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Upside Down and Inside Out: 8 Questions We Have About Stranger Things

Photos/GIFs: Netflix

Photos/GIFs: Netflix

It’s been a few months since its premiere, but with every rewatching, Stranger Things continues to delight and impress. The little-show-that-could has been deserving of its praise and success and like any sleeper hit, its fans have demanded across social media that season two be released right friggin’ NOW.

As the old saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” So we shall, and pout the entire time. While we long to watch friends reunite, romances goes unrequited, and horrors unfold, we also hope a brighter light is shone on Things’ most glaring mysteries like a fireball streaking through the Veil of Shadows. There are a veritable smorgasbord of secrets and themes that remain in the dark but these few continue to confound us until resolved.

What exactly is/was the Demogorgon?

It was awfully strange (pun!) that a solitary creature would inhabit a dimension that’s supposedly as expansive as our own. While many people have speculated that the gorgon is a psychic representation of Eleven’s rage, that most likely isn’t the case. It’s plain as day that she discovered the demogorgon while homing in on Russian brainwaves in the sensory deprivation tank. Her fear during the encounter generated enough power to create a bridge between realities and doubled The Monster’s hunting ground in no time flat.  

Artwork by Furio Tadeschi

Artwork by Furio Tadeschi

Nothing as of yet explains why he was the lone creature in a hauntingly sparse alternate reality. If anything it’s clear the demogorgon was inspired by another famous otherworldly beast that’s known chiefly for eating and breeding.

One hypothesis is The Monster is a vanguard for an insidious species that overwhelmed that alternate dimension. The Upside Down appeared to be exactly like our own but was infected by an outside force that used its inhabitants as incubators to increase their masses. There is also the possibility that it is the last of its kind and our incursion into the Shadow Realm has given the demogorgon new life and continue its task of spreading blight in our reality.

What was Dr. Brenner’s big plan? And is he – or Barb for that matter – dead?

Dr. Martin Brenner is without question a despicable man. He may have been a reputable man of science before his MK Ultra days, but that experiment began to twist and distort his view of humanity. Obviously his depravity knows no bounds, robbing Elle of a normal life, psychologically torturing Sheriff Hopper and approving the numerous deaths committed to keep his project secret. It all seems like a laborious effort to protect a top secret experiment to spy on and assassinate Russians through the æther. Once Elle accidentally opened a portal to the Upside Down and unleashed The Monster, you can bet your bottom dollar the bad doctor altered his machinations accordingly. Hence employing the full force of the Army stationed at the facility. Elle may have been a marvel before but she tapped into something Brenner never anticipated.

Stranger Things Brenner

It’s likely Brenner’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. Even after getting bodied up by the demogorgon, the doctor ain’t goin’ out like that, he’s far too evil to die! For the most part, anyone who was killed in Stranger Things was confirmed on screen with multi-angle close-ups. If anything, he is currently being given the same treatment as Will, Barb and any other victims we aren’t aware of yet.

As for Barbara Holland, Elle believed her to be dead when she astral projected. Honestly, after multiple viewings it definitely appears Barb is single-handedly stinking up the Upside Down. That doesn’t mean she couldn’t return in flashback form… or in another sinister form altogether. Considering that Shannon Purser was recently cast in the CW’s Riverdale, it may be difficult for Purser to reprise the role that everyone from the Duffer Brothers to Shannon herself presumed to be a one-off character. Whether it was due to Barb’s undeserving end, her penchant for high collar blouses or innate ability to throw massive side-eye, she instantly became a fan favorite. While the brothers have a bible already written for their series, thanks to Barb’s unforeseen popularity, she may become a revision to their plans.

Is Will actually Will?

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So far, all signs point to it being the actual Will Byers… but one never knows. He spent more time in the Upside Down than anyone else after The Monster ensnared him for whatever devious purpose. If the advance scout hypothesis holds, one can deduce Will is a carrier with a belly full of slugs (yech!) that’ll eventually grow and mutate and take over our dimension as they did with the Upside Down. Even so, that dimension is extremely toxic for humans and the lasting effects of exposure remain unknown. It could have been Byers’ extended stay in the Shadow Realm rather than the gooey invertebrate he horked up that’s responsible for his momentary return inside the bathroom.

In spite of his worsening condition, little Will is oddly keeping it to himself. Perhaps he doesn’t want to ruin Christmas dinner or have Jonathan and Joyce worry about him 24-7. There’s also the other worrisome possibility that the squirmy worms inside him are taking possession over his very being. In any case, it’s bad news for Hawkins and the world in general.

Are there other portals to the Upside Down?

Once Elle cracked open a gateway to the Shadow Realm, the demogorgon seemingly had the ability to jump across multiple locations within a specific region of Hawkins. It may have that innate skill or it’s possible Eleven shattered our reality a bit harder than anyone realized. When Nancy and Jonathan discovered the portal in the tree, the demogorgon wasn’t far off on the other side. Still, it didn’t concerned about keeping the portal open so it’s likely The Monster does not control its access between dimensions. All it appears to be concerned with is stealing fresh bodies for impregnating and swiping the occasional snack.

Stranger Things Eleven

Although The Monster is typically present when these tears in time and space occur, it’s coincidental at best as the demogorgon hadn’t shown a mastery over them. So it’s feasible to believe Hawkins has become unstable thanks to Elle and may potentially worsen over time. Add the fact that Will is spreading his little slimy buddies through the city pipelines and the townsfolk will have a serious threat in their hands.

Be it Brenner or his equally dastardly replacement in season two, the purpose of the project will assuredly expand to better assess the scientific and military potential of The Upside Down. After Brenner’s experimentation with Eleven, the US government knows exactly how much energy it takes to break through the other side. And we all know that they’ll foolish attempt to duplicate the results. So long, world!

What happened to the first 10 subjects?

It’s weird enough that you’re a bald headed girl running around the woods in a medical gown, but when your name is Eleven, inquisitive minds will immediately ponder who/where/what the hell are first 10 kids. Given Dr. Brenner’s penchant for longitudinal studies in pharmaceuticals and psychokinesis, Eleven’s predecessors may also be children of former patients that exhibited similar, albeit weaker, psychic abilities.  

There haven’t been any easter eggs or references to their whereabouts or existence for that matter, but Eleven could be the psychic that resides within that specific region and the others are located elsewhere across the States. Don’t expect Elle to have a clue about any other kids due to Dr. Brenner’s draconian reign for the entirety of her life.

Simply knowing she’s the eleventh subject in an ongoing American psy-ops project gives rise to the speculation that a) similar experiments are being conducted across the US and b) America isn’t the only superpower to be testing the limits of humanity’s potential.  

Jim Hopper and Scott Clarke… what’s up with them?

It took a bit of time to uncover the redeeming qualities within the tortured soul that is Hawkins’ Sheriff. Once we did, it was evident from his dogged investigation into Will Byers’ staged death that Jim Hopper is a loyal defender and seeker of the truth. Unfortunately for him, Hopper’s deal with Brenner didn’t appear to be broken after the doctor’s sudden “departure”. Government goons were quick to snatch him up once Will was safe and it was strongly alluded in the epilogue that Jim is now the caretaker for Eleven, wherever she currently resides.

Stranger Things Hopper

Yet his demeanor appeared more sullen than usual… a potential sign that he’s privy to Eleven’s history, the looming threat of the Upside Down or the Department of Energy’s clandestine agenda. It’s a lot for local law enforcement to take in such short time. Fingers will remain crossed that the Sheriff doesn’t crack under pressure and drink himself to death.

Short of the kids, no other character was as beloved as Hawkins Middle School’s own Mr. Clarke. Most of us love science but Mr. Clarke was a veritable repository of knowledge for the gang. There was no question from them that he couldn’t answer… which leaves him a bit suspect. Maybe it’s due to America’s continually declining national education system but Mr. Clarke seems overqualified to teach middle school science. Surely, a man who’s well versed in quantum mechanics and electrical engineering never thought “I think I’ll be satisfied teaching kids how to dissect frogs and running the AV Club.”

mr clarke and kids and plate

C’mon, man! Clarke must have some kind of amazing backstory that accounts for his expertise in multiple disciplines. No doubt he’ll be crucial to the boy’s continued adventures (and become a more active presence in the fight against the Shadow Realm).

Will Terry Ives awaken now that her alleged daughter Elle used more of her powers?

Now this seldom talked about plot line has a lot of potential. No doubt Mrs. Ives has gone through extensive physical and psychological trauma over the last 12 years at the hands of Dr. Brenner. However, Hopper and Byers’ visit to the Ives household may have been the pebble that causes the ripples to her recovery. Knowing her supposed daughter is alive could give Terry the motivation to break out of her comatose state. However it could be Eleven herself – specifically the frequent use of her powers – that gives Terry the spark to shake off her feeble condition.

Stranger Things Terry Ives

We don’t know if Mrs. Ives has powers of any kind but if her daughter was born a telekinetic badass, she must have gotten those abilities from someone who took a great deal of drugs to uncover her preternatural talent. And if mother is like daughter, although to a lesser extent? Look out, everyone.

What events in 1984 will affect Stranger Things (or be affected by the series)?

There are a multitude of historical events the Duffer Brothers can pull from to make the Monster Squad and Eleven’s formidable years that more darker. Between the increasingly dire conflicts in the Middle East, the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons between the US and Soviet Union, the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Discovery and the boycotting of the Olympics in Los Angeles, any or all of these events can be woven into the story line somehow.

There is an event in particular that was lost in time and leaked to the media as a scare tactic from the Reagan Administration. In Stranger Things, the federal government’s concern about the Russians is so absolute, they’re inclined without reservations to groom a young girl as their ultimate weapon. Depending on when in 1984 season two begins, this “joke” President Reagan made during an audio check for his radio program could be fashioned to further raise tensions between the superpowers. Imagine the DoE or another agency discovers the USSR is conducting their own psy-ops to counter ours, and Ronnie has it in mind to nonchalantly declare preemptive strikes on the Eastern Bloc.

It probably won’t happen because preventing nuclear Armageddon would be a ton of pressure on 7th graders. Besides, there’s the whole extradimensional invasion story arc. Whichever way season two goes, no one can deny that the 80s were a crazy time.

Bonus: When will Steve Harrington’s “best friends” die?

Hopefully soon. Like, minutes into the second season premiere. Preferably in the very first frames after we’re swept through the title sequence.

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Sweet Baby Jesus, let it be so.

About Rexlor Graymond (493 Articles)
Rex Graymond is 24.6kg tripolymer composite, 11.8kg beryllium-nickel-titanium alloy. Constructed in Northern California. Loves comics and films almost as much as pancakes. ALMOST.
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