Stranger Things season 4 has a lot of questions to answer, most of them from the events in season 3, but this new season should also explain the Upside Down properly. In just three seasons, Stranger Things has built its own layered mythology, though it hasn’t been fully explored yet. The core of the series’ mystery is the other dimension, known as the Upside Down, and the dangerous creatures that live in it and represent a big threat to the real world.
Season 1 introduced viewers – and some residents of Hawkins – to the Upside Down after Eleven accidentally opened a gate to the other dimension, literally letting the Demogorgon in. Season 2 saw the Upside Down slowly taking over Hawkins, only to be stopped once more by Eleven. Then came season 3, which focused more on the Russians and their experiments on the Upside Down, without really expanding on what this dimension is about – again.
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As result, fans have come up with theories to try to explain the other dimension, what it really is, and how it works. But as Stranger Things hasn’t really shared much about it, these theories go from it being a post-apocalyptic version of Hawkins, to the Upside Down being a creation of Will Byers. Three seasons have come and gone without much to know about the Upside Down, so it’s up to season 4 to finally explore it and give a proper explanation.
Stranger Things Has Wasted The Upside Down
There wouldn’t be Stranger Things without the Upside Down. If the other dimension didn’t exist, the experiments at Hawkins Lab would be different, and Hawkins might have never known what was happening behind those doors. Simply put: the Upside Down is the core of the series, and it hasn’t been used as it should be. As mentioned above, the series hasn’t shared much about the Upside Down, which can be justified by the characters not knowing either, but its history pretty much started in November 1983, when Eleven made interdimensional contact with a Demogorgon and accidentally opened the gate.
The Upside Down’s role so far has been that of the mysterious setting no one really dares to explore as those who have either perished or were physically and/or psychologically affected by it. The other dimension has also been serving as the home of the Demogorgon, the demodogs, and the Mind Flayer, but why they live there and how they originated is unknown. Although the kids are the main characters and their efforts to keep Hawkins safe are the main focus of the series, Stranger Things is wasting its most interesting character by refusing to expand on it (yes, the Upside Down is a character as it affects and interacts with the characters and story).
Stranger Things Needs To Better Explain Its Whole Mythology
There is a lot about the Upside Down that the Duffer Brothers haven’t been wanting to share (for some reason), and as consequence, only a small portion of the series’ whole mythology can be known by piecing together everything that has been shown so far. The Upside Down is an alternate dimension, meaning that it’s a mirror of the real world (it has the same locations and infrastructure) but in a state of decay. The Upside Down is always dark and has its own biology and ecosystem, with tendrils and flesh-like membranes, which give it that look of decomposition. The atmosphere is toxic but only after prolonged exposure, as those who have entered for a brief moment, such as Nancy in season 1 and Steve and the kids in season 2, haven’t shown signs of damage – but Will Byers, who was exposed to it for days, was deeply affected by it. Properties like light and gravity appear to function the same way as in the real world, and sound from Hawkins is reflected in the Upside Down. In addition to that, everything within the other dimension is part of a hive intelligence controlled by the shadow monster
But these details are only known because that’s how things happened on screen or because that’s how the kids explained it – which they have done through their knowledge of Dungeons & Dragons. Although it has made sense so far, and explaining it with the help of a popular tabletop game has worked for viewers, there’s only much that the game can explain about something that, within the series, isn’t fiction. Stranger Things has to give a proper explanation of what the Upside Down is (just an alternate version of the real world or is there more to it?), why it is the way it is, how the Mind Flayer and the Demogorgon originated, and to what extent it would affect Hawkins if it took over, like it was doing in Season 2.
Explaining this part of its mythology would make it easier for Stranger Things to explore other parts that are also a mystery (whether directly linked to the Upside Down or not), such as the gate, the experiments (both by the Americans and the Russians), the effects of moving between dimensions (beyond flickering lights), and more.
How Stranger Things Season 4 Can Fix The Upside Down
There are a couple of ways Stranger Things season 4 can give viewers an explanation on the Upside Down without feeling forced. In fact, this might already be in the writers’ plans as the announcement teaser revealed that they are “not in Hawkins anymore”, emphasizing the Upside Down. If what they want to say is that season 4 will spend more time in the Upside Down, that would mean that they will finally give it the importance it deserves as a character, not just a mysterious setting. On the other hand, a lot of fans are convinced Jim Hopper isn’t dead and is trapped in the Upside Down, which would be an interesting (and probably less complicated) way to bring him back and explore the Upside Down at the same time.
Stranger Things season 4 is also rumored to include time-travel, which could come in handy when explaining the origins of the Upside Down. If the mission were to undo the opening of the first gate or even the beginning of Brenner’s experiments, the origins of the Upside Down would have to be revealed, as well as other details that could help accomplish the goal. Although it’s not confirmed, it has been implied that season 4 of Stranger Things could be the last, which makes it the perfect opportunity for it to finally explain and explore the Upside Down in depth.
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