Stranger Things is about to return for a third spin around the old Upside Down and there are really just a lot of things going on. Eleven has harnessed her powers quite a bit after her electro-goth adventure in Chicago. Steve is now very cool and sometimes carries a demon-bashing bat and sometimes gives great hair advice to follicly-challenged children. Billy is still around doing dirtbag things and making dirtbag eyes at Mike’s mom. It’s all very busy, and that’s before we get to the part about Eleven closing the gate to the Upside Down, which, it appears, did not actually solve their problems and may have actually made them worse, depending how much one wants to read into various trailers.
But I want to talk about Will for a minute. Poor Will. Has any character on television been through more in one two-season period? Jesse Pinkman had a rough go of it on Breaking Bad, I guess, and there is some crossover between being held captive by Nazis who force you to cook meth and being held captive by demons who had their own nefarious motivations that did not involve meth-cooking, as far as we know. But Jesse’s issues were spread over five seasons and were at least partially the result of his own actions. Will hasn’t done anything to anybody. It’s not right what the show has put him through.
Which brings me to my point: Should Stranger Things, at some point, if not in this new seasons then soon, let Will go on a carefree vacation to Hawaii to relax for a while? It’s a fair question. Let’s think about this.
THE CASE FOR STRANGER THINGS LETTING WILL GO ON A VACATION TO HAWAII
In the first season of Stranger Things, Will Byers is abducted by a Demogorgon and taken to the Upside Down. Once there, he evades the creature for the better part of a week — mostly off-screen while his friends try to figure out what happened and where he is — before his small malnourished body gives in and he finds himself tangled up in demonic gunk inside the bizarro Hawkins library, surrounded by skeletons and with a large slimy tendril jammed down his throat and into his belly. He is saved by his mother and Chief Hopper and is taken back home, where everything seems fine and as normal as it all can be until he goes into his bathroom and pukes a hellslug into his sink.
In the second season of Stranger Things, Will begins having a series of terrifying visual flashes of the Upside Down as he walks around the real version of Hawkins. A large shadow-type monster is chasing him. Eventually, while searching for Dart (a growing evil-ish creature that resembles the slug he puked up and also ate Dustin’s cat), the shadow monster corners him and enters his body, and he becomes possessed by something called a Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayer uses Will to send a team of soldiers and scientists into an ambush and all-in-all makes his life hell as he is confined in the laboratory and poked and prodded by scientists on the hunt for answers. The closest thing he has to a father figure, the sweet and gentle Bob Newby, gets eaten face-first by a swarm of nightmare beasts. All of this continues until Will’s family and friends take him to a cabin, tie his small body to a rickety cot, surround him with space heaters until he is basically braising in his own sweat, and burn him with a glowing iron to force the monster from his body.
So, to recap, in one 13-month span from November 1983 to December 1984, Will has:
- Been kidnapped by a monster and taken to a desolate hellscape
- Had a tendril stuffed down his throat
- Puked a slug (gross)
- Been possessed by a smoke demon
- Been tortured by his loved ones (for a good reason, but still)
- Been taunted and mocked by classmates who call him “Zombie Boy,” including a girl who asks him to dance at the end of season two, which is a real Good News, Bad News situation for any teenage boy, but especially for one who just spent a year battling demons that want his body and soul and doesn’t particularly need any of this crap from his zit-faced peers
Also, he still has that haircut. Things have not been great for Will.
It gets worse, too, in a different and less slimy-tentacle-in-the-esophagus way, when you consider what his friends have been up to all this time. Yes, sure, fine, they’ve been hunted by bloodthirsty demon dogs and had their own set of terrifying adventures, but they’ve also met some cool girls (Eleven, Max) and gotten cool new mentors (the Dustin-Steve pairing remains the show’s most adorable subplot). Will has missed out on so much. He deserves to go to Hawaii.