In addition to revealing a great deal about Eleven’s backstory, Stranger Things 4 also exposed the identity of the real mastermind behind the Upside Down’s war on humanity.
With just one season remaining, there are still a lot of unsolved questions, many of them revolve around the Upside Down.
Ross Duffer did make the claim that “answers for the Upside Down is really what the basis of season 5 is about” in an interview with Variety.
But instead of waiting for everything to become clear, we’ve compiled all of the information we currently know about the Upside Down so that we may begin formulating our own theories.
The Upside Down: What is it?
The Upside Down is an alternate reality that mimics our own, or our own if it were a toxic wasteland covered in eerie, moving vines, populated by deadly animals connected by a hive mind system, and plagued by electrical storms all the time.
The Upside Down has an impact on our planet’s electromagnetic field, most likely as a result of these storms.
This explains how Will was able to speak with Joyce using the Christmas lights, and it also explains why, when in close enough proximity, compasses will point to Upside Down gates rather than true north.
However, the place Henry Creel/One/Vecna (whom we will name simply Vecna for simplicity’s sake) arrived in when he initially entered the Upside Down didn’t seem to be a version of Hawkins. All we could see were more lightning storms and a hilly terrain. No residences. Not a school. Without Castle Byers.
Is the Upside Down actually a different reality that has been altered to match our world, or is it a parallel dimension that didn’t always mirror Hawkins? Or perhaps it’s just that we’ve just seen a little section of the Upside Down thus far and it extends well beyond Hawkins.
Which creatures dwell in the Upside Down?
Monsters abound in the dimension, in addition to the hazardous plants and animals that call the Upside Down home, such as poisonous vines and spores.
These include the immensely strong, multi-legged Mind Flayer; Demogorgons, whose juvenile forms go by the name Demodogs; and Demobats, who are as cruel as Demogorgons but with the ability to fly. Of course, there is also Vecna, the hideous development of Henry Creel/One who feeds on human trauma to kill them in a gory manner.
How does Will relate to the Upside Down?
Upon his return from his week-long captivity in the Upside Down, Will remained tormented, quite literally. In Season 2, Will saw hallucinations of the Afterlife, regurgitated slug monsters, and fell under the influence of the Mind Flayer.
We’ve seen that Will is still able to feel the Mind Flayer in Hawkins, even after it was forced from his body. But as season 4 came to a close, it became clear that Will was actually sensing Vecna rather than the Mind Flayer.
Although Will finds this extremely disconcerting, the group may benefit from his continued ties to the Upside Down when they battle Vecna. Will said to Mike, “I can still remember what he thinks, and how he thinks.”
But if no one else who has visited has had the same experiences, why is Will still linked to the Upside Down? Some fans theorise that it’s because Will and the Upside Down are even more tightly related than we currently know. Some even think that Will’s abduction in season 1 was premeditated since he possesses undiscovered abilities comparable to Eleven’s, which is why he survived for a week when everyone else had perished.
What’s the number of gates leading to the Upside Down?
The first gate that is known to exist is the makeshift one that Eleven opened and transported Vecna through in 1979. In 1983, Eleven, while in a profound psychic state, made physical contact with a Demogorgon/Vecna, which led to the opening of the first permanent gate.
Several temporary portals between the two realms, like the ones Nancy passes through at the base of the tree and the one in Will’s chamber, were made possible by the Demogorgon’s escape into our reality.
In the years following her escape from the lab, Eleven has also erected makeshift gates, such as the one at Hawkins Middle School.
After learning of the Upside Down’s existence in 1984, Russia started developing its own gate. This is what gave rise to the Keys, erratic and temperamental devices capable of momentarily opening gates. There are multiple keys out there, but we only know where the two under Starcourt Mall and the one in Kamchatka are.
Following their destruction of the Starcourt gate in season three, the Hawkins gang believed they had sealed off all entrances to the Upside Down. However, the times Vecna murdered Fred, Patrick, and Chrissy were synchronised with the opening of a new gate.
But Vecna’s fourth sacrifice in Max brought about more than simply the opening of a tiny new portal. Rather, massive gaps between the worlds began to appear all around Hawkins, transforming the entire city into the largest gate to yet.
So, precisely how many gates are there? The answer to this is ‘too many’.