(This is a republished post. You can view the original posting HERE.)
The conclusion to season four of Stranger Things has dropped, and from my viewpoint, it's certainly been watched with massive excitement all over the US, if not the world. The internet is ablaze with reactions, and just for the hell of it, I'd like to add mine to the table. Specifically, I'd like to give my thoughts to a certain character's fate.
It should go without saying, but just to make it absolutely certain, MASSIVE SPOILERS are to follow. So DO NOT READ if you have yet to watch the final two episodes and plan to. I guess you can keep reading if you haven't watched and don't intend to do so, but if that is the case, I can only ask: Why are you even reading this in the first place?
So, spoilers ahead.
Are you sure?
Ok then. You have been properly warned.
I don't know the best way to approach this, therefore, I'm just going to be blunt; Max is dead. Or, at the very least, her mind is. Her essence is - her 'soul' if you will. In the final episode, the events play out as follows:
Max levitates up into the air in the real world, while Vecna/Henry/One is doing whatever the hell it is he actually does inside her mind. Her limbs snap, and her eyes begin to bleed. And just as the finishing 'blows' are to be delivered, Eleven fights back inside of Max's mind, Vecna loses his control, and Max's body - in the real world - falls to the ground.
A gut-wrenchingly devastated Lucas holds her, and she dies in his arms.
More events follow, and I will get to them shortly, but at this point, Max dies. El does eventually revive her (her body), but for the moment, at least, it's too late; the damage is done.
Before I get to the events that took place between Max's death and resurrection, I want to point out a conversation in the previous episode. In episode eight, "Papa", Dr. Brenner says:
"When 'One' kills, he doesn't simply kill; he consumes. He takes everything from his victims, everything they are and everything they ever will be. Their memories, their abilities."
How he knows this, I do not know. But I highly doubt that it would be included if it were not true (though I guess worse retcons and explanations have been given before in fiction). For now, I can only go by what is actually presented.
With this knowledge in mind, once Max 'dies' in Lucas' arms, the clock chimes four, signaling that he has completed his task; taking four victims. The ground breaks open, and the worlds collide. Vecna has accomplished his goal. And if it is true that he 'consumes' his victims - which Max certainly is his victim as he was able to accomplish his task - then he has consumed everything that she is, and everything that she will be.
El may have revived her body, but Max's mind is gone.
To add to this conclusion, El is later shown trying to psychically connect to her catatonic friend, just to find no one there - 'there' meaning that void El goes to when taking these psychic trips. This tells me that there is no 'soul' (for lack of a better word) left inside Max.
Now, can this all be changed? Of course. Writers can write pretty much anything they want. Maybe once Vecna is killed for good, all of the 'souls' that he has consumed will be released, with Max's able to find its way back to her still living, breathing body. But this specific solution would absolutely mean that should she ultimately survive, her return will not come until the very end.
Also, I feel obligated to point out another depressing possibility; even if (I mean, when) Vecna is killed, there will be no souls left to release as they have already been consumed. You don't get the cake back just because you kill the one who ate it. (I know, I know, poor analogy.)
Finally, one other potential resolution could come in the form of an incomplete 'ritual' (for lack of a better word). Normally, the final blow comes in the form of the victims eyeballs popping (or something like that). Maybe, just maybe, the fact that Max's eyeballs never popped means that he was not able to 'consume' her essence, even though he still gets credit for her kill. Do our eyeballs possess our spirit, our soul, our very being? That's a very strange thought, though I guess it's appropriate given the name of the show.
What do you think? Do you agree with this? Am I off my rocker? Am I thinking too hard about what is ultimately an insignificant piece of fiction? Honestly, I just wanted to write about this because I really liked Max ever since her first appearance in the show; she was a great character and it's sad to think that she may be gone, left to wither away as a mindless chunk of flesh (too dark?).
Anyway, I do have thoughts on the season as a whole: characters, plotlines, enjoyment, etc. However, I wanted to specifically talk about this aspect, as I haven't really seen too many others even mention the possibilities of Max's fate; most seem to just see her as being 'alive'. Maybe in time I'll do another post going over anything else that feels worthy of mention.
Thank you for reading this slop of ramblings.
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