It's clear that there are two primary antagonists in Stranger Things: the Mind Flayer and Vecna. Although season 4 hinted that Vecna was in control, Stranger Things Play now suggests the opposite—that the Mind Flayer is controlling Vecna.
Season 4 revealed that Vecna was banished to the Upside Down in 1979. There, he began to explore and eventually became a ruler in this alternate dimension. It was implied that Vecna was controlling all the monsters from the alternate dimension. Additionally, there were assertions that the Mind Flayer possessed Will Byers, acting upon the directives of Vecna.
Yet, recent revelations from the Stranger Things Play suggest a shift in perspective, hinting at the possibility that the Mind Flayer is the one running the show. Let's delve into these new insights.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Stranger Things: The First Shadow
The Mind Flayer Controlling Vecna in the Play
The play disclosed that Henry Creel had been transported to the Upside Down in his childhood, an experience lasting 12 hours that gave him superpowers. However, it became apparent that he was heavily influenced by the Mind Flayer. It compelled him to kill animals enhancing his strength in the process. Despite these coercive influences, there were instances when Henry managed to resist the control exerted by the Mind Flayer.
In a critical moment, Henry was finding Patty Newby's mother in the void when he was possessed by the Mind Flayer. When Patty's father entered the scene, he became the target of a vicious attack by the controlled Henry. Patty urged Henry to resist, expressing her love for him. This emotional connection proved to be a turning point, empowering Henry to break free from the Mind Flayer's control. Though the incident left Patty's father severely injured and blinded.
Upon awakening in the hospital, Patty's father recounted the harrowing experience to Patty. He revealed that he had been attacked by a monster and was saved by Henry from a fatal fate. He drew the shape of the monster on paper and it was the Mind Flayer. Patty's father further shared that Henry valiantly confronted the monster on his behalf.
Additionally, there were more instances when the Mind Flayer seized control of Henry, compelling him to do things against his own will. It strongly indicates that the Mind Flayer was controlling Henry Creel, much like its influence over Will Byers. Similarly, Henry demonstrated the ability to resist the Mind Flayer's control, especially when prompted and supported by loved ones.
The Mind Flayer may have deliberately deceived Vecna into believing he was in charge, as it likely required Vecna's assistance in opening the gates. Furthermore, the Upside Down has existed for thousands of years, whereas Henry was only around 30 when he was transported back there in 1979. Consequently, the Mind Flayer is significantly older and potentially more formidable than Vecna.
Yet, there remains the possibility that Henry Creel aka Vecna acquired the ability to control the Mind Flayer as he got older and more skilled. The play was set in 1959 when Henry was a child, and considering that the events of season 4 occurred in 1986, there is a substantial time gap. This leaves room for speculation about what might have happened during those intervening years.
However, there are some inconsistencies in the narrative revealed by the play. Season 4 revealed that Vecna created the Mind Flayer in 1979, shaping it into a spider, inspired by his childhood fascination. However, the play suggests that the Mind Flayer already had the same spider-like form in 1959.
The relationship between Vecna and the Mind Flayer will be further explored in the season finale. It would be a significant twist if it's revealed that the Mind Flayer is the ultimate villain.