Did Eleven create the Upside Down in ‘Stranger Things’?

Image via Netflix

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season four

Stranger Things has been leaving breadcrumbs in its wake ever since season one and now that season four has finally premiered fans are starting to get answers to their perplexing questions. 

One such question is the existence of the Upside Down, the alternate dimension that exists parallel to our world and serves as a carbon copy of Hawkins, Indiana (the setting for Stranger Things) albeit a more sinister and ruinous one.

Even after four seasons of Stranger Things we never fully got an answer as to how it came about, just that young telepath Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) opened the first gate in 1983 after contacting the Demogorgon (the monster antagonist of the first season). Now fans are revisiting a familiar theory after watching season four’s Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab and seeing Eleven completely shatter our expectations of what her powers are capable of.

Did Eleven create the Upside Down?

Image via Netflix

Until this point, only two gates have existed in the Stranger Things universe: the first opened by Eleven, coined the Mothergate by Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo); the second opened by the Soviets underneath the Starcourt Mall.

Season four spiced things up with the introduction of the Upside Down’s “five-star general” Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). The humanoid monster preys on people with traumatic pasts and repressed emotional damage. With every kill he makes, Vecna opens what Steve (Joe Keery) described as a “snack-sized gate”, and when our band of nerds become privy to this knowledge they work overtime to hunt him down and kill him.

In what undoubtedly became the most exciting triple reveal in Stranger Things history, we learn that the guard Eleven befriended in the Rainbow Room all those years ago is actually Number One. Before he was taken in by Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) and made Number One, however, he was Henry Creel, the son of Victor Creel (Robert Englund.)

If that wasn’t enough, we also learn that Number One massacred the kids in the Rainbow Room back in 1979, not Eleven, and that Eleven was the one who stopped him. She did this by summoning an unforeseen amount of power and blasting him into the Upside Down, where Henry Creel became Vecna.

Until this point it was believed that the very first gate to the Upside Down was opened by Eleven in 1983 when she psychically contacted the Demogorgon. After seeing her blast Number One into the Upside Down in 1979, fans can’t help but wonder if that was the first time she opened the gate, and she just didn’t remember because her memories were repressed. Even more than that, fans can’t help but wonder if she created the Upside Down.

A couple of observations suggest Eleven did not create the Upside Down, however as of writing they remain strictly speculations. The first observation that Number One/Vecna getting blasted into the Upside Down, and falling through open-air while getting struck and marred by lightning, suggests that the Upside Down already existed and that Vecna was simply blasted into it. The second observation is the tentacle-like arms we see slither back inside the opening after Eleven blasted Number One through it suggests the Upside Down already had living creates inside it, and thus already existed.

A third observation throws a spanner in the works. When Nancy (Natalie Dyer) and the gang of nerds get stuck in the Upside Down they notice that time stopped moving on the day Will (Noah Schnapp) disappeared, aka the same time Eleven opened the Mothergate. The opening of the gate seems to suggest the stopping of time in the Upside Down. So, did Eleven not create a gate when she shoved Number One into the Upside Down? Or did she just seal it back up? Either way, why did time stop moving the day Will disappeared and not when Number One was blasted into it?

The fact remains that there are no concrete facts regarding the existence of the Upside Down yet. Our unanswered questions will have to wait until the final two episodes of Stranger Things season four which will premiere on July 1 on Netflix.