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Jason Carver, portrayed by Mason Dye, was a recurring antagonist in the fourth season of Stranger Things.

Jason was a rich athlete dating the most popular girl in school. However, Jason's perfect world began to unravel when a new evil threatened Hawkins.[1]

History

Background

Jason was born in Hawkins in either 1967 or 1968. He became a player for Hawkins High’s basketball team, befriending teammates Patrick McKinney, Andy and Chance in the process.

By March 1986, Jason had started dating Chrissy Cunningham, a cheerleader. He also grew to dislike Eddie Munson and the Dungeons & Dragons-centered Hellfire Club, viewing them with suspicion after hearing stories about D&D being connected to Satanic cults and rituals.

March 1986

March 21

On a Friday afternoon, Jason delivered a speech to his fellow students in the high school gymnasium, trying to inspire excitement for the championship basketball game later that night. He talked about the students who had died in recent years (including Jim Hopper, whom he was unaware is still alive, and Hawkins High students Billy Hargrove and Heather Holloway), and claimed that they would have wanted Hawkins to win this game, which annoyed Mike Wheeler and his friends.

That evening, the Hawkins Tigers won the game, thanks to a last-minute basket by newcomer player Lucas Sinclair. After the game, Jason and his friends went to the abandoned Benny's Burgers restaurant to celebrate the victory and drink. That evening, Jason's girlfriend Chrissy Cunningham was murdered by Vecna in Eddie Munson’s trailer.

March 22

The next morning, Jason and his friends had the news going on the TV, which described the recent death of a teenager in Hawkins. They were interrupted by police officer Calvin Powell who asked to talk with Jason and questioned him on Chrissy's whereabouts the day before. In his questioning, Powell hinted that Chrissy was the one who had died and revealed the location of the murder. Horrified and heartbroken, Jason decided to avenge Chrissy and hunt for Eddie.

March 23

Jason and his friends set out to hunt for Eddie, first visiting Eddie's band, Corroded Coffin. When the band members couldn't tell him anything, Jason ordered his friends to beat them up, and Lucas watched from the side-lines in horror. When Lucas heard that they were planning on targeting Dustin next, he decided to mislead them and lead them to Hopper's Cabin before leaving them and running.

March 24

After being lead to a dead end by Lucas, Jason visited the Sinclair household and found Erica instead. He tried in vain to get answers from her, but Erica gave him nothing.

March 25

Jason and his friends attended Chrissy's funeral. Afterward, one of his friends suggested they look for Eddie at Reefer Rick’s house, and Jason and the basketball team set out for Lover's Lake.

There, Jason and Patrick found Eddie rowing silently out onto the lake, and the boys swam after him. However, just as they neared the boat, Vecna struck again and killed Patrick, first dragging him under the surface and then into the air. Eddie managed to escape during the distraction while Jason looked on in horror.

March 26

Believing that Eddie had used satanic powers to kill Patrick and escape, Jason was upset that the cops didn't believe him. During a town hall meeting, he interrupted the police officers who were giving an update on the killings, and spoke before the crowd of citizens, claiming that satanic forces were at work in Hawkins, spurred by Hellfire Club. He urged them to take matters into their own hands and hunt Eddie, who was the head of the "cult" as he called it. Jason successfully convinced them, and people left the meeting angry and ready to fight.

March 27

Focused on finding and killing Eddie, Jason and his friends visited the War Zone store to purchase guns and other weapons. While he was there, Jason ran into Nancy as she was purchasing a gun. Remembering that her brother was involved in Hellfire, Jason cornered her and asked her about Mike and his friends, pointing out that they were in the same club as Eddie. Nancy refused to answer him, raising his suspicion.

Later that night, Jason was practicing with his new gun when he received word of something suspicious occurring at the Creel House. On high alert, he went to investigate with Andy. At the Creel House, he found Lucas and Max in the attic, the latter in the middle of a trance while sitting on the floor. Jason immediately believed that Lucas had put Max in this trance, and refused to listen to him when the boy desperately tried to explain their plan. While initially willing to listen, Jason threatened him with his gun after he told him Chrissy went to Eddie to buy drugs and demanded that he wake Max up. Jason began counting to five. It ended when Lucas attacked him, having no other option, and the boys fought each other, Jason unknowingly crushing Max's headphones during the scuffle. Gaining the upper hand, he pinned Lucas against a wall, beat him, and choked him. But then he was smashed into a window and knocked out by Lucas in a fit of rage.

When Max's heart stopped and completed Vecna's plot, a massive surge of energy manifested, and a crack between the real world and the Upside Down formed, snaking across the attic floor and leaking vines. Coming to, Jason found himself trapped when the vines grabbed him and the energy disintegrated his mid-section. Despite their animosity, Lucas looked on in sadness as Jason died.

Legacy

Later, townsfolk are seen spray painting Jason’s bible quotes onto the church to keep hope up, showing Jason inspired the town even after death.

Personality

At first glance, Jason seemed to be friendly, kind and thoughtful. He showed affection towards his girlfriend, Chrissy, and checked on Lucas when he had his first hangover. He seems to care for his basketball teammates, standing up for them when the opposing basketball team violently assaults one of them. Jason was also very good at public speaking, making a speech about all of the tragedies the town of Hawkins had endured in the past couple of years, and telling his audience to use their trauma and Chief Hopper’s apparent heroic sacrifice as inspiration. However, Jason later revealed himself to be quick-tempered, self-centered, and preppy. He was easily riled by Eddie Munson’s taunts and showed a dislike towards those more unpopular than he, labeling them as freaks although unlike other antagonists (Troy, Billy, Angela) he never lets his hatred of them go to the extent of actual bullying. Jason accepted the idea that the killing of Chrissy, and the subsequent deaths, were satanic in nature and cult-related.

After the death of his girlfriend, Jason's personality changed drastically and set him on a dark path. Jason became bent on avenging Chrissy, and wrongly concluded that Eddie was responsible for her death as she was in his home at the time of her murder. Although part of Jason's motivation out of hunting Eddie was concern he would kill again and thus, he desired to protect his town from future murders. He took drastic measures to find Eddie, such as beating up the members of Eddie's band in order to find his location. Jason told Lucas he didn't have to join the team in the hunt for Eddie, but hinted that it was the right thing to do. Even after Jason witnessed his friend Patrick McKinney being brutally murdered by Vecna, he still believed Eddie was somehow responsible, having summoned Satan or channeled his power. Jason was heartbroken by Patrick's death, showing he still cared for his friends, and carried his friend's corpse back to shore.

In the end, Jason exemplified the worst aspects of the real-world Satanic panic: he was warped by close personal grief and took a personal crusade against anyone he believed to be associated with the Hellfire Club. Notably, despite his genuine desire to save Max, his respect and friendship for his fellow teammate, Lucas, was nonexistent, even when Lucas pleaded with Jason to listen to reason and explained the real cause of Chrissy's and Patrick's deaths.

Relationships

Non-Familial

Jason's relationship with Chrissy was only initially believed to be healthy and loving. However, he may not have known her as well as he would have liked to believe. While she reciprocated Jason’s declaration of his feelings at the pep rally and Jason acknowledged her during the basketball game, the two did not share any on screen interaction beyond that; in fact, they appeared quite distant from one another. It is revealed that Chrissy never mentioned her troubled home life and inner struggles to Jason, thinking he would never understand her. Because Jason and Chrissy were the basketball and cheerleading captains, it is implied that their relationship was a case of forced conforming, as society expected them to be a couple. Despite appearances, they didn’t truly know each other as well as they each believed.

After Jason and his team won the championship game, they celebrated on their own at the abandoned Benny's Burgers restaurant. While Jason believed that Chrissy went home after the game, in reality she went home with Eddie Munson to buy drugs that would help her cope with her trauma. This said trauma unfortunately led to Chrissy being killed by Vecna, leaving Jason devastated and desperate to avenge her death. While ignorant of Chrissy’s trauma and personal struggles during her life, Jason’s guilt, grief, and anger over her death sent him spiraling, and he believed that Eddie had killed Chrissy in a satanic sacrifice.

Jason despised Eddie, being easily irritated by his disruptive antics and labeling him a freak on multiple occasions. The two appeared hostile towards each other even prior to Chrissy's death, as seen when Eddie jumped on the lunch table and called the basketball team out. Jason angrily responded by calling Eddie a prick. After the death of Jason's girlfriend, Chrissy, he blamed the murder on Eddie, thinking that his involvement with the Hellfire Club had lead to the death of Chrissy. Upon witnessing Patrick's death while swimming after Eddie's boat, he continued his crusade against the Eddie and the Hellfire Club.

Andy is one Jason's teammates and a close friend of his. Andy joins the hunt for Lucas, Max and Erica.

Patrick was not only one of Jason’s teammates, but one of his best friends. Jason was horrified by Patrick's death and took his body back to the shore in grief. Witnessing Patrick’s death seemed to be the catalyst which caused Jason to truly believe Eddie had occult powers and transform his vigilante posse into an angry mob at the town meeting to catch Eddie and avenge Patrick.

Jason praised Lucas for doing well at the basketball game and helping them win. When Lucas was experiencing his first hangover, Jason checked on him to see if he was okay. When the team formed a vigilante posse with the intent to hunt down Eddie, Jason told him he was not obligated have to join in their search. Upon realizing Lucas was in fact aiding and abetting Eddie, Jason appeared to feel angry and betrayed.

When Jason thought Lucas was about to sacrifice Max, he pulled a gun on Lucas. He initially didn’t want to kill Lucas. However, after Lucas said Chrissy was on drugs and called him a “raging psychopath”, Jason began counting down and tried to shoot him after Lucas charged. The two fought and Jason almost won until Lucas managed to knock him out. Despite their hatred towards each other, Lucas looked on in sadness as Jason died from the Gate opening.

Appearances

Season Four appearances
The Hellfire Club Vecna's Curse The Monster and the Superhero
Dear Billy The Nina Project The Dive
The Massacre at Hawkins Lab Papa The Piggyback

Behind the scenes

His character was first revealed on November 20, 2020, via the show's official social media accounts along with several other new characters.[2]

Gallery

Trivia

  • In spite of their past animosity, Mason Dye opined that Jason may have been convinced of Eddie’s innocence had he not also been present for the death of Patrick McKinney. As it stands, Dye feels that Patrick’s death was the moment Jason convinced himself Eddie possessed abilities courtesy of the occult - though Jason may know the theory isn’t rational, it is the only way for him to make sense of what he witnessed. [3]
  • While Jason mistakenly believed Eddie to be a cult leader thanks to the Satanic panic, Mason Dye pointed out that, ironically, Jason is the far more cult leader-like figure.
  • Prior to filming, Dye was instructed by the Duffers to emulate Tom Cruise, the popular movie star renown both for his charisma and his controversial ties to the Church of Scientology.
    • The Duffers's directions may have been inspired by the 2000 adaption of American Psycho, in which Christian Bale famously modelled himself on Cruise to depict the psychopathic Patrick Bateman.
    • Mason also took influence from videos of evangelical preachers.[4]
  • The dynamic between Jason and Eddie is possibly inspired by Anthony Michael Hall’s character in the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, one of the breakout films of Stranger Things star Winona Ryder. In the film, Hall’s character of “Jim” is the girlfriend of Ryder’s character “Kim”, and perceives the titular character as a “freak” - similar to Jason’s perception of Eddie. Like Jason does with Eddie, Jim comes to believe Edward intentionally hurt Kim and leads an angry mob against him - resulting in his own death during the final confrontation.
  • When asked at the 2022 Montreal Comic Convention if they thought Chrissy and Jason truly loved each other, Grace Van Dien and Mason Dye expressed the belief that while they did care for each other and were each other’s high school sweethearts, it was not unlikely that Chrissy could have been swayed by Eddie, as the Chrissy that Jason loved was his own incomplete perception of her. In the same response, Dye stated his personal opinion that Chrissy deserved better than Jason.[5] Van Dien later remarked at Galaxy Con Raleigh 2022 that had Chrissy lived she likely would have left Jason for Eddie by the second episode of the season. [6]
  • Surprisingly, despite the conflict between their two characters, Caleb McLaughlin has repeatedly defended Jason, especially when comparing him to the previous season's antagonist, Billy. Caleb said he feels as though Jason was a “good person in a tough situation” and “misunderstood”, saying he felt Jason genuinely took Lucas under his wing and was showing him the ropes, not holding any racial prejudice towards him. In contrast, Caleb is upset that Billy is loved more than Jason, arguing too many people forgive the blatant racism of Billy’s character, and that he hated Lucas because of the color of his skin.

References

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