Stranger Things season 4's Vol. 1 ending reveals Vecna's origins and a long-lost character

·5 min read
Stranger Things season 4's Vol. 1 ending reveals Vecna's origins and a long-lost character

Warning: This article contains major spoilers from Stranger Things season 4, Volume 1.

Stranger Things season 4 goes back to the beginning — to the root of the evil plaguing Hawkins, Indiana, and the horrors that went down in Papa's laboratory that kickstarted Eleven's adventures with the Upside Down. If we're going that far back, we might as well visit the one that started it all.

After three seasons of teases, the finale of Volume 1 — the first of season 4's two parts — finally introduced 001, Dr. Martin Brenner's very first patient with psychic abilities. Known for playing a young Grindelwald in the Harry Potter movies, Volturi member Caius in the Twilight franchise, and Jace in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, actor Jamie Campbell Bower now debuts as 001.

Bower's face first shows up in season 4's fifth episode. After Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) takes Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) to a secret facility where she can work with Brenner (Matthew Modine) — who, surprise, somehow survived that demogorgon attack in season 1 — to restore her powers, El is forced to relive painful memories. She's had some kind of psychic stroke, and unlocking events she blocked out of her mind could restore them. So, she floats in a water tank until her mind drifts to the past, which includes 001.

Jamie Campbell Bower attends Netflix's "Stranger Things" Season 4 Premiere at Netflix Brooklyn on May 14, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York.
Jamie Campbell Bower attends Netflix's "Stranger Things" Season 4 Premiere at Netflix Brooklyn on May 14, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York.

Arturo Holmes/WireImage Jamie Campbell Bower has a top-secret role in 'Stranger Things' season 4.

Some fans had earlier theorized 001 was secretly the Mind Flayer of earlier seasons, given the creature's fascination with Eleven. But 001 appears in season 4 as a friendly orderly at the lab. (Even the end credits on most episodes state Bower plays a "friendly orderly.") He looks after all the kids, but he takes a liking to Eleven.

As she struggles to get a hold of her powers in the Rainbow Room, he sits besides her and mentions that he used to work with the patient known as 001 for years, even though Papa claims 001 to be a myth. He never explains what happened to 001. ("Maybe we'll save that story for another day. It doesn't have a happy ending, I'm afraid.") But he does mention that the boy found his strength in a memory that made him both sad and angry.

After using this advice, Eleven is able to subdue the most advanced kid at the lab in a test of power. This leads to retaliation later that night when the ego-bruised boy and his friends gang up on her in the Rainbow Room. The orderly appears to fear for El's safety and says he'll help her escape the lab or else the other kids will try to kill her. Papa will allow it to happen, the orderly claims, because he's scared of Eleven.

When night falls, the orderly leads Eleven to a pipe leading to the outside, but he can't follow her. He reveals what looks to be a tracking device implanted in his neck. As a thanks, Eleven uses her powers to remove the chip, which leads the orderly to reveal his true identity as 001.

001 was born Henry Creel, the son of Victor Creel (played by A Nightmare on Elm Street's Robert Englund). The family, including the mother and daughter, moved into a house in Hawkins years earlier where Henry caused strange events to occur. Realizing he had tremendous psychic power, he haunted his family with visions before ultimately killing most of them. His father was framed for the murders and locked away in a mental hospital as a disturbed serial killer. Henry then found himself in the care of Brenner, who decided he wanted more kids like the boy.

There are still a few details we don't know, but it's clear that Brenner secretly kept Henry around as an orderly and the chip in his neck was some kind of power suppressant. Without it, Henry is able to unleash his powers on those in the lab, slaughtering nearly everyone, including the children. The young El faces Henry and, using a happy memory, overpowers him. It's in this moment that she inadvertently opens a portal to the Upside Down and locks Henry away in the dimension.

Stanger Things 4
Stanger Things 4

Netflix Vecna, the new demo-creature, is revealed in the latest 'Stranger Things' season 4 trailer.

Henry spends years trapped in the Upside Down, which changes him into the monster that is now terrorizing Hawkins in the present: Vecna. As Vecna, Henry uses his powers to torment his victims in the real world with haunting visions from their pasts before ultimately possessing them and mangling their bodies. When he's done, his targets appeared to be dead in the most gruesome way, but as Henry once told a young El, the kids he murdered at the lab are still with him in his mind.

"Vecna really is a creature that has mutated in the last however many couple of decades during his time in the Upside Down," prosthetics designer Barrie Gower said. "This is where he has become more overtaken by the Upside Down world and become pretty much possessed and mutated."

There are still two more episodes to go in season 4, when Volume II drops on Netflix July 1. Episode 8 will be 1 hour and 25 minutes, while episode 9 will be nearly 2-and-a-half hours. All signs point towards a rematch between Henry and Eleven, who now seemingly has her abilities back. Will El be able to go two-for-two in the psychic ring? We'd like to assume so, but it is the penultimate season. Anything can happen.

Stay tuned for a full recap of Stranger Things season 4, Volume I.

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