Stranger Things loves to kill off people with B names. Benny. Barb. Billy. Bob. Bruce. But for some reason the show let the worst B-named person come back again: Dr. Brenner. He’s easily one of the worst humans we’ve seen thus far, a shady guy who treats kids like lab rats. Stranger Things 4 brings Brenner back into the fold and we learn a bit more about his relationship with Eleven. Here’s how Brenner returns to Stranger Things and what his fate is by the end of Volume 2.
Jump to: Brenner and Eleven in Volume 2
Interestingly, Brenner is the first familiar face we see in the season opener. We go back a few years in time to 1979 when he’s working at Hawkins Lab. He lives in an ordinary house and apparently likes to do crossword puzzles. This day, however, isn’t an ordinary day for him. He’s in the middle of a “challenge” with Ten when things go awry. BOOM, a door slaps him in the face and when he regains consciousness, a bloody scene awaits him. It turns out Eleven has killed pretty much every other kid (and a few adults) in a rage… or at least that’s what the scene looks like. He angrily asks her what she’s done and she simply stares at him with bloody tears.
The first time we see him in present day, it’s in a stomach churning reunion with Eleven. She goes from being somewhat excited to begin training to regain her powers and save the world to horrified and enraged. Both of those reactions are quite valid when seeing your abuser. Eleven is basically back where she was in season one: stuck in a lab and being subjected to strenuous tests in a sensory deprivation tank.
Only this time, scientists feed her memories from video footage in hopes that remembering her past will jolt her powers. She begins to recall questionable moments, like when Brenner is present during the beating of an orderly. And she sees a portion of the massacre we saw in the opening scene. Eleven gains an open door to escape but she decides to stay, taking Brenner’s hand and calling him “Papa” again. It could very well be a trauma response of her falling back into her previous mindset. Or, perhaps Eleven is playing along to get what she wants—her powers. They are a major part of her identity and sorely needed in the fight against Vecna.
What Happens to Dr. Brenner in Stranger Things 4 Volume 2?
Many fans were wondering if Brenner would die in Stranger Things 4. And now we know that yes, Brenner is dead for real this time… at least based on what we saw. At first, it seemed a vengeful Eleven was ready to take him out. His claim that he just “wants to help her” is a predictable lie. He’s manipulative to the point of drugging Eleven when she elects to leave and help her friends with Owens’ full support. But that’s not before Eleven verbally dresses him down, saying that she knows what he did to Henry and why he wanted her to tap into her powers. And she was about to kill him before the drugs took over.
We knew that Brenner wouldn’t be getting any comeuppance from his actions in terms of being arrested, going to prison, etc. He’s far too underground and shady to let that happen. But he did get what was coming to him. As he carries Eleven out of the lab to avoid the military personnel coming to kill her—and him—he is shot several times by a sniper in a helicopter. Eleven takes the helicopter down before she can be killed, though. And Brenner does a final decent thing by freeing her of that awful shock collar. You know, the one he shouldn’t have put on her anyway. As he bleeds from his wounds, he tells Eleven once again that he was only acting for her good. He wants her to confirm that she understands but instead she simply says “goodbye Papa,” and leaves with the Cali crew.
Is Brenner Really Dead in Stranger Things 4? Will He Return for Stranger Things 5?
Ummm… maybe! Brenner gets a bullet to the chest and he’s not Wolverine so he can’t heal from that. But it would be our luck that somehow he gets saved before taking that last breath. And Matthew Modine is sparking conspiracy theories with an IG post insinuating that Papa may be simply waiting somewhere.
Hmmm. It did seem like a rather unceremonious way for him to die. Honestly, I would have rather seen Eleven or even Henry/One crumple him like paper. For now, we will assume that this is where his story ends.
Originally published May 27, 2022.
Featured Image: Netflix