The Upside Down Was Stranger Things’ Biggest Lie (& Vecna Proves It)
Vecna’s origins in season 4 of Netflix’s sci-fi horror Stranger Things proves that everything audiences knew about the Upside Down was a lie. From its first depiction in season 1, the Upside Down is depicted as a dreadfully dreary place that can only be assumed to be the root of all evil in the Duffer Brother’s world of Stranger Things. However, in the finale of season 4, « Chapter Nine: The Piggyback, » Vecna describes the Upside Down as « a realm unspoiled by mankind. » It is only after Vecna’s arrival in the Upside Down that it presumably is polluted by him.
In the latest season of Stranger Things, Vecna is unveiled as a promising new villain of the show. Binge-watching viewers discover that Vecna’s origins date back as early as his time with a young Eleven at the secret Hawkins lab in 1979. At this lab, Vecna, formerly Henry Creel, supervises Eleven as she learns to control her psionic powers. In these series of flashbacks, audiences are finally offered answers on how Vecna and the Upside Down both came to be. His secret is that he is also number One and has the ability to absorb others, according to him. It’s entirely possible that the Upside Down was never inherently monstrous, but that Vecna’s own nature is what polluted it in the first place.
Stranger Things’ Upside Down Was Always Shown To Be An Evil Place
At the Hawkins lab in the first season, while Eleven harnesses her psychic abilities, she makes contact with a demogorgon, from another dimension, accidentally opening up a gateway. The dimension that the demogorgon escapes from is the Upside Down. The Upside Down is an alternate dimension in Stranger Things that seems to mirror Hawkins, and presumably the rest of the world, except it’s a much more desiccated and twisted version of it. Desolate wastelands can be seen with otherworldly creatures roaming and no real comprehensive explanation of how this world exists. Dustin theorizes that the Upside Down may have existed for millions of years. Aside from these unanswered questions, it is evident that the Upside Down is a literal hell.
How Vecna’s Origin Changes How We See The Upside Down
The devastation that is the Upside Down is perhaps only a reflection of Vecna’s time there. As a boy, Henry already had an unsavory hunger for harming others which can be seen in « Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab. » He murdered his sister and mother, framing his own father for his childhood crimes before he was ever institutionalized at the Hawkins lab. He was a bad egg since he was a child and was only strengthened at Hawkins lab. Dr. Brenner’s decision to have a dampening chip implanted in the back of Henry’s neck in order to suppress his psychic abilities was a clear indication that Henry’s character was in question. The Upside Down is described as being a hive mind, the whole dimension sharing a collective consciousness. Henry’s arrival in the Upside Down may have actually changed the dimension itself. If the Upside Down was actually unspoiled by mankind, then it would be safe to assume that Henry’s arrival there had actually spoiled everything.
Henry tricks Eleven into removing his chip and Stranger Things viewers bear witness to him slaughtering the entire staff and children, except for Dr. Brenner. Eleven manages to best him in an intense psionic brawl, where her last move pins Henry to the wall, overwhelming him to the point that his flesh disintegrates, inadvertently ripping open a gateway, sending Henry a.k.a. Vecna plunging into the Upside Down. Once in the Upside Down, Vecna uses his abilities to mold and tap into the Mind Flayer, which likely allows him to tap into the hive mind network. If Vecna is able to tap into the hive mind then the evil place that is perceived as the Upside Down could very well be corrupted by the evil incarnate that Vecna is.