STRANGER THINGS 4 Brings Back Dr. Brenner for a Shocking Reunion with Eleven - Nerdist
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STRANGER THINGS 4 Brings Back Dr. Brenner for a Shocking Reunion with Eleven

Spoiler Alert

Stranger Things loves to kill off people with B names. Benny. Barb. Billy. Bob. Bruce. But for some reason the show won’t off the B-named person we want to go away the most: 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 we think will happen to him. 

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. 

photo of doctor brenner standing over eleven as she wears a contraption on her head in stranger things 4
Netflix

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.

[hold for 5/27] STRANGER THINGS 4 Brings Back Dr. Brenner in an Unexpected Way_1
Netflix

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.

Will Brenner die in Stranger Things 4? Well, it depends on how vengeful Eleven is feeling. Brenner claims that he just “wants to help her” but he’s still rather manipulative with his own agenda. Owens points this out in episode seven, wondering if Brenner really wants to help Eleven or simply have his “daughter” back. After all, he did tell her that this new lab is her “home.” And surely he is going to do everything he can to keep her there.

Matthew Modine's Dr. Brenner ina. white shirt and black tie talks to Eleven in a white shirt with mechanical headgear on Stranger Things
Netflix

However, Eleven’s arc thus far is about figuring out whether she wants to lean into her darker side or not. Is she a monster or a superhero? Because of this, she may decide to spare Brenner’s life for “helping” her get powers back. We shall see. What is unlikely is Brenner 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.

The big revelation that the orderly in white isn’t an ordinary man but rather One, a.k.a. Henry Creel, also changes the tides. It’s him, not Eleven, who is responsible for the Hawkins Lab killings. We are sure that Eleven still thinks Brenner is a terrible person but in the light of One’s plan to kill, well, everyone, Brenner looks slightly less awful. Let’s not forget him putting a shock collar on a child and creating an army of telekinetic kids for his own agenda. One thing is for sure, though. This season makes him a much more complex character because of One’s story. However, we have to remember that One gives off very “unreliable narrator” vibes. So there is a chance that Brenner is not as evil as One paints him to be nor as we initially thought. But he is certainly not good either.

Eleven will have to confront One soon. It’s not clear if Eleven actually created the Upside Down or if she just opened the first gate to it. (My vote is that the Upside Down is ancient and ever-evolving.) But she certainly led to One being there and becoming Vecna. If anyone wants to kill Brenner as soon as possible, it would be One/Vecna. And honestly we wouldn’t be mad about it. Let’s see what happens to Dr. Brenner in Stranger Things 4 Volume Two.

Featured Image: Netflix

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