Stranger Things: The First Shadow's big lore reveal needs addressing in hit Netflix show's final season

A close up shot of Vecna bathed in red light in Stranger Things season 4
Stranger Things season 4 will expand on Victor Creel/Vecna's origins story. (Image credit: Netflix)

Full spoilers follow for Stranger Things seasons 2 and 4.

Netflix has unveiled major new details about its Stranger Things stage play – and one of those details has me concerned about the hit show's final season.

As part of its 'Stranger Things Day' celebrations at Geeked Week 2023 yesterday (November 6), Netflix released a behind-the-scenes look (see the YouTube video below) that revealed some new information about the series' stage play spin-off. There's one specific detail, though, that's been discussed at length by fans and critics alike since the featurette debuted online, and it's a huge plot point that has the potential to frustrate some viewers.

We're about to get into spoilers for Stranger Things' first side project and the hugely popular series' fourth season, so don't scroll past the video embed below if you don't want spoilers.

We already knew plenty of key details about the stage play – it's called Stranger Things: The First Shadow, it's a prequel set in the 1960s that digs deeper into Henry Creel's villainous origins story, and it'll reunite audiences with some fan-favorite characters from one of the best Netflix shows of all-time, including Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers (nee Maldonado). Oh, and it's due to open to the public in London's West End on Thursday, December 14.

The featurette digs deeper into what fans will see if they attend a showing (or five, I won't judge you) of Stranger Things: The First Shadow, all of which is pretty interesting. However, there's one detail above all others that has me slightly worried for the story that'll play out in Stranger Things season 5, aka the show's final installment.

In the behind-the-scenes video, viewers learn that The First Shadow will confirm that Henry Creel had a high-school romance with none other than Patty Newby, i.e. the sister of fan-favorite season 2 character Bob Newby, who was killed by a pack of Demodogs.

Why is this important? Well, for starters, this is the first we've heard about Henry Creel having any sort of romantic relationship. In Stranger Things season 4, we learned a lot about Creel, how he became Doctor Brenner's first test subject (aka the individual later known as 'One') at Hawkins Laboratory, and his evolution into Vecna via the Upside Down, albeit with an inadvertent helping hand from Eleven.

But it was never revealed to us that Creel had the emotional capacity to love, well, anybody. Season 4 made him out to be this emotionally cold, nihilistic individual – even as a child – who sought solace in playing with black widow spiders before discovering he had psychokinetic abilities, thus setting him down a dark, murderous path.

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The revelation that Creel had a girlfriend – or, at the very least, was attracted to another human – is, to be blunt, a big piece of lore to drop in the Stranger Things franchise's first side project. It's not a terrible thing to do, but it does pose a big question about the show's fifth and final season, namely: will this huge slice of Stranger Things' mythos be addressed in season 5? And, if so, how important will it be to the series' seasonal and overarching narratives?

I've previously commented on the possibility that Stranger Things is about to run into the big Marvel and Star Wars problem. By that, I mean that it'll be necessary for fans to consume every piece of Stranger Things content to keep up with its rapidly expanding main story and universe. It's a major issue that Marvel has recently run into, with movies like The Marvels requiring viewers to watch up to six MCU films and Disney Plus shows to grasp what's going on in the upcoming Marvel Phase 5 flick.

I expect the Duffer brothers, aka Stranger Things' creators, and Netflix to address this Creel-Newby romance in the show's final outing. However, on the off-chance that they don't, it'll be a big kick in the teeth for fans who, for whatever reason, were unable to catch a performance of The First Shadow

Okay, Netflix really wants you to watch its Stranger Things stage play before season 5 arrives. It's a business after all, so it wants to make money – by way of selling tickets to its stage play – by enticing you to watch The First Shadow in a theater near you, whenever that may be. But it would be a frustrating example of story-based gatekeeping if the Creel-Newby romance storyline isn't even mentioned, let alone examined further in the series' final entry. To that end, I really hope my fears are unfounded when Stranger Things 5 is eventually released.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

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