‘Stranger Things’: Gaten Matarazzo on Where Dustin’s Grief Might Take Him in Season 5
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4 of Stranger Things.]
Stranger Things Season 4 left fans with a lot to ponder as they look ahead to the fifth and final season, especially in the wake of some devastating losses in the latest chapter’s final act.
When it came to new fan-favorite Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), it was hard not to be charmed by the metal Dungeon Master who had a soft spot for Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo). Understandably, Dustin was distraught over Eddie’s untimely demise brought on by an encounter with bats in the Upside Down.
In an emotional conversation with Eddie’s uncle following the loss, he tells the man that his nephew was a hero despite what the people of Hawkins want to believe. So, how will this loss impact Dustin moving forward, and could it impact his friendship with other fan-favorite Steve Harrington (Joe Keery)?
“You can have more than one best friend. And I think it’s true,” Matarazzo tells TV Insider. “[Dustin] loves Steve and Eddie for very distinctly different reasons. They both bring out a side of him that he likes in himself, that he’s never seen before.”
“And I don’t know what [Matt and Ross Duffer] have in store and writing-wise,” the actor admits, “but I think going into it, there’s no denying that there’s going to need to be a shift there and there’s going to need to be a bit of focus on the fact that nobody can really come back from seeing that.”
In a show with dark moments and dark losses, Dustin watching Eddie die in real time is probably one of the most traumatic scenes in the show to date. Understandably, Matarazzo’s character would be impacted by such an ordeal.
“He has dealt with loss in the past. He’s seen horrible things, but to have a very close friend of his brutally die, not just there in front of him, but directly with him is [another thing],” Matarazzo acknowledges. “The one thing that I’m always thinking about going into it is that we don’t necessarily see it happen, but Dustin would’ve had to have left [Eddie] there to get out and leave himself.”
Saving himself and leaving Eddie behind doesn’t leave a lot of room for closure, “and that’s something that I was thinking about during the scene with Eddie’s uncle,” Matarazzo says. “Because of the leg injury and because of Dustin’s lack of upper body strength, he would’ve needed to leave [Eddie’s] body there while needing to get out himself. And if they’re going to play with that, it’s something I’ll be thinking about quite a lot.”
As for playing into the emotional side of Dustin, something fan’s haven’t seen much of until now, Matarazzo says, “comedy’s always a defense mechanism with people. That’s something that I do. It’s something that Dustin does. So I think he’s a scared person and he cares deeply about the people around him, but comedy and a need to amuse those around you is a way to feel liked and accepted and a way to deny your real feelings in a lot of cases.”
“It’s not necessarily new,” the actor says of Dustin’s emotional side. “It’s the first time anything like that’s ever been able to bubble up. You can’t really hide these feelings through jokes anymore. You know?” Hopefully, it won’t be all gloom and doom for Dustin as we head into the final season of Stranger Things. Stay tuned to see what happens when and pals return for the final chapter in the Netflix hit and relive every nostalgic moment by bingeing Seasons 1 through 4 now.
Stranger Things, Seasons 1-4, Streaming now, Netflix