In volume 2 of season 4 of Stranger Things, Eleven suffers a severe defeat, the first for her. But she also wins an unsuspected victory: she succeeds in resuscitating Max. What is this new power?
Warning, spoilers! This article reveals key plot elements of Season 4 of Stranger Things. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read on!
Volume 2 Season 4 of Stranger Things has provided its share of twists, some of which are major for the series. But the one we didn’t see coming is Eleven’s new power (Millie Bobby Brown). She apparently discovers a new ability at the very end of the season. And not least!
Eleven’s abilities have been gradually clarified throughout the series, but Season 4 devotes a fair amount of time to it. Given that at the end of Season 3, Eleven seemingly lost her powers, much of her arc this season has revolved around her “rehab”. It was for her to recover them, even to amplify them so that she would be able to face Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) equals.
Not only does her powers return, but she also seems to have added an extra string to her bow at the end of Volume 2. Eleven decides to use her powers to resurrect Max (Sadie Sink) after the girl decided to act as bait to lure Vecna. A subterfuge which was to allow the team to eliminate Vecna, who had become vulnerable in a state of trance.
The strategy fails when Max is caught by Vecna when she hides in her fondest memory – that of the ball – and when Eleven too gets controlled by the hideous villain. Max then succumbed to his injuries. At this time, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) holds Max in her arms begging her to come back. And Eleven witnesses the scene through her connection to Max through the Void – that visual representation of a void when she uses astral projection.
Refusing to let Max die, Eleven recalls a series of fond memories she shared with her friend while trying to use her powers. But the scene is cut, propelling us two days later. Max is alive, it looks like Eleven’s powers worked.
How did Eleven’s powers bring Max back to life?
However, Lucas explains that Max was indeed dead for an entire minute, before Eleven used her powers to resurrect her. And even though Max is in a deep coma, Eleven still managed to revive her, which naturally raises a ton of questions about how this new power works.
The answer likely has to do with how Eleven’s powers work in conjunction with Vecna’s own abilities. First, let’s keep in mind that Vecna and her abilities caused Max’s death. So it would make sense for Eleven to be able to fight off any ability that caused this and reverse its effects.
It is repeatedly established that Vecna relies on the negative and painful memories of its victims to kill them. We see it when he uses Max’s memories, more precisely his memories of Billy that he turns against her. So it only makes sense that with all the happy memories of togetherness and pure friendship that Max shared with Eleven, the latter would be able to bring her back.
That said, things have to be nuanced. Because these memories all correspond to the moments of complicity between Max and Eleven. A priori, she did not find access to Max’s memories in her mind as Vecna knows so well how to do. Which suggests that it may be Eleven’s own emotional reaction to these events that allows her to resurrect Max.
Given that her powers were used when she was particularly angry to cause damage, it makes sense that the reverse could also be true and that recalling positive memories and emotions allows Eleven’s extraordinary powers to helping her friend. This type of motivation was seen before in the series, when Eleven used her mother’s memories to send Henry Creel aka One to the Upside Down.
Similarly, Mike’s confession of his love helps him and allows him to break free from Vecna’s grip to eject him just as he was about to finish off Max.
How powerful will Eleven be in Season 5?
Point of detail that is important: Eleven uses her powers to resuscitate Max when she is the Void and not, in the real world. That may have an impact. And then season 4 started with Eleven trying to get her powers back. She recovered in a very short time. Volume 2 highlights the fact that Eleven is less powerful than Vecna. The mere fact that he survived his own murder supports this idea.
That said, Project Nina allowed Eleven to go up against Henry Creel again. She is able to enter the Void again and has regained her telekinetic abilities. And she obviously has a better understanding of her powers thanks to her training within Project Nina and the memories that emerged from it.
Eleven could arguably become more powerful in the long run if she’s able to use her relationships with people and the love she has for them to bolster her powers. This is clearly what seems to make her stronger. This would indeed explain how Eleven could finally defeat Vecna in Season 5 – since he chose to cut himself off from the human race.
Thanks to her Project Nina training, Eleven is potentially even more powerful after Season 4 than she’s ever been before. Which she will need, given what has been set up for the fifth and final season.