Netflix's most nostalgic monster show brings on a new enemy this season, one that makes the Demogorgon of simpler times look like a golden retriever. Spoilers for Stranger Things 2 are coming up. The Stranger Things Season 2 monster is way worse than what the Hawkins residents fought last year. The Demogorgon — which the boys named after a monster on Dungeons & Dragons — was a daunting foe last season, to be sure, but doesn't really have anything on the new perils the show introduces. There aren't only bigger enemies this season, there's also more of them.
The identity of the ultimate bad guy is a little more complicated than last season, and fans still don't really have all the information by the end of Season 2. There are many dangers for our heroes to outrun this season, but first we've got the main event: the huge, hulking, shadowy monster that Will sees when he has his "episodes," or what seem like flashbacks of his time in the Upside Down. The creatue is straight-up horror movie material. Its size is overwhelming in a way that the Demogorgon's never was. It hovers above the heads of Upside Down Hawkins and is the most ominous thing I've ever seen. It seems to be made purely of shadows, and is meant to be a little more intelligent than the Demogorgon, according to Stranger Things creators.
“Our big reference for [the Demogorgon in] Season 1 was mostly Jaws,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s a shark, and the other dimension is the underwater. So there has to be something more sentient and that’s that big thing in the sky.” Duffer also told EW that the creators made a conscious decision to keep much of this new monster a mystery. "There’s an H.P. Lovecraft sort of approach, this inter-dimensional being that is sort of beyond human comprehension," Duffer said. "We purposely don’t want to go too much into what it is or what it wants."
The shadow monster gives off almost a War of the Worlds vibe, sulking in the distance, building anticipation and horror of all the things that could come next. But it's not just the monster that's scary... it's the monster's connection to Will.
Will cannot catch a break. Audiences knew the Upside Down wasn't quite done with him when he spit up that weird slug thing at the end of last season, but I was still holding out hope that maybe the other kids would shoulder most of the heat this time around. Unfortunately, whatever the shadow monster is seems to have a grip on Will. He can feel it inside him — almost like a virus, as described by Dr. Owens, secret government pediatrician extraordinaire, played by the wonderful Paul Reiser. Not only does this virus connect the shadow monster to Will, it also connects him to the weird, homicidal living vines seemingly taking over a series of tunnels below Hawkins — when the vines were hit by fire, Will felt like he was burning, too.
The entity seems to live in many different places, most troubling of which, inside Will himself. It's expelled, we hope, from his body once the gang has the idea of making him an inhospitable host for the virus, but — big spoiler coming — the shadow monster was still looming over Hawkins Middle in the Upside Down in the very last frame of the season. It's not done with them yet.
So this is all worrisome enough, right? Well, it's not even the only thing the kids are dealing with. Creatively named "demodogs" — part Demogorgon, part dog — are also plaguing Hawkins. One of them was even raised by Dustin himself, starting off as a friendly little frog-like creature he found in the trash can, and then slowly getting bigger and more ferocious until he ate Dustin's cat. The vines, the demodogs, the shadow monster — it's a lot more to deal with than a single measly Demogorgon. It's part of the reason why this season feels so much more action-packed than the already thrilling first season. No matter what corner is turned next, there's never any way to tell what could be there.