Everything We Know About 001’s Powers in Stranger Things

Eleven defeated him once before.

Originally Published: 
001 becomes Vecna in 'Stranger Things' 4 via Netflix's press site
Courtesy of Netflix

Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1. For the first six episodes of Stranger Things Season 4, Jamie Campbell Bower is credited simply as a “Friendly Orderly” at Hawkins National Laboratories. However, the end credits of Volume 1 gave him a new character identity: Vecna. Before he transitioned from orderly to the season’s main supernatural villain, however, he revealed to Eleven that not only was he Victor Creel’s presumed-dead son, but he was also the lab’s first child to be experimented on, known as One. And, yes, his powers — which allow him to commit “remote assassinations” — seemed to be the strongest of any of his “siblings” that were created afterward.

As the orderly in revisited memories from Hawkins Lab, he took an early interest in Eleven, who struggled with her powers, and as a result was mercilessly bullied by the other children. In one early scene, he even tells her that she reminds him of One, whom he referred to as someone he “used to know really well.” Though Dr. Brenner, aka Papa, had told Eleven that One didn’t exist, he interjected that “sometimes Papa doesn’t tell the truth,” explaining that he’d “spent years with One” in the lab’s rainbow room. He also shared that, like Eleven, One struggled with his powers at first.

But then he shared One’s secret for harnessing his telekinetic abilities, though he warned that his story didn’t have a happy ending. “He had found his strength in a memory from his past, something that made him sad, but also angry,” he said, encouraging her to channel a memory of her birth mother. His advice, which went against Brenner’s teachings, worked, and Eleven bested all of her brothers and sisters in a strength contest. The win led four bullies, led by Two, to viciously attack Eleven, who later discovered Brenner punishing her new friend with electric shocks for helping her.

Courtesy of Netflix

Having earned Eleven’s trust, he warned her over a game of rainbow room chess that Two and his friends were “going to attempt to kill” her and Papa “wants it to happen.” The reason, he explained, is that he knew that she was “more powerful than the others” and knew he couldn’t control her. As such, she needed to escape immediately, and he secretly gave her a key card to assist in doing so.

After Eleven slipped another orderly on the way to the infirmary, the pair rendezvoused and One explained the limitations of his powers. He explained that Brenner had implanted something called Soteria in his neck. “It weakens me. It tracks me.” (Interestingly enough, Soteria is also the Greek goddess of safety, and deliverance and preservation from harm.) Because he’d helped her, Eleven then restored One’s powers by using her own abilities to telekinetically remove the implant from his neck.

No longer inhibited, One unleashed his powers on the guards before revealing his 001 wrist tattoo to Eleven. It’s also revealed that it was actually One, not Eleven, who committed the Hawkins Lab massacre — as had been implied up until that point — when she discovers him in the rainbow room just as he’s killing Two. “I know what it’s like to be different, to be alone in this world,” he told a traumatized Eleven.

That’s when he also explained the origins of his powers and how he arrived at Hawkins Lab. Teachers and doctors had deemed him “broken,” as a child, so his parents moved to Hawkins for a fresh start. Once in their new home, he developed a “kinship” with Black Widow spiders. “They immobilize and feed on the weak, bringing balance and order to an unstable ecosystem,” he said, providing a parallel to his own “predator, but for good” motives after he discovered his own supernatural abilities allowed him to “reach into others, into their minds, their memories.”

Courtesy of Netflix

Realizing that his mother was onto him and intended to send him to Dr. Brenner, he instead murdered her and his sister, framing his father, Victor, for the murders. “With each life I took, I grew stronger, more powerful,” he said. “They were becoming a part of me.” One was discovered unconscious, however, because not yet knowing his limits “nearly killed him,” and he awoke from his coma in Brenner’s care. When the scientist discovered he “could not control” One, however, he implanted the Soteria and began the program from which Eleven was also “born” in an attempt to recreate him.

Though he wanted Eleven to join him in reshaping the world as they saw fit, she fought back after he killed the other children. Though she almost died in the process, Eleven eventually beat One, opening a portal and banishing him to the Upside Down where he transformed into Vecna. Volume 1’s final image is of the 001 tattoo hidden on Vecna’s wrist, confirming the demon’s true identity.

Naturally, that tees up a possible final rematch between Vecna and Eleven in Season 4’s second half. Though Dr. Owens reminded Eleven earlier in the season that she has “fought this evil before” and won, viewers now know that Vecna is stronger than ever, thanks to all his recent kills in Hawkins. We’ll have to wait until Volume 2 drops on July 1 to find out how the showdown plays out.

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