The first season of Stranger Things proved to be an unexpected hit. Although it only ran for eight episodes, it was creative and original, and received critical acclaim for everything from its plot to its acting! It came as no surprise that Stranger Things was renewed for a second season! Season 2 has a problem, though - and Will may be the answer...
How Do You Return to the Upside-Down?
Stranger Things Season 1 introduced us to the concept of the Upside-Down; another dimension of reality that overlapped with ours. You could only get to the Upside-Down through a tear in spacetime, and these were pretty rare. The first tear - which kicked off the whole story - was the result of a government experiment gone wrong. When Millie Bobby Brown's tremendous character Eleven touched the monster later dubbed a 'Demogorgon', something went terribly wrong, and a permanent tear in spacetime was created.
That tear seemed to teach the Demogorgon how to create temporary rifts in spacetime, and whenever it sensed blood, it would tear through reality in pursuit of its prey. It's likely that the Demogorgon always possessed this ability, but simply hadn't known to use it until Eleven's example taught it that prey was there, out of reach.
The Upside-Down is set to play a major role in Stranger Things Season 2, but - with the monster dead - that raises the intriguing question of how the stars of the show will get there. That permanent rift will likely still remain, but I seriously doubt the government will be letting the kids go there. It's possible (even likely) that David Harbour's Jim Hopper is standing guard over the rift, and he's unlikely to allow children through. We need another way into the Upside-Down.
Why Will Byers May Be Very Important...
Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp, stood at the heart of Season 1. Will fled into the Upside-Down, and - where other characters spent only moments there - he survived for a week before being captured by the Demogorgon. We still don't know what the Demogorgon did to him - and why he wasn't killed outright - but the experience clearly changed Will.
The end of Season 1 jumped forward a month, and showed Will cough up a strange, slug-like creature. While most fans have focused in on the creature, I'm intrigued by the fact that - as he coughed it up - Will briefly transitioned back to the Upside-Down, before returning home. This is a whole new way of reaching the Upside-Down, and suggests that Will is somehow changed.
In games like Magic: The Gathering, there are certain characters who possess the power to step between the planes of existence; these are known as 'Planeswalkers'. I suspect that Will's experience has changed him; he now has a connection to the Upside-Down, and can step between the realities. At first, this ability will be unconscious; over time, he'll learn to control this ability.
It's possible that this change is the result of whatever the Demogorgon did to Will; frankly, given that he shares the Demogorgon's ability to transcend the boundaries between the dimensions, there's a terrifying possibility that Will is actually becoming another Demogorgon! Perhaps the creature reproduced by initiating a transformation, one that would turn Will into its offspring. In that scenario, the Demogorgon battled in Season 1 was likely originally a human being, and Season 2 could potentially reveal their story.
Another possibility, though, is that - like the Demogorgon itself - human beings possess the ability to step between the dimensions. We simply never knew how to. In this scenario, Will's experience of the Upside-Down (and whatever the Demogorgon did to him) has begun to unlock this ability. He may well teach it to others. There is one piece of evidence suggesting this; the Demogorgon entered our reality by tearing through barriers, where for Will the dimensions simply seemed to 'flicker' for a moment.
Will Has Always Seemed Unique
One of the subtle mysteries of Stranger Things Season 1 is just how Will survived, and went on to do everything he did. Somehow - in a scene we tellingly never saw, not even in flashback - Will escaped from the Demogorgon. Either he slipped past the creature, escaping into the tear it had created in the Upside-Down, or he somehow stepped into the Upside-Down himself. He then managed to hide on the creature's own turf for a full week, a pretty remarkable achievement.
Equally remarkable is the ease with which Will manipulated the boundaries between the Upside-Down and our own reality. When Hopper and Winona Ryder's Joyce Byers walked through the Upside-Down, their presence affected the electricity, and triggered lights. Somehow, Will was aware enough of this effect to use it while in the Upside-Down to communicate with his mother; impressively, he even managed to spell out words. That's a remarkable trick for a child to pull off.
Is it possible that there's always been something different about Will? Is it possible that, on some basic biological level, he's always possessed an affinity for the Upside-Down? I don't know; but Will's initial escape, his success at hiding, and his ability to communicate using the lights, all mark him as one of the 'stranger things' of the show.
Clues in the Episode Titles
Netflix have announced Season 2's episode titles, and they suggest I may be right in some of my theories. Episode 2 is entitled "The Boy Who Came Back to Life". That seems to be a pretty clear nod to Will, a boy who was mourned by the community, whose funeral was held, and yet who lives. We actually saw a newspaper clip discussing his 'resurrection' that had that phrase as the headline.
This suggests that Episode 2 somehow centers around Will. Tellingly, the next episode is called "The Pumpkin Patch". This most likely refers to the place in the Upside-Down where we saw mysterious eggs, with the Demogorgon feeding on them for sustenance. So we have an episode that centers on Will, and immediately afterwards the episode titles suggest we're heading into the Upside-Down. I suspect that Will has become the way for us to get there.
- 'Stranger Things' Season 2: Everything We Know So Far!
- 'Stranger Things' Producer Drops Info on Season 2's Cast
- Explaining the Trailer for 'Stranger Things' Season 2
All in all, I think it's pretty clear that Will has become a sort of 'Planeswalker'. It's entirely fitting; the series has enjoyed toying with concepts from Dungeons and Dragons, and this would just be another one, perfectly fitting the theme and style of Stranger Things. It's also a nice way to summarize Will's role in the show's future. To me, this is a logical next step for Stranger Things, as we continue to explore the Upside-Down - and it also ensures that the kids will remain at the heart of the story. Whatever the truth, though, I have every confidence that Season 2 will be as good as Season 1!
Are you excited for Stranger Things Season 2? Do you think Will is a Planeswalker? Let me know in the comments!