Stranger Things – A theory
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Like many of you, I binge watched the first season of Stranger Things. Hopefully this show does better than some of the other Netflix produced shows in its subsequent seasons (idk about you, but I did not like Bojack Horseman much after the first season, Orange is the New Black lost its edge after the season one ending, House of Cards got boring too).
Also like many of you, I looked for deeper meaning in the show after watching. SPOILER ALERT…
I read a couple of articles on the meaning of the demigorgon in Stranger Things – about how it is the negative side of Eleven. The same article’s reference to X-Men #134 meant to suggest that Eleven was much like the mutant Jean Gray, who had telekinetic abilities. While these theories are interesting, they don’t shed light on who that little girl with the tattoo on her arm is, or who the sheriff’s daughter (who died) was.
My theory is that the sheriff, who apparently moved to the small town of Stranger Things from a larger city after watching his daughter die from cancer, is the father of one of Eleven’s predecessors. I don’t have a whole lot to go on here, but the facts seem to add up. Early in the show, Chief Hopper talks about his daughter as if she is still alive, though an eavesdropper clarifies that she is not. We know that Brenner’s group is not above faking deaths and corpses.
Later, he reads articles on microfiche about women suing because Doctor Brenner took their children. When the chief is captured by the doctor’s cohorts, he confidently says how he knows “everything” about their research. After saying this, Brenner allows Hopper and Will’s mom, Joyce, to go through the portal and look for Will. Before going in, Hopper tells Joyce that she must not talk about ANYTHING as a condition of being allowed to search for her son. She implicitly agrees to this. Once Will is saved, however, what point is there for the chief and Joyce to stay silent? I mean, Brenner could have just killed Hopper and Joyce, but allowed them to save Will, who seems to have been infected while in the upside-down. We see in the last episode how he spits something into the sink and is transported to the upside-down.
This is a device that has been used in plenty of sci-fi stuff – the most memorable being Aliens, where Ripley discovers that people have been cryogenically frozen after being infected by xenomorphs. The men in charge of this infection know that this is the best way to smuggle the aliens to where they need to be.
At the end of the season, we see the chief mysteriously enter a car after a man in a suit opens the door for him and they drive off into the night immediately before we are informed of the passing of one month. Where did they go? Were they discussing the future of Brenner’s research? Maybe they were talking about how Will would be the next generation of the experiment that Eleven had furthered. This would explain Will visiting the upside-down in the last episode, as well as the fact that Hopper leaves a Tupperware of food and some shrink-wrapped waffles in a box in the woods.
UPDATE AS OF 8/28/16: First, I think that its possible the chief is not in on things – he is not a bad guy. I came to this conclusion after I noticed the second point that I wanted to update – he is quite similar to Terry Ives.
We are introduced to Ms. Ives in “Chapter Six: The Monster”, and she is described by her live-in sister as a willing participant in MKUltra-like tests; laying in sensory deprivation chambers after being dosed with psychedelics (LSD?) to expand her mind. The sister explains that Terry miscarried in her third trimester after (during?) these tests, but she does not claim to have first-hand knowledge of this. Ms. Ives’ sister goes on to tell Hopper and Joyce that Terry acts as if her daughter is still alive, and keeps a room for her – twelve years later.
If you recall early in the season, Hopper is searching for Will. A fellow searcher makes some small talk, to which Hopper replies by referring to his daughter up state. When Hopper walks away, an eavesdropper clarifies to the fellow searcher that Hopper’s daughter is dead. This behavior is strikingly similar to the behavior of Terry Ives, a documented subject of Brenner’s experiments who lost a daughter in the process. I think it is possible/probable that both Hopper and Ives lost children to Brenner’s quest for mind expansion, but that Hopper was more effectively duped into believing that his daughter actually died.