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Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 4 Vol. 2. You’ve been warned. There’s lots to be said about Stranger Things’ attitude to killing off characters. You may argue that it’s something show creators the Duffer brothers don’t do enough of. Perhaps you think the show’s deaths are too obvious. You wouldn’t be wrong for saying that to date, Stranger Things’ core cast seem to be invincible, leaving the secondary characters as cannon fodder.
With all that in mind, fans weren’t exactly thrilled to see Eddie Munson killed off in the show’s season four finale. Granted, it was an epic scene and seeing Eddie take on the horde of Demobats was one of the highlights of the series, but that was upended by his subsequent tragic passing - which turned me into a giant ball of sob. As I unpicked the episode though, I realised that Eddie’s death may not be all it seems and could in fact set up season five’s villain in a major way.
Looking for more spooky viewing? Prey lands on Disney+ in the UK on 5 August 2022.
We don’t know much about season five, but we do know that Vecna has officially been set up as Stranger Things’ endgame villain. After Eleven cast Henry Creel / Vecna into the Upside Down, he was able to manipulate the realm’s various inhabitants - the Demogorgan, Demodogs, and Mind Flayer - into doing his bidding. As teased by the end of season four, we can expect these villains to team up and return in season five, but Vecna needs to be there to lead them, assumedly, and thanks to Nancy, Steve and Robin’s Molotov attack, Vecna is looking a little crispy and worse for wear.
This brings us nicely on to Eddie. I firmly believe that Eddie is dead for good, with no chance of returning - but that’s not to say that his body and actor Joseph Quinn are out of the picture. My theory is this: Vecna needs a new body and Eddie just so handily died inside the Upside Down where Vecna currently resides. Sure, the bodies of Chrissy, Fred and Patrick are also up for grabs, but they were left in a rather more … twisted state. We know that Vecna has the ability to wield the Mind Flayers’ psychic powers so given his current condition, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Vecna could use these powers to transport his consciousness into Eddie’s un-barbequed body.
The show’s creatives clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to casting. Evidently, the very likeable and extremely talented Joseph Quinn has captured the hearts of fans, but I highly doubt this is a surprise to the Duffer brothers who surely saw Quinn work his magic on set. If Vecna does indeed place his consciousness into Eddie’s body, Joseph Quinn could return as season five’s key endgame villain - and it wouldn’t undermine Eddie’s death.
Stranger Things 4 made a huge deal out of establishing Eddie as the town’s scapegoat, with the townsfolk of Hawkins convinced that Eddie was an evil cultist. This was a recurrent plot thread throughout the season right from the Hawkins basketball team’s early suspicions, to the town meeting-prompted witch hunt, to the defaced ‘missing’ posters in the closing scenes of the finale. As the viewer, we know Eddie is dead yet the show clearly wants us to know that the townsfolk are still villainising this guy, so why?
It simply wouldn’t make sense for this storyline to go away, which brings me back to my theory of Vecna using Eddie’s body. Season five looks like it’ll be set out in the open across the entirety of Hawkins so if the townsfolk see Eddie (except it’s Vecna) leading this endgame invasion, it’s going to hugely spice up the plot. It gives the people of Hawkins the added ammunition of saying ‘We told you so,’ creating an interesting dynamic between them and Vecna.
It also complicates things for our core cast of characters. Not only would they have to struggle with the emotional toll of taking down a villain who looks a lot like an old friend, but they’d have the added pressure of trying to restore Eddie’s memory and his heroic actions - despite how things clearly look. You’ve got to admit it’s a convincing theory. I’ve certainly convinced myself, but I guess we’ve got a good few years to wait to see if this all proves to be true.
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