What the heck is on Will's painting? Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2 unfurled the answer
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2.
One of the first things we saw when Stranger Things returned for season 4 at the end of May was Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) painting... something. It was a brief scene as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) was writing her recap letter to Mike (Finn Wolfhard). She explained Will was spending most of his time on this art piece, but he preferred to keep details of it to himself. It has since become a key part of a crucial fan theory.
There are many hints in Stranger Things that Will is gay, like when he did his class "hero" project on noted homosexual code-cracker Alan Turing to his many veiled comments to Mike about how he feels different and worries his friends will reject him because of it. It was thought that the subject of Will's painting might shed more light on this lingering question, and it does! Kind of.
The first episode of the two-part Volume 2, which arrived on Netflix Friday, gave viewers the answer to what Will painted. In the backseat of the Surfer Boy Pizza van, Will has another heart-to-heart with Mike, who's spiraling because he fears El won't need him anymore. To soothe his friend, Will shows Mike his painting, which he lies and says was "commissioned" by Eleven. Mike unfurls the canvas to reveal an image of their original Dungeons & Dragons group — Mike, Will, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) — as their fantasy characters fighting a three-headed dragon. Mike, with a sword and shield, is leading the charge.
Mike's shield bears a heart, which Will admits is "sort of on the nose" (just not for the reason we are thinking). He says he gave Mike a heart for his coat of arms because Mike is the heart of their friend circle, keeping them all together. Will seemingly opens up to Mike in more veiled comments about how "when you're different sometimes you feel like a mistake" and how "if [Eleven] was going to lose you, I think she'd rather just get it over with quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid." (Just swap himself for Eleven in this scenario.)
Fans still don't have a definitive answer as to how Will identifies, but the evidence is clearly there. Shawn Levy, an executive producer on the show who also directed some of the most pivotal Stranger Things episodes, previously told EW that the inkling fans have about Will being gay isn't a coincidence.
"I guess I'll just say that there aren't many accidents on Stranger Things," Levy said. "There is clear intention and strategy and real thought given to each and every character. So, if you came away from Volume 1 feeling those bread crumbs of plot and character, it's probably no accident."
Series creators Matt and Ross Duffer offered a similar tease to EW. "What we're excited about in those final two [episodes is] that it's not just the story coming full circle, but all of this character stuff is going to come to a head because there's a lot dangling that we're going to try to resolve in those last four hours," Ross said.
Stranger Things season 4 is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.
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