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Time In Stranger Things' Upside Down Is Even Stranger Than We Thought

"Stranger Things" Volume 4 Part 1 revealed much more about the mysterious alternate world known as the Upside Down — specifically regarding its relationship to the real-life Hawkins, Indiana, and Episode 7's reveal of the shocking backstory of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). The largest revelation comes in the climactic finale of Volume 4 Part 1, when it is revealed that Vecna (the malevolent creature who has been murdering teenagers all over Hawkins) is actually Henry Creel (Jamie Campell Bower), a man with powerful psychokinetic powers who was exiled to the Upside Down by Eleven.

Earlier in the same episode, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) discovered that her bedroom (and by extension, the entire Upside Down itself) appears to be stuck in the past: specifically, stuck in 1983 on the night when Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) first went missing. Although at first, it might seem like these two reveals only serve to further confuse the audience about the true nature of the Upside Down, there's actually a pretty significant reason for why they both come in the same episode. As it happens, the strange convolution of time within the Upside Down and Eleven's banishment of Creel are actually directly related. This was revealed by production designer Chris Trujillo in a recent video for the official "Stranger Things” YouTube channel.

The Upside Down is frozen at the moment when Eleven opened the first gate

Although the video itself is focused primarily on the production design of "Stranger Things" Volume 4, Chris Trujillo's comments actually revealed a pretty important detail about the history of the Upside Down. "The moment that the Upside Down was quote-unquote 'created' inadvertently by Eleven, the set dressing and the world of the Upside Down is frozen in that moment," Trujillo explained. "So like, when we're in Nancy's room, we'll discover in the Upside Down that Nancy's room is as it was Season 1 when we first were introduced to it."

Trujillo's comments help to clarify that the Upside Down is indeed frozen in the year 1983 and that this stoppage of time is directly related to Eleven's interaction with the alternate reality. Although the world is frozen in time on the date when Eleven first contacted the Demogorgon in Season 1 (and incidentally opened a portal to the Upside Down), we learn that Eleven's first true experience with the Upside Down was when she banished Creel there when she was very young, and that she had blocked out the memory of that event. Therefore, it appears that the Upside Down did indeed exist before the events of Season 1, and thus raises the question of why time seemed to have stopped once Eleven opened a portal between these two worlds — especially since Vecna has been opening more portals all across Hawkins in the meantime.

Despite all we've learned, it appears that time in the Upside Down is even more complex than any of us could have imagined, though perhaps we'll get some answers in Volume 4 Part 2 about how time functioned prior to Eleven's "creation" of this parallel reality, possibly starting with Creel's unprecedented arrival into the Upside Down.