Warning: Spoilers for Volume One of Stranger Things season four to follow.
Season four of Stranger Things has packed some of the show’s biggest punches so far, figuratively and literally, given awe-striking scenes like the final few minutes of “Dear Billy,” and the fact that no episode has clocked less than an hour of runtime. As everyone expected, the plight of the Hawkins crew continues to deliver some of Netflix’s best entertainment.
But among the show’s biggest talking points is the new antagonist Vecna, a hyper-intelligent, monstrous being and a key player in the Mind Flayer’s army. But what is Vecna’s game plan, exactly? One redditor took to r/FanTheories to posit an answer to that question and, given the abundance of context clues we’ve been given up to now, it’s probably not far off.
The commonality between Vecna’s victims is that they all carry the weight of unresolved trauma, as we saw with Chrissy, Fred, Patrick, and would-be victim Max. The reason that trauma is the key for these targets, as we find out in the seventh episode, is that traumatic memories hold enormous power. Furthermore, Vecna tells Eleven in the same episode that her brothers and sisters are not dead, but rather have become part of him, just like how he tells his present victims that they will be “joining him.”
So, if the people that Vecna murders become a part of him, and traumatic memories hold great levels of power, it stands to reason that Vecna becomes stronger with each murder, and is thus making himself stronger for when the Mind Flayer chooses to invade Hawkins once again. It’s a difficult theory to argue with, as it was effectively confirmed in the show. If it’s true, the gang is in for the fight of their life, especially Eleven, who will almost certainly be going toe-to-toe with Vecna again.