy Who Came Back to Life
3. The Pumpkin Patch
4. The Palace
5. The Storm
6. The Pollywog
7. The Secret Cabin
8. The Brain
9. The Lost Brother
Who is 'The Lost Brother'?
Fans have already been pouring over the episode titles for season two to try and work out some plot clues.
Most intriguing is the name given to the final episode: The Lost Brother. On Reddit, fans are suggesting that this could be a previously unmentioned brother of Eleven. Or maybe it's just another moody, laconic child with telekinetic powers.
Speculation is mounting, too, that Mike (Finn Wolfhard) may find himself in the Upside Down in search of the missing Eleven: "Eleven is gone," wrote one user. "Perhaps Mike ends up where ever she is? And if it is indeed the upside down, then Will may offer glimpses into their whereabouts."
What is a Pollywog?
Not to be confused with the aquatic Pokémon character Poliwag, a Pollywog is actually less mysterious than it sounds: it's another name for a tadpole. Remember that slug that Will (Noah Schnapp) coughed up in the stomach-churning climax of season one? Perhaps that is the makings of a Pollywog...
Alternatively, a Pollywog could be a play on the term "bullywug", fictional monsters from Dungeons & Dragons that are described as "a violent race of marsh-dwelling frog-like humans". Just in case you thought you'd seen the last of the likes of the "demogorgon".
Could the boys dress up as Ghostbusters?
We really hope this fan theory comes true:
I've been throwing this idea around with friends since I finished the show, and now I think it might actually happen:
Fall 1984 and the Pumpkin Patch title seem to imply Halloween will be involved. What awesome flick came out in summer 1984 that our boys probably loved?
Calling it now: we get a scene with Lucas, Will, Mike and Dustin dressed as the Ghostbusters.
Is Eleven dead?
Almost certainly not. Yes, she appeared to vaporise herself along with the "demogorgon" with her telekinetic powers, but consider the season's "One Month Later" coda: Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is seen placing a Tupperware box and an Eggo - the brand of frozen waffle that Eleven loves - in a crate in the woods. Clearly he thinks she's still about, and Matt Duffer has all but confirmed this. "Obviously something happened to [Eleven] when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don't know where she went," he told Variety. "But we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together."
What's going to happen to Will?
As we left Will, he was still seeing glimpses of the Upside Down, and was vomiting up alien slugs. "Will's been [in the Upside Down] for an entire week," said co-creator Ross Ruffer, "and it's had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he's escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That's a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him?"
One theory posits that the tulip-faced monster has somehow managed to turn Will evil, and that he'll become its human accomplice. Far-fetched, sure, but certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.
Is Papa returning for the new season?
Nefarious Dr Martin Brenner - or "Papa" as Eleven refers to him as - was last seen being attacked by the "demagorgon" as it rampaged through the school. That the camera cut away means we don't know for sure if he's been bumped off. It's unlikely. Speaking to French-language movie news site Premiere, the actor who plays him, Matthew Modine, was convinced that Strangers Things is no one-series wonder. "Oh, there will be a season two," he said, bluntly. Expect him to be part of it.
Will Eleven and her mother meet at last?
While it's still to be confirmed, it has been strongly implied that the catatonic Terry is Eleven's mother. We're aware that she didn't know she was pregnant when she took part in the lab's mind-control experiments, which included taking vast quantities of LSD. The resulting child, Jane, was "born with abilities... telepathy - you know, s--- you can do with your mind," according to Terry's sister, Becky. Sounds uncannily like Eleven, doesn't it? Perhaps in season two, provided she's not dead, Eleven will be reunited with her (alleged) mother, and together, they'll drop the whole taciturn shtick.
Is the chief playing ball?
The only reason Chief Hopper and Joyce (Winona Ryder), Will's mother, were allowed to venture into monster-land was because the former vowed that, once they'd come back with the boy, they'd never utter a word about what they'd seen.
In the immediate aftermath, we watched him willingly get into a car with two sinister goons from the Hawkins National Laboratory. But during the season's closing montage, set a month later, he and Joyce were jovially going about their lives. Is this because they're honouring their promise? Or has the chief agreed to help the bad guys in some malevolent way?
Was the chief's daughter's death as straightforward as it seems?
Through a series of harrowing flashbacks in the first season, we found out that Hopper's daughter died of cancer, and that his wife then left him. But was it really cancer that killed Sarah? Think back to the scene in the woods in which she looks genuinely petrified and her parents are trying to comfort her - something clearly wasn't right. Perhaps she'd experienced a terrifying telepathic vision. Or maybe she'd caught a glimpse of the monster. Whatever it was that spooked her, it seems plausible that it may have brought on her illness.
In a recent Reddit AMA with David Harbour, a fan specifically asked him how his character's daughter died. To which his response was, "Yes, but it's a secret we may explore in [season two], so don't wanna say right now." This sounds like it could be major plot point.
When will the second season take place?
"You have to jump a year," Matt Duffer told IGN, "because like Gaten [Matarazzo, who plays Dustin], his voice has already dropped quite a bit, to the point where we couldn't even do ADR [Additional Dialogue Recording] with him. We had to pitch it way up. It's dropped. He's grown. As much as I would love to have it be Christmas right after that, it's just not feasible, so we're going to skip a year. They'll be a year older and all their changes they're going through, we'll take that into account and kind of work that into the show."
That season two will be set in 1984 means the Duffer brothers can pay their dues to what was a vintage year in cinema - think Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. "We're trying, hopefully, to capture a little bit of the magic of those films," said Matt Duffer of his plans for season two. "Something like Temple of Doom. I actually really love Temple of Doom. I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders [of the Lost Ark]."
Where did the monster come from?
Looking like a horrid hybrid of The Predator and the xenomorph from Alien, the "demagorgon" spent the first season terrorising a select few from the town of Hawkins. But has it always been skulking around these parts? Ross Duffer recently confirmed that a second season will tackle its origins story. "With the Upside Down," he said, "we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why there aren't more monsters."
What happened to the other 10?
We're still none the wiser as to where Eleven's name comes from. Is she a clone? Is she the 11th person to have exhibited telekinetic powers at the Hawkins Lab? Maybe Brenner is just fond of the number and the way it rolls off the tongue. Who knows? According to Matt Duffer, though, we can expect "a lot more backstory built in for Brenner and Eleven".
What about Barb?
Nancy's geeky friend, played by Shannon Purser, was only in a few scenes in the first three episodes before she was dragged into the Upside Down by the "demagorgon" and seemingly devoured. But she left such an impression - the glasses, the frilled collar, the short red hair - that countless GIFs, murals, and T-shirts have since been created in her honour.
Sadly, this bona fide style icon won't be reappearing in season two. "I can't see it happening," Matt Duffer told IGN in a recent interview. "But Barb will not be forgotten. We'll make sure there's some justice for Barb. People get very frustrated, understandably, that the town doesn't seem to be really dealing with Barb. That stuff is all happening. We're just not spending any screen time on it. It's not like her parents are like 'Oh Barb left. She died!' Season one actually takes place over the course of six or seven days - it's a really short period of time. So part of what we want to do with season two is to explore the repercussions of everything that happened."
We've finally been renewed for Season 2!!! So happy for my fellow cast! Hope to see them again soon.— Shannon Purser (@ShannonPurser7) August 31, 2016
Sorry guys, I'm as much in the dark about s2 as you are. I say "we" because the cast/crew have become a bit of a family for me. So proud.— Shannon Purser (@ShannonPurser7) August 31, 2016
In an earlier interview, he explained the reasons for Barb's death. "With the first episode we wanted someone to die very quickly - which was the Benny character [the cook played by Chris Sullivan] - someone set up who looks like a substantial character and dies. And then Barb who looks like a substantial character. We wanted it to feel unsafe. Shannon Purser who played Barb, we fell in love with her. She had never acted before - this was her first role in anything. She blew us and everyone away. It was sad to lose her, but some people have to go."
A Barb prequel, anyone?