Papa May Not Be The 'Stranger Things' Villain Fans Believe He Is
In a TV universe teaming with secrets and unanswered questions, there's one thing Stranger Things fans can count on — Dr. Brenner, better known as Papa, is a bad guy. Or is he? In an interview with Yahoo, Brenner's portrayer, Matthew Modine, revealed Eleven's Papa may not be the Stranger Things villain that he appears to be, at least not from his perspective.
Modine isn't arguing his character is a good man, but he does think his motivations for wanting Eleven to be recaptured are misunderstood. After all, the young girl possesses immense power that she is only beginning to gain control of. Throughout Season 1, it became clear strong emotions could trigger Eleven's powers, and the results were often unpredictable. Modine told Yahoo,
"The thing that interests me is that everyone thinks Brenner's a bad guy. But I think what may have happened is that he opened Pandora’s box. He knows how dangerous she is, and that's why he's so desperately trying to bring her back to the laboratory. That's my feeling, anyway."
Eleven is beloved by fans, but it's clear that in the wrong hands, she could be used as a weapon. To be honest, it certainly seemed like that was Brenner's goal all along, but then again, nothing is ever as it appears to be in Hawkins, Indiana. And to Brenner's credit, he was trying to teach Eleven how to control and harness her gifts. It's just that his methods were horribly suspect.
Whether or not you believe Brenner had even the slightest of good intentions when it came to his attempts to return Eleven to the lab, it's hard not to be curious about his backstory. Modine didn't reveal to Yahoo whether or not he would appear in Stranger Things Season 2, but he did say he wants to know how many subjects came before the telekinetic, Eggo-loving young woman who took down the Demogorgon.
Papa as a good guy — or even an antihero — is always going to be a hard sell. However, he is a character with plenty of stories left to tell, despite his apparent demise at the end of Season 1. It's likely the doctor doesn't see himself as a villain, but rather as a man doing work necessary to keep the world safe. That attitude only makes him all the more dangerous, because people who believe their actions are righteous can justify almost anything. On the other hand, his twisted sense of obligation makes Brenner a fascinating (and scary) character to watch.
One thing Season 1 made clear is Brenner and the organization he works for are far from the only monsters on the show. The world of Stranger Things is full of dark corners and moral ambiguity, and to that end, Papa could end up being as misunderstood as Modine suspects he is — if fans haven't seen the last of him.