“Stranger Things 4” is over – isn’t that a bummer!? This two-part season had it all: monsters, mayhem and mild flirting. Plus, we learned more about Eleven and the Upside Down, and we got the very best villain in the show’s history with the dark sorcerer Vecna (played by Jamie Campbell Bower). And it all came packaged in supersized episodes (something that we are very OK with). “Stranger Things 4” was arguably the best, most ambitious season of the beloved Netflix series to date.
So: Now what are you supposed to do?
Considering Season 4 was released nearly three years after “Stranger Things 3,” we could be in for a long wait. And to fill that time, we can can at least get to pondering the biggest questions that Season 4 left us with.
Giant spoilers for the end of “Stranger Things 4” follow. If you haven’t watched yet, turn back now!
Will Hawkins survive?
For obvious reasons, this is the biggest question left lingering. The last episode ended with our heroes looking out over a version of Hawkins wholly unfamiliar to us, one that is smoking (with that characteristic “Stranger Things” red lightning crackling through), glowing and full of that weird floating particulate found in the Upside Down. Vecna carried out his curse; Max died (at least long enough for the sorcerer to complete his plan) and the hellish world of the Upside Down has been unleashed on poor, unsuspecting Hawkins.
The question remains: What’s next? Will an all-out battle be unleashed between the citizens of Hawkins and the creatures from the Upside Down? (Nancy mentioned seeing monsters with giant, gaping maws. This probably means that we’re getting some new critters next season.) And what will be left of Hawkins now that these portals have opened up? Is there a way of turning back the clock or undoing the damage? And is this just the beginning of Vecna’s plan to overtake earth? Sure, that final shot is plenty ominous, but look at Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) face. She’s determined to ward off the evil that she’s helped create (and later unleash). In other words, she’s ready for war.
Is Max okay?
Some of the most harrowing aspects of the finale was Max’s (Sadie Sink) battle with Vecna. She tried to stay in her safe memories, away from the dark wizard. And she even had help from an astral-projecting Eleven. But it wasn’t enough. She succumbed to Vecna’s curse – her arms and legs were broken and she might be permanently blind. Her heart even stopped for several minutes, long enough for the fourth grandfather clock chime to ring out across the land and for the portals to open up all around Hawkins. At the very end of the finale, she is in a coma. Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) stays by her side, reading her Stephen King and Peter Straub’s “The Talisman.”
Max’s fate is very much up in the air. Her arms and legs are in a cast; she might be permanently blind; and, perhaps most damning, when Eleven looks for her in the blackish void, Max is not there. Is there any coming back from this?
Are Steve and Nancy getting back together?
Steve (Joe Keery) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) had seemingly been rekindling their romance throughout Season 4, but at the end of the season, her actual boyfriend Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) showed up after his adventure. It seemed like Jonathan and Nancy were officially back together, or at least on their way. Steve was alive (thank god) but rejected (boo). Honestly, Jonathan is kind of a wet blanket, and him being a stoner this season made him even more unappealing. Can Steve and Nancy get together after all? Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) are finally an item; Eleven and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) are firmly a couple. Now all we need are Steve and Nancy to reconnect. Let’s make it happen!
Did somebody let Owens out?
During the invasion of the underground facility where Brenner (Matthew Modine) and Owens (Paul Reiser) were holding Eleven in order to return her powers, Owens is captured and chained to a pipe. The very menacing Colonel Sullivan (Sherman Augustus) interrogated him, but what happened to Owens afterwards remains a mystery. When Sullivan emerges from the subterranean lab to survey the damage, he’s alone. But if Owens was actually dead, we probably would have seen it, right?
What’s the deal with Vecna now?
In the Season 4 finale, Vecna tells Eleven the story of how he became a creepy wizard from an alternate dimension with a giant claw arm and some very bad skin. He claims that when Eleven originally zapped him into the parallel dimension after the massacre at Hawkins Lab, it was a wasteland. It was populated by monsters, but there wasn’t much else. Finally, Vecna came across a swarm of particles (what the Russians referred to as “the Shadow,” but what Dustin and the kids have called the Mind Flayer). The Shadow went into Vecna and gave him the power to lead the creatures in the universe. So is he the top dog, or does the Mind Flayer give him the marching orders, as Dustin has suggested? The hierarchy of the Upside Down and the creatures therein still remain pretty muddy, but considering Vecna is still alive and probably seething, we’ll probably find out a lot more about this villain in the fifth and final season.
Why did the Russians have that Demogorgon?
So many of Brenner’s experiments have been framed as an attempt to thwart the Soviets. And Soviets were a big threat in Season 3, where we saw that they were attempting to access the Upside Down both in Russia and underneath the newly completed Starcourt Mall. But we’re still not totally sure what their goal was supposed to be or how they had so much Upside Down stuff at the Russian prison where they were holding Hopper. In the finale, we see that they had Demogorgons in glass tubes and a giant room full of the particles that make up the Shadow. How did they get this stuff, and what are they planning on doing with it? Could there be a scenario in Season 5 where the citizens of Hawkins are forced to team up with the Soviets, sharing their knowledge of the situation, in a way of saving the world from the horrors of the Upside Down?
Are we going to bring up the weird time stuff in the Upside Down?
Talk about a bombshell that hasn’t been explored in any meaningful way since: When the gang travels to the Upside Down through the water gate, Nancy discovers that the universe is frozen in time, specifically the moment that Will (Noah Schnapp) was abducted and brought there in Season 1. Of course, there’s the question of why? And it also brings up additional questions, like: Was Eddie’s (Joe Quinn) guitar on the wall of his trailer since that foggy night in 1982? Did he know that it would be there? And if Vecna created, to an extent at least, the topography of the Upside Down, what was it about Will’s abduction that made him freeze time at that exact moment.
All those questions bring us to…
Has Vecna really been there since the beginning?
There’s a theory floating around online that suggests Vecna was the one who first abducted Will in Season 1. (And the evidence is pretty good!) It’s enough to wonder if it really was Vecna who kidnapped Will and whether or not his story about being the architect of the entire “Stranger Things” mystery is actually true. In Season 5, will we get more flashbacks indicating how close Vecna has been to our characters in previous seasons? And what is his end goal going forward? What a creep!
How long will we have to wait for season 5?
“Stranger Things 4” is concluding almost exactly three years after “Stranger Things 3” debuted. Obviously, the pandemic monkeyed with the series’ production timeline considerably. But that is still so long. We know that the Duffer Brothers have already pitched the final season to Netflix (and supposedly that the executives cried, possibly because they know how much money they’ll be missing when the show is finally over). But a definitive timetable for the final season’s premiere hasn’t been established or shared. The show has never ended on a cliffhanger of this magnitude, and we’ve never been more invested in the plight of our characters. In other words, when it comes to “Stranger Things 5,” the sooner, the better.