Warning: contains Stranger Things Season 4 spoilers.
When the Stranger Things gang needed weaponry to fight off the Upside Down’s demobats in Season 4 Vol. I, they stopped off at the Byers house to pick up Nancy’s gun collection. There, they made two major discoveries. The first was how to communicate between the Upside Down and the normal world through lightbulbs, like Will did in Season 1.
The second discovery was that the Upside Down – previously thought to be a copy of the normal world where time ran in parallel – was stuck in the past. Specifically, time there had stopped moving forwards on November 6th 1983, the exact date that Will Byers went missing after Eleven opened a gate to the Upside Down. Nancy realises it when her bedroom décor is outdated and still contains toys, shoes and revision notes that she no longer owns in 1986, and her guns aren’t there. Picking up her journal, she says:
“This diary should be full of entries, it’s not. The last entry is November 6th 1983, the day Will went missing, the day the gate opened. We’re in the past.”
Nancy Byers, Stranger Things Season 4, Episode 7 ‘The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’
Season 5’s Major Unsolved Mystery
In all the demobat venom-hubbub and gate-discovering excitement, that revelation fell a little by the wayside, more of a ‘huh, add that to the weird list’ than a staggering breakthrough. But in a new spoiler-filled post-Season 4 interview with Deadline, Stranger Things creators the Duffer Brothers have confirmed that the revelation is much more than just another item for the weird list. The Upside Down being stuck on that particular date is Season 4’s major unsolved mystery and the driving question for the show’s final outing.
Ross Duffer told Deadline: “The biggest [question] being we set up in the Volume One finale how the Upside Down is stuck in time on the day of Will’s disappearance. That’s something we don’t answer in Volume Two, and that is really the key plot point, the key question that is going to drive our final season as we try to wrap up this story and give the rest of the answers out.”
Challenge accepted, Duffers. That noise you can hear? It’s the sound of a million Stranger Things nerds pushing pins into corkboards and connecting their theories up with red string. Why is the Upside Down frozen in time on the day Will was taken?
Theory: Vecna Created Hawkins in the Upside Down
Here’s one theory to stir into the mix: When Eleven first banished Henry Creel to the Upside Down in September 1979, it was a bleak desert-like volcanic landscape. By the time of Will’s abduction in 1983 though, it was a perfect mirror reproduction of Hawkins (albeit dark and threaded with vines and floating motes). Vecna tells Nancy in Season 4 Episode 7 that he’d meant to check in on his father Victor Creel over the years but had been “busy. So very busy.” We know Henry was busy being Dr Brenner’s subject from 1959 – 1979, and he’s been busy trying to get Eleven to open gates to his dimension from 1983 to 1986, but what did he do in the four years before the start of Season 1?
How about: he built the Upside Down version of Hawkins in the same way a spider builds a web with which to catch and keep its prey? Then on November 6th 1983, Eleven opened the gate, and… that’s where your theories come in. Any advance on that?
Stranger Things Seasons 1 – 4 is available to stream on Netflix now.