As you’re completing Season 2 of Stranger Things, you’ll likely be left with quite a few questions. One of them is about a particular scene that happened at the very end. At the end of Season 2, the Hawkins gang enjoyed a happy ending at the Snow Ball Dance. Everyone may not have gotten exactly what they wanted, but everyone had something to smile about. (Except Joyce, who is still mourning the death of Bob and taking comfort from Hopper.) But at the very end of the season, we saw the shadow monster hovering over the Hawkins school.
What does the ending mean?
The Mind Flayer, in the Upside Down, looks like it’s still tracking the movements of the Hawkins gang and it still has an interest in getting into the “real” world. This also shows us that when part of the Mind Flayer was driven out of Will, that didn’t kill the Mind Flayer as a whole. It’s unclear if that part of the Mind Flayer returned to its original host, tried to find a new host, or just died.
Just because we saw the Mind Flayer doesn’t mean it will figure prominently in Season 3, however, Matt Duffer has said that they want a clean slate for Season 3 and don’t want to be boxed in.
But the Upside Down is still quite active, and the Mind Flayer—the brain that controls the “hive” of the Upside Down —is still very much alive and well and powerful.
And it’s still seeking something in the real world.
We don’t know the Mind Flayer’s origins (or the origins of the demodogs for that matter.) Some fans have posited that perhaps they were actually created from the government’s experiments that led to Eleven. We know Eleven opened a door between them and the real world (which she’s now closed.) But did the Government somehow accidentally create that world to start with?
It’s also possible that the Upside Down creatures were just drawn to us because of the experiments, and that other side always existed, it just couldn’t be reached until Eleven came along.
We do know that in the end scene, the Mind Flayer is drawn to Eleven in particular, after encountering her when she closed the gate. Here’s what Ross Duffer told The Hollywood Reporter about that scene:
We don’t end it on a totally happy note, do we? … 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.”
So the meaning of that scene? The Mind Flayer is still alive, powerful, and wants into the “real world.” It may very well want Eleven in particular.