'Stranger Things 2': What happened to Barb?

SPOILERS for Stranger Things 2

Stranger Things Season 1 took us by storm, but perhaps nothing was so shocking and omnipresent as the Cult of Barb. Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) best friend (Shannon Purser) gets snatched up by the demogorgon early on, and her disappearance was treated with maybe 10 percent of the concern or vigilant search ethic as Will’s (Noah Schnapp).

In Season 2, Barb is gone but not forgotten; while that does vindicate viewers who insist she deserved better, it’s also depressing as hell.

Despite the whimsical soundtrack in the early scenes and the carefree aesthetic of the ’80s, every character in Stranger Things 2 is dealing with some kind of PTSD. For Nancy, that’s less about fighting a demogorgon and more about the realization that she wasn’t a good friend to Barb — dead or alive. The last thing she said to her alleged best friend was to get a ride home, this after a party where Nancy chugged beer and eventually slept with Steve, bringing Barb mainly as an excuse to show that she was still a good kid.

“The whole thing about justice for Barb and what that means is, it’s a very hard thing to quantify – it’s a subjective thing,” Dyer told Mashable at the Stranger Things 2 premiere. “What is this worth? How do you rectify your best friend dying in the Upside Down? It’s hard. I think Nancy definitely takes action, tries to do something to make some kind of reparation, but it’s a hard thing to get justice for.”

Fans criticized Nancy for showing little remorse in Season 1, so Stranger Things 2 shows us her palpable guilt from episode 1. For starters, we meet Barb’s parents, who haven’t stopped looking for her — since they didn’t meet Eleven or the demogorgon, they never found out about the Upside Down and Nancy can’t tell them because she’s sworn to secrecy. Even in a scene framed comedically (and apparently endorsed by KFC), the Hollands’ false hope is heartbreaking. Their home is filled with photos of baby Barb, their only daughter, and they’ve sold their house to pay for a private detective to find her.

Uncool!

Uncool!

Image: via netflix

NOPE.

Stranger Things 2 has its moments of fan service, but reminding us about Barb was different – it’s dark. Barb became one of 2016’s most prominent memes because something awful happened to her. Nancy has to excuse herself from the Hollands’ dinner table to cry alone in the bathroom, overwhelmed by guilt and the weight of this secret. 

“We killed Barb,” she says later, while drunk at a party. 

Nancy, alcohol is a depressant, this is not a good idea for you! 

While drinking, Nancy’s fears shoot straight for the surface; here she is being a dumb teen at a party with her popular boyfriend while Barb is on some other plane covered in slugs. It’s not fair – to her or to Barb or to us as viewers while our hearts go out to this character once more.

Goodbye, Barb. We hope you found peace. Even if no one else did.

Stranger Things 2 is now streaming on Netflix.

WATCH: Season 2 of ‘Stranger Things’ is going to be lit according to these fan theories

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