The first season of ‘Stranger Things’ left us with many unanswered questions. One of the big ones is did Matthew Modine’s nefarious Dr. Brenner die in ‘The Upside Down’, the final episode of the debut season of Netflix’s nostalgic sci-fi hit.
Modine returns in Season 2 via a number of flashbacks but did Brenner really die, or could he return in Season 3?
As ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 lands on Netflix, Yahoo Movies caught up with Dr. Brenner himself, Matthew Modine and so we put him on the spot: did the sinister Dr. Brenner survive?
“If that means, is Dr. Martin Brenner dead, I would ask, how do you define death?” the ‘Full Metal Jacket’ star responds cryptically.
**Spoiler Warning: Don’t read on if you haven’t seen ‘Stranger Things’ Season Two**
Dr. Brenner fell afoul of the horrific Demogorgon at the end of ‘Stranger Things’ Season 1. But while many fans assumed that was the end of the man Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven referred to as ‘Papa’, that doesn’t mean he actually died.
After all, we didn’t really see what happened to him.
In ‘Stranger Things’ Season 2, the evidence begins to stack up that he might still be alive.
After tracking one of Brenner’s assistants to his home, Eleven (and a bunch of newfound friends) discovers that Brenner may still be out there. Threatened with a brutal death at the hands of his former test subject, he claims that Brenner is still alive and he even offers to take them to him.
But is Brenner really still alive, or was Ray simply trying to talk them down?
“I don’t think Dr. Brenner has anything to do with Hawkins or the people that live there,” explains Modine. “His only interest is his work and relationship with Eleven.”
And that’s where it all gets interesting. “It is a complex relationship,” he adds. “They love each other. Love is a complex emotion. Poets, singers and writers of songs have been trying to explain love for thousands of years.”
But could we see Dr. Brenner take his studies further afield?
Season 2 introduces the existence of 008 – another of Eleven’s fellow test subjects. It’s not a huge leap to imagine a lot more of them out there in the wider world and Dr Brenner is surely still interested in their unique gifts.
But is he good, evil, or somewhere in-between?
Modine isn’t sure. And when asked whether he might ever get the chance to redeem himself, he raises some interesting questions.
“Redeem himself from what?” he asks. “Did he ever force Eleven to perform the experiments? Did he ever physically harm her? Was he always kind and careful to explain each test/experiment? Have you considered that the cat may have been a test to explore her empathy for another living creature?”
It’s these grey areas that make Dr. Brenner such a compelling mystery.
The 58-year-old star would says he hopes to explore this further in future seasons of ‘Stranger Things’.
“I would like to explore perception,” he explains. “You perceive Dr. Martin Brenner to be sinister. It’s quite possible he is passionately pursuing Eleven simply because he knows her potential and worries what might or what could happen if she were to get in the hands of someone that is truly sinister.”
Does that mean there are others out there who want to get their hands on Eleven? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.
But wouldn’t it be interesting to find that Dr. Brenner isn’t as bad as we thought?
“For millions of years the human race has struggled to be less paranoid, less xenophobic,” he explains. “We’ve struggled to create fair, forgiving, civilised societies. We still have police forces and armies because we have failed – so far – to achieve our collective, peaceful aspirations. I still have hope. Playing dark characters is easy. If you scratch the surface of the best of us – a monster lies waiting to be woken.”
‘Stranger Things’ stars David Harbour, Winona Ryder, Noah Schnapp, Charlie Heaton, Millie Bobbie Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Sean Astin, and Dacre Montgomery.
‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 is streaming on Netflix from today.