Is Will Byers still connected to the Upside Down in ‘Stranger Things’?

Image via Netflix

The following article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2.

One takeaway from the season four finale of Stranger Things is that Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) just can’t seem to catch a break. Ever since the very first episode of the series he and the Upside Down have been entangled like a pair of disgruntled divorcés. 

Just when we think he’s made it past that traumatizing period of his life (ie: getting abducted and possessed), the Upside Down comes back with a vengeance to give him the heebie jeebies and an unhealthy dose of goose pimples across the back of his neck. 

Image via Netflix

This was about the furthest thing we expected to see in the season four finale, but at the same time it wasn’t completely out of the blue. Will confided in Mike that he can, in fact, still feel the Upside Down inside him, especially since returning to Hawkins. More accurately, he can feel Vecna, and knows that he’s still alive.

It makes sense that his storyline from season one would collide with his storyline going forward into season five. Now that we know the Upside Down and Vecna are more closely connected than just footsoldier and boss, it might be the case that Will and the Upside Down — and by extension Vecna — are as connected as Vecna and Eleven, perhaps even more so. 

So, how exactly is Will still connected to the Upside Down?

Image via Netflix

Nothing’s been specifically spelled out for us but there are dots we can presumably connect. Ever since he was abducted and taken into the Upside Down, Will has had a psychic connection to the parallel dimension. It was previously believed that his connection was to the Mind Flayer, but now that we know Vecna is the intelligence behind the Mind Flayer, it’s more appropriate to say that Will is — and has been — connected to Vecna this whole time.

“Now that I’m here in Hawkins, I can feel him, and he’s hurt. He’s hurting. But he’s still alive. It’s strange knowing now who it was this whole time. I can still remember what he thinks and how he thinks. And he’s not going to stop. Ever. Not until he’s taken everything and everyone. We have to kill him.”

Stranger things Mind Flayer
Image via Netflix

Being abducted and taken to the Upside Down isn’t typically a round trip. Those who have fallen victim to such a fate (R.I.P. Barb) never lived to tell the tale. How Will survived for so long in season one is still a mystery. We know now that when Vecna encountered the Hive Mind particles for the first time he bent them to his will, essentially making himself a master of the realm, and by proxy the Mind Flayer. It could be possible that Will ingested those same particles, thus connecting him to Vecna and the Upside Down. It’s also possible that in possessing Will, Vecna granted him some sort of connection to his mind, intentionally or not.

It’s unclear whether Vecna is still aware of that connection. If not, that could prove advantageous for the group going forward into season five. They could use Will to spy on Vecna — to get inside his mind. According to the Duffer Brothers, we might not be far off in that assumption.

In speaking with Collider, Matt Duffer said:

“Will’s going to be a big part and focus, is really all I can say of Season 5, in his journey. We’re starting to see his coming of age, really. Which has been challenging for a number of reasons, some of which are supernatural. But you’re starting to see him come into his own.”

The very first episode of Stranger Things was titled “The Vanishing of Will Byers.” It’s possible that we’re looking at a bookended series finale in which Will uses that abduction to his advantage. Either way, it’s going to be massive conclusion to one of TV’s biggest pop culture phenomenons.