If you're a Stranger Things buff, you don't need me to tell you that last summer, there was a video announcement confirming the second season. But that wasn't all. The video also contained nine different chapter names that would be used in the season. The Duffer Brothers have now confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that some existing fan theories about what chapter names mean "are right on the money." So which Stranger Things Season 2 theories about those meanings were correct?
Duffer said of the chapter titles chosen:
“Some of them are changing. Some of them we didn’t put because these people are smart on the f—ing internet. You’ve seen it with Westworld — they figured it out! I’ve seen videos analyzing the chapter titles and they’re right on a lot.”
Obviously, the following is pure speculation. I have no connection with the show or insider knowledge. But I do have time to research the hell out of each of the theories and a good hunch. I don't believe every valid theory necessarily has an accompanying video. But we know that the Duffer Brothers have been forwarded discussion on Reddit surrounding the show in the past, and I see no reason why this would change now.
Hats off to Nerdist, because all of their title theories sound pretty watertight. But they devote the most time to talking about the very first episode title, "Madmax." While one of the new characters announced is a girl named Max, I believe it's too obvious, given that this information is public knowledge, to focus this episode around her.
But what about an explicit reference to the characters watching Mad Max? As Jessica Chobot points out, they were probably a little too young to be potential views of the dystopian franchise. So what does it mean? Maybe it refers to a character on the show, possibly even Hopper "who, like Max lost his wife and daughter." So perhaps the first episode will focus on a revenge mission through the Upside Down with Hopper hunting for Eleven.
I really hope this is right, because we definitely need more backstory when it comes to Hopper. Opening the season on him would give us a chance to understand him better.
2. "The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
As Youtube user Mesh Flicks points out at 2:17 in the above video, this title almost certainly refers to the newspaper clipping we saw at the end of Season 1 that showed Will Byers and referred to him as "The Boy Who Came Back To Life." So this will probably be an episode dealing with his symptoms that we saw in the final episode, with him navigating between the two worlds.
Given that the show ended on Byers coughing up what looked like black slugs, they couldn't leave this unresolved before moving on to other stories.
3. "The Pumpkin Patch"
Over to Reddit for this one. User moshebaruch argues that "The Pumpkin Patch" could have otherworldly significance:
"This is obviously a place, and because real-life pumpkin patches are pretty mundane (unless there's some sort of Halloween Jack-o-lantern theme), I'm guessing this is a place in the Upside Down — maybe a nest of pumpkin-sized demogorgon eggs?"
Again, just a guess on my part, but presumably this would also be set around Halloween and would make reference to all the great '80s pop culture surrounding the holiday: Halloween Night, Halloween II, and maybe even the goofier end of the film spectrum, like the Jim Carrey vehicle Once Bitten.
4. "The Palace"
This video stresses how important Dungeons & Dragons was to Season 1 at 1:46 and argues it could be a place named in connection to the role-playing game: "Could this be a new Upside Down location? A cleaner, less monstrous one?"
Let's hope not. All the places in Season 1 gave me the creeps, but that's what the show's designed to do, right?
5. "The Storm"
Straight from the horse's mouth, Gaten Matarazzo (who plays Dustin) is here at 1:17 in the above video to answer all your questions surrounding this episode title:
"The Upside Down is taking over our world. 'cause you saw the rift growing, it was only a few months but it had grown across the whole room. So I'm thinking The Upside Down is starting to consume our whole dimension."
So yeah, basically, tension and drama is building: maybe both an emotional and supernatural storm.
6. "The Pollywog"
A polliwog is a tadpole. So, for me, Reddit user mrzoink is making most sense about what a pollywog could be in Stranger Things:
"The larval stage of the frog, which then develops arms and legs... Have we already seen this? The slug?"
So perhaps Will's slugs never do go away — or the ones he spits down the plughole go somewhere else, gain in strength, or maybe even fuse to form one terrifying new monster to be vanquished.
7. "The Secret Cabin"
"THE SECRET CABIN" Reddit theory, courtesy of Ballsagna21_:
So we know Hopper is working with the government at the end of S1 and that he still knows El is out there, most likely in the upside down. He's got first hand experience with the USD and the lab got the scientific expertise to explain it. The lab wants to find out more about the USD and Hopper feeling guilty wants to bring back El. Basically they need each other. So what if "the secret cabin" is actually a cabin that Hopper built for El. From what we know INANIMATE objects and structures crossover, so if he were to build something in the woods it would appear in the USD also. It would explain how El has been able to survive in the USD for a year by the time S2 starts. This is all depending if she is actually in the USD and not some other dimension. It would be good way to explore a father daughter relationship between the too of them also.
Sounds on the money to me. It's hard to figure out who else would be using a secret cabin, unless it's one of the new characters that will be introduced, and it gives a convincing basis for Elle's survival.
8. "The Brain"
Not so much a theory about this episode as a theory about Eleven's capacities, Beyond The Trailer argues at 7:40 in the above video:
"More money from Netflix means more visual effects. Everybody loves a telekinetic telepath... so I would love to see her get more powers and show them in the show, because they can afford to do that."
Presumably this would be the episode where we'd get to see the peak of Eleven's telekinetic abilities and get some out there effects. Like last time, this would presumably coincide with Eleven running into the federal agents.
9. "The Lost Brother"
Youtube user N3RD points out at 3:25 in the above video that the only brothers on the show we have are Will, Jonathan, Mike, and Billy (one of the new characters) and acknowledges that it could be an entirely new character. However, he believes it will refer to Will:
"He's already the lost brother and he may not be lost again, but they may be referring to him as such in the title."
Will was the crux of Season 1 and the last season opened and closed on him. It feels like the stakes are highest when it comes to Will and Eleven, and it would match with what we've seen before if the second season's dramatic climax focused on Will.
Whatever your theory is, you've got to admit, the titles bode well for this season. With a Mad Max figure, emphasis on telekinesis, and potentially a whole new monster, it sounds like Stranger Things is about to tap into a whole new parallel dimension of weird.