Stranger Things season 4, vol 2 finally reveals Will’s painting after a long season – and it’s a painting with a lot of potential meanings.
Warning: Contains spoilers for stranger things season 4, volume 2.
Will’s painting is revealed in stranger things season 4, vol 2, and features a series of meanings for the show itself. Season 4 presented a series of challenges for Will Byers, both having to return to Hawkins after his previous trauma and dealing with his complicated love for Mike. These lead to one of the most painful scenes stranger things showed about Will and his repressed feelings for his best friend, but it also revealed the painting Will has been working on since the start of the season.
Initially, it was much speculated among the stranger things audience that this painting would be part of Will’s romantic confession to Mike, and that it would somehow reflect the couple’s dynamic through the show. It’s also been speculated that Will’s painting could instead be tied to his experience in the Upside Down and could potentially hold the secret to defeating Vecna. Interestingly, both interpretations are technically proven by the revelation of what Will paints in stranger things season 4, volume 2 is in fact. Vol 2 a will reveal the painting to Mike, showing what is mostly the original DnD group of stranger things season 1 battling a three-headed dragon, with Mike leading the charge – his character here being his 1984 DnD paladin persona, instead of his 1983 dungeon master role.
Will painted in stranger things season 4, vol 2 is initially explained by Will himself as being commissioned by Eleven, and also to show Mike as both the leader and the “heart” of the team – symbolized by the heart in the painting – Mike’s shield – which Will uses to bolster his friend’s failing confidence. Will also suggests that Eleven told him what to draw, but that’s a debatable statement, as the next shots show Will looking awkwardly and Jonathan staring at him in the van’s rearview mirror, suggesting it potentially has more to do with Will trying to convince Mike that Eleven still loves him stranger things season 4 more than that is strictly the truth. With that in mind, Mike being in the foreground may also reflect Will’s feelings about him, given that the scene also seems to have him disguising a confession of his feelings by explaining how Eleven must love Mike but struggles because It is “different“. It’s also worth noting that DnD’s characters are anyone the team has played in-universe and correlates to how the team often works – Will the Wise provides information through his connection to the ‘Upside Down from Season 1, Mike acting as a leader, Dustin as a tool-savvy warrior (with his 1984 bard’s ability to sing), and Lucas as a chivalrous knight. there’s a very real potential that the meaning of this painting is also to indicate how the team will save Hawkins and defeat evil for good in the show’s finale with stranger things season 5, making it clear that each member of the original group will be essential to the effort due to their individual skills.
Importantly, Will’s painting in stranger things Season 4 may also serve as a foreshadowing of a Season 5 monster, as Byers’ connection to Vecna and the Upside Down would allow him to sense an impending threat without even being aware of it. The show had art of Will hinting at aspects of the Upside Down and the creatures within it, and Nancy mentioned that Vecna showed her a monster with a “gaping mouth“, which could both suggest elements of an upcoming monster that the team will have to face. Some have speculated that the dragon in the painting is a version of Tiamat, the mother of all evil dragons, which might make it an allusion to Vecna himself, given he’s apparently behind the various evil forces stranger things the actors had to contend with throughout the show.
Finally, Will’s painting also carries significance regarding his personal character arc. Will Byers has long been the member of the group to retain their childhood bonds, and DnD was one of the things the others initially dismissed as childish later in the series, leading to Will giving Erica his manuals. DnD – only for others. later join the Hellfire Club and keep playing. As such, the painting can be seen as Will commemorating the band’s childhood and re-accepting a part of himself he had tried to let go of – potentially setting a promising precedent for his growth in stranger things season 5.
Next: Stranger Things Season 4 Ending Explained (In Detail)
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