The End of Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things”: Full Recap and Easter Eggs

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Stranger Things dropped its epic season 4 finale. Who dies? Who dies Max can break free from the curse. Can Hopper return from the USSR with his life? Eddie will rock the Upside Down! Can Eleven and anyone beat the monstrous Vecna

On July 1, Netflix added two extra-long finale episodes (although they were not available on the streaming service). Netflix crashed early for some viewers). We already Recap Episode 8 titled Papa. Let’s now dive into Episode 9, The Piggyback. We will recap the key plot points, Easter eggs, and character arcs. (Plus many spoilers!)

Stranger Things takes place in 1980s Indiana. A teen with psychic powers escapes from a sinister government facility. Eleven teams up with Mike, Dustin and Lucas to defeat the Mind Flayer, demogorgons and other evils. 

Episode 8 ended in Brenner’s death in the desert. However, Eleven left a lot behind. His experiments with psychic kids led Eleven to zap troubled youngster Henry Creel into a parallel dimension of The Upside Down years earlier. This is where he became season 4’s demonic villain Vecna.

Murray, Sheriff Jim Hopper, and former guard Antonov (aka Enzo), help Murray escape a Russian gulag. Episode 9 begins with Jim and Joyce facing the exact same problem as Eleven and Mike and Jonathan brochacho Argyle. They must return to Hawkins before Vecna murders again and opens a fourth door to the dark dimension. Steve, Nancy, Robin and Dustin Munson plan to invade the Upside Down to place Vecna in a coffin. Lucas, Erica and Max will then be lured into the Creel mansion. The series finale shows that only the Hawkins (and Kate Bush!) are able to save the world.

Phase one

Yuri in Russia is slowing down (literally) while he pretends to be working on his helicopter Katinka. Joyce and Hopper, who are near each other, show the physical toll that Hopper has taken during his time in the gulag. David Harbour is hotter than ever, despite being bloody, gaunt, gaunt, and bruised. Hopper decided he was a curse on everyone who cares about his well-being, but he still had hope in the dreams of Enzo’s lasagna and bread sticks, as well as Joyce’s kisses (in a Hulk Hogan T shirt).

Nancy and her crew prepare for their Upside Down commando raid in Hawkins. It seems so easy, right? Dustin and Eddie are decoys. But once someone says “We’re not heroes”, you know that they’re going for some heroic stuff before the credits roll.

As Erica, Lucas and Max explore the creepy Creel house, phase one begins… except a passer-by spots Erica, guiding Jason and his newly acquired handgun to the murder house on Morehead.

The Surfer Boy Pizza crew


Netflix

Eleven sees a billboard with a happy family on the road and flashbacks to Terry, her mother Terry. She is able to enter the minds and thoughts of her mother or Billy, and can then follow Max into Max’s head and face Vecna. It just means busting into a Surfer Boy Pizza. They have Purple Palm Tree Delight.

The mind fight continues

Hopper manages to get Owens’ assistant to update them on Hawkins’ danger. Joyce and Hopper realize that they can also join the fight in their matching parkas. This doesn’t mean going back to Soviet prison. They have a flamethrower.

Are you ready for the most epic metal concert in history? The Upside Down is Eddie’s search for a demonic copy to his ax. He then uses it to rip into Metallica’s Master of Puppets and creates a demon bat army in an unimaginable dark dimension. I love that Eleven is not the only one bringing her superpowers into battle. The unique personalities and abilities of ordinary people play a vital role. Eddie’s shredding skills and Argyle’s pizza-making help save the world. 

As he has been largely in the background, it’s possible to forget Jonathan was there. In one of the most touching moments in the season, he reunites with Will. Another poignant moment is when he, after Steve’s speech on children in episode 8, shares another vulnerable heart with Nancy in this episode. He is going to be gone, isn’t he?

Run up another hill

While Max listens to Kate Bush’s secret weapon, Max and Lucas exchange sweet notes. She then turns off her Walkman. 

Phase 2 begins.

But it doesn’t work. While Eleven can view Max, the guest-of-honor is absent. Max digs deeper to the taunting Vecna directed at her. She confronts her own emotional demons and acknowledges her darkest thoughts regarding her late brother Billy. Her bravery and sacrifices are not rooted in nobility, but self-loathing. Vecna then makes his presence felt, impersonating Lucas and Billy. Eleven, who is already projecting herself towards the Creel house and then taking another step into Max’s mind, finds herself in a flashback to Max skateboarding. 

It is time for phase 3.

Max is in the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball from 1984 when The Police’s 1983 hit Every Breath You Take plays. It’s exactly the same scene as the moment Lucas and Max got together at the close of season 2. There’s a stunning image of balloons burst in a torrent of blood as the school dance transforms into something darker to Ella Fitzgerald’s Dream a Little Dream of Me — the song that was playing when Henry Creel killed his family. 

The Upside Down sees Robin, Steve, and Nancy being grabbed by choking tendacles while Eddie and Dustin enter bat-tle. (Battle, geddit?) Eddie goes back to the Upside Down in search of Dustin and a fight with a swarm demon bats. See? Hero crap. Called it!

Eleven cuts

Lucas is adamant that he doesn’t want to be normal and popular, but Max’s battle with Jason shatters Max’s musical existence. Eleven is able to hit the dancefloor just in the right time to confront the demon that she has accidentally created.

Henry Creel, the creature that was once known as Eleven, regains control and crucifies Eleven against the now-familiar murder house door. Max is then raised to be the last sacrifice. She uses her telekinetic powers but not her empathy for Henry. Henry isn’t happy with the result. He blames Eleven.

Three battered men and Winona Ryder line up to do battle in a dark and cold Soviet jail.

Russia, with love in Stranger Things season 4.


Netflix

We see Vecna/Henry/One exploring the Upside Down in a flashback. He sees it as a place that is unspoiled by humans. With the help of the Mind Flayer, he becomes the “predator he was always meant” to be. Eleven sobs as she flashes back at the Mind Flayer who had Billy’s form in the previous seasons. The Mind Flayer then realizes it was Vecna trying to open the gates to the Upside Down.

Max was able to escape Vecna with ’80s pop, but Mike’s words are now music to Eleven’s ears when he finally said “I love you.” He considers her his superhero, regardless of whether or not he has powers. This season’s theme is about friends and families staying connected no matter where they may be. Things can go wrong when characters stop speaking, such as Jonathan and Nancy or Lucas dropping the Hellfire Club or Henry Creel becoming a snob to his family. Mike and El’s letters of love, Hopper’s dream of a date night, Max’s notes to Mike, Mike calling Eleven, as she in turn calls to Max — these are all signs that they love one another and refuse to let their connection go.   

Running Up That Hill culminates in Eleven destroying Vecna’s trademark move with a dramatic finale that will sure have everyone cheering. Joyce and Jim take down the last demogorgons as Steve and Robin make Molotov cocktails. Nancy? Nancy? 

The victory is bittersweet, as Eddie passes away in Dustin’s arms. It’s a sad moment, though. Eddie drifts off to Moby’s beats but the moment is not as dramatic.

Max is left blind and broken, and he dies in Lucas’ arms, completing Vecna’s quartet of killings. We hear the words of the seemingly defeated villain before the fifth and final season. 

Henry/Vecna warns Eleven that “This is only a beginning.” “The beginning of what is to come. You are already losing.” As the clock ticks, Hawkins is opened by an enormous gate. It was a great ending! Although the villain is defeated, there’s still a greater threat. Wow!

Yes, but there are still 30 minutes.

He won’t stop.

The final half hour is filled with emotional payoffs as the gang reunites in the aftermath. A “7.4 magnitude earthquake” struck the town on Tuesday, killing and injuring many more. The evil Eddie Munson and the harmless Hellfire Club are blamed for the satanic mischiefs. Dustin, however, is able to tell Eddie his uncle the truth (mostly).

After saving the world, the gang volunteer to help with the relief effort. Robin’s crush, Vickie, joins her on PB&J duty, and it seems that romance may be on the cards after all. Joyce and Hopper are reunited with Eleven after a touching reunion. Eleven searches a dark and empty place for Max, but it turns out that Max is still alive, but in a coma.

Chillingly, Will still feels a connection with Vecna/Henry/One despite his possession in season 2. He knows the demon is injured, but he’s still out there. His neck is swollen and his hairs stand up. As the clouds gather, weird particles drop down on Hawkins, poisoning the plants and creating a terrifying portal. This is the exact same scene from season 2 episode 1, when Will saw the Mind Flayer in his vision. But everyone can actually see it. 

The stage is now set for Stranger Things season 5.

Strangest Things

  • Steve survived!
  • Surfer Boy Pizza brochachos provide an A-Team style tooling up scene with added pizza pie.
  • It is absurd to think that in the midst of demons and government conspiracies the fate the world could be swayed by a dick dressed in a varsity coat. However, the popular, handsome douchebag is a big ’80s movie trope. It’s only fitting that he plays an important role in this ’80s-obsessed TV show. 
  • Technically Max and Vecna are fighting in a mental world, so why do their powers not work in real life?
  • Murray quotes Star Wars (“I felt a bad vibe about this”) as the grownups escape to prison. Robin’s posttentacle quip (“I don’t believe in a higher Power or divine Intervention, but that was still a miracle”) echos that scene with Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and John Travolta from Pulp Fiction.
  • Antonov (aka Enzo), appeals to Yuri’s more positive nature by referring back to his experience at Damansky, the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict.
  • Eleven likes pineapple pizza. Do not be afraid to try.
  • Joyce experiences a flashback from season 2 to the death Bob Newby, her boyfriend played by Sean Astin.
  • Max is laying on his side, and Lucas reads The Talisman to him. It’s a 1984 fantasy novel written by Stephen King, Peter Straub. This is a fascinating story about a parallel dimension, which ends with an earthquake. The novel then opens up to multiple parallel realms.
  • The closing credits track features Spellbound by Siouxsie & the Banshees. Why isn’t anyone thinking to put a Walkman on Max the comatose?

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