Stranger Things 4 has been out for over a week now and the ending of this incredible series is near. Netflix truly struck gold with this show and the fantastic writing.
Why then do I get this dissatisfying feeling after finishing the seventh episode? Could the Duffer brothers have made a costly mistake? Did they ruin The Upside Down?
*Warning Spoilers Ahead*
I was left with an Eggo-sized hole after finishing part one of Stranger Things 4. Before I get into why remember that it isn’t over. This is only a theory based on what we saw in the latest episodes. This all could change before the final credits roll.
In the final thirty minutes of episode seven, Netflix reveals the truth behind the Hawkins Lab and what the real motivation was. Doctor Martin Brenner was trying to replicate the success of Number One with a plethora of children to experiment on.
Did Stranger Things Ruin The Upside Down?
We learned that Number One was the kind soul helping Eleven throughout her memory-visions of her childhood in an attempt to regain her powers. Then it’s revealed that Number One is the supervillain Vecna.
After One brutally destroys almost everyone in the Hawkins Lab, he and Eleven fight. She wins and banishes him to The Upside Down. This is odd for multiple reasons.
We knew that Eleven opened the gate to The Upside Down. We also knew that The Mind Flayer was the “King of The Upside Down”. If he couldn’t get the job done, his minions would. But why does Number One, a.k.a. Vecna, have so much more power than The Mind Flayer?
To me, this is a huge step backward. The Mind Flayer is supposed to be this all-powerful being from the alternate dimension. But in Stranger Things 4, Vecna’s powers are vastly superior to anything we’ve seen before.
Dustin says earlier in season four, that Vecna is essentially The Mind Flayer’s five-star General. Since he failed in seasons two and three, it makes sense that The Mind Flayer would send in another strong enemy. But where was Vecna before and where is The Mind Flayer now?
The Big Issue With Vecna
Essentially, Number One is a powerful human and got banished to The Upside Down where The Mind Flayer had his way with him. Does this mean that the strongest enemy Eleven faces came from the human world?
This nerfs the power and terror of The Upside Down. Netflix is basically saying that humans are the biggest threat to humanity with this reveal. Admittedly, I love the concept in other mediums. But Stranger Things is its own entity.
The fear and unknown that is The Upside Down is one of the biggest draws to Stranger Things. Deconstructing that concept is an unfortunate blow that is more unnecessary than Paramount+’s debacle of Halo.
Netflix had originality and showed respect for its inspiration like E.T., Nightmare on Elm Street, and so many others. Bringing the “human problem” into The Upside Down feels so cheap and I sincerely hope there is more explanation in part two, which comes out in July.
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