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In Stranger Things, the main antagonist of the second and third seasons is the Mind Flayer, whereas the fourth season introduces us to Vecna, presented as a top minion of the Mind Flayer.

We see that

Vecna/Henry/One is the Mind Flayer, or at least shaped and controlled it somehow.

However, in the second and third seasons,

he acted more or less entirely through

the Mind Flayer—by far his preferred form, if we are to take his brief revelation at face value—whereas in the fourth season, he attacked people both mentally and physically from a distance while showing them his corrupted human body. There is no indication that the main mass of the Mind Flayer no longer exists, and we see that the controlling intelligence still is perfectly capable of commanding leftover portions of it that are on Earth. However, the Mind Flayer itself—the giant cloud that was hovering around Hawkins since as soon as Eleven drew

Vecna's

attention—simply does not enter play at all. It seems to have quite literally left the scene, whereas any reticence that Vecna might have had about showing his humanoid form, whether out of contempt for it or desire to conceal himself, seems to have vanished.

Why is this?

1 Answer 1

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In the first 2 seasons he was attempting to escape the upside-down via the gate that eleven opened. Vecna did not have the power to open gates himself.

After the gate was closed, he changes strategy and attempts to steal elevens power to open gates. He succeeds in season 3 when she is bitten. That was the entire point of creating the corpse mind flayer and he ended up succeeding. Any extra chaos caused by the mind flayer was gravy, but it completed its main mission. The Russian gates in s3 appear to be large enough for him to control the piece of the mind flayer in the real world, but he doesn't seem to try to escape via them, perhaps he has realized he needs elevens power to open them further.

In season 4 vecna himself was attempting to come through using the power he got from eleven to open gates. In order to open a gate large enough he needs several sacrifices that he has to kill in person so to speak to grow his power. Hence the need to reveal himself.

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