This 'Stranger Things' Moment Raises Questions

by Allie Gemmill

There's a small moment early on in Stranger Things that we aren't talking about enough. Sure, you took the whole series in, digested it, and moved on — but I'm pretty sure this scene flew under your radar, because it was so subtle. I'm talking about the moment when Eleven sees a picture of Will Byers at Mike's home, and, for a fleeting moment, recognizes him. It raises the question: does Eleven have a pre-existing connection with Will? And, if so, could it be a reason for the gang to go back to the Upside Down to see if she's there in Season 2?

In case you want to re-watch the moment, it happens in the second episode of Season 1, "The Weirdo On Maple Street." I recommend it, personally, because it's something that arguably catalyzed the entire storyline around Will's friends searching for him and, in turn, them discovering the Upside Down. The show really skirts around providing a solid reason for how Eleven recognized Will from the small photograph but the connection between these two deserves to be unpacked. I mean, when it comes to Eleven, we all know looks can kill, but what about shock? Identification? What does it mean when Eleven recognizes you and we don't even know why?

Eleven has serious superpowers, and she was still exactly the right tool the boys needed to locate their lost friend — the boys were onto something when they requested she lead them to the Upside Down so they could find Will themselves. Of course, despite her seemingly strong moral compass, Eleven's conflicting emotions kept her from leading the boys to the Upside Down to find Will — but I can't help but feel Eleven's motivation for keeping them away from the Upside Down was darker than her merely wanting to protect the boys.

Her leading the boys away from the Upside Down leads me to wonder if Will and Eleven have a deeper bond than anyone in the fictional world of the show (and by extension, the viewers)? This idea that somehow Eleven does know Will and we have yet to find out the true nature of their relationship could be supported by a few theories. One common one amongst fans, for instance: that Eleven is another version of the Demogorgon. Observations abound that Eleven and the Demogorgon are two sides of the same coin. It could be why Eleven can defeat the Demogorgon in the school — because she shares that psychic link. But, what if she was another species of Demogorgon altogether? What if she was fulfilling a Demogorgon-like need to explore, destroy and even feed, and thus inadvertently drew Will into the Upside Down after coming across him while hunting? It would certainly explain his disappearance in the woods, the portal to the Upside Down located in, the woods, and also (you guessed it) Eleven's discovery in the woods.

Reddit user bibwhitharte posits that Eleven was actually released from the lab in order to track Will down at the behest of the Hawkins Lab team. This implies that Will was not only predestined to get trapped in the Upside Down, but that he may be just as special as Eleven. His ability to communicate to Joyce through the lights was not entirely explained. Yes, it's a strange thing that falls within the boundaries of our suspension of disbelief, but Will might be just as preternaturally gifted as Eleven.

Hopefully, we learn more about how Will and Eleven relate to each other in the second season of Stranger Things. Now that Will is back and affected by his time in the darker dimension, he may provide some insight into who Eleven really is.

Images: Netflix; Giphy (2)