Warning: MAJOR spoilers ahead for the seven episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1.
Stranger Things finally returned to Netflix for the first time in nearly three years with the debut of Volume 1 of Season 4. This was the first time that the Duffer brothers split a season of the hit sci-fi show, but the first seven episodes all ran for more than an hour each, and were jam-packed with twists leading up to the biggest reveals about Vecna. The big bad of Season 4 wasted no time in proving what the Duffers meant about going “harder” on horror. So, as the wait begins for the second volume, let’s look at the Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 1 ending when it comes to Vecna.
Even from the trailers, it was clear that Vecna was going to be a different kind of Upside Down monster, and possibly even more formidable than the Mind Flayer itself. Volume 1 made it clear just how terrifying the villain could be with the reveal of his origin.
Vecna's Origin Story
Despite living in the Upside Down with tentacles spreading out from his body and the kinds of powers that not even the Mind Flayer demonstrated, Vecna was clearly more of a human villain than those that came before. He could use language to taunt and torment his victims from within their own minds before brutally killing them with cracking bones and gouged-out eyes. The seventh episode explained why.
It turned out that what seemed like three separate creepy characters were all the same person, just at different points in the increasingly complicated Stranger Things timeline.
Vecna’s origin started back in the 1950s, when young Henry Creel developed telekinetic powers that he used for torturing animals and telepathic powers that he used for tormenting his parents, before ultimately murdering his mother and sister. Killing his family members took too much out of him as a child, however, and he fell into a coma while his father, Victor (played by horror legend Robert Englund), was blamed for the deaths.
But Henry didn’t die in the coma like his father believed.
Dr. Brenner took custody of the child, and Henry became the first test subject of what Brenner intended to be many, tattooing him with “001.” Just as Jane would later become Eleven, Henry became One. Eventually, however, Brenner implanted him with a chip that would suppress his powers and track him, and he was nothing more than an orderly until making a bond with Eleven that changed everything.
One eventually manipulated Eleven into removing his chip – although it’s up for debate as to whether that was always part of his plan for her – and then unleashed his fury. He went on a brutal killing spree that took out nearly everybody, including all the children except for Eleven and all the staff other than Brenner. He would have killed Eleven too after she refused to join him, but after a psychic battle of the wills, she opened what may have been the first-ever gate to the Upside Down and forced him into it, then closed it behind him.
Stuck in the Upside Down for years without a gate back to Hawkins, One became Vecna. By the time of Season 4, he has been using his considerable powers in some new ways that are currently terrorizing the people of Hawkins and potentially weakening the walls between realities.
What We Know About Vecna's Powers
For Vecna’s full scope of powers (as of the end of Vol. 1), we have to look at his time as Henry and his time as One in addition to his killing spree in the Stranger Things present. He developed his style of killing by levitating victims, breaking their bones, and gouging their eyes back in the 1950s as Henry, after spending some time using his telepathic powers to torment his parents.
After years with Dr. Brenner as One, his telekinetic powers seemed to be advanced versions of what Eleven would eventually be able to do. In fact, he debuted some kill moves that she would use later in the timeline. After being exiled to the Upside Down and becoming Vecna, he uses both telepathic and telekinetic sets of skills to form powerful psychic connections between realities, creating gate after gate from the Upside Down to Hawkins to torture and kill.
His powers can be defeated (or at least deterred), as Eleven managed to overcome him as One, and Max’s life was saved by Lucas and Co. playing her favorite song for her. But can he be defeated in his own domain in the Upside Down, if necessary?
What Is Vecna Doing In Hawkins Now?
While it initially seemed that Vecna was simply using his powers to torment and kill people who suffer from feelings of guilt and despair for the fun of it, Dustin concluded that there could be a larger plan in place. With every psychic connection that Vecna makes, he makes a gate, and not the kind that closes immediately like when Eleven banished One to the Upside Down.
With each gate that opens, the wall between realities gets weaker and weaker, which could allow for a much larger-scale invasion from the Upside Down than when the Demogorgon crossed back and forth in Season 1. According to Dustin’s theory, the big bad behind Vecna might just be the Mind Flayer. He said:
It’s all just a theory at this point, but between the Hawkins storyline, the flashbacks that Vecna showed Nancy, and Eleven’s memories as she regains her powers, the dots are connecting despite all the distance between stories, and it seems that Vecna could indeed be leading the charge for the Mind Flayer’s next attack. Whatever the reason, his killing spree likely isn’t done.
Vecna Has Nancy
At this point, fans should probably just hope that his killing spree doesn’t include Nancy, after the last episode of Vol. 1 ended with Nancy falling under Vecna’s spell right when she was on the verge of escaping the Upside Down. Her feelings of guilt center on Barb dying in the Upside Down, and Vecna began to overload her with visions of what happened to Barb.
This wasn’t exactly what Vecna did when he killed the others and tried to kill Max, however, as he also took Nancy on a psychic journey through his own past at the Creel House, and without tormenting her with headaches, visions, and the grandfather clock for days beforehand. Whether or not the difference bodes well for Nancy remains to be seen.
The Party managed to save Max when she seemed doomed to die like Chrissy and the others, but Nancy doesn’t have a Walkman handy, and it’s hard to imagine that Max happens to have a tape with Nancy’s favorite song. Her fate is the biggest cliffhanger from the end of Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 1, and will undoubtedly keep fans speculating until Vol. 2 releases on Friday, July 1 on Netflix.
Fans with a Netflix subscription can spend the wait for Vol. 2 rewatching the full first three seasons and seven episodes of Vol. 1, and check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule for some more viewing options in the month of June. Season 4 already broke records for the streaming service after just the first weekend out, and the story certainly isn’t done yet.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).