Vecna's Ties To The Mind Flayer In Stranger Things 4 Explained

This article contains major spoilers for "Strange Things" season 4.

Season 4 serves as the penultimate chapter of "Stranger Things," and with the end on the horizon, the unexplained chaos known as The Upside Down has just started to make a bit more sense. As the monstrous, tentacle-wrapped muscle man known as Vecna unleashed a teenage killing spree across Hawkins, it was up to our favorites, spread across the globe, to figure out his origins and put a stop to him before he destroyed the world as we know it. We learned that Vecna was born Henry Creel (Jamie Campbell Bower), the son of infamous familicide killer Victor Creel (Robert Englund), who was revealed to have been falsely convicted of killing his family. Actually, it was Henry that killed his family, harnessing his supernatural powers and later becoming "One" as part of Dr. Brenner's research at Hawkins Laboratory.

After a confrontation with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) back at the Lab, One was banished to The Upside Down, where he became the source of all of the horrible harbingers unleashed upon Hawkins over the course of "Stranger Things." As the group began to figure out the origins of Vecna and the extent of his power, Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) hypothesized that Vecna served as the second-in-command or "five-star general" to the Mind Flayer they first encountered in season 2. Unfortunately, Dustybuns was quite a bit off the mark with his prediction. He was correct in believing there to be a connection between Vecna and the Mind Flayer, but how the two relate to another is sure to bring a new level of danger to the community of Hawkins, and especially, those who try to fight it.

Spoiling the unspoiled realm

Eleven learned the truth of Vecna's connection to the Mind Flayer during her attempt to save Max by reaching her through the Void as Vecna targeted her for his fourth and final kill. After Vecna successfully captured Eleven and pinned her up using his vine-like tentacles, he delivered a threatening monologue that answered some of the biggest burning questions. After Eleven used her powers against Henry/One, she inadvertently opened a rift between our world and The Upside Down, sending him into the nether realm and charring his flesh as he dropped between worlds. Henry/One believed it to be a form of purgatory, but soon realized he had been dropped into what he called an "a realm unspoiled by mankind." During his fall in 1979, The Upside Down hadn't yet become an inverted copy of Hawkins, and was just a gloomy, desolate, wasteland. Henry/One came across Demodogs and other sinister creatures, viewing them as small predators in need of protection, the same way he felt toward household spiders as a human on earth.

Given his supernatural ability to connect and manipulate the minds of others, Henry/One approached a massive, swirling cloud-like mass and transformed it into the shape of a spider-like being. Henry/One created the Mind Flayer, an impossibly large cosmic beast resembling one of his childhood drawings. Vecna was not here to do the bidding of The Mind Flayer — the Mind Flayer appeared in season 2 to do the bidding of Vecna by helping him realize his potential as a monster, transcend his human form, and to "become the predator [he] was always born to be."

The black widow of The Upside Down

Henry Creel was fascinated with spiders as a child, viewing the black widow as the ultimate alpha predator and only looked down upon due to its size. By coming in contact with the form that would become the Mind Flayer, Henry/One/Vecna was able to manipulate its power for his own benefit. By using the Mind Flayer, he could attempt to reset humanity, using the powerful entity as an extension of his power. By taking control of the Mind Flayer, Vecna turned all of the inhabitants of the Upside Down into a hive mind. It's why all of the demobats, demodogs, and demogorgons act in sync, and why they can be destroyed if the host is incapacitated.

Henry/One/Vecna sent out the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer, and other assorted Upside Down creatures to weaken the barrier between the two worlds, eventually making it so America and Russia could open their own gates, allowing Vecna to walk right through. "All I needed was someone to open the door," he says to Eleven, implying that all of this would have been avoided had she not banished him to the Upside Down, blaming her for all of the death and destruction that has plagued Hawkins. He knew he couldn't make it through without Eleven's power, and after the Battle of Starcourt Mall, he got his wish.

Vecna is still connected to his survivors

Henry/One/Vecna first tried to attack our world by possessing Will Byers, but wasn't strong enough to make it happen. He again tried with Billy, but his plan was foiled yet again by Eleven. He attacked her yet again in season 3 through the Mind Flayer, who bit her and implanted a worm in her leg. After Jonathan removes the worm from her body, she discovers her powers are gone, but unbeknownst to her, it's because Vecna sucked her power out through the worm.

Now in possession of her power, Vecna was finally strong enough to enter the minds of his victims, and created the necessary four gates to bring The Upside Down to our world. Fortunately, whether Vecna knows it or not, Will Byers is still connected to his hive mind, having felt his presence in the final moments of season 4. With Max in a coma but still alive, there's a good chance she'll also be connected to Vecna if/when she finally wakes up. No matter what Vecna has in store for season 5, we can take solace in knowing Eleven, Will, and the rest of the gang are going to be ready to take him down once and for all.