Explaining Vecna’s Entire Plan & Its Massive Impact On Stranger Things

Explaining Vecna's Entire Plan & Its Massive Impact On Stranger Things

This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4.

Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 finally reveals the full scale of Vecna’s plan – and sets him up as Hawkins’ greatest enemy, whose machinations are coming to an apocalyptic head. Stranger Things season 4 has served two purposes: it has established a new enemy, Vecna, as the Upside Down’s greatest threat, and retconned him into the show’s history as well. Vecna is bigger than the Mind-Flayer, with his backstory tied to Eleven’s own origin.

This has allowed the hit Netflix show to pivot toward some very different horror tropes. Previous seasons had focused on apparently primitive monsters like the Demogorgon, and then upon the hive mind entity known as the Mind Flayer, but now evil has a face and a name. The Hawkins kids named him “Vecna” after a monster from Dungeons & Dragons, a spellcaster who defied death and ascended to godhood. The name has proved to be an appropriate one, because of all the various D&D-inspired enemies of Stranger Things, Vecna is the truest to the source material.

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Related: Stranger Things Season 4 Cast & Character Guide

Stranger Things season 4 has slowly revealed the truth about this villain, shining a light on Vecna’s identity, powers, and origin. In doing so, it has set him up to be the darkness to Eleven’s light, a twisted mirror image of the show’s greatest hero. Although Vecna was temporarily defeated in Stranger Things season 4, it was a Pyrrhic victory at best, and the world is in greater danger than ever before for season 5.

Stranger Things’ Vecna Identity Twist Explained

Stranger Things Number One

Stranger Things season 4, volume 1 revealed Vecna’s origin story. He was originally Henry Creel, son of Victor Creel. Eleven and her siblings gained their powers as a result of Dr. Brenner’s experiments, but Henry Creel was born with them. Unfortunately, he was also a truly sadistic figure, reveling in using his powers to torment those around him. Henry’s mother sensed something was wrong with him and reached out to Dr. Brenner for help. Angered by this, Henry used his powers to kill his own family – but overextended himself and fell comatose, awakening in Dr. Brenner’s care as Number One.

Dr. Brenner soon realized he could not trust or control Henry Creel, which meant it was impossible to weaponize him. Over the next few years, he sought ways to duplicate Number One’s powers, keeping Creel himself as an orderly, kept under control with a microchip that blocked his powers. This proved to be a fateful mistake, because Creel manipulated Eleven, earning her trust, and then tricked her into releasing him. He launched a bloody rampage across Hawkins Lab, killing all the other test subjects before being stopped by Eleven. She engaged him in a telekinetic duel, successfully casting Creel into the Upside Down. The defeat exposed Creel to interdimensional energy, which ravaged his body and began his transformation into Vecna.

How Vecna Created & Controlled the Mind-Flayer

Stranger Things Vecna Mind Flayer

Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 built upon this, revealing Vecna created the Mind-Flayer. Apparently, he spent years exploring the realm that would become known as the Upside Down, until finally, he stumbled upon mysterious shadow particles that he was able to use to his advantage. He used these particles to create the Mind-Flayer, an act that undoubtedly made him feel more like a god than ever before, and then spread them across the Upside Down. Anything that ingests these particles becomes a part of the hive mind, thrall to Vecna’s will.

Related: Everyone Who Dies In Stranger Things 4 Volume 2 (Including The Finale)

There is, of course, a deep sense of irony to this particular strategy. Vecna hated humanity, believing human beings had imposed an artificial order upon the natural world. He is entirely ignorant of the fact that is exactly what he has done to Stranger Things’ Upside Down, establishing the ultimate order – a hive mind that embraces all life within that dimension. Vecna believes himself a god, but in reality, his actions prove he represents everything he most hates about humanity.

Why Henry Creel Made The Mind-Flayer Look Like A Spider

Stranger Things Mind-Flayer

This even explains why the Mind-Flayer looks like a gigantic spider. The young Henry Creel had always been fascinated by spiders, discovering a nest of black widows in his home in Hawkins and bonding with the creatures – apparently demonstrating a degree of empathy with animals as an additional superpower. He saw spiders as the ultimate predator and fashioned the Mind-Flayer in this form because that is how he now saw himself. He had become a predator, and he longed to seek out his prey on Earth.

Why Vecna Sent Demogorgons & The Mind-Flayer To Hawkins

Stranger Things Demogorgon Roar

Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 revealed Vecna has been the show’s true villain all along. He initially sent a lone Demogorgon in Stranger Things season 1, proving Hawkins’ weaknesses, attempting to figure out the way to tear between the dimensions. This was ahead of a full-scale incursion in season 2, with the Mind-Flayer particles spreading and Demodogs invading Hawkins Lab. It was then that Vecna learned Eleven possessed the power to resist him; she was able to close the Gate, coming close to cutting off Vecna’s influence on Earth. He pivoted in Stranger Things season 3, deciding he wanted to claim Eleven’s powers for himself by absorbing her into the hive mind. Again Vecna was unsuccessful, but – although it wasn’t explicitly stated – he struck a last blow against Eleven by cutting off her access to her powers. Eleven had defeated him before in a direct battle, and he may well have been hesitant to confront her again.

What Vecna’s Plan Is In Stranger Things Season 4

Vecna Recharges In Stranger Things 4 Volume 1

This led directly into Stranger Things season 4, with Vecna’s curse killing teenagers to open gates into the Upside Down. Vecna learned he could still astral project into the minds of Hawkins residents, and preyed upon those who were in emotional turmoil, subjecting them to harrowing visions to torture them. Finally, using their darkest memories against them, he established a strong psychic connection with his teen victim and killed them. The murders are horrific in nature, with Vecna breaking their bones and tearing out their eyes; the latter appears to have been a deliberate move to tease his return to Dr. Brenner, who would associate the killings with the Creel murders back in 1959.

Related: Where’s Murray At The End Of Stranger Things 4 Volume 2?

Vecna had correctly realized the boundary between Hawkins and the Upside Down was weakening. Every killing opened another gate, a small one that pulled the dimensions together even more closely. Vecna realized he only needed to conduct four murders, creating four micro-gates, to bring these two planes of existence together in a devastating collision. He committed three murders before the Hawkins kids really worked out what was going on; Max was Vecna’s final Stranger Things victim, opening the way for the Upside Down to invade in force.

Did Vecna Win In Stranger Things Season 4?

Max in Stranger Things Season 4 Finale

Vecna revealed his plan to the Hawkins kids, confident they could do nothing to stop him. He could choose any potential victim, after all, and there was no way for the kids to protect everyone from his influence. Instead, they decided to use Max as bait, taking her to the Creel house so she could goad him into attacking her once again. They knew that, like Eleven, Vecna needed to go into a trance to use his telepathy in this way; as such, he would be physically vulnerable while he attempted to prey upon Max. Unbeknownst to them, Eleven attempted to help by entering Max’s mind during that fateful battle, too, and engaging Vecna in what Argyle called a “mind fight.”

It was a good plan, albeit a desperate one – the only strategy that had even the faintest chance of working. Unfortunately, it failed, because, although the Hawkins kids seemingly killed Vecna, Will revealed in Stranger Things season 4’s ending that Vecna wasn’t dead as he could still feel him. Making matters worse, Max was clinically dead for one minute, opening the fourth gate and tearing fissures across Hawkins in an immense earthquake. Eleven intervened yet again, somehow resurrecting Max. It’s unclear what exactly happened to Max at the end of Stranger Things season 4; it’s possible Eleven’s positive memories served as a counter to the negative ones Vecna used to kill Max, allowing her to do the opposite of Vecna. Max’s resurrection complicated matters and the earthquake seemed to be all that happened – for two days, at least.

What Happens To Hawkins?

Stranger Things 4 Final Shot

The dramatic ending of Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 revealed the Hawkins kids’ victory against Vecna was a Pyrrhic one, however. The boundary between the dimensions had been catastrophically weakened; two days after the initial earthquake, the Upside Down finally broke through. Plumes of ash from the Upside Down billowed out of the fissures, with flakes of the ash raining upon the town like snow. Previous seasons of Stranger Things have dealt with small-scale incursions, but now the ground had opened and a full-scale invasion of Hawkins has begun.

Related: Of Course Eddie’s Upside Down Song Was Perfect!

It’s unclear why Vecna waited two days before initiating his invasion of Hawkins. It may be because he was waiting for Eleven to return to Hawkins; he clearly views Eleven as his nemesis, and it would be perfectly in character for him to want her back in Hawkins before he struck. By this interpretation, it’s disturbing to note the second earthquake only happened shortly after Eleven entered Max’s mind. It’s possible Eleven’s resurrection of Max has created a lasting connection with Vecna, one that allowed him to sense Eleven’s presence. Alternatively, Vecna may well have simply needed to take time licking his wounds after sustaining grievous physical injuries at the hands of Nancy, Steve, and Robin. There is, however, a third option. Max’s resurrection may well have changed everything, meaning the boundaries aren’t as closely aligned as Vecna hoped they would be. This last option offers Hawkins a sliver of hope, because it suggests what Vecna has done can potentially be undone in some way. Max – still in a coma at the end of Stranger Things season 4 – could be the key to everything.

Can Vecna Be Killed In Stranger Things Season 5?

Stranger Things Vecna Burning

As noted, Vecna took considerable damage in Stranger Things season 4, volume 2. He was struck with two Molotov cocktails, and sustained multiple shotgun blasts from Nancy before plummeting out the attic window to the ground. When Nancy, Steve, and Robin rushed to the ground floor, however, they found Vecna’s body was gone – meaning he’d clearly survived. It’s likely Vecna did so by drawing upon the life energy of the entire Upside Down; there had already been hints his interdimensional psychic attacks were powered by the hive mind, and it would be fitting for him to keep himself alive using the same approach. No doubt his control of the hive mind allowed him to use other creatures to spirit his broken body away.

Stranger Things season 4 had been teasing from the start that Vecna wouldn’t be an easy kill. The Dungeons & Dragons game at the beginning of the season aligned with the sequence of events, with the return of a villain who had been thought killed long ago; Dustin rolled an 11 when he attempted to take Vecna down in this game and lost. It was only when Erica took the final roll of the game, scoring 20, that Vecna was defeated. The Dungeons & Dragons game, therefore, parallels Vecna’s Stranger Things season 4 story. He is the villain thought killed by Eleven long ago who has returned. Season 4’s attempt to kill him aligns with Dustin’s damaging but not fatal role, and there must be a successful try equivalent of rolling a 20 in Stranger Things season 5. Meanwhile, the scale of the injuries sustained by Vecna in Stranger Things season 4 aligns him more closely than ever before to the monstrous wizard the Hawkins kids named him after. In Dungeons & Dragons, Vecna ascends to godhood but pays an enormous cost, losing both a hand and an eye (these become major magical artifacts in the game).

The Duffer brothers have confirmed Stranger Things will end with season 5, and that now makes sense. It would be difficult to come up with a more terrifying threat than Vecna, especially now he has been retconned so effectively into the show’s history. Stranger Things season 5 will build to the final battle between the heroes of Hawkins and the monstrous forces of the Upside Down, and only by defeating Vecna once and for all can the kids ensure their town is safe at last. Unfortunately, this battle is likely to take place in the streets of Hawkins, rather than the Upside Down, meaning Stranger Things season 5 will operate on the biggest scale yet.

More: Everything We Know About Stranger Things Season 5: Cast, Setting & Story

Stranger Things season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.

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Thomas Bacon
(5202 Articles Published)

Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, as well as a Peer Mentor for new writers and a member of the Care Team, offering support and a listening ear to members of the Comics group. A lifelong fan of major franchises including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel, Tom is delighted his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. You can find him on Twitter @TomABacon.

A graduate of Edge Hill University, Tom remains strongly connected with his alma mater as a volunteer chaplain. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will swiftly learn he’s into British politics too.

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