Here's How Time Works In Stranger Things' Upside Down

If you're like me, you've been biding your time waiting for part 2 of season 4 of "Stranger Things" by pouring over the first seven episodes. Not to mention trying to drown out the noise of bones snapping in half by and listening to way more Kate Bush than I normally do. The source of all the terror and empty eye sockets is of course Vecna, the newest enemy to attack Hawkins from the Upside Down. Although it was initially unclear how or even if Vecna was connected to Eleven's past — the finale ultimately confirmed not only was he Victor Creel's deviant son but also One. Setting up an incredible confrontation between the characters in part two.

But learning the origins of Vecna wasn't the only piece of information revealed about the Upside Down, a realm that has remained shrouded in frightening mystery since season one. After a group of the older Hawkins teens is marooned there in episode six — though not before the Duffer Brothers decided to give a cruel tease of Steve's death for which I will never forgive them — it's revealed that this warped dimension isn't an exact copy of theirs. In fact, it differs from their reality in one important way: the Upside Down version of Hawkins exists perpetually in 1983.

A nightmare frozen in time

As reported by Screen Rant, production designer Chris Trujillo offered some insight into the peculiarities and possible significance of the Upside Down's frozen timeline. Explaining that Eleven's creation of the Mother Gate — caused by Papa a.k.a. Martin Brenner's insistence she touch the Demogorgon — is part of the reason. He continued:

"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. 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 [one] when we first were introduced to it."

Trujillo is far from explicit about why that first sustained portal led the Upside Down to be stuck in 1983, but that hasn't stopped plenty of people from speculating madly. Given the entanglement between the lives of Vecna/One and Eleven it's at least clear the connection isn't accidental. Perhaps her inadvertent creation of the Mother Gate allowed him to re-establish a connection with Hawkins. Maybe he even managed to figure out it was Eleven. For her part, Millie Bobby Brown expressed belief her character didn't create the Upside Down.

With all the twists and turns season four has offered so far, I wouldn't even be surprised if Dustin's hypothesis about Vecna/One being the Mind Flayer's five-star general is wrong. That in fact, it was him, using his considerable psychic abilities, to send monsters from the Upside Down into Hawkins. Fans will just have to keep guessing though as the Duffer Brothers explained of the many answers part two will have — they won't involve the mystery of the frozen timeline.