As Stranger Things fans dove into Season 4, Part 1, they accepted everything from One’s transformation into Vecna to Mrs. Wheeler’s new hairdo. But they couldn’t get behind the fact that, in flashbacks to Eleven’s time at Hawkins Lab, she’s so much more articulate than the kid that we met way back in Season 1.
“What gives?” viewers asked. “Were her verbal skills set back by witnessing Peter’s rampage?”
Speaking with TVLine, the Netflix hit’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer — AKA the Duffer Brothers — offer up an answer. “The trauma [of the massacre] definitely affected Eleven,” begins Ross. “Ideally, when we were writing the flashbacks, the goal was to mimic her speech, with the breaks, with the limited words…
“But what happens,” he continues, “is that she’s surrounded by other kids at the lab. She’s socialized. Then she goes into a coma for a period of time, reawakens and then is isolated completely by Dr. Brenner. That’s the story of Eleven.”
Chimes in Matt: “When you meet her, she’s 9, right? And then she blacks out. She doesn’t have a memory of all this, which is why she has to re-experience it [via Nina]. The Season 1 flashbacks that take place post-massacre, she’s locked up in a cell just by herself, with no other children.”
No other anyone, really. Eleven has “no interaction aside from occasionally her quote-unquote Papa,” notes Ross. So “that was the thinking behind” her linguistic shortcomings when we met her vs. her relative articulateness in Season 4’s flashbacks.
Part 2 of Stranger Things’ penultimate season drops Friday, July 1.