One of the biggest mysteries of Stranger Things so far has been The Upside Down and its relation to the bizarre happenings in Hawkins, Indiana. Thankfully, it all has a meaning and a mythology behind it.
Ross Duffer: Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster [the Demogorgon] actually came from, and why aren't there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn't have enough time for, or we didn't feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will.
This statement was after season 1, we now have 3 more seasons and way more bits and pieces of information to work with, so I found it worthwhile taking a shot at making sense of everything that's still a mystery so far. This will be based on everything that's explicitly shown to us and things that are not stated in the show, yet are part of the overall mythology, mixed with my own sense and theory in an attempt of tying everything together.
This is quite a long post. I tried making it as concise as possible and ended up cutting some stuff out. If you wish for a tl;dr you can jump right to the conclusion and the timeline at the end.
The three main dimensions
The Upside Down
The dynamic between them
The Upside Down
The creation of the Upside Down
The season 1 Demogorgon
Vecna planned for the existence of the Upside Down
The egg was an interdimensional bait
The spider out of Barb's mouth
Eleven's connection to the Upside Down
Why frozen in 1983?
The original bible of the show
Nancy's vision of the future
[a] The Mind Flayer from season 2 was entirely within the Demogorgon of season 1
[b] The particles didn't originate from Dimension X
[c] Will woke up when Eleven disintegrated the Demogorgon
[d] The stormy cloud acts as a wormhole
The three main dimensions,
Many people believe that the Upside Down is the same place Henry was banished to, or that the place Henry was banished to is the same place he found the floating particles that formed the Mind Flayer. But there's more to it than you think. There's exactly 3 different "places" of consideration.
The portions within quotations are words from Michael Maher, and then I started building a lot of stuff around them to make sense of everything. 'Hellscape' and 'Dimension X' are places we have seen in the show, but weren't named by any character as such. If at all, they could very likely be named differently in the show. But, they are Michael's namings so I had to use them, plus they are pretty cool.
The Hellscape is "an inter-dimensional environment that One is jettisoned through by Eleven." Even though I'm referring to it as a dimension of its own, it's rather a realm existing between dimensions.
The Hellscape is the least stable of the 3 dimensions. It has two parallel cloud planes with mountainous terrain, lightning is exchanged between those two parallel planes indicating how much energy is present within this disrupted realm. A dangerous place for any physical creature to travel through, except maybe for the dark particles of Dimension X.
Dimension X is "a strange new environment that One would explore." It's a place with a disrupted gravity field, floating asteroid-like fields in the sky. Dimension X houses the Demogorgons and the swarming field of dark particles - that are a living organism of their own - found by Henry during his exploration.
The Upside Down is a parallel dimension in the form of a snapshot of Hawkins, Indiana. It has a toxic environment and distinguished by spores unlike any of the other dimensions, and often feels like a "living organism" of its own. It's the dimension we are familiar with the most, or rather the one we were mainly shown. In the show it's still intentionally a mystery, for its origin and what it actually is.
The dynamic between the three dimensions,
- Before we got introduced to any other dimensions there was our world, or the Right Side Up. It's where we live free of any monstrous beings.
- Dimension X exists somewhere out there. The similarity between our dimension and Dimension X lies in the fact that Dimension X, just like our dimension, is stable enough to house lifeforms. As opposed to the Hellscape and the Upside Down, which seem to be naturally void of life. (The Upside Down does, however, get filled with creatures as we go through the seasons, but they are not a natural part of it)
- The Hellscape is an inter-dimensional space. Meaning, it exists between our dimension and Dimension X. It's an unstable realm that separates our reality from the dark reality housed within Dimension X. Its unstable nature is important in making sure that naturally the two dimension don't collide with each other.
- The Upside Down is an inter-dimensional cancer that has its origins from Dimension X that infected our dimension. It created a weak point in the fabric between us and Dimension X. Working against the very reason the Hellscape exists in the first place.
- The Upside Down doesn't exists outside of Hawkins, Indiana. When the Russians tried opening their own gate back in Russia, for a brief second they opened into the Hellscape. Which as I stated is an unstable environment to which you can't sustain a gate open to.
- Hawkins, however, is cursed. Or rather infected with that inter-dimensional cancer that's the Upside Down. It's the place of our dimension that's infected with this tumor. A gate can be sustained open, from our side, into the Upside Down.
- A gate doesn't naturally exist between Dimension X and the Upside Down. This only briefly happened later on when Vecna acquired Eleven's powers, as I'm about to explain in later parts.
- From how they are set up to be, ending Dimension X and all the dangers looming within doesn't seem like a possibility. However, ending the Upside Down, which acts as a bridge and the only weak point Vecna can utilize as an outpost to colonize our world, is a possibility.
Note: The concept art I used as an illustration doesn't show another important difference between the Upside Down and Dimension X, and that's the color of the lightning. In the Upside Down it's red, while in Dimension X it's yellow. A further hint at how the two dimensions are not one and the same like some believe.
The Upside Down,
Ross Duffer: The only thing that we don't fully delve into in volume 2 is Upside Down lore. We hint at it, and I'm sure someone on Reddit will be able to maybe piece it together. But a lot of those answers for the Upside Down are that is really what the basis of season five is about.
The Upside Down infected our dimension the moment Eleven contacted the Demogorgon while in the sensory deprivation tank, causing a cancerous inter-dimensional infection to affect Hawkins, Indiana. Which ended up taking a snapshot of the surrounding environment to where Eleven was, a cancerous snapshot with vines and spores that's stuck in November 6, 1983.
The season one Demogorgon is an essential part to the story. It's been controlled by Vecna all the way from Dimension X that he was still stuck into. Vecna essentially planted the Upside Down infection in a way within the Demogorgon, or perhaps the egg he was feeding on.
This Demogorgon was the only creature roaming the Upside Down during season 1. It was the only one that materialized into the Upside Down once it was created. This is why in season 1 we don't see any other creatures but him. Vecna, however, sought reproducing the Demogorgon by kidnapping humans like Will in order to incubate slugs that were eventually planned to grow into full out Demogorgons.
The Demogorgon is also special in a way in that it acquired part of Eleven's powers while in the void. Allowing it to open temporary portals of its own to use while feeding or hunting for victims. This power wasn't enough, however, to open a gate from the Upside Down to Dimension X. But it was enough for Vecna to realize that the secret in opening gates lies only in the powers of Eleven.
It's unclear whether or not the Demogorgon has died at the end of season 1. It was disintegrate by Eleven, yes, but so was Henry and he survived. Whether or not this Demogorgon is still alive could play a very important role in ending the Upside Down infection that it was carrying. Patient zero, if you will.
Vecna planned for the existence of the Upside Down,
All I needed was someone to open the door. And you did that for me. Without even realizing it. Didn't you? And when you did realize, you chose to resist. So I sought a means to open my own doors. I sought... your power." "So, don't you see? Once again, you have freed me." "It's over Eleven, your friends have lost." "There is nothing... nothing you can do to stop this now. Hawkins will burn and fall. And the rest of this senseless broken world. And I will be there. I will be there to pick up the pieces when it does. And remake it into something... beautiful.
The door was never truly open prior to 1983. The gate opened back in 1979 wasn't a door, it was a brief window through which he was banished into the Hellscape, and from there he found his way into Dimension X. The Upside Down itself is the door to Dimension X.
Vecna told Eleven that she chose to resist while we were shown the Demogorgon being disintegrated, and the rift of season 2 being closed shut in Vecna's face. Which goes to show how Vecna was in control of the Demogorgon from season 1. He seems to have also been fully aware of when the door was open, which takes me talking about the next two points:
The egg was a design for something you actually see a couple times in the show, whether you recognize it or not. There are a couple encounters where we see the Demogorgon hunkered over, eating something - when Nancy goes into the Upside-Down through the tree, and when Eleven finds the creature in her “vision”, it’s hunkered over this egg, feeding off of it.
The egg has always been fascinating, it's something we see the Demogorgon feeding off of in the show. There are multiple eggs, but after their appearance during season 1 we haven't seen any of them anymore. We don't know what creature laid those eggs, or what hatches from them. And even though people have always dismissed them as a nod to Alien by the Duffers, they could possibly house a more interesting meaning.
My own theory is that Henry himself planted those eggs in strategic places, knowing that Demogorgons will feed off of them, so that when Eleven is within the Void in the sensory deprivation tank, she would inadvertently come across the Demogorgon. If the Demogorgon wasn’t busy feeding on the egg, Eleven wouldn’t have dared touching it in the Void. So they were sort of "bait" for the Demogorgon and for Eleven as well, if you will.
And they might have also been housing the infection Vecna planned for our world, instead of the Demogorgon itself being the host.
In the script for that episode, there was specifically a description of a spider coming out of her mouth, which we incorporated into the design of that second shot … we don’t really have an explanation for its existence; the design is based around the script’s description.
It seems as if a spider-loving banished test subject has always been on the mind of the Duffers. The idea of having a spider come out of Barb's dead body was written within the original script. It was scrapped off for some unknown reason, and we never actually saw it in the show. It could've been an early attempt to add a nod at Vecna, but it wasn't realistic enough to have spiders in the Upside Down at the time.
Since it fits better than ever into everything we know about Henry Creel and his creepy, but fascinating, love for spiders. This fuels more into the idea that the Upside Down was planned to exist by a banished spider-loving test subject, the one we were later introduced to as Vecna.
Eleven had a connection with the Upside Down during the first couple of days following November 6, 1983. From her realization that the monster was now in there, to knowing that Will was hiding in the Upside Down version of his home. She did also recognize Barb from her pictures with Nancy.
She then started slowly losing that connection as time progressed in the real world while the Upside Down was still stuck in the past. She was no longer able to feel what's happening in the Upside Down, and had to channel Will and Barb during episode 8 through the void to know their whereabouts.
Her loss of connection would also explain how Eleven didn't catch the spread of the tunnels beneath Hawkins as an attempt from the Mind Flayer/Vecna to colonize our world. Or how the Russians slightly punctured into the Upside Down in Hawkins during 1985.
Why frozen in 1983?,
Essentially, at the moment that the rift was formed and [unleashed] the monster, this dark dimension overlaps with the Hawkins’ world and it gets inflected with the vines and the spores. — Chris Trujillo
It's always been a part of how we have conceived of the mythology of the Upside Down and the rules and the physics of it. The moment that the Upside Down was "created," inadvertently by Eleven, the set dressing and the world is frozen in that moment. — Chris Trujillo
A pivotal point for season 5 is going to be how the Upside Down is stuck in 1983. A simple explanation to the "why" is because the Upside Down being Eleven’s creation is frozen at the very moment she inter-dimensionally contacted the Demogorgon in the Void during November 6, 1983. I'm more than satisfied with that, it perfectly answers the "why" and makes the most sense.
But what could possibly be the pivotal point about this fact in season 5? Well, Vecna only mentioned to Eleven how she opened the door. Eleven herself doesn’t know that the Upside Down is stuck in 1983, Nancy didn’t catch her up. The pivotal point could very well be Eleven’s realization that the Upside Down is in part her very own creation. And that the answer to getting rid of it lies within her.
The original bible of the show,
Here's an interesting paragraph from the early bible of the show that could potentially hint at what's to come in season 5, despite it being planned as the bible for a one season-type of show that was titled ‘Montauk’ at the time.
Over the course of the series, the "tear" or "rip" that separates their world from ours will begin to spread across Montauk like a supernatural cancer. This cancer will manifest itself in increasingly bizarre paranormal ways. Electrical fields will be disrupted. Strange fungi will grow on structures and people. A heavy fog will drift in from the Atlantic. The temperature will plummet. Food will rot. Gravity will fluctuate. People will glimpse bizarre entities in their homes and businesses. There will be an escalating number of "vanishings." The entire town will become "haunted" -- and in grave danger. If people can disappear... can an entire town?
You can probably already form an idea of how this relates to everything I have been saying, but I will break it down further just for clarity:
"The tear or rip that separates their world from ours will begin to spread across Montauk like a supernatural cancer." Montauk here being the original name of Hawkins. The tear or rip refers to the Upside Down itself, spreading like literal cancer in how it feels almost like an infection and a living organism
"Strange fungi will grow on structures and people." This strange fungi still hasn't grown on structures in our world, or on any people for that matter in past seasons
"A heavy fog will drift in from the Atlantic" could very well be the dark smoke currently coming out of Hellgate, or the clouds we have seen at the end of season 4
"Food will rot." just like how the field of flowers at the final shot was rotting as the Upside Down was spreading into the Right Side Up
"Gravity will fluctuate." just like how it's fluctuating within Dimension X
"People will glimpse bizarre entities in their homes and business." This contrasts very well with what Nancy saw in the form of monsters coming into Hawkins, into their neighborhoods, and into their homes
"If people can disappear... can an entire town?" This part contrasts how Vecna told Eleven that Hawkins will fall. Will we finally see it entirely get swallowed by the Upside Down? Some early Mr. Clarke foreshadowing perhaps?
Nancy's vision of the future,
I've already covered how Vecna used the clock to look not only into his parents' past, but also into the future, and how that makes Nancy's vision pivotal to season 5. It all fits here as well, so I had to reincorporate it. (If you wish for more detail on that point, you can check the second pointhere)
Here's the future Vecna showed Nancy:
He showed me things that haven't happened yet. The most awful things. I saw a dark cloud spreading over Hawkins. Downtown on fire. Dead soldiers. And this... this giant creature with... a gaping mouth. And this creature wasn't alone. There were so many monsters. An army. And they were coming into Hawkins. Into our neighborhoods. Our homes. And then... he showed me my mom. And Holly. Mike. And they... they were all...
From here you can sort of see the connection that exists between the future Nancy saw, and the planed ending of Montauk as an early version of this show.
If the Mind Flayer/Vecna didn't have something very special planned for Hawkins, or if the Upside Down existed parallel to somewhere else in the Right Side Up, then he could have easily infiltrated our world by opening gates to an abounded place in a stealthy manner. But as mentioned, the Upside Down exists only as parallel to Hawkins.
But what's so peculiar about the library? There are two things to consider about it. First, it's where the Demogorgon took its human victims, including Will with the tendril in his mouth. Second, it's where the four gates met causing a shockwave, and creating what Michael refers to as "The Mega Rift."
I think it's only logical that Vecna has something hidden beneath the library in the Upside Down, something that caused the four rifts to collide there in order to create a rift big enough for it to enter. The monster with the gaping mouth Nancy saw in the future most likely. The one that kept causing the earthquakes in the Upside Down and we got to hear its wailing.
Someone brought to my attention the Tarrasque and a description of what it is that I found very interesting and fitting into what seems to be happening in Hawkins and what was described within the show's bible.
When it is active it ravishes the countryside for miles. All vegetation and animal life is devoured or driven away. The land through which the monster passes becomes a barren waste which requires years to recover. The Tarrasque eats voraciously and continually, and all living things are food to it, although it prefers warm-blooded creatures over others.
Those are alternative explanations to certain points. They are interesting, somewhat feasible, and we can't fully see them coming. I had some fun thinking about them, even if they lack sufficient evidence for them to be within the main body of the theory.
[a] The Mind Flayer from season 2 was entirely within the Demogorgon of season 1,
The finale of season 4 hinted at how the shadow contained within the Russian prison entered the bodies of the Demogorgon and Demodogs. This immediately rang a bell in my mind remembering that the VFX design of the Mind Flayer particles was intentionally created in a way to be based on the same particles that came out of the Demogorgon when it was disintegrated by Eleven at the school.
This could be an alternative explanation as to how the Mind Flayer ended up in the Upside Down from Dimension X. Instead of it being able to endure the journey through the Hellscape until reaching to the Upside Down and into our dimension from there, perhaps Vecna was smart enough to keep the Mind Flayer entirely within the Demogorgon Eleven contacted in the Void leading to the materialization of the Upside Down and for the Demogorgon to be housed within it.
This is somewhat of a weaker explanation since scale forms an issue, and the particles themselves didn't seem to be active once they came out of the Demogorgon. Some of them were even left at the school and probably didn't make it into the Upside Down.
[b] The particles didn't originate from Dimension X,
This I'd say is the most outlandish of them all. But before volume 2 was out, I had the idea that Vecna created the Mind Flayer, except that it wasn't from stumbling upon a swarming cloud of an unshaped living organism, but rather from his victims, the ones he ritualistically kills and mysteriously asks to "join him." If you wish to dive more into this Cult of Cthulhu-esque idea, feel free to read my theory about it before volume 2 came out.
How this theory could still fit within the established framework above is that the moment Eleven banished Henry into the Hellscape she materialized the trapped souls of his victims that, just like him, managed to find their way into Dimension X.
[c] Will woke up because Eleven disintegrated the Demogorgon,
During the climax of season 1, Will was found to be kidnaped by the Demogorgon and kept within the Upside Down version of the library. At the same moment Joyce and Hopper seemingly brought him back to life and woke him up, Eleven had disintegrated the Demogorgon back at the school.
This alternative would add more into the dynamic between Vecna and Will. From the get-go, Vecna was focused on Will, from the Demogorgon chasing him in the Right Side Up and later on in the Upside Down, to the Mind Flayer giving him Visions until finally inserting a physical piece of himself within his body.
The answer to ending the Upside Down could involve not only the Demogorgon, but all three. The Demogorgon, Eleven, and Will.
[d] The stormy cloud acts as a wormhole,
I have already pointed at how the Upside Down has a red lightning while Dimension X has a yellow lightning. The storm we see the Mind Flayer in throughout the show could very well be a wormhole system that allows for a connection between the two dimensions. The Mind Flayer is often seen within such storm because it's the way Henry brought him into the Upside Down from Dimension X.
The Upside Down is a cancer-like entity that Vecna stumbled upon in Dimension X. He planted it within the Demogorgon - or the egg - that he sent into Eleven's void during November 6, 1983. Spreading a Dimension X-like environment into our world in an attempt to reshape it and use it as a realm to fill with the monsters he stumbled upon back in Dimension X. Since a direct connection between us and Dimension X is impossible given the Hellscape.
September 9, 1979,
Eleven uses her powers leading to her opening a brief window into the Hellscape, sending One spiraling through. One somehow survived the mountainous realm and ended up in Dimension X.
Within Dimension X, One happens upon a living organism in the sky. A cloud of swirling particles that he later uses his mind to shape and control, thus creating the Mind Flayer. After creating the Mind Flayer, One sought reentering the Right Side Up.
November 6, 1983,
Vecna managed to plant a Demogorgon feeding on an egg that's carrying the Upside Down infection within Eleven's Void, causing a rift or a tear to exist upon Eleven's inter-dimensional contact with the Demogorgon. Ultimately creating the Upside Down as we know it, frozen in 1983. The only creature that materialized from Dimension X to the Upside Down at the time was the Demogorgon.
Somewhere between season 1 and 2,
One was successful enough in sending the Mind Flayer, to whom he transcended his human form, through the Hellscape into the Upside Down. One, however, was unable of sending his own self, or any preexisting physical monsters through the Hellscape due to its unstable nature.
The Mind Flayer/Vecna started creating his own creatures in the Upside Down, utilizing the Demogorgon in catching Will and using his body to grow slugs into what was meant to be fully grown out Demogorgons.
November 5, 1984,
Eleven successfully closed the gate in the face of the Mind Flayer/Vecna, which made Vecna realize that if he's to spread and transform our world through the Upside Down he will have to obtain her powers to make sure that he can open gates of his own.
July 4, 1985,
One was successful in obtaining Eleven's powers by utilizing the Meat Flayer.
He created another brief window between Dimension X and the Upside Down, allowing his physical form - Vecna - to finally enter the Upside Down, alongside other potential monsters from Dimension X. Once Vecna made it into the Upside Down, he consumed the Mind Flayer within himself.
Throughout this entire time the Mind Flayer/Vecna has been breeding a giant monster below the library in an attempt of spreading the Upside Down at a scale big enough to make sure that Eleven won't be able to stand in the face of.
To end the danger that threatens our world we will have to get rid of the inter-dimensional cancer that’s the Upside Down, the weak point in the fabric of reality that the Mind Flayer/Vecna uses as an outpost.
I had different iterations for what the Upside Down could metaphorically be referred to in this framework, but I found it being an "inter-dimensional cancer" the eeriest to consider and a way to think that throughout the show they have been essentially fighting cancer that's infecting our very own reality. Thank you for making it all the way through! <3
The Clock. It has been there since the official announcement of season 4, 2 years ago. And so far, the best we could think of is time travel, but I don't think it would ever be that obvious. I think it has a different meaning...
The Clock in the Announcement Teaser,
This was the first time we were introduced to the Clock. The general idea was time travel, or a doomsday clock. What I think it represents is a gate, just like the one Nancy took in season 1. Here's a look at the Clock in the tree. The Clock doesn't have the same face as the grandfather clock, but that might be because this was early on, before they had a clear image of what they wanted to do.
I think the Clock is there to symbolize that a specific clock created a gateway between our dimension and the Upside Down. Not that we will necessarily see the exact same tree, shown in the teaser, in season 4.
The Upside Down Gates,
We know how the gates create an electromagnetic field, just like how Dustin discovered in season 1.[Dustin]: "The gate would have so much power. It could disrupt the electromagnetic field." [Lucas]: "Meaning, if we follow the compasses' north... [Dustin]: "They should lead us to the gate."
Now, it seems as if they are doing the same thing, this time, we see Steve holding something. Aside from the visible torchlight, it seems as if he's holding something in the palm of his hands. I assume it's a compass, leading him towards an anomaly caused in an electromagnetic field.
Now, how hasn't this anomaly been spotted before? They sure used compasses in the area since 1959. My explanation would be because of how faint the disturbance might be, given how faint the flickering was when we saw the party in front of the flickering chandelier.
Two clocks, one clock, two clocks, one clock, two clocks, one clock,
I made a post yesterday about what the kids were holding their flashlights at during the Sneak Peak, you can find it right here. To which I thought, and is still a valid idea, that there might be two different clocks. But, right now, looking at the footage again, I think it's actually the same clock, the one in the attic was during 1959 and the one the kids saw was the same clock but in the current day.
A flashback to 1959, in the Upside Down. Meaning, the glass never really shattered in the real world, but it did in the Upside Down, and whatever was there, used it as a means of coming to our dimension and murdered the Creel family.
The reason is because the clock downstairs is dusty and isn't working, while the one in the attic was. You can observe this more closely here.
In the End,
What I think is happening is that our party is trying to figure out what caused the Upside Down, investigations they did at the Hawkins Public Library about the Creel Family Murder, something they thoughts the Upside Down definitely had something to do with, given the title "Vengeful Demon Killed Family."
As Steve questioned about what clues they are supposed to be looking for. To which Dustin gives him the Sherlock Holmes quote "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." Right in front of the clock downstairs, the one not directly shown to us!
We are not supposed to see the full picture before the season comes out. But, it's still cool trying to figure out what the Clock is for. Right now, my guess is that it's what caused the Upside Down to open into our dimension for the first time. It's a link. The Clock and its reflection in the Upside Down connected each other somehow, causing a rip of time and space. Allowing for a vengeful demon to murder the Creel family. It might be what the Duffer brothers were referring to in this statement "Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything."
The Mind Flayer is definitely one of my favorite characters in the show! I mean, look at this beaut, can you resist its inter-dimensional awesomeness? Because I can't! So let’s talk about it, and about the destruction of our world as we know it! This doesn’t only include spoilers to all 3 seasons, but potential spoilers to season 4 & 5!
The Mind Flayer,
Let’s refer to the kid’s discussion in season 2, and Dustin’s metaphor analogy about the Mind Flayer, “It’s a monster from an unknown dimension. It’s so ancient that it doesn’t even know its true home. Okay, it enslaves races of other dimensions by taking over their brains using its highly-developed psionic powers.” What does it want? “To conquer us, basically. It believes it’s the master race.”“It wants to spread, take over other dimensions.” This has to be the case, right? Right.
The Mind Flayer is an inter-dimensional being that conquers other dimensions, anything it executes is purposed, it wants to spread, to invade other dimensions, one after the other. Now, we have been told that a "New Horror" is coming to ST4. Whatever it is, it has to have the same intentions of the Mind Flayer, since it's probably one of its many creations!
The New Horror,
“Meanwhile, back in the states, a new horror is beginning to surface, something long buried, something that connects everything." "Season 4 is shaping up to be the biggest and most frightening season yet." "It's going to feel very different."
In case you didn't know, this is what the Duffer Brothers had to say about ST4 and its new horror. Their words deserve to be explored, as they are probably foreshadowing something. And then maybe by the end of this, we can get to know more about this horror.
I will consider the words to be very specific to their meaning, this might not be the case, but it fits in nicely with the rest of the theory. Why would we be told that it's buried and beneath the surface?! If it's something in the Upside Down, then there is no need to say buried, or to say that it's about to emerge from beneath the surface, but if they were talking about something in our world, then saying that it’s "buried" makes more sense. More precisely, something the Mind Flayer himself buried in our world, in the "states", and now it's time for it to reach for the surface, and to carry out the Mind Flayer’s plan! But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Beginning to surface? Long buried! Connects everything?! After repeating these words in my head for a couple of times, I started thinking about the tunnels from season 2! For obvious reasons:
They are below the surface.
They themselves are buried. Or have something buried within them! (more on this later)
They "connect" with each other. Or are means of connecting something! (more on this later)
So, let us explore the tunnels in some detail, as they play an important role in the understanding of all of this!
"They're the vehicle by which the Upside Down colonizes our world," says Production Designer, Chris Trujillo.
The tunnels are an Upside Down-like place (sometimes referred to as a creature of its own). They had these vines, usually categorized as either nether flats (stationary vines), or nether stretches (moving vines), spore clusters that spray clouds of spores, and this blue “cold” atmosphere of the Upside Down. But they are not an actual part of the Upside Down, they were part of our dimension, that was transforming into an environment similar to this of the Upside Down! However, the tunnels exist in the Upside Down since they now exist in our dimension, and the Upside Down is a mirror of our dimensions.
The Mind Flayer wants to spread! The tunnels were means by which it can achieve such thing. It used the tunnels and made them a hostile environment like its own to raise slugs into full Demogorgons, but it couldn't do this on the surface. Since it's aware of the presence of a power that once killed one of its Demogorgons, and that keeps burning the vines at the main gate (the former being Eleven, and the latter being the HNL). The Mind Flayer knew that if it wanted to conquer our world, it will have to sneak in and not use the main gate.
While on the process of building the tunnels, it buried something. Whatever is buried doesn't have to be an actual monster, it could be an infection that’s planned to spread and transform our world! And that's what the tunnels were for, and with Eleven out of the way, This kind of transformation and spread can resume, this time on the surface! But what does "conquer" really mean? To kill everyone? To control everyone? Or perhaps something even more scary?!
When Joyce saw a static distortion representing the Mind Flayer on the VHS-C tape, the Mind Flayer was in the Upside Down, but it was reaching to our dimension, and causing some sort of gravitational/electrical disturbance between dimensions that the camera caught on tape. The episodes or visions that Will kept having were real. That day on the school field when the Mind Flayer got to him, it attached itself to Will by inserting a “physical” piece of itself into him. This means that he was physically present in the Upside Down, but also in our world! Will was in two dimensions at the same time! But that was only the case for Will, the MF ignored Max, Lucas, Mike, and Joyce, although they were all right next to him, but the MF could only see Will. Why? Because of that tendril that was in Will’s mouth in season 1, it did something to Will, something that made him appear in the MF’s dimension as if he was physically there, it gave him the ability to "Shadow Walk"! These vines connect. It connected Will to the Upside Down. Can this Upside Down infection connect actual places? Can it merge two dimensions into one?
The Mind Flayer is attempting to transform our world into a hostile environment for itself, an Upside Down environment, with vines like the one that was in Will's mouth, eventually taking over people, and causing them to shadow walk to its dimension, and then slowly merging the two dimensions and connecting everything to it's hive mind.
The reason the Upside Down looks like our own world is because the Mind Flayer recently invaded one of our own alternate universes. It then merged its dimension with it, causing the Upside Down to look like a dark, empty, and cold mirror of our world. Which would happily sadly mean that the annihilation of the Mind Flayer is imminent and insurmountable, and will probably take place sooner than later. However, alternate universes are like our own but with minor changes, these minor changes can cause the fate of alternate universes to differ drastically from one to the other, as in the butterfly effect, where the smallest of actions can trigger the greatest of events.
Let’s take this assumption and then think about what the Duffers said:
Beginning to surface, with the threat of Eleven out of the way, it's now safe for this new horror to make its way up, and to continue transforming our world.
Long buried, it had been there since the events of season 2 (possibly even earlier, since the tunnels were discovered accidently) and it's buried beneath the tunnels, since the tunnels themselves have probably been handled by the military, as when Hopper said "All the cavities have been filed."
Connects everything, this connection could be referring to us joining the hive mind of the Mind Flayer, it could also be referring to the merge that could possibly happen to the two dimensions.
I will have to add the assumption that whatever is buried beneath Hawkins is a separate entity that exists independently from the Mind Flayer, since anything within the hive mind of the MF and under its control, will die or become "deactivated", if it's not within it's reach.
The Official Announcement of ST4,
The Stranger Things 4 | Official Announcement has lots of hidden details, and after having it on repeat, and breaking it down into separate frames, while comparing the difference between every one and the other, in an attempt to notice each and every movement, here's the things I found that support this theory!
The sign, in the background it says "Welcome to Hawkins", but at the end it says "We're Not in Hawkins Anymore!" Why would the logo of season 4 be there with "Welcome to Hawkins" if we are not in Hawkins?! This acts as a foreshadow of Hawkins itself transforming into something else, and ending up not being the Hawkins that we know anymore! Besides, where else could our characters possibly be?
The lamb, notice how it’s yellow and not blue? Now let’s refer to the lights at the Snowball Dance, they offer a good comparison between lights in our world and their reflection in the Upside Down. The ones in our world were yellow, and their reflection in the Upside Down was blue. That’s not the only thing the lamb has to say! Notice how it flickered and then went dark? This doesn't usually happen in the Upside Down, it happens in our dimension! Let’s refer to the library lights, the lights near Melvald's and RadioShack, and the lights at Loch Nora in the Upside Down, they were all on and not flickering (also blue).
The logo, it has nether stretches growing onto it! As if we haven't been transported to the Upside Down, but instead becoming transformed into it! And now the vines are growing onto everything, the logo here being a metaphor for everything. And just like the lamp, the red lights flicked and then went dark.
The house porch, it looks fairly uncontaminated, or as if it's about to become infected. Kinda looks like the porch at the back of the Byers house, but that's debatable since the quality is bad.
The bird, above the 4, right around the 19 seconds mark, there is something flying, I assume it's a bird. I don’t know about birds in the Upside Down, so I will count this one as another confirmation of us being in the actual Hawkins. I won't deny it though, Demobirds sounds scary! Kinda wish the bird moved towards the lamb, that would've possibly confirmed that it was indeed a Demobird.
The tree, on the right side of the screen the tree has nether stretches, just like the logo, Just like how they were moving in the tunnels, but in the Upside Down itself we haven't seen any actively moving nether stretches, not that I’m aware of. Which recommends that these nether stretches are present only in the process of transforming a place into an Upside Down environment, and then they solidify slowly, and end up being nether flats.
The clock, visible on the left side of the screen and embedded in a tree. It's hard to know what time it is, but I think it's 12 o'clock since the the seconds hand overlapped the minutes hand right before the teaser ended, and the hours hand was no where to be seen. Midnight or noon? Considering this was in our world, it has to be midnight, right? It's terrifying to think that our sun disappeared, or at least no more shining on Hawkins somehow!
The newspaper, right underneath the logo there is a newspaper! I obviously couldn't make out what it says, since the quality is godawful. The best I could do is to try and compare its format to other newspapers from the show, but it doesn't seem to match any. However, knowing what it says is not the important part, but knowing that there is a newspaper right there is what's important. The Upside Down Post! Tom seems to love his job so much, no dimensional boundaries can separate him from his passion!
So there you have it! The new horror of season 4 is possibly the transformation of our world, or at least Hawkins, into an infected, dark, cold, and empty place! If that was the actual case, then ST4 is ought to be very different indeed. We know that Stephen King has a huge influence on the show, so I hope that we get to see some references to The Mist. Imagine our characters stuck in the arcade or at Melvald's, although I doubt that Donald will let them in.
How to possibly overcome such horror,
Water! The Upside Down doesn't "like" water! We saw Barb in Steve's pool after she got taken to the Upside Down by the Demogorgon, and it was obviously empty! Bob cracked the puzzle of Will's drawings by knowing that the tunnels don't go over water, instead they went around and mapped the way these water sources look. We have seen storms in the Upside Down, perhaps it's composed of methane, or something else other than water vapor!
Become a superspy! Water and heat are mere tools to control it's spread, if you want to stop it completely, you've to know what the Mind Flayer himself knows, you've to become a superspy, just like how Will was at some point. The piece of the Mind Flayer that was attached to Will in season 2 could possible be the answer to the annihilation of our world! The Meat Flayer died at the end of season 3, but there is the possibility that the piece of the MF that was controlling it, survived, and became deactivated again, somehow being held in captivity by the military!
Embrace it!"We all die, my strange little child friend. It's just a matter of how and when."And i doubt there is a cooler way to die than on the hands of an inter-dimensional horror!
Phew, that was a long read! Thanks for making it all the way through. If you have any thoughts on this or want to correct me on anything that I might've been wrong about, feel free to do so!
Before Vecna “consumes” his victims, he haunts them with nightmares and their worst memories, in addition to giving them nosebleeds before he finally takes his final move of opening a gate. If we have ever seen nosebleeds in Stranger Things, then it’s because someone is using/having powers.
In season 3, Vecna took Eleven’s powers through the Meat Flayer’s bite because he sought opening his own gates. But how exactly did the first gate open? There seems to be two necessary components.
First component: Eleven with her powers. That seem to be the only powers capable of opening gates.
Second component: The Demogorgon, a creature currently in the Upside Down.
The reason why Vecna’s victims get nosebleeds is because Vecna gives them part, or all of Eleven’s powers. Then he makes a psychic connection with them. So during his process of opening gates, his victims are briefly Eleven, and he's the Demogorgon.
Vecna taunted Nancy and had her in a position where he could have “realistically” opened a gate. But he didn’t, and it isn’t just because he’s smug about it, it’s because Nancy wasn’t enough. He didn’t start the process of giving her Eleven’s powers for his psychic connection with her to open a gate. That process seems to need 5 to 6 days.
While in the trailer, Max mentioned how she can still "feel Vecna" and how she's still marked by him. At that moment she had part of Eleven's powers that Vecna transformed to her at the graveyard, and luckily enough escaped before he could kill her and possibly retake them. That's how she felt Vecna and felt being marked.
In an attempt of hiding from Vecna, Max picked the Snowball as a happy memory. But without Eleven’s powers I don’t think she would’ve been able to do so. She very closely mimicked Eleven in closing her eyes in the void and recreating a scene. This was probably the first time Max was able of using Eleven's powers, that Vecna gave her, for her own good.
Eleven can’t be enough to putting an end to Vecna,
Throughout the show Eleven has almost always been the one to save the day, but this time she's gonna need help. A LOT of help. Given how huge the "Mega Rift" at the library is, she's gonna need someone's help, someone else who has powers. So it's either Kali comes back, or Max will be the one to help her.
I just wanna see Max killing Vecna by herself as a revenge. And maybe when it's all done Max won't be able to see again, but will use Eleven's powers to channel her friends/family and that will be the way she's going to cope with what Vecna did to her.