Warning: This article contains spoilers from Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2.
Everything on Stranger Things leads back to One, a.k.a. Henry Creel, a.k.a. Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). It was true in the sense that a young Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) first opened a portal to the Upside Down during her showdown with the psychic prodigy at Hawkins Lab years ago, but the season 4 finale in the two-part Volume 2 drop on Friday came with a new revelation that connects a major series-long thread.
While doing battle with El in the astral plane of Max's (Sadie Sink) mind, Vecna constrains his opponent and gets to monologuing more of his backstory. He explains how he's secretly been the one pulling the strings in Hawkins since at least season 2, but the mystery goes back further to season 1.
Vecna is the Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayer is Vecna.
Netflix Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) has a connection to the very beginning of 'Stranger Things.'
After his first battle with Eleven, One found himself in the Upside Down. He became an "explorer," he says — and he discovered "something that would change everything." One came across what looked like a living black cloud wizzing about in the air, similar to the swirling, buzzing mass of Upside Down particles Joyce (Winona Ryder), Hopper (David Harbour), and Murray (Brett Gelman) found contained in the Russian prison's lab.
"I saw a means to realize my potential to transcend my human form, to become the predator I was always born to be," Vecna tells El. We then see One use his powers to mold the cloud into the spindly shape of the Mind Flayer. Vecna did say he had a fondness for spiders, particularly Black Widows.
The Mind Flayer is the creature that first took notice of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) when the kid became trapped in the Upside Down in season 1. It then went on to possess Will in season 2 and Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) in season 3. It's the entity that could command the demogorgons, the tendrils, and virtually all the terrors from the Upside Down. It was really One/Henry/Vecna this whole time.
"All I needed was someone to open the door, and you did that for me without even realizing it," he tells El, referring to when she opened a portal to the Upside Down back in season 1. But after she fought to close the gate and the ones that would follow, One/Henry/Vecna sought to create his own portals.
netflix The Mind Flayer as seen terrorizing Hawkins in 'Stranger Things' season 2.
We learn from the first episode of Vol. 2 that Vecna just needed to kill four individuals in his Freddy Krueger-like way in order to completely break the barrier between the world of Hawkins and the world of the Upside Down. And he succeeds: the finale sees the Upside Down crashing into the small town in a massive earthquake, leaving what hell lies in that parallel dimension free to now roam across America.
Vecna is also still alive by the time the end credits roll. When Will steps foot back in Hawkins, those strange feelings start to creep back. He can feel Vecna's presence, though the creature was severely hurt when Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) set him on fire and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) popped a few shotgun rounds into him.
At least the real threat in Stranger Things now has a face — even if it's one that needs moisturizer like yesterday.
Stranger Things season 4 is now streaming in its entirety on Netflix.
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