During the course of the show we have known only a couple things but the Upside Down. First, it’s a corrupted version of Hawkins, Indiana. Second, Eleven is able to open and close gates with her abilities.
But what we specifically learned in season four changes everything that we thought we knew about the show.
Specifically we learned that Eleven is the one responsible for sending One, the first ever human into the Upside Down, and upon his arrival it was a hellscape.
In season four the world we see One walking through when he is sent there looks nothing like the Hawkins, Indiana that we have known so well throughout the series.
Furthermore, in season four we learn that the Upside Down world of Hawkins, Indiana does not run parallel and update with time. The Upside Down is stuck in time, specifically the time in direct connection to season one. Specifically, Nancy Wheeler is able to identify from her study cards from her class that the Upside Down is a twisted copy of at or around early November 1983.
But why is the world a mirror image of Hawkins from season one then? I think that it has something to do with the second human to ever step foot within the world of the Upside Down.
Two people where pulled into the Upside Down around that time. Will Byers and Barbara “Barb” Holland. Barb’s time in the Upside Down was short, as she was found close to where she was taken, already dead. However though when Will Byers was pulled into the Upside Down he was terrified. Somehow this young boy was not only able to survived being thrust into the Upside Down, a hellscape of terror and monsters, but he found a way to reach back out to the regular world and communicate with his mother on the other side. This is definitely a feat that he would have no way of knowing how to do naturally.
Additionally, looking at the world of the Upside Down in One’s first venture through the space, it was filled with mountains and treacherous landscape, no thin veil in which to pierce or communicate through.
So then where did the Upside Down Hawkins, Indiana come from? It even included Fort Byers in the woods. Did Will Byers create his family home so he could communicate with his mother? Did he create his safe haven in the woods to hide from the evils of the Upside Down? Even if Will created those areas of the Upside Down, how would he be able to create places like Nancy Wheeler’s room, and it’s contents? He doesn’t have personal knowledge of all of the Hawkins, Indiana nooks and crannies.
We think that in trying to find a safe place to hide in, Will Byers reached out across dimensions and shaped the Upside Down into something familiar that the creatures of the world then began to consume and twist. That’s possible, depending on how maliable the world is, but how would he be able to fill the holes he had no knowledge of?
We have a theory, but it’s not as outlandish as it seems. We believe that Will Byers has abilities similar if not more powerful then Elevens. Powers like psychic abilities and enhanced empathy likely more. If this was true, it would explain how he could map a world he walked around and then shape it as a reflexive action when he was terrified and alone.
People with powers appear to be a thing in the world of Stranger Things, and it wouldn’t be impossible for Will to have abilities, hell in the Dungeons and Dragons games they even associate Will with a Cleric, a being skilled with supernatural powers and divine magic. Additionally the creatures of the Upside Down appear to have a kinship towards Will, imbodying him instead of devouring him as they did with Barb. This is similar to how they treated One.
A lot of questions exist and are left unanswered from Season Two. How much control did the Mindflayer have over Will Byers? How much of their actions was Will and how much of it was the Mindflayer walking around in a Will Byers tailored suit.
Unlike all the other characters who’ve been affected, infected, were infected, or distressed by the Upside Down, the only person to still retain any connection or sense of its malicious encroaching upon Hawkins is Will Byers. In fact the only person to survive longer within the Upside Down than Will was One.
Whether he entered into the Upside Down with more abilities than a normal human, or his experience with the Mindflayer has ultimately changed him, Will Byers is no longer a regular human being, and the show has done a really good job hiding that fact, or ignoring it. When you have someone who clearly has something up his sleeve, the question becomes will he help save the day in the end, or will he be standing alongside One in the final battle against Eleven.
It would definitely be interesting to see Will Byers learn the full effects and abilities given to him by providence, or his interaction with the Mindflayer in season five. We’d love to see the potential effects of their love triangle cause Will to be placed in direct opposition of Eleven, or at the very least properly use this character to the full extent!
That’s just our theory, albeit a well thought out and highly researched theory.