‘Stranger Things’ Prequel Finally Reveals Origins of Eleven’s Powers

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Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things breaking through to the Upside Down

Credit: Netflix


The blockbuster Netflix series Stranger Things will come to a close with season 5, but the Duffer Brothers are hard at work to expand its universe of psychic children, interdimensional monsters, and Kate Bush songs. While there are still many questions to be answered, it turns out that Stranger Things: The First Shadow, the prequel play currently showing at London’s Phoenix Theatre, answered a big one: how did Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) get her powers?

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven with a nosebleed in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

The plot of Stranger Things: The First Shadow is still largely only known to audience members lucky enough to have seen the spinoff prequel, but a few details are finally beginning to emerge, verified by both Reddit users and various fan sites.

'Stranger Things: The First Shadow' poster
Credit: Netflix

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Among them is that the play begins with a scene aboard the USS Eldridge, a real-life Naval destroyer that was the subject of the “Philadelphia Experiment,” a supposed experiment to create a cloaking device that could turn an entire ship invisible. As one might expect from the Stranger Things franchise, things did not go as expected.

Summary of The First Shadow
byu/Arkov__ inStrangerThings

In Stranger Things: The First Shadow, it turns out that the ship was actually transported to Dimension X (better known to fans as the Upside Down), with one Captain Brenner being the only survivor. His son, Martin Brenner (portrayed by Patrick Vaill in the play and Matthew Modine in the show), goes on to become the head of Hawkins Laboratory and is obsessed with finding a gate to this other realm.

Later, it turns out that young Henry Creel (Louis McCartney in the play and Jamie Campbell Bower in the show) eventually finds his way to the Upside Down via equipment stolen from one of Dr. Brenner’s early labs and makes contact with the unformed Mind Flayer, years before he is traumatically thrust into the dimension and takes control of the creature.

Louis McCartney as Henry Creel standing next to a locker in Stranger Things: The First Shadow
Credit: Netflix/Manuel Harlan

According to Stranger Things: The First Shadow, the early form of the Mind Flayer infects Creel’s blood in some way and essentially gives him the psychic abilities that will one day allow him to turn the interdimensional creature into his weapon. Dr. Brenner later experiments on pregnant women with Creel’s blood, imparting those same powers to their children; Eleven is seen as an infant at one point.

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Interestingly, this raises some potential continuity issues. Although we learn much about the past and present versions of Creel/Vecna that we saw in season 4, it has not been revealed that he had previously traveled into the Upside Down and does not describe it as someone who has prior experience with another dimension. He also does not mention that he was not born with these powers, or that Eleven essentially owes her powers to the very creatures she has been fighting in Hawkins this whole time.

The Mind Flayer in Stranger Things being created
Credit: Netflix

But the Duffer Brothers have a whole lot of spinoffs in the works, and perhaps Stranger Things season 5 will finally make some of this all clear. The final season of the show will star Millie Bobby Brown, Jamie Campbell Bower, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, David Harbour, Joe Keery, Winona Ryder, and many more. It does not yet have a scheduled release date.

Does that explanation of Eleven’s powers make sense to you? Let us know in the comments below!

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