Though notably absent from the past few seasons and even missing from this volume’s flashbacks, could Stranger Things bring Eight back for Volume 2?
The following contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1, streaming now on Netflix.
With the massive success of Season 4, its premiere shattering all the streaming platform’s previous records, Netflix’s Stranger Things remains a pop-cultural phenomenon. Created by the Duffer Brothers in 2016, the science-fiction series is one of the few staples of Netflix’s catalog that has remained relevant over a period of several years. Part of this is thanks to its endearing characters and infectiously fun mixing of genres, but it has also remained such a huge part of the public conscious because the Duffer Brothers’ series is highly reactive in its relationship to its audience.
Introduced in Stranger Things‘ second season, Kali Prasad, also known at Hawkins Lab as “Experiment 008,” played a crucial role in Eleven’s journey. She shared a past with Eleven in the Rainbow Room and was even present when Eleven’s biological mother, Terry Ives, came looking for her. Her powers were similar to Eleven’s yet notably different, in that her specialty was invading the minds of others and creating visions of false illusions. After escaping Hawkins Lab as a child, Eight spent her adolescence targeting former employees from the Lab and killing them as an act of revenge. At the end of Season 2, Eleven ran away from Hawkins and spent some time with Eight, who helped her grow and learn to be “bitchin.”
The Duffer Brothers utilized the Season 2 episode, “The Lost Sister,” as an opportunity to explore other filmic reference points, like The Warriors and Escape from New York, which hail from an era that might have felt out of place in the mainline story. The episode also served to slow the narrative and give Eleven the time to grow as a character before the climactic finale. However, the episode’s placement in the narrative meant that it brought the mainline story to a full halt, which did not sit well with audiences. To this day, many fans will cite “The Lost Sister” as their single least favorite episode of the series.
This disdain resulted in the Duffer Brothers shying away from the episode’s story and characters in subsequent seasons. While viewers’ love of characters like Steve Harrington or Erica Sinclair promoted them to be featured more prominently from one season to the next, their dislike of “The Lost Sister” saw Eight’s role actively reduced. In fact, Eight and her gang remain some of the only characters in the series’ history to have survived but not yet return in later seasons.
That absence is a shame because, while “The Lost Sister” is certainly different, it offered many tantalizing possibilities. Exploring visual references that were outside the show’s traditional wheelhouse was an interesting challenge, as was the narrative idea of broadening the story beyond Hawkins’ borders and exploring the other experiments at Hawkins Lab. Interestingly, Season 4 has doubled down on all of these ideas and brought them to fruition in one way or another.
This season has actively prioritized the visual language of films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs and even Rosemary’s Baby in fascinating ways alongside its usual stable of films, while also expanding the narrative. Joyce and Hopper’s entire storyline this season takes place in Russia; there’s a whole team of characters traveling across the country; and Eleven’s arc has taken audiences back to the history of Hawkins Lab.
Towards the end of Volume 1, Henry Creel specifically mentions Eight to Eleven, with the show even briefly cutting to footage of young Eight and Eleven playing together from Season 2. This is the character’s first in-show appearance since Season 2 and could be a harbinger of things to come. With Vecna’s identity ultimately revealed to be Henry Creel, also known as “Experiment 001” at Hawkins Lab, Volume 2 of Season 4 is set to be an emotional showdown between the last experiments standing.
But to do so without including Eight, one of the few other living experiments, at least in some capacity would be a shame. Linnea Berthelsen’s performance as Eight was terrific, and to see her show up to assist Eleven in this crucial battle for the fate of the world would be wonderful and go a long way toward making “The Lost Sister” feel like setup for the ultimate payoff.
Find out if Eight returns to help save the world when Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 2 releases on July 1, 2022.
Will Jones is an ardent adorer of all things cinematic, from writing about films to making films. He came onboard with CBR in 2022, after having previously worked at sites such as WhatCulture and BigShinyRobot.