Millions of Stranger Things fans have already raced through Season 2, and turned Upside Down in anticipation of Season 3. This year’s finale left on a pretty big looming cliffhanger, so what do the Duffer brothers have to say about the Shadow Monster’s new target?

You’re warned of full spoilers for Stranger Things Season 2 from here on out, so you’d better finish your binge before reading any further. With that out of the way – Season 2 finale “The Gate” didn’t utilize the same successive cliffhanger approach as last year, but rather flipped the script (and final shot) with one looming visual of the “Mind Flayer” monster as it observed Eleven and co. at the Snow Ball dance from its vantage point in the Upside Down.

Eleven seemingly closed the Hawkins Lab gate shortly after the others succeeded in expelling the monster’s influence from Will, so why wasn’t the young cast enjoying a dance enough to end the season on? As co-creator Ross Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter, the Upside Down’s spidery big bad found itself a new target:

We don’t end it on a totally happy note, do we? (Laughs.) There were discussions about that, but then we went, ‘Nah, we have to hint at what’s to come.’ The hope we wanted people to get out of it is that this thing [is still out there]. They’ve shut the door on the Mind Flayer, but not only is it still there in the Upside Down, it’s very much aware of the kids, and particularly Eleven. It had not encountered her and her powers until that final episode. Now, it knows that she’s out there. We wanted to end on a little bit of an ominous note on that level.

Matt Duffer added that the Snow Ball scene’s ignorant bliss allows the series to “start season three on a very clean slate,” though a few elements were left hanging in earlier episodes. Most notably, Eleven’s “Lost Sister” Kali is still out there hunting down those who experimented on them, including a very-much-alive Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine). Whether or not Season 3 picks up the thread, Matt at least confirmed that the next chapter would begin with another time-jump, so as to accommodate its still-growing actors:

It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing. Even if we wanted it to be static and we wanted to continually recycle the same storyline — and we don’t — we would be unable to, just because the kids are changing. It’s cool, though. The audience is going to be able to watch these kids come of age every year. The closest example is Harry Potter. Watching those kids and actors grow up in front of the camera was, to me, very powerful.

We’ll have more on Stranger Things Season 2 in the coming days, but did the second chapter live up to the first? How next might the “Mind Flayer” attempt to cross over from the Upside Down, and what plans does it have for Eleven?

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