Massive Stranger Things season 4 vol 2 spoilers follow from the outset
If you've made it to the end of Stranger Things volume two then you're probably feeling a bit emotionally drained. Traumatized, even.
Eddie (Joseph Quinn)! We lost a good one, may your metal-rocking soul rest in peace. Of all the new additions to go, he was arguably the hardest to say farewell to.
As hard as those character arcs were to swallow, though, there's another character who departed way too soon. One whose death was harder to stomach even than Eddie's.
We're talking about Dr Brenner (Matthew Modine).
We know, we know. He's the bad guy. Even when he's trying to be redeemable (in trying to help Eleven get her powers back) he's the worst.
Brenner exploited and manipulated a whole host of powered children to the detriment of the world, starting with Hawkins.
We're not blaming him for 001's actions exactly; as Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) states: "He was just a man. An ordinary, mediocre man. That is why he sought greatness in others. In you and me. But in the end he could not control us. He could not shape us. He could not change us. Do you not see Eleven? He did not make me into this. You did."
That dramatic reveal may be true. In unintentionally sending him to The Upside-Down Eleven really did create a monster.
However Brenner's bullying exploitation of El (Millie Bobby Brown) is what led to her accidentally freeing Vecna, which is what ultimately began this topsy-turvy, Upside-Down mess. Had he not meddled, Vecna could have been left festering in the Upside-Down for all eternity.
This is just one example, among thousands, which prove that Brenner is, without a doubt, a despicable mouth-breather. Even so, that doesn't mean his death was deserving. In fact his demise was a disservice to his character.
His death should have reflected the heinous crimes he committed. It should have been painful. Excruciatingly and terrifyingly apt. To have been gunned down by the army just feels anticlimactic.
Let's not forget this is a man who stripped vulnerable children of their human rights all while making them call him 'Papa', as well as someone who has literally had a steering hand in the destruction of Hawkins.
Meanwhile in the same universe there are kids having their bones snapped and their eyeballs punctured. How is that fair?
What's worse is he died before we even got to learn what it was all for. Sure he wanted power, but to what end? To control an army of powered individuals for what exactly? Advancement in scientific development? Take over the world? Defeat telemarketers? What Brenner? What did you want? Alas, we may never know.
Brenner deserved to pay for all his evil deeds and face up to those he wronged, but it's no longer possible for him to answer to the other powered children whose death he was partially culpable for and we don't know what's going on with Eight. However it's positively criminal that he didn't have to face 001.
Eleven was awarded a moment with him in his final few minutes; between Brenner's gasps for life, he pleaded with her for forgiveness and understanding. Her stout resolve in not accepting his pitiful, manipulative apology was beautiful.
It gave her power where previously she had none and that she didn't have to be the one to kill him to find healing through closure. 001, however, was robbed of this chance.
While we don't believe for a moment that 001 would view Brenner as significant enough for a second thought, we also believe that death at his hands – especially given his uninterest – would have been more just.
001 was important to Brenner, his first attempt at controlling a powered person turned out to be a 'failure' by his own admission. He claimed to care about 001 and in some sick and twisted way he probably did, so having Vecna be the one to strip him of the very power he once lorded over them all would have been poetic.
And 001 would have really made it hurt – not out of revenge but casually, because of his cold, dismissiveness of human life.
The only consoling thought is that he may not be dead-dead. When we saw him last, he did that dramatic flop of the body and lay there, presumably gone. But this wouldn't be the first time he's evaded death. Perhaps he's just unconscious, hanging out with Max in the thin veil between life and death.
If that's true, there may be hope yet for an even more grueling, satisfyingly painful end for dear old Papa.
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