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Dr. Brenner’s Number One Experiment Was Even Deeper Than You Realized

Dr. Brenner experiments with Number One included the use of a “Soteria” device, which has a much deeper meaning for the character’s twists.

WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things season 4, vol. 1!

Stranger Things season 4’s Number One/Henry Creel reveal was the most shocking twist so far, with Dr. Brenner’s Soteria chip adding an even deeper meaning to the experiment. While Eleven was the only character known to have powers until she met Kali, aka Eight, in season 2, Stranger Things revealed that at least 17 children were part of Dr. Martin Brenner’s Hawkins Lab experiments. These children with psionic abilities all showed varying levels of strength in their talents, with One and Eleven being revealed as the most powerful. However, while Eleven typically only uses her powers to fight the Upside Down, One uses them for far more sinister pursuits.


For the majority of Stranger Things season 4, Jamie Campbell Bower is portraying a friendly orderly in Eleven’s flashbacks to Hawkins Lab in 1979. However, it’s revealed that he was actually the powerful test subject Number 1 in Dr. Brenner’s project, whose abilities were inhibited by a chip embedded in his neck called “Soteria” after he had murdered his family. Eleven removed the device after believing Stranger Things’ Henry Creel to be an innocent prisoner of Dr. Brenner like herself, though would regret this moments later when he slaughtered everyone in Hawkins Lab.

Related: Stranger Things’ Number 1 Fully Explained

Dr. Brenner’s name for One’s power suppressant device actually has a much deeper meaning for his experiment and treatment of Henry Creel. The name Soteria refers to the Greek goddess or personified spirit of safety, who is also associated with deliverance and preservation from harm. As such, Stranger Things’ Dr. Brenner labeling the chip “Soteria” was meant to symbolize its functionality as a protector from Number One’s dangerous powers, instability, and wrath on humankind. The chip provided Brenner, the Hawkins Lab children, and the rest of mankind with safety from Henry Creel, so once Eleven removed Soteria’s effects on him, protection from One’s powers was lost.

Number One Holding Soteria Device

The significance of Brenner’s experiment using “Soteria” for One’s power suppressant chip is also enhanced through Stranger Things season 4 giving Hawkins Lab the styling of a psychiatric hospital. Soteria also refers to a form of psychiatric treatment in the real world that was used around the time Stranger Things season 4’s flashbacks take place. The treatment involved communal living for people experiencing psychological distress, with the strategies for recovery including a preservation of residents’ personal agency with no or very little use of antipsychotic medicines. The real Soteria experiments are likely what inspired Stranger Things to make Henry Creel an orderly at Hawkins Lab, which has an emphasis on communal living and a lack of restraints for Brenner’s project. However, beneath the surface, Brenner’s project is revealed as abusive and neglectful, with no true agency for those in the lab.

While the most important meaning to glean from Stranger Things’ Soteria label is that Brenner was trying to protect humanity from Number One’s murderous pursuits, it’s possible that the series could see this device used again. If the military gets ahold of Eleven at Stranger Things’ Nina Project location before Mike and the California characters reach her, they may try to inhibit her powers using the same device. The military now blames Eleven for the teenage murders in Hawkins, which are actually being conducted by Henry Creel/Vecna, so it’s likely that they’ll try to get rid of her powers once and for all. However, Eleven’s powers allow her to function as a human Soteria herself, with Dr. Owens declaring her the “cure” and preserver of safety from Vecna and the Upside Down’s evils.

Next: Stranger Things: Why Vecna Waited Seven Years To Start Killing Again

Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 releases on Netflix on July 1.

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