Remember Will Byers? He was once the centerpiece of “Stranger Things,” the kid that kickstarted the plot after going missing in the Upside Down. His reunion with his friends and family at the end of the first season was a huge moment of triumph at the time.
Since then, however, “Stranger Things” has all but forgotten about Will Byers. He’s become, as /Film’s own Valerie Ettenhofer described him, “all but an insignificant background character,” abandoned by the lore, by the plot, and by the characters. Remember when season two showed Will had a deep connection to the Upside Down? That was quickly done away with, and the show started introducing more characters than it knew what to do with, pushing Will further and further into the background. Indeed, by season four, we know more about some random Russian pilot and smuggler than Will, who is supposed to be a main character. The only thing he did in the last season was struggle with his feelings for Mike, and not much else.
Luckily, it seems the writers are finally ready to give Will something to do again – which probably means he’ll die next. Speaking to Variety for a profile on Schnapp, the Duffer Brothers spoke about Will being the key to the whole show, and apparently he will be of huge importance to the next season.
“Will really takes center stage again in [season] 5,” said Ross Duffer. “This emotional arc for him is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together. Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality — it’s Will coming into his own as a young man.”
Running up that hill
Season 4 of “Stranger Things” feels like it came out five years ago, rather than just a little over a year ago. That doesn’t say much about the memorability and excitement of that season, beyond the incredible “Running Up That Hill” and “Master of Puppets” moments. It was a season that went back to the horror influences of the first season and delivered actual stakes, thanks to one of the best TV villains in a while in Vecna, but it was also a season with way too many characters and storylines that felt derivative, as the characters were too spread out, making the story slow and dull.
For season 5, things are reportedly changing. For one, there is likely to be another time jump, which seems all but certain now that the production halted due to the studios not being willing to negotiate with both the writers and the actors during the ongoing strike. The Duffer Brothers also promise to keep the characters and the story centered on the town of Hawkins, Indiana once again, which would help focus the story on the core characters rather than on approximately 25 random side characters.
Hopefully, all of this ends up being true, and Will actually gets to do something next season. After all, he is now the only main character who has never really had a big hero moment, or any kind of big moment at all.