After the epic conclusion to Stranger Things season 4, Stranger Things season 5 looks to be an exciting finale to the hit show. Considering the long gap between seasons 3 and 4, it’s anyone’s guess when season 5 might drop. (The Duffer brothers suggest 2024.) In the meantime, season 4 left fans with plenty of clues for speculation.
Unlike the other three seasons, season 4 ended on a cliffhanger without wrapping up much of season 4’s plot. Will Max (Sadie Sink) wake up from her coma? How do you solve a problem like Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), especially since he Vader’d Eleven’s (Milly Bobby Brown) redemption request?
With the Upside Down deciding Hawkins is free real estate, will the entire town have to accept the stranger things in their midst? What will the “mystery” be in Stranger Things season 5?
What Does Vecna want?Season 4 of Stranger Things revealed that Vecna needed to kill four people to open various gates and welcome the Upside Down as Hawkins’ new worst neighbor. Stranger Things season 5 will presumably cover the battle to stop Vecna and the Upside Down.
In a town filled with traumatized people, Vecna chose four kids. Why did he target Chrissy (Grace Van Dien), Fred (Logan Riley Bruner), Patrick (Myles Truitt), and Max?
Well, each of the kids foils Vecna himself. Their backstories contain plenty of similarities with Vecna’s own as Henry Creel. Like Chrissy, Max, and Patrick, Henry had a troubled relationship with a parent. Chrissy’s mom emotionally abused her by urging her to be better, thinner, and more perfect.
She threatened Chrissy as well, saying she would “gut her like a pig.” Lucas notes that Patrick also came to school with black eyes, presumably from his father.
Patrick’s father probably mirrors Brenner’s abuse of Vecna. As for Chrissy’s mother, she represents Vecna’s own mom. While Victor Creel’s account of his family seems loving and even perfect, Vecna’s recollections are distinctly different.
That Virginia Creel wanted to send Henry to Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) early on suggests that Vecna probably wasn’t lying about her despising her son.
Beyond the family life, Fred’s targeting foils another aspect of Henry. Fred believed himself to be a monster for surviving a car crash that his friend did not. He called himself a murderer and bore a scar from that crash. Of course, Fred wasn’t a murderer and Vecna is. However, Vecna repeatedly targets people who feel the same things he’s felt.
Where Is Max?Max’s traumatic background blends that of Chrissy, Fred, and Patrick.
Her stepfather abused her brother, who abused her. However, Max still grieves Billy (Dacre Montgomery) after he dies protecting her. She has survivor’s guilt over it and spends much of season 4 depressed.
Max also has something else in common with Vecna: she insists that as people, they get to make their own rules. Eleven remembers Max saying this when she chooses to bring Max back from the dead. Max’s rules, however, are based on love. Vecna’s are based on despising everyone else.
When Vecna kills his victims, he literally makes them a part of himself. He tells Eleven in episode 7:
With each life I took, I grew stronger, more powerful. They were becoming a part of me. They’re not gone, Eleven. They’re still with me. In here.
What Vecna doesn’t acknowledge is that they already are parts of him. This includes his trauma and his vindictiveness (Patrick’s quest to help kill Eddie), along with his refusal to live by rules. Trying to kill those parts of himself doesn’t make him a “God” as he seems to think.
The kids already were trying to cope with their trauma in their own self-destructive ways. Hence, Vecna taking self-destruction to its projective extreme doesn’t make him a God, rather, it makes him human.
Is it possible that in Stranger Things season 5, Eleven will somehow free Max and the others from Vecna? Their consciousness, or souls, or something along those lines? After all, Eleven couldn’t find Max’s mind at the end of season 4.
Of course, if a writer has a character in a coma, they usually wake them up. Plus, unlike the others, Max’s body is still alive.
Eleven & Her SuperpowerEleven spends season 4 getting her superpowers back. However, Eleven never lost her true superpower. Oh no, it’s not telekinesis.
It’s her humanity.
What helps El save the world are her compassion and connections to others. She wants to help her friends because she loves them. Even when people do bad things, she still sees them as human. In doing so, El inspires other people (ordinary, even bad people) to become heroes. This will be El’s secret weapon in Stranger Things season 5.
For example, Eleven’s empathizing with Billy inspires Billy to sacrifice himself in season 3. In season 4, El tells Vecna that Dr. Brenner was the monster for hurting him. Of course, Vecna responds that he wants to be the monster. That is his choice.
In Choice We Trust:
Choices, too, are part of what makes us human. In the laboratory, Eleven had no choices. In season 4, Brenner still doesn’t let Eleven make her own choices about her future. With each choice she makes, Eleven affirms her humanity and draws power from it.
“Choice” is something El and Vecna both offer each other. Vecna rejects Eleven’s offer of redemption, and she rejects his offer to rule to galaxy–er, the world in episode 7.
If you come with me, for the first time in your life you will be free. Imagine what we could do together. We could reshape the world. Reimagine it however we see fit. Join me.
Vecna’s speech here clearly draws from a villainous speech in an ’80s classic known as The Empire Strikes Back:
You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
Of course, we all know how Vader’s story ended (and began, with killing the kids or “younglings”).
Free Will In Stranger Things Season 5While season 4 confirmed a few fan theories about Will (Noah Schnapp), he didn’t get much character development. That said, Will is set up to play a pivotal role in Stranger Things season 5. Not just because his name could be a pun on the concept of “free will,” or choice.
How could Will be important to stopping Vecna? Despite Vecna insisting that only he and Eleven are alike, Vecna’s actually a lot more similar to Will Byers than to any other character. This fact would probably make Vecna mad, but it’s true.
Only two characters have ever been shown to survive the Upside Down for any length of time: Vecna, and Will.
How could a kid who feels like a lonely outsider, who society won’t accept if he lives as himself (given the time period), and who has been rejected by a parent for being different, possibly fight Vecna?
Will is Vecna.
Not literally, although the Mind Flayer’s latching onto him is also not a coincidence. Fortunately, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) love and protect Will, and he has friends. Vecna didn’t have any of that. Therefore, Vecna might just need a reminder of what humanity can endure and survive from a kid who has no superpowers and never did.
11+8+1=20The season opener contains a pretty obvious piece of foreshadowing. When the Hellfire Club gathers to fight Dungeons and Dragons’ Vecna, they face almost certain defeat. They wonder if they should flee.
In the end, they don’t. Instead, they fight “to the death,” as Erica says.
Dustin rolls an 11, which is not enough to defeat Vecna. Clearly, this references Eleven the character. Erica then rolls a 20, which is enough.
How interesting that the three survivors of the experiments are numbers Eleven, Eight, and One. When totaled together, these numbers just so happen to total twenty. Maybe One, or the part of Vecna that is still human Henry Creel, is key to stopping his monstrous side in Stranger Things season 5.
Will Kali Return In Stranger Things Season 5?While Eight, or Kali Prasad (Linnea Berthelsen) hasn’t been seen since season 2, fans would love to see her in Stranger Things season 5. Not only is this Kali’s last chance for closure, but she is also a foil for Henry.
Kali makes her grand entrance by cursing her friend to see spiders, which he hates. Vecna, of course, had a fascination with spiders from a young age. Kali also is violent and tries to get Eleven to join her by killing someone. Unlike Vecna, though, Kali specifically targets people who hurt her.
She wants to make the world a better place by removing all the bad people. Meanwhile, Vecna wants to rid it of weak people. Weakness and even flaws are part of humanity, however. Eleven sees possibilities in people, even among those who have done the worst to her. For example, Eleven doesn’t forgive Dr. Brenner, but she also doesn’t deny his humanity.
This is a theme that the story directly calls out. In Episode 7, Vecna demands to know:
Why do you cry for them, Eleven, after everything they’ve done to you? You think you need them, but you don’t.
It’s not about needing them that makes El cry, though. Rather, it’s just her knowing that they’re human. This is something both Kali and Vecna need to learn, even though Kali is by no means a villain.
Just what the three of them can do together remains to be seen. One possibility is that they will somehow use their powers to evict the Upside Down from Hawkins.
Regardless of how Stranger Things ends, it will probably do so by affirming the same ideals it has upheld all along: compassion, connections, and that the most powerful and strangest things of all are human beings.