Eddie Munson’s tragic death held the most weight in Stranger Things season 4, yet this fate was a lot better for Eddie than returning to Hawkins.
Warning: contains SPOILERS for Stranger Things season 4.
Eddie’s (Joseph Quinn) death in the Stranger Things season 4 finale was heartbreaking, but it was better than the alternative. Eddie Munson was the guitar-playing, heavy metal-loving Dungeon Master of Hawkins High’s Hellfire Club who flees into hiding after Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien) dies horrifically in his trailer. Due to the incriminating evidence and his outcast nature, Eddie becomes the prime suspect for Chrissy’s death and the similar murders that follow.
Eddie becomes more involved in the Hawkins crew storyline as Stranger Things’ season 4 progresses. Sadly, it eventually leads to his sacrifice to the demobats in the Upside Down to prove to himself that in the face of danger, he could resist the impulse to run away. Even though Stranger Things continues its predictable one-season-character trend with him, Eddie’s death fixes a Stranger Things issue regarding character killings in that his death was heroic and purposeful, not simply included for the sake of shock value.
Despite a character death being predictable in Stranger Things season 4, Eddie’s death was still highly impactful. The death of a young character is always tragic in a show, but had Eddie lived he would have returned to a town unwilling to give him his deserved redemption. The Duffer Brothers have stated that the inspiration behind Eddie is Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three, who was wrongfully put on death row in 1994 for the Robin Hood Hills murders. Like Echols, Eddie’s intimidating heavy metal “freak” status fueled the Hawkins witch hunt against him. Solidifying the idea that Eddie would have been denied acceptance is the fact that Victor Creel (Robert Englund) was convicted of Vecna’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) original 1959 murders and sent to Pennhurst Asylum as a result.
Why Victor Creel Proves That Eddie Was Doomed
Victor Creel and Eddie Munson both become the scapegoats for Vecna’s murders due purely to unfortunate coincidences. Given the unbelievable supernatural things that Vecna does to his victims’ bodies, it’s inevitable that Victor and Eddie would seem like the most rational suspects, unfortunately. According to the Weekly Watcher records that Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Robin (Maya Hawke) find killed at the library, Victor did disclose publicly that he believed a demon his family. Sadly, this is also the main contributing factor as to why he’s put in the basement cells of Pennhurst Asylum instead of prison.
Victor represents what Eddie’s life would have been like had he lived. Eddie wouldn’t have necessarily been sent to Pennhurst, but given Hawkins hasn’t grown much to understand its supernatural happenings in the past 20 years, Eddie’s fate in Stranger Things would nonetheless have been similar to Victor’s. It’s still worth arguing whether Eddie’s season 4 sacrifice was worth it or not given the flaws in how his death was handled and the potential that Eddie had as an asset for season 5. Still, his death was an appropriate end to his character.
Hawkins Wouldn’t Have Changed If Eddie Lived
While believing that a high schooler killed Vecna’s victims via Satanic rituals and black magic hardly sounds like a more rational explanation than the truth, the cultural climate in the 1980s Hawkins nonetheless instills the possibility as legitimate. The real-life Satanic panicked eventually became less severe because the pervasive beliefs fueling it became less probable to the masses. However, Hawkins’ Eddie Munson witch hunt differs from the real Satanic Panic in a major way. Stranger Things‘ Satanic panic subplot’s biggest flaw is that there’s tangible, visible evidence that Hawkins’ Upside Down happenings aren’t the result of a generalized”evil” like Satanic magic. However, Hawkins has been notoriously oblivious to the Upside Down, and the Satanic panic subplot proves just how far off from the truth the town will go towards explaining its”Hawkins curse.” Therefore, Eddie’s survival would only mean that he’d be doomed to imprisonment or a life on the run for the foreseeable future.
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