If you haven’t seen the end of season 4 yet Stranger Things on Netflix, go your way: this article contains LOTS of spoilers.
I’m not too used to regret the death of series characters. I was able to shed a tear at the various dramas of Downton Abbeyregret the absence of season 3 of Fleabagopen your eyes wide Peaky Blinders… But some stories deserve attention, especially when they echo reality. Season 4 of Stranger Things began, as always, with an endearing secondary character, who we know more or less will die during the season: after Barbara in season 1, Bob Newby in season 2 then Alexei in season 3, we discovered Eddie Munson, played by Joseph Quinn, long hair and denim jacket, around Hawkins High School.
Eddie Munson is the boastful leader of the Hellfire Club, namely the Dungeons & Dragons club, a role-playing game populated by monsters and battles of all kinds. More like an outgoing, rebellious, big-hearted nerd, convinced that 1986 would be his year, between his graduation, his band Corroded Coffin and the prospect of leaving his hometown. An incredible character, who sees in Dustin and Mike the future of the Hellfire Club, and who could have been summed up by the expression “Neither god nor master”. But when Eddie comes face to face with the death of Chrissy, the star high school cheerleader, killed by Vecna, everything changes. The young man with the look of a metalhead finds himself accused of having killed her in a satanic ritual, and the witch hunt begins.
Around Dungeons & Dragons, moral panic and accusation of Satanism
Led by Jason, boyfriend of the late Chrissy and slightly psychopathic, a search is organized to find Eddie… and warn of the dangers of the Hellfire Club, which would be the gathering point for Satanist rituals. A panic that is not so surreal, since the character of Eddie Munson is taken from a true story: that of Damien Echols, one of the members of the “West Memphis Three” (The three of Memphis West), a dark news item from the 1990s. In 1993, three 8-year-old children disappeared in Arkansas, and were found dead in a river a few days later. As the Bible Belt experiences a growing panic around Satanism, suspicion falls on Damien, who wears long hair and loves metal bands. With his acolytes Jason and Jessie, they will spend more than ten years behind bars, without any tangible proof. A documentary, titled Paradise Lost : The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hillseven retraced this emblematic trial of this fear for Satanism.
In one of the scenes of this season 4, Eddie reads an article dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons in a magazine, which reflects the moral panic of the time. “The devil has come to America. Dungeons and Dragons, initially considered a harmless role-playing game, now concerns parents and psychologists. Studies have linked gambling to violent behavior, claiming it promotes satanic worship, ritual sacrifice, sodomy, suicide and even murder,” Eddie recites. A passage that reflects the concerns of the time: love for metal music or role-playing would be signs of devotion to the devil, particularly in the most pious American states. The 1980s in the United States were then marked by a series of films and reports warning parents against these practices which would be worthy of black magic. Eddie becomes the epicenter of a moral panic, realizing that he stands out from the rest of his school.
Glory to metal and the weirdos
It is quite rare to have good anti-heroes in series: unlike the other secondary characters of recent seasons of Stranger Things, Eddie has a complex personality, which is developed. It is defined as the freak : the weird, the crazy, the banished as he will call himself. It alone catalyses the feeling of being out of step with those who feel different during adolescence, whether in their looks, their tastes, their way of speaking or their way of being in the world. And if Stranger Things pays tribute to the nerds as a whole, the character of Eddie is not just weird, he is also touching, funny, makes real friendships.
Beyond his extravagance, Eddie Munson is a metalhead. Long hair, band t-shirts, leather mittens and strength bracelets: her look sweats the walls of death and the shaking of hair over big riffs. While the rest of the Hawkins gang spins sweet 80s pop, Eddie isn’t afraid to make a difference. Which will result in the most epic soundtrack of the four seasons of Stranger Thingswith songs by Moby, the cult group Extreme or the languorous « I was a teenage Werewolf » Cramps. But the most “metal” scene of this season 4 remains the guitar scene carried by Eddie against the thirsty Demobats: the classic Master of Puppets of Metallica resounds in theUpside Down on a red stormy background.
A death that tastes like injustice
What shook social networks the most at this release of the second part of season 4 of Stranger Things, it is precisely the death of Eddie. A death that has a vast taste of injustice. Because after having entertained the Demobats (to give time to Robin, Steve and Nancy), he sacrifices himself to save Dustin, and ends up attacked by the giant bats. Eddie is one of those characters we thought was invincible, so much did they shine by their presence, their progress in the script. And he dies, just like that. Yet Eddie said it again: he didn’t run away, he fought for a city that always hated him. Another sense of injustice: For two days after the final fight against Vecna, no one seemed to care about Eddie. It’s like he didn’t count, as he died in Dustin’s arms. The latter announces the news to Uncle Munson, but it sounds almost false. From one minute to another, he no longer exists for anyone: he remains the pariah, as he was in his life. So, how not to be heartbroken in the face of such a death?
Many theories are circulating online as to Eddie and his possible return in Season 5: some believe he will return as a ghost, a flashback in Dustin’s memory. Others are convinced that by being dead in the Upside Down, he will become a kind of dark horseman ready to destroy Vecna, or to join forces with him. But in the end, what does it change? Theories are a way of not cutting, forever, the link we had with a character who touched us, moved us, made us laugh. And maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye to Eddie either.