Thu. Feb 9th, 2023
‘Stranger Things’ Season 4: Why Shame Is Vecna’s Greatest Source of Power

Season 4 of Weird stuff gave fans plenty to talk about, but introducing Vecna ​​as the sinister big bad villain who moves behind the scenes is something many fans can’t think of. He is a fascinating, terrifying villain. This is not just because Jamie Campbell Bower brings perfectly sinister energy to the table or that the Duffer Brothers Vecna ​​weaves seamlessly into the fabric of previous seasons.


He is terrifying because he has access to secrets and the guilt that comes with those secrets. Vecna’s use of his victims’ guilty consciousness to terrorize his prey is an obvious tool in his arsenal. What is more subtle and powerful is that he uses shame to isolate and control. All of his victims, starting with Henry’s father, believe that if people know the truth about them, they will be rejected. from Max (Sadie Sink) walled toughness to Crissy’s (Grace van Dien) seeming perfection, Vecna’s goals project exterior walls to cover what’s happening inside. Henry Creel doesn’t just hunt down people who have done bad things, although some of them did. These characters believe that those things make them bad, unattractive people. Vecna ​​uses that faith to keep them chained to him. When Max begins to believe, even for a moment, that she has been accepted, Vecna ​​loses his grip on her, proving that shame, more than guilt, is the monster’s ultimate weapon.

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Shame as a weapon

Henry’s first set of victims, his family, shows the beginning of this dynamic of shame. Victor, played by the iconic Robert Englund, moves to Hawkins to escape the horrifying realities of his time as a soldier in World War II. He is about to start over with a perfect family living an ideal life in a small town. If he can build a good life here, he can leave behind the horror of his mistakes. No doubt these events would remain in the back of his mind anyway, but here comes his super-powerful, sadistic son, ready to ensure that Victor can’t forget his worst moment. He torments his father with this guilt, while also tormenting their family. He tests his strength on animals and creates a nuisance in their home. When the animal deaths are written off as simple attacks from larger predators, it only adds to the shame. There is something bad in their house, but nobody believes them and nobody can see it. They are cursed and alone. Rejected and already failed in their efforts to create the perfect family. This eventually culminates in the deaths of Vecna’s sister and mother, and Victor’s incarceration for their murders.

Then there’s Crissy. Her shame stems from her mother’s verbal abuse. She believes her mother’s words, leading to an eating disorder. Crissy tries to dissolve the facade of perfection. She’s dating the “perfect” guy. She’s the “perfect” cheerleader. It’s starting to get too much and for a moment she has a chance to get past that shame and share her true self with Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn). However, she remains alone in her secrets and Vecna ​​takes her with her. Fred Benson (Logan Riley Bruner) killed a student in a hit-and-run, a pretty terrible thing that he believes makes him a terrible person. Again, there is a possible moment of connection before Vecna ​​kills Fred, this time with Nancy (Natalia Dyer). Perhaps this could have been another time when acceptance would have weakened Vecna’s power. If only Fred had shown Nancy what was really going on. Patrick McKinney (Myles Truitt) faces a similar crisis to Crissy. He is abused by his father, a fact he hides, but Creel uses this secret. Because Patrick’s marauding band of judgmental jock friends aren’t the type to be open with, he never shares the hallucinations he sees with anyone. These victims share one important similarity: They kept their secrets and kept their shame.

Nancy is in between these two positions on her shame. She’s not a vault of secrets like the previous victims, but she’s not as open with her shame as Max eventually becomes. Nancy once shared the burden of Barb’s death with Steve (Joe Keery), but her relationship with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) has led to a distance between her and Steve. So shame over Barb’s death looms. Nancy carries the burden alone. At first glance, it seems that Nancy has changed so profoundly that she no longer harbors that guilt and realizes that Barb’s death was not her fault. Even so, Vecna ​​still gets a hold of her and uses the shame she carries to possess her. She isn’t quite able to fight back at the level that Max was, but her refusal to keep this shame a secret means that, unlike the other victims, she has enough daring to fight back. Shame doesn’t have a full grip on her. She doesn’t believe she deserves death.

Max fights Vecna ​​by overcoming shame

The battle for Max is where Vecna’s use of shame becomes most apparent. Vecna ​​says, “There’s a reason you’re hiding from them. You belong here with me.’ Vecna ​​implies that Max is bad, bad, just like him. That’s what shame does. This is what he tells all his victims. They’re killers. They should escape their pain. They’re better off bonding with him in the twisted world of The Upside Down, because that’s where they belong. Vecna ​​tells them, “You are what this guilt says you are.” When Max remembers how she was accepted by Lucas (Caleb McLaughlino), eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), and the rest of the gang, who break power. Max finds the will to fight the monster. She runs from The Upside Down to her friends while “Running Up That Hill” is playing, but it’s not just the music that helps her. The acceptance of her friends gives her the strength to leave and fight the shame. Music has a part to play, but what really gives Max the strength to fight Creel’s influence is the realization that she belongs to them, just the way she is.

It’s when Max gives in to shame that she loses to Vecna. Acting as bait and entering a trance, Max sees Lucas reject her after revealing that she wanted Billy out of her life. She fully admits that she didn’t know if she wanted Billy to live. This is the greatest source of her shame and Vecna’s strongest point of power in her mind. In this scene, Vecna ​​uses the image of Lucas rejecting her as this will cause the most embarrassment, make her lose her will to fight and allow him to kill her. He breaks her greatest power against him: her friendships. Elf’s timely arrival in Max’s mind doesn’t work just because Elf is a superhero with powers similar to Vecna’s. It also works, because it proves once again, she is accepted. She doesn’t have to hide.

Shame is undoubtedly one of the things Vecna ​​hates in people. Henry’s hatred of any kind of morality or kindness is central to the serial killer’s evil. He is superior and above all. He is not ashamed because he is bad. Shame traps, it’s true. It lies to people about whether they can be accepted, loved, or cared for. Shame is also recognizable. Most people reading this have at some point thought, “If people knew me, they wouldn’t like me. So I have to hide.” At the same time, shame is a sign of something good in people. Fred, Nancy and Victor’s guilt over the dead is not a sign that something is broken in them, as Vecna ​​believes, it is a sign of something good in them. It comes out in dysfunctional or unhealthy ways, but that shame means they are human and value others. They are not above everything, like Vecna. It means they are not bad. Vecna ​​doesn’t understand shame. It’s something he’s too broken to feel. But these abusers, like Vecna ​​or Robert and Crissy’s parents, use this shame to manipulate, control, and harm. And that’s something that makes Vecna’s frenzy of terror so terrifying. He is chasing something that almost everyone feels. vecna uses an impulse coming from a good place to get people to hide. There are many ways this could be explored in the final season, especially regarding Elf and Will, who both struggle with a sense of being accepted as they are.. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this theme resurface when those two inevitably face Vecna ​​again in the future.

Regardless, the presence of shame is Vecna’s biggest and most twisted power source, and one of the reasons he’s such a compelling villain.

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