After binge watching the new hit show Stranger Things, I got really intrigued with The Upside Down and wanted to dig in deeper and explore this unknown world. So without further adieu, here is my theory on how The Upside Down works!
In the show we were introduced to The Upside Down in four ways. One was Eleven accidentally discovering the Tulip-Head Monster when she was trying to get some secret information from the Russians. The second time was when Eleven flipped a game board to demonstrate the location. The next one was the school teacher simply explaining another dimension by using a flea and the acrobat. And lastly, we actually got to see The Upside Down in all it's dark and lifeless realism. I will expand on each one for you.
The First Encounter
If you notice, when Eleven sees the monster, she and the monster are in a black, empty place. There's no alternate version of the 1983 world — it's just full of nothing. I'll explain as to why later on, but what I can't explain is what happened to the Russian dude after Eleven met the monster. I mean if Eleven was in The Upside Down at the time, does that mean the Russian is stuck there with the monster? Anyway, moving on.
The Board Game
This part is really interesting. When we see Eleven take the board game we immediately think that she was going to show us the other dimension by using the map of the game. Instead, she flips the board and places the demogorgon figurine on the bottom of the board. Now why did she do that?
If you remember from her first encounter, she was in a black, empty place. What does the bottom of the board game usually look like? Black and empty, right? It was Eleven's way of not only showing the gang what The Upside Down looks like, but where it was located. It's upside down, just like the board game was upside down.
It's interesting about the location when she uses the board game, because the game is flat. She could've used two spherical objects to represent the the two different dimensions and explain where the other dimension was. Her choice to use a flat board game might make some theorists think that the world is actually flat. Granted, using a map of a board game was a better example than a round globe, especially when using a flat surface, but Eleven made it more complicated when she flipped the board.
What if that's the twist? What if we find out that the world is actually flat like a board game and at the edge of the game there be monsters?
This would also explain the likeness the gang shares with the kids from The Goonies!
The Flea And The Acrobat
I loved this simple analogy for explaining other dimensions! It just further illustrates how the acrobat (a normal human) balances on the tightrope (the world) and the flea (Eleven or the monster) is clinging on to the bottom of the rope. It's clear to see the reason why it is called The Upside Down.
The Upside Down
Remember when I was talking about Eleven meeting the monster for the first time and they were both in a place that was black and empty? Well later on in the season we saw that The Upside Down was an alternate version of our own world.
But why is that? Here are my thoughts on this:
I believe that when we see the first encounter, the monster (despite it not having any eyes that we can see) just sees empty blackness. However, once Eleven touches the monster, the monster's world begins to merge into ours. The reason that the monster's world looks like a dark version of ours is because when the monster came into our world, it decided to create its own world by making a dark copy of it.
Before, the monster lived in a literal blank slate. Now that the monster is free it has a tangible world. The only thing it's missing is more of its own kind. This would explain the slugs that we saw coming out of Barbara and Will. They were hosts for those slugs. This could only mean one thing: Will is possibly a type of vessel for the slugs. Maybe that wasn't the last slug that came out of his mouth.
Much like what happens in Stephen King's Dreamcatcher — with the parasitic worms that needed to enter the water pipes to destroy the world — what if that's the purpose of the slugs in Stranger Things? The Upside Down is pretty much a dying world anyway, so why not?
Check out what went into creating the mind-bending VFX of Stranger Things in the breakdown video below:
What do you think? Is this how The Upside Down works? Let me know in the comments below!