(Credit: Netflix)

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How ‘Stranger Things’ season four addresses the Will-Mike story

Stranger Things has finally dropped the first Volume of its highly-anticipated fourth season on May 27th, 2022. With seven hour-long episodes gracing Netflix, the show has already catapulted to the top of global charts, appeasing fans eagerly awaiting the fourth season for three long years. 

Created by the Duffer brothers, the fourth season stars Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Robert Englund, Jamie Campbell Bower, Matthew Modine, Brett Gelman, Raphael Luce etc.

Gory, dark and scary, the season is full of surprises. Set across three locations, namely California, Hawkins and Kamchatka in Russia, the season deals with a nightmare-inducing monster named Vecna haunting the town of Hawkins while the other people are seen struggling with their demons. Read our review here.  

Ahead of the release of the second Volume, fans have already started speculating the events and theories fuelled by various scenes in the seven episodes. Among them, a popular idea has now sought its place in fans’ minds, which is ideally in tandem with today’s date, June 1st, which marks the beginning of Pride month. 

Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson were all a part of The Party in Stranger Things season one who loved goofing around, playing Dungeons & Dragons in Mike’s basement and dressing up in Ghostbusters costumes for Halloween while going around Hawkins on their bikes. After the traumatic events of the first season, which includes Will mysteriously disappearing and later reappearing in season two, albeit still in the clutches of the Mind Flayer, various events lead Mike and Eleven to be closer, and they eventually start dating. 

As Lucas and Mike discuss relationships in the third season, Will feels very left out and soon has an epic fight with Mike over his relationship with Eleven. Furious, Mike says, “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” 

While it was a pretty harmless statement made in a fit of rage, it turned out to be a loaded statement. Many fans began speculating about Will’s sexual orientation, wondering if he really liked one of the boys from the Party. However, in season four, all these theories gained better ground as the creators painted Will’s affinity towards Mike pretty obviously; however, the series did not flesh out the narrative. 

In season four, Eleven moves with the Byers family, namely Will, Jonathan, and Joyce, to California for a fresh start and away from season three’s traumatic events. Now powerless, Eleven is mercilessly bullied in school yet lies to Mike about it, portraying a very different picture far from reality. In one of her letters, she also mentions to him that Will has been painting a secret picture for someone for quite some time. She is almost convinced that it is for a girl. 

When Mike flies to California from Hawkins to meet Eleven, we understand that the painting was meant for Mike. Will feels pretty ignored, and the pain is palpable on his face. He is seen being a reluctant third wheel on Mike and ELeven’s date to the rollercoaster rink, where he discovers Eleven’s incessant lies and confronts her about it. Mike gets pissed at Will much later when they argue over Eleven once again, and Mike emphasises how he and Eleven are dating while he and Will are “just friends”. 

Although they later make up, Will carries the picture with him everywhere, thus proving how important it is to him. However, the show cleverly does not reveal the picture that might make an appearance in the second Volume and contain significant clues. Perhaps, like Will’s other drawings over the season, it must have a major significance in the show. 

The producer Shawn Levy addressed the topic by saying that there are not “many accidents” on the show. “There is clear intention and strategy and real thought given to each and every character. So, if you came away from Volume I feeling those bread crumbs of plot and character, it’s probably no accident,” he teased. 

Even in one of the promo videos, Wolfhard and Harbour talked about how Will is “very interested” in “someone else in the group.” 

Since the season is set in the eighties, it is essential to reflect on the societal implications of homosexuality. In the 1980s, the Democrats became the first Party in the US to endorse a gay rights platform. In 1981, however, with the arrival of AIDS, massive discrimination was meted out against homosexuals, both physical and social, which led to massive protests against the same. 

While the stigma regarding homosexuality was omnipresent in the era, it is pretty evident how Will feels about Mike. Although he is talking about Eleven, his words make a lot of sense in the light of these events. He tells Mike, “Sometimes I think it’s just scary to open up like that, to say how you really feel, especially to people you care about the most. Because what if they don’t like the truth?”

While the final Volume of season four will most likely explore the topic in-depth, we are sincerely rooting for Will and his courage to be himself in times that were hostile to anyone who wanted to be in touch with their true feelings.