The following article has spoilers for volume one of the fourth season of Stranger Things.
The first volume of the fourth season of Stranger Things has been released on Netflix. The seven episodes released so far see the town of Hawkins tormented once again, but this time by a new villain and servant of The Mind Flayer, Vecna. So who is Vecna and what are his origins?
Who is Vecna?
Every Stranger Things villain is an adaptation of a Dungeons and Dragons villain, and Vecna is no exception. In Dungeons and Dragons, Vecna was a wizard who became a lich. A lich is a being who uses magic to defy death, prolonging their own life in a horrifying undead form. His origins in the series are quite different compared to his origins in Dungeons and Dragons, however, so let’s go through his origins on Stranger Things.
Vecna is a tentacled creature in the Upside Down who had been murdering teenagers in Hawkins. He does this by invading their minds telepathically, putting his victims into a trance, showing them things that they feel guilty about, then levitating them, snapping their limbs, and gouging their eyes out. His tentacles are spread throughout the Upside Down, and he is connected to them, having the ability to sense when they are touched. Vecna also commands flying creatures called Demo Bats.
At first, Vecna seems to just be a resident of the Upside Down, but a reveal in the final episode of Vol. 1, ‘Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’ makes it clear that is not the case.
Vecna’s origins revealed
Midway through the season, Dr. Owens approaches Eleven to ask her to save the world yet again. Dr. Owens had found a way for her to regain her powers through something called the Nina Project. When Eleven decides to regain her powers, she is subjected to reliving her memories from Hawkins Lab while floating in a sensory deprivation tank.
Through a series of flashbacks, we see what it was like for Eleven when she was first developing her powers. After being bullied by a few of the other children in the lab, she became friends with a member of the staff, one who manipulated her into freeing him and releasing his powers.
At the same time, Nancy and Robin visited Victor Creel in the asylum, a man whose family was killed in 1959 in a similar manner to Vecna’s victims. At the end of the final episode, Nancy is taken into the Upside Down where she is given visions of what really happened to Creel’s family.
Creel’s son Henry was special, possessing abilities similar to Eleven’s. Unfortunately for the Creel family, Henry felt isolated and disillusioned from the rest of the world. Realizing what he could truly achieve with his powers, Henry turned on his family, killing his sister and his mother with his father only being able to resist because he was drawn back to reality by music.
This is when it is revealed that Creel was taken by Dr. Brenner to be experimented on, making him 001. He was also the orderly with whom Eleven had become friends, who, once released, killed the rest of the experimental children in the lab. This was the first time Eleven really embraced her powers, and she was able to defeat Creel using the intense sadness and anger from losing everyone she had known.
Unbeknownst to Eleven, she did not kill Creel, only sentencing him to pain and anguish in the Upside Down, where he eventually became Vecna. Obviously still a sociopath, but now influenced by The Mind Flayer as well, Vecna started killing teenagers, imprisoning their bodies in the Upside Down version of his family home.
The key to defeating Vecna most likely lies in his origins, so it’s great that the Hawkins teenagers were able to figure it out. The fates of our favorite Stranger Things characters, as well as the fate of Vecna, will be revealed with the release of the final two movie-length episodes of the fourth season, so be sure to check it out when it hits Netflix in July.
Stranger Things season four is available to stream now on Netflix, with the final two episodes coming out on July 1, 2022.