When the popular sci-fi, horror, and mystery Netflix drama, Stranger Things dropped in 2016, it was all anybody could talk about.
Not only did it use the nostalgia for a bygone era to ground the horror in something familiar to connect with the audience, but it also provided that exciting and heartbreaking thriller as well.
Just the whole plotline with an outstanding cast was enough for the series to do a such good job. However, after the pandemic struck the production had to pause, and finally, in early 2022, they came back with the fourth season.
The three-year gap between the third and the fourth season certainly affected the viewership. Regardless, with its fourth season, Stranger Things did get back on track and brought its A-game.
But like everything has an end, just two months after its release, in July 2022, the fourth season came to an end. Fans were left devasted and on top of that, they were more confused than ever.
With so much to take in, it is more than understandable if you are left confused too. The whole season did surely add in so many elements, characters, and settings, making it very hard to keep up with.
Moreover, not only the whole series but even the ending left the audience puzzled and fans weren’t late in taking things to social media to express their reaction and thoughts,
So, what happened in the series, and why the ending got so many baffled? Well, to find out we suggest you read this article and stick with us till the end, as we try our best to clear your confusion and curiosities.
But first things first, let’s take a look at what happened throughout the series and get right into it.
Stranger Things Season Four: Recap
By now, you already must have a rough idea of what the whole series is really about. In case you have forgotten, the whole Stranger Things series was based on the stories of a group of young friends in Indiana during the 1980s, who witnessed supernatural forces and secret government exploits, and their search for answers behind them.
Continuing the main essence, the series got back but this time with two volumes; Volume 1 and volume 2 which were split into three plotlines.
The first plotline took place in Hawkins, where teenagers were being killed in mysterious ways. The Dungeons and Dragons group’s leader, Eddie Munson was the prime suspect behind the murders. The series mainly focused on the kids in Hawkins as they encountered a new creature and solve the murder mystery of some kids from their school.
The second plotline involved Mike visiting Eleven, Will, and Jonathan in their new home in California. Because her friends were in danger back in Hawkins, Eleven decided to go with Dr. Brenner and Sam Owens to retain her power.
The third plotline follows Joyce and Murray Bauman after they learned that Hopper was still alive and were told to bring money to arrange his transfer. Meanwhile, Hopper was held in a Soviet camp where he was forced to battle Demogorgon.
Moving on to the season four recap;
Volume one had a total of seven chapters. Let’s take a look at them.
Chapter One: “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club”
The season started somewhere eight months from where season three left; after the incidents at Starcount Mall. Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven had moved to California, where Eleven was not welcomed. She had to struggle because she had lost her powers and was bullied by other students.
Meanwhile back in Hawkins, Mike and Dustin joined the Hellfire Club, led by Eddie Munson. The series starts when a fellow student on the cheerleading team, Chrissy Cunnigham was possessed and killed by a monster-like creature from her visions.
Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse
Chapter two showed how Hopper survived the explosion underneath Starcount Mall but was captured by the Soviets, and how Joyce and Murray received his whereabouts.
Starting off strong, the story continued with Eddie being the prime suspect behind Chrissy’s murder as Max had seen him running away the night Chrissy died.
Max and Dustin along with Robin and Steve located traumatized Eddie, explained to him about the Upside Down, and named the entity that killed Chrissy to be Vecna.
The chapter ended with the death of a fellow student reporter Fred, who was investigating Chrissy’s death and believed it was Victor Creel who killed her. Fred was lured into the woods by the visions of a girl he accidentally killed before Vecna murdered him.
Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero
While the first two chapters showed Eddie and Victor to be behind Chrissy’s death, the third chapter depicted Eleven as the prime suspect. It was U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack Sullivan, who believed that the person responsible for Chrissy’s death was Eleven.
This was when Owens convinced Eleven to follow him so that he could bring her powers back to save Hawkins. Joyce and Murray made their way to Alaska only to discover that Creel blamed a demon behind his family’s annihilation, which they believed to be Vecna.
Meanwhile back in Hawkins, Max recalled Chrissy’s visit to the school counselor before her death. Trying to get into the matters, Max stole Chrissy’s file from the school along with Fred’s and found how both of them had suffered from PTSD just like her.
Soon, Max started to hear Vecna calling her name and even had visions of a grandfather clock just like Chrissy had once experienced right before her death.
Chapter Four: Dear Billy
The next chapter started with Joyce and Murray getting drugged by Yuri. Turns out Yuri had planned to hand them, along with Hopper and Antonov, over to the Russians for a larger profit.
Hopper did manage to escape the prison camp but was soon captured. Later with the help of Jonathan’s friend Argyle, they were able to escape.
Meanwhile, Nancy and Robin interviewed imprisoned Victor Creel, who stated that his whole family was murdered by a supernatural force and he was wrongly accused, and arrested for their deaths.
Meanwhile, Max became sure that Vecna was after her when she started experiencing the same thing as Chrissy and Fred. Fearing her death was coming near, she wrote letters to her friends and family and even went to the graveyard to give one to Billy as well.
In the graveyard, Vecna successfully possessed Max and brought her to his altar inside his mind. Just then Max’s friends realized that playing music was the way to break Vecna’s curse. So, they played Max’s favorite song and were able to rescue her.
Chapter Five: The Nina Project
Chapter five was more focused on Eleven as she was taken by Owen to an abandoned ICBM silo (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) in Nevada, where he and Dr. Brenner had developed a specialized isolation tank, which was also called NINA.
Their main mission was to help Eleven get back her powers. However, when she stepped into the tank for the first time she attempted to escape but later she was convinced even if for a brief moment she got her powers back.
Since the three plots were taking place side to side, the fifth chapter also showed Joyce and Murray subduing Yuri and crash land in the wilderness. In Hawkins, Max, Lucas, Steve, and Dustin regrouped with Nancy and Robin and decide to investigate the Creel house.
Inside the house, they encountered flickering lights, which they traced to Vecna’s movements in the Upside Down. On the other hand, Jason and his teammates located Eddie, who was trying to escape in a boat at the Lover’s Lake.
Seeing Eddie fleeing, Jason and Patrick soon followed him in the water. However, the water was not safe as Vecna was able to kill Patrick in the water, right in front of Jason and Eddie.
Chapter Six: The Dive
Not much of a crucial chapter, the sixth chapter showed how Eleven relived her memories of befriending a lab elderly, who warned her not to trust Dr. Brenner.
Not only she remembered the warnings but she also recalled being threatened by other subjects, which made her believe that she was responsible for the lab massacre.
At the same time, Hopper and the other inmates were given a large feast. Hopper warned them that the feast was given to them to be fed to the Demogorgon.
Now, Jason convinced Hawkin’s residents at a town hall meeting against Eddie’s supposed Satanic Cult, Hellfire Club. In the meantime, Steve’s group found Eddie and also they noticed that their compass was misbehaving; indicating that there must have been a new gate to the Upside Down nearby.
Trusting their hunch, they were able to locate the gate to Lover’s lake, where Steve dived down for inspection but was yanked into the Upside Down by a tendril and swarmed by bat-like creatures.
The Demogorgon was the nickname of the otherwise unnamed monster and one of the two main antagonists in the first season of the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things. It is a creature hailing from a parallel dimension reminiscent of a dark reflection of the world.
Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab
Giving a great ending to the first volume of the season, the seventh chapter had a lot of things going on. First of all, Joyce, Murray, and Yuri were able to enter Kamchatka and witness Hopper and a group of inmates fighting the Demogorgon.
After successfully escaping the creatures, they were finally able to escape and reunite. Back in Hawkins, Dustin, Lucas, and Erica came up with the theory that Vecna had spawned a gate at the site of each murder.
They passed down the information to Steve’s group and reunited inside Eddie’s trailer at the gate where Chrissy had died. Later, Nancy was possessed by Vecna, when she discovered Vecna’s real identity.
It was Vecna, who had started all the supernatural murders and was behind the annihilation of Vectors Creel’s family.
This chapter showed all the things that happened in the past and how the murderous creature, Vecna came into existence.
That is it for Volume one. Now let’s move right into volume two, which had the final two installments of Season Four.
Chapter Eight: Papa
At the end of volume one, Nancy was possessed by Vecna and discovered his true identity. Continuing the series, Nancy was still possessed by Vecna and he showed her a vision of the future, where Hawkins was torn apart by rifts.
Eleven, on the other hand, learned about Vecna’s plan and tried to come back to Hawkins but was stopped as Brenner betrayed her and trapped her in the facility.
Brenner tried to flee with Eleven but was shot by Sullivan and his forces. Sullivan’s squad also tried to kill Eleven, but she made it out alive by defeating all of them with her superpowers.
Meanwhile in Russia, Hopper, Murray, Joyce, Yuri, and Antonov successfully escaped the base after they discovered several more creatures from the Upside down as well as shadowy fragments of Mind Flayer.
Chapter Nine: The Piggyback
The final and last installment of Season four, the ninth chapter showed the Hawkins group enacting their plan. Max, Lucas, and Erica went to the Creel House while Steve, Nancy, and Robin went to the Upside Down linked with Creel’s House to attack Vecna.
The fight didn’t really end well, as they had to sacrifice one of their friends in the process. Meanwhile, Eleven’s group created an isolation tank for her so that she could enter Max’s mind and fight Vecna.
However, she was overwhelmed by Vecna as he possessed Max and revealed that he had been controlling the Upside Down since the day she sent him there.
Eleven fought off Vecna and managed to get Max out of his control. Despite her efforts, she couldn’t save Max as they were interrupted by Jason, and Max died from her injuries.
Also, Hooper, Joyce, and Murray re-entered the prison and kill the remaining Demogorgons, which weakened Vecna.
Towards the end of the chapter, Vecna was successful in opening the gates and tearing through Hawkins but he was killed by the trio, Steve, Robin, and Nancy, who set his physical form ablaze and shot him.
At last, it was shown that the town was recovering from an earthquake, and everyone reunited while Vecna was still alive and the Upside Down started to invade Hawkins.
Whew! That was one hell of a season and the ending had a lot of things that surely messed up with our brains. So, let’s take a look at them and discuss the ending in detail.
So, now that we know the whole plot of the fourth season, let us talk about the ending. The ending had many things going on So, let’s break it down and talk about the parts that many of us are still very curious about.
First and foremost, let’s talk about all the major characters that lost their lives during the season finale.
Who Died in the Stranger Things Season 4 Finale?
The fourth season did start off with the death of some major characters and did it give the audience a happy ending? Probably not. Even at the end, some of the show’s most prominent characters died.
The first one to die was Dr. Brenner, who sacrificed himself to help Eleven escape from the military even though he did only use her for his own personal gain. However, his sacrifice helped Eleven to flee the military and return to Hawkins.
Talking about sacrifices, Eddie Munson, the leader of the Hellfire Club, also met his end when he sacrificed himself to a host of demo bats in the Upside Down so that he could buy his friends some more time to fight off Vecna.
The finale ended with one more sacrifice, not really a sacrifice but remember Jason Carver? Well, he too ended up dying when the Upside Down dam broke and his body was sliced in half. Quite a painful death, if we must say.
What Happened to Max?
Moving on to probably the biggest mystery of the whole season; what happened to Max? The ending killed Max and with her brief death, Vecna was able to open up the gates and create rifts that looked like gates to hell in Hawkins.
As you know, Max was possessed at the very beginning of the series and was saved by blasting off her favorite song to get her out of Vecna’s control.
Later they planned to use Max to lure Vecna and while fighting off Vecna, Max was attacked as Eleven’s mind control was disturbed by Jason. As a result, Max was injured by Vecna. Not only were her limbs brutally broken but her eyes were whitened out and even blood began to ooze down her face like tears.
Fortunately, Vecna didn’t go all out on her as his kill ritual was interrupted from completion and Max didn’t have her eyes destroyed and her skull crushed. However, he was still able to kill Max and open the fourth and final gate.
Max was then taken to the hospital and her death was confirmed by the doctors when they stated that her heart had stopped for a full minute. Eleven did use her psychic abilities to keep Max alive.
So, Max’s physical body was still alive but her mind was in a deep state of coma. When Eleven tried to get into Max’s mind, she was not there; neither her soul nor her conscience was there, which opened up a possibility that Max could have been still trapped in Upside Down or some other realms.
Who was Vecna?
The one behind all these destruction and deaths was the one and only monster, Vecna. So, who was he really? Well aside from the monster that the kids named, he was the son of Victor Creel.
When the kids were coming up with the theories regarding Vecna and his gates, they reunited inside Eddie’s trailer which was supposed to be the gate where Chrissy died.
Now, Robin and Eddie were able to escape but Vecna got a hold of Nancy and possessed her. While Nancy was possessed by Vecna she came to discover that Vecna was the son of Victor Creel, Henry Creel.
Furthermore, she also found out that it was Henry who killed his mother and sister with his psychokinetic powers and fell into a coma. Because of his special abilities and the danger that he possessed, he was placed in Brenner’s care.
There he became Brenner’s subject 001 on whom, Brenner performed various experiments in an attempt to replicate Henry’s power. Later, Henry approached Eleven and befriended her warning her against Brenner.
When Eleven tried to help him, he instead ended up killing all the other subjects in the lab. Eleven only remembered this when finally going up against him in Upside Down. She realized it was henry all along who had committed the lab massacre and tried to kill her when she refused to help him fulfill his murderous goals.
When Eleven refused Henry’s proposal, he tried to kill her but Eleven soon overpowered him and sent him to the Upside Down where he became the monster he is now- Vecna.
What was Vecna’s Plan?
Well, Vecna wasn’t really a good guy from what we knew, and after killing his family and being subjected to many tests and experiments it was sure that his mind was certainly not in a good state.
Even after committing the lab massacre, it was confirmed that he did hate everyone and had murderous intentions but nobody could be sure of what was his real plan and why did he want to open the gates.
However, based on his small talk with Eleven at the end of chapter 7, it seemed as though there could just not be any real plans whatsoever, and he was just interested in the usual evil things.
For now, we can just assume that he just liked doing evil things and unleashing the iniquities on the world. Even his ways of doing such was a very well plotted one, although fans thought that he was going on a very slow pace instead of just getting it done.
Turns out he only needed four kills to open the gates and create havoc in the world. So, slow and steady wins the race? Probably yes in Vecna’s case as he was able to open all the gates with his slow and well-meditated plan.
When Eleven and Vecna went up against each other in a battle of minds, Vecna nearly defeated her as he was much stronger than Eleven and even had the upper hand because he was more familiar with Upside Down than her.
Just when she was about to be defeated, Eleven was encouraged by Mike. Just a little encouragement from Mike was enough for her to blast Vecna away from Max, who was being attacked by Vecna and nearly killed by him.
Meanwhile, in Upside Down, Nancy, Robin, and Steve were able to attack Vecna with Molotov cocktails and take him out of Max’s mind completely. This weekend Vecna to an extent and even though the fire did cause him some damage, crept off into the outskirts of Upside Down to heal himself.
Since he was even shot they thought that he was gone for good. However, towards the end of the episode, Will, who had a privileged connection to Vecna’s mind because of his experience with Mind Flayer, revealed that he was sure that Vecna was still out there.
The Aftermath; What happened to Hawkins?
after much destruction and the deaths of some major characters, the season finally came to an end with Vecna’s death.
However, by killing Max, even if only for a brief moment, Vecna was able to open the fourth gate which was enough to destroy the barrier between the Upside Down and Hawkins.
Just when the fourth gate opened, rifts began to form in the town. Jason was split in half and 22 other citizens of the town were killed, leaving countless people displaced. To conceal the supernatural disasters, the residents were told that The town was struck by an earthquake of a high magnitude.
Is there going to be the next season?
Yes! there is going to be the next season.
Season four was split into two volumes as it had many characters and in order to get across the story without losing sight of the characters, it was important to give each of them their moments.
However, even after splitting the season into two parts, the story didn’t come to an end. As in the ending scene, the group of survivors was seen overlooking a place burning down in flames with red clouds and lightning.
This was more than enough for fans to conclude that there is a next season coming up. Furthermore, even Jamie Campbell Bower, Vecna, himself teased that Vecna will be out for blood in season 5,
So, do we have to say more? I guess not.