WARNING! Spoilers below for Season 2 of “Stranger Things.”
On one fateful November night in 1983, Barbara Holland (Shannon Purser) attended a party at Steve Harrington’s (Joe Keery) house, simply hoping to keep an eye on her friend, Nancy (Natalia Dyer).
She wouldn’t make it home that night.
Or any night.
It’s kinda of hard to do that after you’re killed by a damn Demogorgon.
Barb’s death was covered up by nefarious characters at Hawkins Lab, and the show largely went on without her. That was originally going to be it. Purser herself has said that Barb “wasn’t supposed to be a big deal” in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
But following the character’s death, fans rallied around her. The surge of support inspired think pieces and hashtags; Purser even ended up with an Emmy nomination.
Fans demanded #JusticeForBarb.
At San Diego Comic-Con over the summer, producer Shawn Levy described what “justice for Barb” would actually look like, telling HuffPost, “Someone’s to blame, and it’s not just a Demogorgon, so maybe her justice has to do with whoever else is responsible.”
In Season 2, those responsible finally pay:
“I did not mean to kill Barb. That was not my idea of a good time,” actor Joe Keery recently told HuffPost. He continued, “I don’t know if anyone remembers, but when she cuts her finger, I think I point her to the direction of the bathroom. I don’t think I’m trying to be a dick to her. Sorry, Barb. Rest in peace.”
Steve isn’t directly responsible for Barb’s disappearance, but she does go missing while waiting for him and Nancy to be done with their sexy time together. And for that, we demand justice.
Lucky for us, in the new season, Steve’s unwillingness to come forward about what happened to Barb ― at least to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Holland ― contributes to his breakup with Nancy.
Sorry, Steve’s relationship. Rest in peace.
Sure, Nancy once unknowingly left Barb to be dragged to her death in the Upside Down, but people make mistakes, right?
Her penance in Season 2 is bringing the truth to light. HuffPost also spoke to Dyer at Comic-Con, where she told us Nancy had an “itchiness” to do the right thing ever since Barb’s death.
“She’s upset, and she’s personally hurt, and she feels very responsible of course for the way that it happened,” Dyer said.
“It’s this feeling, ‘What can I do? How can I make this right with Barb’s family, with her town, with everything, with herself?’ There’s a lot of guilt, so she’s a girl on a mission.”
That mission: expose the truth to Barb’s parents and take down Hawkins Lab.
Hawkins National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy
Steve hesitates to come clean about Barb’s disappearance because the “Department of Energy” people at Hawkins Lab have put a lid on the situation. Anyone with knowledge of the incidents that happened in Season 1 is not allowed to talk about them, and the consequences of doing so could be dire.
But apparently Nancy has been occasionally having dinner with Barb’s parents. At a party, after way too much to drink, she can’t take the guilt anymore and seems set on her mission to expose the truth about her friend.
With help from Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), Nancy calls Barb’s parents and very obviously tells them to meet her in a park, where she can reveal the truth about their missing daughter. There, Nancy and Jonathan are corralled by operatives of Hawkins Lab and later receive a threatening lecture from Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser), who says people at the facility will go to any means necessary to stop the truth from getting out.
Little does Owens know, however, Nancy was secretly recording him, providing evidence of a cover-up of Barb’s death.
This was the plan all along.
“They wanted to get taken by the Hawkins people,” Dyer confirmed on the “Stranger Things” aftershow, “Beyond Stranger Things.”
Armed with this information, Nancy and Jonathan go to Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), an investigative reporter hired by Barb’s parents to look into her disappearance. Because the full story of the Upside Down is deemed too absurd for the general public, Bauman decides to “water it down” enough to make it believable. Instead of other dimensions, he suggests that Barb was exposed to dangerous toxins. Nancy is into it.
In the end, the incriminating tape is released and news of a so-called “chemical leak” is exposed. The lab is closed off, some apparent high-ranking individuals from the U.S. Department of Energy admit to a cover-up of Barb’s death and there is a funeral for her.
On “Beyond Stranger Things,” Dyer said Nancy accomplished her goal to give Barb’s parents closure ― but the cast wondered aloud if there could ever truly be justice for Barb.
Purser also made an appearance in the aftershow. “It’s such a sweet gesture to see that there were a lot of people that cared about Barb,” she said, admitting that it’s also “very weird to have a funeral and to see people crying over pictures of yourself.”
Following the release of the season, she tweeted, “Saying goodbye to the girl that started it all. So thankful.”
The Barb storyline wasn’t perfect, at times feeling like a distraction from the main plot centered around Will. But the fans demanded closure. No, they demanded justice. And that’s exactly what they got:
“Stranger Things” Season 2 is streaming now.