Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 spoilers follow.
It feels like we've been running up that hill forever at this point, but finally, after nine mammoth-sized episodes, not to mention that three-year wait, the fourth season of Stranger Things has come to an end.
And lawd, have these kids been busy.
If you're looking for a recap of what happened in volume 1, along with the three seasons that came before it, then we've got you covered with this handy timeline breakdown right here.
But what happened in volume two? How will this set up the final season of Stranger Things? And most importantly of all, who snuffed it at the end of season four? Grab some Eggo's — and some tissues — as we explore how volume two has changed the game for Hawkins.
Stranger Things season 4 vol 2 ending explained – Who died?
In a bold – and rare – move for Stranger Things, the final episode of season four opened with the promise of some sexy time between Joyce and Hopper. But that was unfortunately cut short by a phone call that revealed things aren't looking too great back in Hawkins right now.
It's a fairly pointless reveal given that we've been following the kids all this time, so all it really does is highlight how pointless the Russian storyline has been in general. And because of that, references to Hopper's arc are going to be few and far between from here on out. Sorry, Daddy Harbs.
So anyway, the gang are all geared up ready to carry out their plan, but Eleven is afraid they're all going to die without her help. Thankfully, a random billboard reminds her that she can project her mind across the country and protect Max from Vecna's grasp by going directly into her brain from afar.
Cue some adorable pineapple pizza shenanigans and heartfelt exchanges between both Steve/Nancy (Stancy), and Will/Jonathan (Wollathon). Yes, of course Nancy plays a big role in Steve's dreams for the future, and obviously, Jonathan knows Will is gay, and yes, this is indeed making us fear for all their lives in the coming battle.
Meanwhile, Max tries to lure Veccie's mind out into the open for a brain feast while the others sneak up on his actual body to try and kill him in the real world. To do this, Max opens up about Billy's death, and how she actually wanted it to happen, via a gut-wrenching monologue from Sadie Sink.
Cue applause from all of our collective sofas and a knowing nod from Emmy voters watching back home. Because let's face it: Sadie really is the best thing about this show.
Lucas freaks out at Max's big moment – except it's not really him, of course. That's Number One taking the boy's form inside Max's mind. Or Ms Vecna, if you're nasty.
At this point, Eddie decides to throw a rock concert that should distract the demobats long enough for their plan to work, because lord knows how much bats hate amateur high-school metal. However, things take a turn when those Riverdale jocks show up to chase Erica and confront Lucas in the attic.
Speaking of Riverdale, AKA the best CW show, Max retreats into happy high school memories like the prom in order to escape Vecna's darkness. But then the balloons start to explode blood all over the nice decor, and Eleven can't do anything except watch all this unfold from a distance.
Things aren't looking too good for everyone else, either. Lucas looks down the barrel of a gun pointed at his face as Robin's group get choked out by some tentacles. Eddie's rock concert fails too, falling flatter than Will's bowl cut, so he bikes off in an attempt to draw the demobats away from Dustin.
Oh, and there's some Russia stuff, as well.
After toying with Max for a bit, Vecna decides to go ahead and do his limb-popping schtick, but Eleven finds the strength to push him back, just in time. Cue Millie Bobby Brown's best line in the entire franchise: "I piggybacked from a pizza dough freezer."
Emmy voters, take note. Again.
But there's no time to celebrate, because Vecna quickly gains the upper hand by throwing Eleven into his sparsely-decorated realm. "Before I kill you, I want you to watch," says Henry, because he's evil like that. But El has a trick up her sleeve.
"Papa is dead," shouts Eleven. "I know what he did to you. You were different, like me, and he hurt you. He made you into this. He is the monster, Henry, not you. Not you."
Cute, right? But Vecna's humanity melted away long before his skin did. "He did not make me into this," says The Man Formerly Known As Henry. "You did."
And with that, Vecna explains how Eleven banishing him to the Upside Down actually worked out pretty well for him.
"I became an explorer, an explorer of a realm unspoiled by mankind. I saw so many things. Then, one day, I found the most extraordinary thing of all. Something that would change everything. I saw a means to realise my potential, to transcend my human form, to be the predator I was always born to be."
Yep, Vecna was actually behind all of the previous monster attacks in Hawkins, and if he's to be believed, it's all Eleven's fault. Which it is, but only if you ignore Dr Brennan's relentless abuse and manipulation. We wouldn't wish death on anyone, even after everything he did, but also, he kind of had it coming, right?
"It’s over, Eleven. Your friends have lost," adds Veccie. And at this point, it sure does look that way. Lucas is just a walking bruise at this point, Eddie is essentially a living buffet for the demobats, and Nancy/Steve/Robin are still being choked to death.
And yes, there's some more Russia stuff.
Vecna does his floaty thing to Max, bending her limbs like a pretzel, but thanks to Will encouraging Mike to encourage Eleven, our little superhero manages to break free and push Henry away. Let's all take a moment to thank Will for this, because as we should all realise by now, gays just know how to do stuff.
"You and your friends believe you have won, but this is only the beginning," warns Vecna. "The beginning of the end. You have already lost."
Now, that's pretty ballsy given that the gang are about to destroy him to the tune of Kate Bush running up that sweet, sweet hill. With that, Eleven holds Vecna's mind in place as Steve and Robin throw molotov cocktails at his physical form. But Henry isn't down for the count just yet, so our one true queen, Nancy, steps forward with a shotgun and blasts him through the window.
Did anyone else think of Titanic when Vecna bounced off the side of that house on his way down?
It's not over yet though. In a classic homage to the original Halloween, the kids then look down at the lawn to see that Ms Vecna has disappeared.
Meanwhile, Dustin reaches Eddie in his dying moments. Yep, the demobats might not have finished Steve off, but Eddie's a goner. "I didn’t run away this time," he tells Dustin. "I think it’s finally my year... I love you man." And with that, Eddie snuffs it.
Hey, would you look at that? We seem to have gotten some Upside-Down ash stuff in our eyes.
But wait. There's more. Because things aren't looking too good for Max either. As Lucas screams for a doctor, our fave goes blind.
"I can't see anything," cries Max. "I'm so scared. I'm so scared. I don't want to die. I'm not ready."
And we're not ready either. But the clock chimes four times, signalling Max's death. Although Vecna is off hiding somewhere, his plan still comes to fruition as this final kill breaks down that last crack between these two worlds. Tentacles then smash through the barrier, ripping that annoying jock apart right between his fourth and fifth ab.
The tear continues making its way through the entire town, pulling Hawkins apart at its foundations with devastating effect. But Eleven's focus is all on Max right now. "You're not going," she says, and then memories they shared flood back into her mind. Fade to black...
Two days later, the pizza gang finally make it back to Hawkins. The news is reporting that the death toll is currently at 22, but hundreds are in hospital and many more are missing still following an earthquake that hit 7.4 on the Richter Scale. Except, that was no earthquake.
Touching reunions commence, although Nancy isn't exactly overjoyed to see her boyfriend, Jonathan, because she still has the hots for Shirtless Steve™. Everyone then heads over to the local hospital where, surprise surprise, Max can be found still alive.
"She died," explains Lucas. "I mean, clinically. But then she came back. Doctors don’t know how. They say it's a miracle." But we sure know how. So it looks like Eleven is now powerful enough to bring people back to life... although the coma Max is still in can't exactly be called "living".
Robin, Steve, and Nancy later head on down to make donations for those in need following the disaster. And that's where Robin bumps into Vickie, her crush, who just so happens to be no longer with her boyfriend...
Not even all that sapphic energy can lift the mood for long though, because Dustin then encounters Eddie's uncle putting up posters to find the little rocker.
"I was with him when the earthquake hit," reveals Dustin. And with that, he hands over Eddie's necklace. "I wish they had gotten to know him, really known him, because they would have loved him."
Cue all the tears, both from them and from us. Especially when Dustin points out that Eddie fought and died to protect a town that hates him. "He isn't just innocent, Mr Munson. He's a hero."
As if that wasn't painful enough, the finale continues to bludgeon us emotionally with Nancy's impending breakup followed by Will's warning about Vecna. Yep, Eleven's old roommate is still knocking about somewhere in Hawkins.
"I can feel him and he's hurt," says Will. "He's hurting, but he's still alive. It's strange now knowing who he was this whole time, but I still remember how he thinks and he's not going to stop ever, not until he's taken everything and everyone. We have to kill him."
Courtesy of Netflix
Thankfully, some more help is on the way to do exactly that, because look who just rocked up in a fancy black government car? Hopper and Joyce are finally back, putting that nightmarishly dull Russian plot to a close. Eleven's door was always open though – three inches wide to be exact – and she reminds Hopper of this as they cry in each other's arms while sporting the exact same "bitching" haircut.
Stranger Things really doesn't let up in season four though – so of course, one more bad thing has to happen before the credits finally roll.
Clouds suddenly gather in the sky as Will gets that itch on the back of his neck again, one that no antibiotics could ever hope to clear up. Because Vecna's back, baby. Well, his impact is, at least, because ash from the Upside Down has begun to fall on the town of Hawkins.
To investigate, the gang step out and discover that this other realm is now physically invading their own, decaying the wildlife as everything is gradually transformed with that Upside Down chic.
Now that Vecna's plan is well underway, Hawkins – and the entire world – is set to be consumed by this other dimension. That is, unless Eleven and her plucky band of misfits can step up and defeat Henry, once and for all in season five. May we suggest they feed him some pineapple pizza? That would be enough to finish anyone off.
Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.
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