This story contains spoilers for Season Four, Volume One of Stranger Things.
If you’re reading this, you very likely dumped a good nine hours into the first volume of Stranger Things‘s fourth season. Not saying that’s good or bad! It’s just… you could’ve flown from New York City to Iceland and watched Avengers: Endgame in roughly the amount of time it took you to watch this chunk of Stranger Things episodes. Just saying, the end of Season Four, Episode Seven, AKA Stranger Things: The Movie, needed to be worth the price of admission, AKA Your Time. By our estimation? It was.
Now, given that Stranger Things has four separate storylines running at this point in the show, we thought it would be worth going group by group, taking stock of where the series leaves each plot thread heading into Volume Two.
Dazed and Confused
Let’s get this out of the way. The stoner crew, led by Jonathan and Argyle? Kinda didn’t do much! There’s not much to write here. The group, which also includes Will and Mike manages to figure out where Eleven is, shortly after the Byers home was ambushed. Cool. We’re not exactly what they plan to do, considering that Eleven seemingly gets her powers back and doesn’t really need their help. Hell, we’d probably be happier if Suzie took over from here, and drove to Hawkins to help out Dusty Bun. Maybe the stoner crew is just there to hang, while everyone else battles a demon from an alternate dimension. It’s the ’80s, man!
What’s Next For Hopper and Joyce?
Great question. While the storylines for the Hawkins team and Vecna/Eleven hit some sort of cliffhanger in the Volume One finale, Hopper’s massive From Russia With Love side plot ends with the man still not escaping Russia! Damn. Instead, we see Joyce and Murray finally reunite with Hopper, seconds after he successfully fended off the Demogorgon. Hopper and Joyce hug, which is the last we see from them in this episode. At this point, you can almost imagine Joyce, Murray, and Hopper not making it back to Hawkins by the time the kids have their ultimate showdown with Vecna. Aside from horrible parenting, it’ll be a bummer if the gang won’t fully come back together this season, since the Russian prison escape still seems underway. Maybe the Duffer Brothers will make us wait until Season Five to see everyone in the same place again.
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Nice Knowin’ Ya, Nancy
Before we get to the Vecna twist, let’s talk about the botched Upside Down rescue. Dustin masterminds a way to get Steve, Nancy, Eddie, and Robin out of the hellish universe. Everything seems to be going well, with all of our friends dropping through the portal, landing back in Hawkins. Until Nancy’s turn. She lands back in the Upside Down, but in a different place: Vecna’s lair. We’ll get to what Vecna shows Nancy next, but you can bet the first episode of Volume Two will pick up with the danger our favorite journalist just encountered. Stranger Things wouldn’t dare to kill Nancy, would it? (Please say no.)
A Villain Worth the Price of Admission
In the final moments of Episode Seven, we learn that Peter Ballard, the Clockwork Orange-looking dude who mentors Eleven throughout her time in the Hawkins Lab, was not only Vecna all along, but he’s One, too. After Ballard helps Eleven escape from the rest of the gifted children, he kills all of said children. It’s dark, but it’s slightly reassuring to know that it wasn’t Eleven who committed those murders, as Stranger Things teased all season.
When Ballard fails to recruit Eleven as his partner in world-reshaping crime, she banishes him to the Upside Down. Whatever the heck Eleven does, it’s so powerful that it turns Ballard into Freddy Kreuger, basically. Oh, that wasn’t enough of a twist for you? Thanks to Nancy’s Vecna-induced vision quest, we learn that Ballard is actually Victor Creel’s son. When the Creel family moved to their Hawkins home, Ballard developed his otherworldly powers—and promptly used those abilities to terrorize his family. Phew.
After watching the Hawkins kiddos fight (literally) faceless villains for nearly all of Stranger Things, it’s nice to see the show put in the work to build up a formidable antagonist. Vecna now works on several levels, but knowing that he’s the original Hawkins Lab prodigy makes the inevitable fight with Eleven even more exciting. Consider us hyped for Volume Two.
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