Max escaped Vecna’s curse when her favorite song was blasted in her ears, with this trick already being revealed back in Stranger Things season 2.
WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things season 4, vol. 1!
The teens in Stranger Things season 4 discover the only way to escape Vecna’s curse after speaking to Victor Creel, but the villain’s weakness was already revealed by Will in season 2. While his appearance suggested he was a creation of the Upside Down, Stranger Things season 4, volume 1’s finale revealed that Vecna was actually Hawkins Lab’s Number One, who, in turn, was originally Henry Creel. The character’s hatred for humanity and strong powers led him to take those with trauma and guilt as victims in order to “balance” the natural world, with both Max and Nancy being subject to Vecna’s curse.
Vecna’s powers make him the most difficult foe that the Hawkins teens have faced yet, but the characters did end up finding a weakness that allows victims to escape his curse, at least temporarily. After learning how Victor Creel was able to evade death back in 1959, Robin and Nancy deduce that playing the victim’s favorite song can help them escape the trance that Vecna places them in, with music and happy memories being the only way to keep Vecna’s fatal curse at bay. When Max was on the brink of being murdered by Vecna, the trio of Dustin, Lucas, and Steve played Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” in her ears, which surfaced Max’s happiest moments and broke her away from Vecna’s grasp.
Although Robin and Nancy don’t reveal how to escape Vecna’s curse until just before Vecna is preparing to kill Max, Stranger Things already hinted at the power of music and happy memories to snap victims out of the Upside Down’s influence back in season 2. When Will Byers was possessed by the Mind Flayer, the only way that the characters could bring his consciousness to the surface was when they continually told happy stories from his life and blasted his favorite song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash. While Will wasn’t able to fully expel the Mind Flayer’s control, the constant recollection of his happiest memories and his favorite music was enough to allow him control of his fingers to use Morse code and relay a message to the others.
Music and joyful moments have always been the way that the Upside Down’s victims could combat its powers and keep them grounded in Hawkins. Even back in Stranger Things season 1, Eleven’s contact with Will in the Upside Down would show him singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” which, in hindsight, may have been the reason why he survived the original Demogorgon kidnapping. By singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” in the Upside Down, Will was maintaining his hope and connection to the other dimension.
As the doctor stated at Pennhurst Hospital, music has an incredible influence on the human mind in its connection to memories and emotions, which – in real life – can even briefly help people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease revive memories that were thought to be lost. When beings from the Upside Down like Vecna or the Mind Flayer take control over Stranger Things‘characters, music and happy memories have the power to snap them out of it and bring them back to reality in a similar manner due to these psychological connections. The latter tactic is exactly how Billy very briefly escaped the Mind Flayer’s influence before sacrificing himself in Stranger Things season 3.
Vecna’s weakness against the power of music will become an important point in Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 when the characters have to save Nancy from Vecna’s curse. Stranger Things season 4’s trailer already hinted that Nancy will be saved by one of her favorite songs being blasted in the Upside Down, as Eddie was shown shredding a guitar on top of the vine-covered trailer homes. The song that will be used to bring Nancy back to reality in Stranger Things has become a significant source of speculation, with one popular choice being “Africa” by Toto, which was played when she and Steve “studied“back in season 1.
Next: Nancy Escapes Vecna Thanks To Robin In This Wild Stranger Things Theory
Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 arrives on Netflix on July 1.
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