If there’s one thing we can agree upon when it comes to Stranger Things season 2, it’s the fact there are tons of clues hidden among the shadow monsters, powerful tween performances, and love triangles. Although we’re all already concerned either sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) or beloved Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) will walk into season 3 infected by some new Upside Down illness, there is actually even more to worry about thanks to the otherworldly tunnels below Hawkins, Indiana: the weird graveyard filled with bones, vines, and floating particles that captured Hop. After some intense investigation into the bone yard, we’ve come to realise the area was likely a huge clue Dustin’s “pet” Dart wasn’t the only demo-dog in Indiana.
We first see the “damn graveyard,” as Hop calls it, in fifth episode “Dig Dug,” although it’s not obvious that’s what we’re observing. The officer goes down into the tunnels after realising the blight eating away at Hawkins’ farms is coming from deep below the surface. He does not expect to find miles of interdimensional tunnels hiding underneath his town, but, here we are. The sheriff is sprayed in the face by one of the valves containing the creepy white debris we’ve all long associated with the Upside Down, yet, so much enters Hop’s system he passes out. When he wakes up, he’s coughing up black goo. Eventually, he tries to get out of the tunnel, and breaks off a bone hiding in the space to create a makeshift torch. Despite his best efforts, Hop is soon enough trapped by the living vines surrounding the area. The tunnel is already so creepy, it’s not immediately obvious how bizarre it is that a human corpse is just sitting there among the crawling vines; this looks like the kind of place you would expect to find a dead body.
If you look closely at this scene you will notice something else amid the bones of varying sizes, corpses, and animal carcasses: moulting. The area is absolutely littered with the floating spores, yet, some of the white masses look far too large to simply be groups of debris that settled in the tunnel. Instead, it looks like the skin we see shed by Dart in “Will The Wise,” when the creature becomes large enough to slaughter and eat Henderson cat Mews, and then again in “The Spy,” when it escapes the family cellar. This makes sense, since one of the dead carcasses we see in the graveyard is that of a small, furry murdered animal; it’s about the size of Mews, and equally ripped apart. This murdered creature isn’t Mews — his body is still at Dustin’s house — but, clearly, something else is killing things just like Dart. Stranger Things doubles down on the parallel we’re supposed to notice by following up the graveyard introduction scene by immediately cutting to Dustin, who is burying his own cat killed by a demo-dog. Grave, graveyard, get it?
From all of this, we can gather the demo-dogs throughout Hawkins who didn’t find homes with boys inclined to welcome the supernatural settled in the tunnels. This plays into the “hive mind” theory of the superorganism of the shadow monster, which receives the nickname the Mind Flayer. The tunnels, the vines, and the demo-dogs are all a part of it, so that space is where they would be most comfortable. If that is true, it explains why there are so many bones in the graveyard. As we see in the final showdown between Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the Mind Flayer, there were at least 30, if not more demo-dogs in the area. They’re prone to savagely murdering their prey, so imagine how many corpses would stack up with 29 or more creatures bringing home their take-out. Oh, wait, you don’t have to imagine the carnage, since the graveyard shows us exactly what it would be.
Interestingly, this behaviour harkens back to the season 1 behaviour of the Demogorgon. Whenever the Upside Down creature captured something from our world, it usually would take the prey back to its dimension to feed. This is why Barb Holland (Shannon Purser) finds herself in the alternate plane before being murdered, and Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) accidentally stumbles upon the Demogorgon feasting on a deer in the Upside Down. The monster easily could have done its eating and killing over here, but it preferred to dine at home. Similarly, since the tunnels essentially represent the Upside Down’s slow, forceful encroachment in our world, it makes sense they would drag their prey there to eat, rather than feed above ground.
If these tiny details weren’t enough of a hint Hawkins had a much bigger demo-dog infestation than we realised, Stranger Things also opens with a clue pointing in that direction. The first time we see the Stranger Things party of Dustin, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), and Lucas Sinclair (Mclaughlin) in class, Mr. Clarke (Randy Havens) is explaining how something that looks “gross” and not “like much” actually has a hundred billion small parts working as one, like a hive mind. It’s a purposeful and perfect analogy for the Mind Flayer and his army. Of course this massive, world-conquering superorganism was bigger than one stray demo-dog terrorising some tweens.
I'll be the first to admit the “Spy” reveal Dart has a whole pack of friends was a jaw-dropper, but, if I had been paying attention during my first viewing, I would have realised the truth was looking me right in the five-petal flower face filled with teeth.
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