Stranger Things delivered a big twist in season 3 when it robbed Eleven of her powers, but it might be setting up an even bigger one for season 4: making Eleven the villain. There were a number of unanswered questions after Stranger Things season 3, with one of the biggest relating to Eleven and the return of the Mind Flayer.
The Duffer Brothers have been building a one of a kind mythology with Stranger Things, taking elements from both fiction and real events, but they have also managed to leave a lot of details unclear to add to the series’ mysticism. Three seasons have passed and viewers (and the characters as well) still don’t know much about the Upside Down, the Demogorgon, the Mind Flayer, and other types of creatures that might live there. What they do know is that if they have physical contact with these creatures, they will either die or become possessed.
Season 2 saw Will Byers dealing with the aftermath of his time at the Upside Down and the Mind Flayer (or “Shadow Monster”) possessing him. Season 3 witnessed the same but with Billy Hargrove, and with a much bigger and lethal version of the Mind Flayer. This creature eventually managed to get to Eleven, hurting her, and quite possibly being the source of her powers vanishing by the end of the season. But could this injury mean so much more for Eleven in the near future, potentially turning her into a villain?
Was Eleven Infected By The Mind Flayer?
Like with most things that come from the Upside Down, not much is known about the Mind Flayer, except for the effects it can have on humans. The Mind Flayer was introduced in season 2, when it possessed Will Byers and brought an army of Demodogs to take down Hawkins Lab. The creature was stopped when Eleven closed the gate at the end of the season, but a part of it was trapped in the human world, where it remained dormant for a while. It awoke in 1985 and began “flaying” rats and humans, feeding off chemicals, and melting the bodies of those possessed into a goo that was later used to create a body for itself.
It was through this (really big and honestly disgusting) body that the Mind Flayer attacked Eleven at Hopper’s cabin, grabbing her by the ankle. With the help of the rest of the group, Eleven was freed from the creature, but it left her with a deep wound on her leg. When the group made it to Starcourt Mall, they realized that Eleven’s wound was pulsating and had something inside, causing her a lot of pain. Jonathan attempted to cut out the wound but Eleven intervened and used her powers to take out the creature inside of it. A part of the Mind Flayer was left in her leg when it bit her, and even though she took it out (and Hopper crushed it seconds later), Eleven ended up losing her powers, so the Mind Flayer might have had something to do with it, possibly infecting her.
The Mind Flayer Can Give Eleven Her Powers Back - But With A Twist
The Mind Flayer works in mysterious ways – it possessed Will through visions he was having of the Upside Down, and it controlled Billy after attacking him on the road. Supposing it succeeded in infecting Eleven through that bite, it’s possible that that was the reason for her losing her powers... but it can also bring Eleven's powers back, although differently. Losing her powers could only be one part of the Mind Flayer’s process, and when they come back they will be similar but not exactly the same ones she had at the beginning.
This would be a corrupted version of Eleven, one that works for a darker side under the influence of the Mind Flayer. She would still be able to move heavy objects with her mind, look for people through the Void, and many more things. Similar to Will in season 2, who was used as a “spy” in the human world, only that Eleven has a bigger advantage as she has many useful powers that the Mind Flayer would need in its quest to take over this world (or whatever it wants to achieve). This way, Eleven would become Stranger Things season 4 villain.
What This Would Mean For Stranger Things Season 4
Turning Eleven into the villain would be a huge shakeup for the series, as they have relied too much on her to solve everything related to the Upside Down (although they have a lot to thank Joyce, Hopper, and Murray for as they were the ones who managed to close the gate at the end of season 3, not Eleven). It’s understandable, as she is the only character (except for Kali, who didn’t appear nor was she mentioned in season 3) with powers, thus making her the only one capable of fighting against Demogorgons and Mind Flayers – and also making her a very powerful threat, should she work for the wrong side. But if Eleven is the villain, how are they going to fight her?
A presumed dead character could come into play for this: Dr. Brenner, supposing his intentions have changed since he was last seen on screen. Hopper – supposing he truly is alive, somewhere – could also be of help in stopping Eleven and whatever evil and chaos she brings. Both Will and Billy kept a part of their humanity (so to speak) while possessed, with other characters managing to get to it through evoking memories. The same could happen with Eleven, and the best way to get to that side would be through Hopper.
Why Eleven As Stranger Things' Villain Would Be A Great Twist
Eleven becoming a villain would be the biggest twist the series has had so far. As surprising (and heartbreaking) as some situations have been, Stranger Things has been scared to change when it comes to characters, and most are quite predictable. As mentioned above, the series has relied too much on Eleven to solve most major problems, and this turn to the “dark side” would not only be the biggest transformation she has gone through in terms of character development, but it would also represent a big change in the dynamics of the rest of the characters.
This would also justify Hopper’s return in season 4, as he could be the only one to save her from the influence of the Mind Flayer, though maybe at a big cost. In season 3, Billy stood up to the Mind Flayer when the creature was about to kill Eleven, and ended up sacrificing himself. If Hopper is the one that saves Eleven, he could have a similar fate, and this time there would be no way he could come back. However, there’s also the possibility that Eleven could have a moment of “clarity”, as Billy did, and end up saving herself (and therefore the rest as well), quite possibly dying in the process – again, there would be no turning back after that. As sad as that would be, it would give closure to Eleven’s arc and maybe the series as well, which the Duffer Brothers have previously implied could end after four seasons.
Possibilities are many, and Stranger Things season 4 has a lot of explaining to do. Eleven as a villain is just a theory, but it wouldn’t be crazy if the Mind Flayer did have some deeper effect on her, and her loss of powers was just part of a bigger plan from this creature.