Stranger Things season 5 is expected to feature a showdown between Vecna, ruler of the Upside Down, and Jim Hopper, and it’s entirely possible that Vecna could use Hopper’s weakness against him. Vecna, a.k.a. Henry Creel, formerly Number One in Dr. Brenner’s lab, is a singularly malicious villain. The horrifying physical abuse inflicted against his victims is somehow less striking than the insidious psychological torture he mounts against the residents of Hawkins. Vecna uses his victims’ own traumas, insecurities, and guilt to invoke terrifying hallucinations. The more profound the victim’s past trauma, the better able Vecna is to torture them. Ironically, the reason for Hopper’s thick skin and unflappable courage — his tragic past and history of loss — also potentially makes him among the most susceptible to Vecna’s mind control.
Chief Hopper’s daughter, Sara, died young. While in the Soviet prison, Hopper theorized that his exposure to the chemical herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War resulted in Sara’s fatal cancer. Hopper further endured the dissolution of his marriage in addition to a laundry list of traumas beginning with Will Byers’ disappearance into the Upside Down. Despite his series-long struggle to confront his complex feelings surrounding his past, Hopper, one way or the other, will be forced to reconcile the complicated grief and guilt that he so furiously represses.
How Vecna Could Use Sara’s History Against Hopper In Stranger Things
Hopper has never truly come to terms with Sara’s death. The first two seasons of Stranger Things highlighted the raw grief Hopper still felt over Sara’s death, but it wasn’t until season 4 that Hopper disclosed his guilt at having potentially exposed Sara to the cancer-causing chemicals that killed her. This guilt evolved into Hopper’s insecurity over his ability to keep Eleven safe, particularly considering Eleven’s lost powers in Stranger Things season 4. Vecna, who can sense his victims’ greatest weaknesses and exploit them via immersive hallucinations, can certainly capitalize on Sara’s tragic death to immobilize and defeat Hopper.
For all his physical strength and endurance, Hopper is incredibly emotionally vulnerable. In season 4, he still had extreme difficulty discussing Sara’s death. Given Vecna’s penchant for thrusting his victims into realistic recreations of their worst memories, it’s likely that Hopper will be forced to relive Sara’s death. Vecna can also use Sara’s death to inform Hopper’s debilitating fear of Eleven dying in Stranger Things season 5. Whether Hopper comes to terms with his tumultuous past as he prepares to fight Vecna, or whether Vecna forces the confrontation, Hopper will come face-to-face with his grief, fear, and guilt in season 5.
Why Hopper Needs To Fight Vecna In Season 5 (Whether He Lives Or Dies)
Hopper will have to fight Vecna, if only because it’s in Hopper’s nature to protect his loved ones, particularly if it means putting himself in danger. While Eleven is likely the only one who can truly defeat Vecna, Hopper’s specialty throughout the series has been stalling and buying time for Eleven to finish the job. Vecna is Stranger Things’ most powerful and terrifying villain to date, and it would not be in Hopper’s nature to allow his daughter to venture into the final fight alone. Hopper will certainly do everything in his power to protect Eleven from Vecna, including sacrificing his own life to save hers.
This proclivity for action coupled with his devotion to his family, including the Byers family and the rest of the kids, means that fighting Vecna will give Hopper a chance to rewrite his past. There was nothing Hopper could have done to save Sara and, for someone like Hopper, that helplessness is torture. When it comes to Vecna and the Upside Down, however, Hopper is able to be more proactive; he is able to fight. Vecna may very well exploit Sara’s death and Hopper’s tragic past and insecurities to cripple his psyche, but this time, Hopper can affect the outcome. Stranger Things season 5 would do a disservice to its audience if it didn’t feature Hopper putting his life on the line to save his world.