In the wake of Stranger Things's second season, we've had quite a bit of time to ruminate on everything we witnessed. Of course, it's natural to wonder when season three will be released, and it's even more natural to wonder what will happen as the story moves forward. Will Eleven's "sister" Kali be back? Are Dustin and Hopper OK? Is Dr. Brenner alive? While there are plenty of obvious questions, there's actually a much less obvious predicament nestled under our noses. We're talking about Hopper's presumably dead daughter, Sara.
Yeah. You read that right. Presumably! As a refresher, Hopper talks about losing his daughter in the season one finale. We watch her death in a series of flashbacks: first, she has some kind of panic attack or breathing problem at the park. Later, she's in a hospital bed, completely bald, while Hopper reads her a book. Next thing we know, Hopper's crying in the stairwell. Although the story is only told in these vague flashbacks, we can assume that she died from some form of pediatric cancer. Here's the thing: since we don't actually see her death, is there a chance she's still alive — and Hawkins Lab had something to do with it?
In a recent interview with Insider, actor David Harbour talked in great detail about the fate of Chief Hopper's daughter. Not only did he confirm speculation about the significance of Hopper's blue bracelet, but he also dropped a couple huge truth bombs! For one, Sara may not have actually died in a standard hospital, as it may have appeared. In fact, it seems likely that she died at Hawkins Laboratory. The easiest way to tell is, oddly enough, through a stairwell railing comparison. In season one, we see Hopper crying on a landing between floors:
In season two, Hopper and Eleven return to Hawkins Lab. They find a seriously wounded Dr. Owens in the stairwell, which . . . looks identical to Hopper's crying space in season one:
Harbour also points out something else: that Sara's stuffed animal looks just like Eleven's and Will's. Many have used these simple facts to confirm: Sara's death is somehow tangled in the complicated web that Hawkins Lab has woven. But I want to take it a step further: what if Sara isn't actually dead?
Hear me out. We never actually see Hopper's daughter die on screen. So, we don't know the exact nature of her death. Did they just tell Hopper verbally? Did they roll her into surgery and never roll her back out? Did they just let Hopper gaze upon her through a window, much like Joyce isn't allowed to be in the room with the supposed corpse of her son, Will? And that exact point brings me to the next crucial piece in this puzzle: even if those involved in the Hawkins Lab did show Hopper the dead body of his daughter, there's a possibility it wasn't even her body at all.
In season one, we learn that Hawkins Lab can create an uncanny, lifelike dummy that looks identical to a human being. They create a "Will Byers" doll in season one to convince Joyce, Jonathan, Hopper, and the rest of Hawkins that he's dead. This doll is so realistic; even when Hopper breaks into the morgue and inspects the body, he almost believes it's real. In fact, he doesn't truly realise it's fake until he literally lays his hand on it, cuts it open, and pulls out the stuffing.
Couldn't we argue, at this point, that the doctors at Hawkins Lab wanted Hopper to believe Sara was dead when she wasn't quite gone yet? What if Eleven and Kali's abilities aren't genetic, but instead something administered through a serum? I'm talking, like, a Captain America situation here. Maybe Sara was on the brink of death, and the doctors "saved" her by giving her a dose of this theoretical serum. Maybe it has restorative properties that healed her of her ailments.
And if Sara was somehow cured by the doctors at Hawkins Lab, she would have to become a test subject. They would want to monitor her progress for days, weeks, months, even years. Once they made her a subject, they convinced Hopper she was dead so their results wouldn't be compromised. After all, we can presume that there are many more children out there, alive or dead, who are potential Hawkins Lab subjects that have abilities like Eleven. There would have to be a #001 all the way through #010 at the very least. We know Kali is #008, and there has to be a reason for her introduction in season two.
It's clear that Eleven's "sisters" will be a huge part of the plot going forward. If Sara were alive and one of these test subjects, it would make for an explosive and devastating plot twist, one that would forever change Hawkins, and Chief Hopper, and even Hopper's relationship with Eleven. When you think about it that way, it's almost too good not to be the real truth.