WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Stranger Things 2
Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy confirms Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) is alive after the events of season 2. Stranger Things season 2 may have ended on an upswing, but the evil that's wreaked havoc on Hawkins, Indiana is still looming nearby. The closing scene of the finale episode made clear that though Eleven managed to seal the door to the Upside Down, the Shadow Monster was still lurking beneath the town, and the fate of another villain — the sinister Dr. Brenner — was left unclear.
As the nefarious leader of Hawkins Laboratory, Brenner was the main antagonist in season 1, but was attacked and seemingly killed by the Demogorgon amid the final, chaotic face-off at Hawkins High. It was unsurprising, then, to see that he was largely absent from season 2 — that is, until one of the scientists Eleven and fellow Hawkins experimentee Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) tracked down revealed Brenner was still alive, then claimed he could take them to him. They were interrupted by the police before they had a chance to accept his offer, and it was never revealed whether or not he was being truthful or simply scrambling to save his life.
Now, however, executive producer Shawn Levy is setting the record straight. In a recent interview with Collider, he confirmed that Brenner is alive while discussing the show's controversial seventh episode:
"Whether or not people feel that episode was entirely successful, the Duffers want to take some swings, and they know that they’re not gonna please everybody. But that feeling of the world getting a bit bigger especially coupled with the fact that it now seems clear that Brenner is alive, Brenner is out there."
He went on to reference Eleven's confrontation with Brenner — an imagined but intensely emotional exchange Kali concocts to persuade Eleven to stay in Chicago and search for the man that made their lives a living hell. Though Eleven knows it's not real, his presence visibly rattles her, and that raw, wounded tension is ripe for further exploration. Levy continued:
"I for one think that that one scene with Modine and Millie in Episode 7 is one of the juiciest scenes, and it kind of brought me back to how haunting Modine is in that Brenner role. So that’s a major unanswered question, and also we’ve now confirmed that Eleven isn’t the only one. There are other numbers."
It's not difficult to see how that single scene could set up a future storyline. Now armed with the knowledge that there are others like them, Eleven and Kali could reunite to find their former cellmates, build an army, and hunt down Brenner together. It might not be the kind of showdown Kali is envisioning — Eleven is still quite obviously conflicted when it comes to killing people — but some sort of vengeance is nonetheless due, and it sounds like Brenner's reemergence won't be far down the line.
Stranger Things 2 is available in its entirety on Netflix.