Netflix’s Stranger Things is one of the most popular shows to grace television of the 21st century. It’s fourth and penultimate season, now being regarded as the best so far, is being broken into two parts and part one has taken the world by storm. With each episode being more than an hour and the seventh episode coming in at just under an hour and forty minutes, there’s a ton to unpack from the first part of season four, so here is our full breakdown.
When season three ended, Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, had defeated the Mind Flayer, the season’s main villain, while also losing her powers. Jim Hopper, the Hawkins police chief seemingly lost his life in the season three finale, but the last scene teased him still being alive. With Hopper dead and Eleven being hunted by the government, Joyce, Will, and Jonathan Byers took her with them to Lenora, California where they looked for a fresh start, while the rest of the Hawkins gang stayed behind. Season four picks up during spring break of the next school year and follows at a few different story lines. Get ready, it’s a long and twisty ride.
Eleven Getting Her Powers Back
The season begins with Eleven writing a letter to Mike, her boyfriend and the one who, along with friends Lucas and Dustin, discovered her in the woods during season one. According to her letter, she has finally begun to adjust to her new life in Lenora, but we later see that she has been the victim of bullying, mainly from a girl named Angela. When Mike arrives in Lenora to visit El on his spring break, there’s tension between him, Eleven, and Will, as Will is upset that Eleven has been lying to Mike about her situation. When the three go to the roller-rink, Angela and her possie embarrass Eleven and she retaliates by hitting Angela in the head with a roller-skate. This results in Eleven’s arrest, but it doesn’t last long as Dr. Owens soon frees her and takes her to a secret lab in order to get her powers back and save the town of Hawkins once again. At the lab, she encounters Dr. Martin Brenner, the man who held her captive during her childhood and showed her how to use her powers in the first place. While there, she experiences many different memories from her time with Brenner so that she may re-develop her powers. She continuously has flashes of a massacre of all of the other children under Brenner’s experiments that she thinks she may have caused. Her memories also include interactions with a new character, an orderly named Peter, who Eleven discovers is actually One – the first kid to have powers in Dr. Brenner’s experiments. She frees One from Brenner, who then wants to help her escape from the prison she’s been living in.
The Hawkins Serial Murders
In the first episode, we see the death of Chrissy, a popular cheerleader dating the star of the Hawkins High basketball team. She’s trying to buy drugs from other newcomer to the series Eddie Munson, an older kid who runs the DnD “Hellfire Club” with Dustin, Mike, and Lucas, to combat the headaches and visions she’s been having. She floats up into the air, and her bones break as her eyes are ripped from their sockets. Hawkins, mainly star-basketball player and boyfriend of Chrissy Jason Carver, blame Eddie for the murder, and when two more happen just like the first, taking Nancy Wheeler’s school paper co-worker, Fred, and other basketball player, Patrick, the hunt escalates. Eddie stays in hiding, avoiding the manhunt that’s after him, which claims he is a leader of a devil-worshipping cult that goes under the guise of the DnD “Hellfire Club.” Jason leads a gang of basketball players, which at first includes Lucas who joined the team that year, in a search to find and, we can only assume, kill Eddie.
The Hawkins Gang Hunts for Answers and Max’s Brush with Death
Dustin, Max, Steve, and Robin quickly realize Eddie’s innocence in the serial murders, and they soon join forces with Nancy to uncover what is really going on. This leads to their discovery of Vecna, the name the gang gives to the entity killing the Hawkins teens, and the crew searches for answers as to where he came from. They realize that all of the people killed by Vecna suffered trauma of some kind and were seeing grand-father clocks and other visions of their past before their deaths. Dustin realizes that Vecna is opening gates from the Upside Down each time he kills, and that he is invading the minds of his victims from a spot within the Upside Down.
Vecna is in Max’s head. Dealing with the trauma of her stepbrother, Billy’s, death at the end of season three when he sacrificed himself to the Mind Flayer to save everyone, she begins to experience similar side-effects to the others who have been killed. She sees a grandfather clock, just like the others, and she soon realizes that she is doomed to lose her life in the same way as the others. While sitting at her brother’s grave, her mind is invaded by Vecna, but when she runs away, she finds herself in a place she doesn’t think Vecna wants her to be. Vecna comes close taking Max, but she is saved when Lucas, Dustin, and Steve put her headphones on and blast her favorite song, allowing her to return back to reality and escape Vecna.
A Trip to the Upside Down
When Dustin realizes that gates are being opened, he leads Lucas, Max, Eddie, Steve, Nancy, and Robin to a gate in Lover’s Lake, the spot of Patrick’s death, Steve swims down and confirms that the gate is there to Nancy, Robin, and Eddie who are all in the boat. Before he can get back in the boat, he’s sucked down through the gate and into the Upside Down. Nancy, Robin, and Eddie follow him in, saving him from a swarm of Demobats. Meanwhile, Max, Dustin, and Lucas, are taken by the police, who (rightly) believe they have been assisting Eddie, though they think that he is the one committing the murders. While in the Wheeler’s house with the police and their parents, the three kids manage to make contact with Nancy, Robin, Eddie, and Steve through lights, just as Will did in season one. They meet at Eddie’s trailer, the site of the first murder, to bring them back through the gate left there. Robin and Eddie make it through the gate, but Nancy’s mind is invaded by Vecna while Steve stands next to her in the Upside Down, trying to bring her back.
Murray and Joyce Go to Find Hopper
In season four, it’s quickly revealed that he was somehow transported to Russia through the gate that had been blown up in season three. He uses a guard in the prison he’s kept in to get in contact with Joyce, telling her he is still alive and a number to call to get him out. She and Murray take $40,000 to Alaska to meet a friend of the guard, Yuri, who is supposed to help smuggle Hopper out of Russia. Hopper manages to escape the prison and reach Yuri’s safehouse, but Yuri decides to sell-out Hopper, the guard who helped him (named Enzo), Joyce, and Murray to the KGB. This results in Hopper and Enzo being placed in a separate part of the Russian prison where they are expected to fight a Demadog. Joyce and Murray are taken hostage aboard Yuri’s plane, but Murray uses his new black-belt-in-karate-skills to defeat Yuri on the plane, crash landing it and forcing him to take them to the prison. Murray impersonates Yuri and they are able to free Hopper and Enzo from the fight against the Demadog just before it kills them.
The Californians Look for Eleven
When Eleven is taken by Dr. Owens to get her powers back, she leaves a note for Mike telling him that she has gone to become a superhero again. With Joyce gone, Mike, Will, and Jonathan are left in the care of two of Dr. Owens’ men in the new Byers house. The house quickly goes under attack by government men who think that Eleven is behind the Hawkins murders, but the three manage to escape with the help of Jonathan’s new friend, Argyle (a stoner pizza delivery boy). One of the men protecting them is taken by the government and tortured and interrogated for information on Eleven’s location, while the other dies during the escape, leaving the three boys with a clue to Eleven’s location. They realize the phone number is actually a computer and head out to find Suzie, Dustin’s girlfriend, who helps them find the coordinates to Eleven’s location with her genius hacking powers.
Victor Creel and Family
In their investigation, Robin and Nancy discover the story of Victor Creel, a man who is in an asylum for murders in the fifties that are eerily similar to the ones currently happening in Hawkins. Creel claimed his family was haunted, and when Nancy and Robin go to see him, he tells them about how strange things happened in his house (visions of past traumas, dead animals, etc.) before his family was killed, leaving him alone and imprisoned.
It All Comes Together
In the final scene of Season Four Volume I, the paths of Nancy, Eleven, and the Creel story all come together in a shocking reveal. While Nancy’s mind is invaded by Vecna, Vecna reveals to her that he is the son of Victor Creel and that it was him to had haunted his family. He realized he had access to certain powers, and when he thought his mother was onto him being responsible for all the strange occurrences, he killed his mother and sister, but fell into a coma before being able to kill his father, Victor. That’s when he was taken and experimented on by Martin Brenner, who wanted to use and develop his powers. Eleven’s memory of the massacre comes back in full force, showing that she was not the one who murdered all the other children, but that it was actually One. She remembers a psychic battle between the two in which she was victorious and sent him into the Upside Down, where he was struck by red lightning several times, turning his body into the gray, horrific one we see as Vecna’s throughout the season. This means that it was Henry Creel/Peter/One/Vecna who was behind all the Hawkins murders as well as a possible major player in the events of the past three seasons. But that’s where Season Four Volume One ends, leaving quite a few things still up in the air for the second part.
What’s Up in the Air and Theories for Volume II
Nancy’s fate: When we last see Nancy, she is realizing the truth about Vecna, her mind and is controlled by him. This has left some fans to speculate that she may be dead, but seeing as how trailers for part four have shown her fighting in the Upside Down, this seems like an unlikely theory.
Hopper, Joyce, Murray, and Enzo: Though the three were safe and reunited at the end of Season Four Volume I, they’re still in Russia and a Demadog is on the loose, which means they’ll most likely pick up their journey in Volume II in an escape from the prison and fight with the Demadog.
Eleven’s Powers: In one brief moment, we see that Eleven still has access to her powers when she throws guards off her back using her mind, but when she attempts to use them on Dr. Brenner seconds after, she is unable. This is all before she unlocks all of her previously suppressed memories about the massacre and One, so it’s very possible that all of this would lead to her not only having her powers back but that they will be stronger than before as a result of her remembering everything.
Nancy and Steve: Throughout Volume I, we see that Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship has been strained heavily by distance, and it seems that the two have grown apart. Added onto this is Steve’s continuous search for a new girlfriend, which is wildly unsuccessful. Throughout the episodes, Nancy and Steve seem to be falling for each other again, and it seems that the two of them may be getting back together after Nancy moved onto Jonathan in season three.
Will’s Sexuality: Throughout the series, Will is the only one of the four main boys (Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and Will) that never has any interest in a girl. He does a presentation on Alan Turing, a famous mathematician who was gay, in this season. Additionally, there is strange tension between him and Mike throughout this season, which means that he may possibly have a crush on him.
Everyone Back in Hawkins: Volume I followed several different story lines, but it seems to be leading to everyone returning to Hawkins for a final showdown against Vecna, possibly in the Upside Down. This means that throughout Volume II, we will most likely see all the characters back together – finally.
There it is: an in-depth breakdown of all the events of Volume I of Season 4 of Stranger Things. Volume II will premiere on July 1st of this year with all episodes dropping at once for the second installment of the second to last season.