The first seven episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 were released on Friday (May 27), and the internet is abuzz with hot takes, memes, and predictions about the final two episodes that are scheduled to drop in July. That means that for the next few weeks, prepare to see the name “Vecna” all over your social media feeds.
With tens of thousands of tweets, Vecna is already the breakout star of the season. So, who is Vecna? And why is the internet so obsessed with it? Let’s talk about it.
Mild Spoilers ahead.
Who is Vecna?
Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Vecna is to Stranger Things 4 what the Demogorgon was to Season 1. In other words, he’s the big, scary monster wreaking havoc on Hawkins.
Vecna lives in the Upside Down and preys on people’s past traumas and guilt. The monster curses its victims, making them relive their trauma in progressively more gruesome ways until it violently kills them. (And we mean, like, really violently.) Vecna slaughters its targets by levitating them in the air, breaking all their bones, and making their eyes and skull implode. And like its predecessors (the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer), Vecna is named by the Party after a Dungeons & Dragons character.
In the final episode of Stranger Things 4 Volume 1, it’s revealed that Vecna isn’t native to the Upside Down, but was banished there by Eleven after he gruesomely massacred the Hawkins National Lab. Vecna was the original child studied by Dr. Brenner and the son of Victor Creel. He’s the infamous Number One, but had his powers blocked and worked as an aide in the Hawkins National Lab. He befriended Eleven at the lab and not knowing Vecna was evil, Eleven restored his powers resulting in the massacre and his expulsion to the Upside Down.
Before coming to the Hawkins National Lab, Venca had a classic villain origin story — he became obsessed with black widows, tortured his family, and brutally killed his mother and sister pinning it on his father.
One/Vecna had his powers blocked and was working as an aide at Hawkins National Lab where he befriended Eleven. Not knowing that One was evil, Eleven restored his powers which he used to gruesomely massacre the entire lab. Eleven banished One/Vecna to the Upside Down where he’s been attacking the Hawkins teens from.
Vecna notably targets Max (Sadie Sink), and the Hawkins gang discovers that the only way for her to avoid being killed by his curse is to play Max her favorite song, which happens to be “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” by Kate Bush. As a result of its inclusion in the show, the 1985 track has skyrocketed in popularity and currently sits at No. 2 on Spotify’s top 50 U.S. chart and No. 4 on its top 200 global chart.
Max’s obsession with “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” sparked a larger conversation on social media about discovering music through a television show. Some gatekeepers stuck up their nose at people finding the track through Stranger Things, while others celebrated the iconic song beguiling a new generation.
While the ending of Episode 4 — in which Max runs from Vecna in the Upside Down trying to reach a portal to the real world while listening to “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” — is the standout scene of the season, it hasn’t been Vecna’s only viral moment. Vecna’s weakness unsurprisingly became an opportunity for viewers to share what song would save their life.
“What’s your Vecna song?” is now the pop culture savvy way to ask for someone’s favorite song.
What song would save you?