Netflix just released the first seven episodes of stranger things season 4 in the wee hours this morning and fans are seriously ready for a wild ride. If you couldn’t tell by the trailer, the highly anticipated season is the biggest yet, and with a reported budget of $30 million per episode, I know expectations were high. Some of the show’s stars previously teased that Season 4 was the “darkest” and “scariest,” and now we know it’s true!
As we already learned before the release of volume 1 of season 4, the new villain of Upside Down this time is Vecna, a character originally from Dungeons & Dragons. Vecna is a dark wizard who can put people under his spell, which he does to just a few poor victims in the new episodes.
MAJOR spoilers ahead for stranger things season 4 part 1.
Vecna is featured in the premiere of stranger things season 4 as it follows the popular cheerleader named Chrissy (Grace Van Dien). At the end of the episode, he possesses her spirit and brings her to the Upside Down to end her “suffering”. It just means he kills her, which is really disturbing and sad. The way Vecna kills its victims is always the same – levitates them with some type of mind control, breaks their bones, and gouges out their eyes. Their bodies are quite terrifying when people find them.
As the murders continue in Hawkins, Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) goes to see Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) to try to convince her to come back to save the day again. Although she doesn’t have her powers, he thinks she can get them back if she agrees to go with him. They return to his lab in Nevada with Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) – surprise, he’s really alive! – and start testing. The doctors put Eleven in an isolation pool to recall her memories in order to regain her powers.
Meanwhile, Nancy (Natalia Dyer) uses her reporting skills at Hawkins to try to find a lead on the murders. She hears about a man named Victor Creel (Robert Englund) who is living in Pennhurst Psychiatric Hospital after allegedly murdering his family in the 1950s. She thinks he may know something about what is happening in Hawkins now, and she and Robin (Maya Hawke) go talk to him at the asylum. During their conversation, Creel explains what happened to him and his family, noting that his son Henry was a “sensitive child”. When his wife and daughter were killed that fateful night, Henry fell into a coma. Creel does not share what happened to Henry after that.
As Eleven begins to remember her time in the Rainbow Room, she remembers meeting a nurse who goes by Peter Ballard (Jamie Campbell Bower). He is kind to her in his memories, and they even form a plan to escape Hawkins Lab together. However, once Peter comes up with solid steps for El to leave, he reveals that he never will because he has a tracking chip in his neck. Eleven decides she’s going to help him because he helped her so much and uses her powers to remove the chip.
Their escape plan is underway when Eleven hears screams and sees blood all over the hallway and rooms. She sees Dr. Brenner passed out on the floor and everyone is dead. She enters the Rainbow Room and sees the nurse there, as it is revealed that he is the perpetrator. The scene at the start of the Season 4 premiere that suggests Eleven is the one killing everyone is now explained, as we find out that it was Peter who committed the murders!
So how does this all connect to Vecna? Well, let’s explain.
Twist of Stranger Things: Vecna really is number one
When El walks into the Rainbow Room and sees everything the medic has done, he begins to explain himself. As this happens, we also get a real-time scene of Nancy (Natalia Dyer) trapped in the Upside Down confronting Vecna. She walks through the Creel house and begins to find answers just as Peter talks to Eleven.
Through a flashback and Peter’s narration, we learn that he is Victor Creel’s son, Henry. In the 1950s, when his family moved into the house, he was alone and felt different. He began to become obsessed with the spiders he found in the house and realized that he preferred them to humans, the latter whom he considered “pests”. He hated all the rules and routines in life and wanted something more. He wanted to bring balance back to the world he found so broken. He wanted to become a predator, but for “good”.
Peter started with the animals, reaching into their minds with his powers. He moved on to his parents, trying to show them who they really were, but it didn’t take long for his mother to realize something was wrong. She called a doctor to examine her, which is why he decided to kill her. With each life he took, he grew stronger. But because he was a child, using his powers hurt him so much, and he nearly killed himself when he killed the rest of his family. That’s why he fell into a coma.
After killing his parents and sister, Peter woke up in a coma with a very intrigued Dr. Brenner, who took him away. But once he realized he couldn’t control Peter, Dr. Brenner decided he would do more with him, which is why he started experimenting on children. Peter was number one in Brenner’s program! We finally understand how it all started!
In Eleven’s memories, Peter asks her to come with him so they can “reshape the world together”. Unsurprisingly, she says no, then throws him against the wall with her powers. Eleven begins to think about her sad and angry memories, including being bullied in the lab and having her mother taken from her. Peter regains control and nearly kills El as we see her begin to levitate. However, she is able to use her powers and she nearly kills him, but instead opens a door to the Upside Down and throws him in there.
Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 Ending Explained: Vecna and the Other Side
We then cut to Peter being thrown into the Upside Down and fully transforming into a Vecna as thunder and lightning hit him. At the end of the episode, the camera zooms in on his wrist, which shows the 001 tattoo. That proves, if you hadn’t already realized, that he’s number one.
It’s a HUGE reveal that starts to fall into place in the first episode when we see Eleven’s flashback in the Rainbow Room. This means that the season’s villain was originally one of Dr. Brenner’s experiments, just like El, and that Upside Down has powers that can turn a human into something supernatural. We also finally learn how El opened the door to the Upside Down which kicked off the events of Season 1 before Will (Noah Schnapp) disappeared. Did Eleven create the Upside Down? I don’t think so, but it will definitely be a big question from fans after watching this episode.
The Season 4 Volume 1 ending is so important and is probably the best ending we’ve gotten stranger things so far, apart from the end of season 3 which is my favorite (because it’s emotional!).
I’m so excited to see what happens when stranger things Season 4 returns with Part 2. Don’t miss the final two episodes when they debut on Netflix on July 1, 2022!