One of Stranger Things 2's most intriguing new characters was almost very different

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Nov 20, 2017

Stranger Things 2 introduced many new things to the show's mythology, including creatures, locations, and characters. But one of those characters, among the most intriguing new additions to the show, almost turned out very different.

SPOILERS AHEAD

This season of the show opens with a car chase, as a group of teenagers race through a city in a van, pursued by police. Here's the thing, though: We don't know any of them. We've never seen them before. They're completely new characters introduced without explanation or context. The only hint of a connection to what we've seen before is the fact that one of them seems to make a wall appear out of nowhere to block the police pursuit, so something supernatural's happening.

The character who made the wall is Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), and we have to wait several episodes to find out who and what she is. In Chapter Seven, "The Lost Sister," Eleven wanders into Chicago in search of Kali, after seeing memories of her during a psychic link with her long-lost mother. Throughout Season 1, we were led to believe that Eleven was the only survivor of the child experiments at Hawkins Lab, but in this episode we learned that Kali is another of Dr. Brenner's test subjects who somehow made it out. She ended up in Chicago, assembled a group of friends and moved into a warehouse. From there, she uses her powers — which include mentally manipulating people to do or see whatever she wants — to conduct a revenge operation, hunting down and killing anyone connected to the experiments she endured.

She and Eleven share a bond, but a moral conflict between the two (Eleven doesn't like killing people) drives them apart, and Eleven leaves to help her friends in Hawkins. It's a compelling, if divisive, stand-alone episode, but it was almost very different.

Because Kali was originally supposed to be "The Lost Brother." And a much older brother at that.

“We put out title concepts a really long time ago, it was called ‘The Lost Brother,’ ” co-creator Matt Duffer recently explained at the show’s 2017 Vulture Festival panel in Los Angeles. “Initially, we were looking for a guy. Eleven would have a brother and we were looking at like 30-year-old men — which is hard to wrap my head around now.”

It's probably hard for fans to wrap their heads around that, too, since Kali is a fascinating character and the idea of giving Eleven a "sister" (as well as adding more female characters to the show) seems like a no-brainer if you're going to expand this realm of superpowered kids. Plus, Eleven already has a bond with an older man: Hopper, who's become a surrogate father to her. 

As for the relatively abrupt nature of the episode's ending, the Duffer Brothers assured fans that Season 3 will bring Kali back in some way.

“It would feel weird not finishing that story line," they said.