In the world of Stranger Things, nothing gold can stay. Season 4 introduced us to several new characters, some of whom got us with their charm, others whose backstory simply pulled at our heartstrings. And then they were gone. One of these characters was the clear standout of the season, the unsung hero of Hawkins, Indiana; someone who brought the best out in every major player, and who we’ll probably miss for the rest of our days.
Warning: Massive spoilers for Stranger Things season 4, Volume 2 ahead! Turn back now if you haven’t seen all of Stranger Things.
In the first episode of season 4, Eddie Munson, simultaneously too cool for school and dorkily obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, walked into the Hawkins High School cafeteria – and straight into our hearts.
Next to Max and Eleven, it’s fair to say that Eddie went through the most out of any character this season. He witnessed a traumatic death and spent the season being a wrongfully accused fugitive hunted down by Jason and his vigilante crew, and yet he still went on to help Max, Dustin, Lucas, and the gang journey into the Upside Down and hunt Vecna. Despite the circumstances, he never lets go of the things that make him who he is; from little things like calling Max "Red" to taking the time to tell Steve – who was worried about the strength of his friendship with Dustin – that Dustin still looks up to him and thinks he's the coolest person. Even in the Upside Down, Eddie, an avid guitar player and lover of metal, grabs his ax and plays Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' to distract and trap the vicious bat creatures. To the very end, he was cool. It really doesn't get cooler than Eddie Munsen.
Though we hate to admit it, Eddie’s death was a beautiful moment – one that felt meaningful to the story. It was not for nothing: when he has the chance to climb back out of the Upside Down, he thinks about how helpless he felt during and after Chrissy's death, and instead cuts the makeshift rope leading back to Hawkins and runs headfirst into the center of chaos. He dies a hero, with blood in his teeth and bats swirling above his head. Once again, pretty cool.
I like to think that, in the afterlife or an alternate universe somewhere, Eddie and Chrissy got together. Their chemistry in the premiere was undeniable, and he went out of his way to make her feel less crazy while Vecna was slowly pulling her into his trap. Chrissy wasn't just some popular cheerleader character – she was soft and kind (unlike her psychopath basketball star boyfriend) and Eddie brought this out of her in a way that was so natural and touching. Eddie did this with nearly every character: His interactions with Steve highlighted Steve's growth as a person, he encouraged Dustin to lean into his own individuality, and he even, while skeptical at first, championed Nancy and Robin in their investigation.
In terms of the adventures of Eleven and friends, nothing went right this season. Just when we thought they were out, they were back in. The writers veered from predictable plotlines and went for the most realistic, albeit the darkest, outcomes. We needed Eddie to break up the devastation, to keep us smiling and hopeful. We needed him to shred on guitar in the Upside Down. We needed the coolest fugitive in Hawkins to get us through these high-intensity episodes – and I don't think we could have done it without him.
Though Eddie is gone, I can't wait to see what Joseph Quinn does next. His acting choices chipped away at the rough and tough punk-outcast exterior and allowed us to see straight into Eddie's heart – and for that, I am grateful.