Stranger Things season 4: Part 1 recap & and theories for Part 2

By now, many of us will have seen Part 1 of the fourth season of Stranger Things. Part 2 is releasing today, but what do you think will happen? Let's revisit what we know and discuss all of the wild fan theories. Part 1 spoilers ahead!

Stranger Things season 4: Part 1 recap & and theories for Part 2

Before we get into season 4, let's quickly recap where we left off in season 3. Season 3 left us with a Billy-shaped hole after he sacrificed himself to save the rest of the gang (El, Mike, Max, Lucas, Dustin, Robin, Steve,Will). Eleven was crucial in defeating the Mind Flayer, and is now powerless as a result of the battle. Murray, Joyce and Hopper tried to destroy the Russians’ machine that opens an Upside Down portal. Hopper gets trapped in the machine, and Joyce makes the decision to blow it up, leaving Hopper presumed dead. All of this is then covered up by the U.S. Government, and we are left with the teaser that Hopper is alive and in the hands of the KGB.

Finally, we are left with the Byers’ decision to move out of Hawkins.

Chapter One: The Hellfire Club

We see that Joyce, Will, Jonathan, and Eleven/Jane are now living in California. Eleven writes Mike a letter, telling him how well she is getting on there, which we soon see is a rather big lie as she is getting bullied. During the episode, Joyce receives a parcel from Russia, and inside is a Russian doll. She enlists the help of Murray to figure out what it means, and they soon see the message that Hopper is alive, with a number to call. Back in Hawkins, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas are part of the Hellfire Club – a Dungeons and Dragons club headed by new character Eddie Munson. 

Lucas seems somewhat distant from the others as he is now on the basketball team and trying to get ‘in’ with the popular crowd. He even goes as far as to miss an important Hellfire Club night to play basketball, and his sister Erica stands in; they both win their games for their teams. Lucas is no longer together with Max, and she is very distant from everyone. This is presumably because she is still processing losing Billy, with visits to Ms Kelly the school guidance counsellor. Lucas invites her to watch him play, but she skips it, returning to her new home in the trailer park to take care of her alcoholic mother. She sees Eddie and head cheerleader Chrissy go into Eddie’s trailer, which looks pretty odd as Eddie is quite the opposite of the popular crowd. 

Throughout the episode, we see that Chrissy has had some rather disturbing ‘visions’, and is with Eddie to purchase drugs in the hopes of getting rid of them. He disappears to find them for her, and suddenly we see a grandfather clock. Chrissy has her worst ‘vision’ yet. She begins to levitate, her bones snap in peculiar directions, and her blood-filled eyes go back into her skull. 

Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse

We discover that Hopper managed to survive the machine explosion by simply jumping out of the way. Unfortunately for him, the Russians quickly captured him and began to torture him, demanding to know who he and Joyce are and who they work for. Hopper gives them nothing and is sent to work at Kamchatka – one of the toughest Russian prisons. Joyce and Murray call the number and are instructed to bring $40,000 to Alaska if they want to see Hopper alive again. 

Mike arrives in California, and along with Eleven and Will, is taken to the local Roller skating rink by Jonathan and his friend Argyle. During their outing, Eleven comes face to face with her bully Angela, who does not hold back. Eventually, Eleven has enough and hits her nose with a roller skate, giving Angela a concussion. 

In Hawkins, following the police arriving at Eddie’s trailer, we see Max recount to Dustin the things she saw the night that Chrissy died. She recounted the strange nature of those two even being together, and how her lights were flickering just before she heard Eddie scream and flee in his van. Dustin refuses to believe that Eddie killed Chrissy, so he and Max visit Robin and Steve at work in the video store to try and track Eddie down. They later find him hiding out in the boathouse of a known drug dealer, Reefer Rick. Reluctantly, Eddie tells them what happened, thinking they would presume him to be crazy, but they soon tell him about the Upside Down and Eleven’s powers. 

News travels fast in Hawkins, and news of Chrissy’s death is all over the town. Her boyfriend Jason, the head of the basketball team, draws the conclusion that the Hellfire Club is a cult and must be found. Nancy and her friend Fred investigate Chrissy’s death, and Nancy speaks to her uncle. He believes it could have been Victor Creel, a man arrested for murdering his family in the 50s in Hawkins, as there are many similarities between the cases. While visiting the trailer park, Fred begins to get horrible ‘visions’. As soon as we see the grandfather clock again, we know Fred’s time is up, and he meets the same end as Chrissy.

Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero

Eleven is arrested for what she did to Angela and shipped to a juvenile detention centre. However, Owens, who previously replaced Dr. Brenner as Director of Operations at Hawkins Lab, and his men in black intercept Eleven on the road. He offers to help her get her powers back as he believes she is the ‘cure’ to what is happening in Hawkins, despite the military believing the opposite. 

In Kamchatka, Hopper is planning his escape, but he needs the help of another prisoner to smash his leg cuffs with a sledgehammer. Hopper appears to have an unmatched tolerance for pain in this season, and there is a particularly grim scene where he goes back into his cell, having secretly had his leg cuffs broken, where he then has to tear them off over his injuries. At the same time, Joyce and Murray are on their way to Alaska with the money. 

Back in Hawkins, Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Max join Nancy at the site of Fred’s death and split up to look for clues. Robin and Nancy go to the library to investigate the Victor Creel lead, while the others go to Ms Kelly’s house, who was seeing Chrissy before she died. After finding nothing, Robin suggests they check out old issues of the Weekly Watcher, which was a paper about ‘mysterious happenings’. In one of the papers, they read about Victor Creel’s belief that a vengeful demon was responsible for the murder of his family in 1959. During Max’s visit to Ms Kelly, she points out that Max has a lot of trauma to come to terms with, but Max leaves abruptly after stealing her office keys. 

The trio heads to the school and looks through Ms Kelly’s files to discover that Max has similar symptoms to Chrissy and Fred. Max sees the grandfather clock in the school hallway, and we quickly realise that Vecna – the name Dustin gave the monster due to a name from D&D – has come for Max. Meanwhile, Max’s former boyfriend Lucas is struggling to pick a side – now he’s friendly with the ‘cool’ crowd, he debates leaving his old friends and the Hellfire Club behind, so as to avoid Jason’s witch hunt for the Hellfire Club.  

Chapter Four: Dear Billy

Hopper manages to escape Kamchatka and hides in a church. Enzo, the guard helping him escape, told him to wait there for his contact to take Hopper back to America. Predictably the contact, Yuri, goes back on his word and takes the money from Murray and Joyce. He then reveals his plans to turn all four of them in to the Russians, to get even more money. In California, Mike, Will, and Jonathan are under house arrest because of their connection to Eleven. Associates of Owens inform them of everything going on in Hawkins and how Owens is helping Eleven to regain her powers. The military raid the house looking for Eleven, as they believe she is very dangerous, which causes a perfect opportunity for the boys to escape in Argyle’s van.

In Hawkins, Max is coming to terms with the fact she is going to be Vecna’s next victim, and that she’s likely to die within the next 24 hours. As a result, Max visits her mother and Billy’s grave for what she believes could be the last time. She is met by Vecna at both locations and taunted by him as it is made abundantly clear that she is Vecna’s next target. Nancy and Robin manage to speak to Victor Creel, who tells them about the ‘voice of an angel’, which he believed saved him from Vecna. Robin deduces this to be music and tells the boys, so they play ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush, and eventually Max is freed.

Chapter Five: The Nina Project

We see the return of ‘Papa’ Brenner from Hawkins lab, after he was presumed dead in season 1 after we see him being attacked by a Demogorgon. Owens brings Eleven to a secret lab with a sensory deprivation tank dubbed NINA, which when paired with old surveillance tapes from the Hawkins lab, allows Eleven to relive her time there. Meanwhile, back in Russia, Joyce and Murray are prisoners on Yuri’s plane, but they soon free themselves and fight him off to then crash into the Russian wilderness. 

Mac draws a picture of what she saw in the Upside Down, which Nancy notices are fragments of Victor Creel’s old house. The gang visits the house and the lights begin to flicker, showing Vecna’s presence. On the other side of town, Jason and his friends break into Reefer Rick’s boathouse, where Eddie is still in hiding, and eventually find him escaping on a boat. Jason and his friend Patrick swim after him. Patrick sees the grandfather clock, marking him as Vecna’s next victim, before Jason and Eddie watch – terrified – as he levitates and meets the same end as the others. Eleven has a small breakthrough after coming out of NINA – something Hawkins needs ASAP. 

Chapter Six: The Dive

We discover that a Demogorgon is being kept at Kamchatka prison, and the officers are feeding it prisoners. Yuri seems to have some knowledge of this as he informs Joyce and Murray they have until nightfall to save Hopper. They hatch a plan in which Murray and Yuri switch places and from there they improvise. Hopper knows the way to beat the monster is with fire, so at their seemingly final feast, he snags a lighter and some alcohol. 

In Hawkins, the gang is joined by Eddie and they head the Skull Rock. Jason crashes the town meeting to fire up the citizens of Hawkins into hunting down the Hellfire Club, and blames them for everything that has happened in the town. Dustin’s compass malfunctions, leading them to a gate that you can get to the Upside Down through; it’s at the bottom of Lover’s Lake where Patrick was killed. Nancy, Robin, Steve, and Eddie sail off in search of the gate, leaving the others behind. 

Will, Jonathan, Mike, and Argyle head to Salt Lake City to visit Dustin’s girlfriend Suzie to help them navigate the NINA’s code to find out where it is; they discover it is in Nevada. In Nevada, Eleven is still reliving her past in order to help her present and Hawkins’ future. Back in Hawkins, Steve dives into Lover’s Lake and finds the glowing gate. He gets sucked in before he gets the chance to tell anyone and they resultantly dive in after him one by one. 

Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab

Eleven is still reliving her memories; in this episode she relives the time that she was given help, by a member of staff named Peter, to escape Hawkins Lab. We soon discover that he is 001 and also has powers like Eleven. He massacres the residents of Hawkins Lab, which we – and Eleven – believed to be her handy work until now. 

In the Upside Down, Nancy, Steve, Robin, and Eddie go to Nancy’s house to find guns. Nancy soon sees that the date in her diary is November 6th 1983, meaning they are in the past. The specific date is exactly when Will disappeared in season 1 and well before Nancy bought any guns. Whilst there, they remember how Will communicated with Joyce during his time in the Upside Down. Dustin informs the gang that there is a gate at every murder site, so both parties head to Eddie’s trailer, as it is where Chrissy died in the first episode. 

In Russia, Joyce and Murray’s plan seems to be going well as they enter the prison. The prisoners are getting destroyed one by one by the Demogorgon, but thanks to Murray and Joyce, Hopper and the guard that tried to help him escape survive and we see a very emotional reunion of Joyce and Hopper. 

Back in Hawkins. Robin and Eddie manage to pass through the gate in Eddie’s trailer thanks to Dustin, but just as Nancy tries to climb through, she is snatched by Vecna. Instead of killing Nancy, Vecna shows her his ‘origin story’. We find out that Vecna is none other than Peter Creel, a.k.a Eleven’s ‘friend’ 001, and Victor Creel’s son. After a fierce battle at Hawkins Lab, Eleven banishes Peter to the Upside Down. 


Theories

Now we’re all caught up, let’s take a look at what I think are the most compelling fan theories for Part 2.

1: Vecna comes for Lucas. 

Some eagle-eyed fans have found a clip of the actors that play Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) talking behind the scenes to each other. In the clip we see Dustin commenting about Lucas’s eyes, asking if “they put contacts in you?”, to which Lucas says “yeah.” Fans quickly drew the connection to another character that had to wear contacts: Max (Sadie Sink). We know that Max was almost killed by Vecna as we see it in Chapter Four: Dear Billy. I think this theory is very likely to happen as all of the facts seem to line up well, but I feel that Max or Erica have the potential to save him at the last minute.

2: Nancy will survive Vecna.

The last we see of Nancy is Vecna showing her his ‘origin story’, while she and Steve are still stuck in the Upside Down. But some fans think she will survive Vecna, either to tell his story, or because her friends save her. Fans think that because the gang knows about music helping to save Max, they will use it again to save Nancy. They believe that somebody will throw the headphones through the gate for Steve to put on Nancy to save her from Vecna. This fan theory is one that I personally agree with, but I do not think that it will work out the way that they planned it. This is because we know that music did not save Victor Creel, Peter not understanding how to use his powers properly did. 

3: Eddie is 010.

Another great fan theory suggests that Eddie Munson could be another survivor of Hawkins Lab, and when comparing the survivors, they do look fairly similar. Eddie seemingly has no parents, and we barely know anything of his past. We also never see 010 die and in the first episode, we see Chrissy and Eddie talking about how they knew each other as young children, where Eddie says he looks very different as he used to have a buzz cut. This is a theory that I personally believe; I think it was the comment Eddie made about how different he used to look to Chrissy that really swayed me on it. 

4: Steve dies.

Some fans think that Steve Harrington is one of the next to go. This is because he hasn’t really had love since Nancy, which is consistently hinted at this season. Fans have a hunch that when he dies, it will have something to do with Nancy. Additionally, he no longer connects characters together anymore, as Robin and Nancy have become friends, and Dustin has his other older friend Eddie. So fans think perhaps to save Nancy or the whole gang, Steve will sacrifice himself. I strongly hope this does not happen as I adore Steve’s character. I do not want to completely shut down this theory, as I have no basis for doing so, but I just don’t think Steve will die, I feel Lucas is far more likely to go, and I doubt the Duffer brothers will be killing off multiple members of the main cast, but you never know.

5: Either Enzo or Murray will die.

This is a slightly less popular fan theory I have seen floating around, but one I strongly believe. It’s very simple as some fans believe that either Enzo, the guard that tried to help Hopper escape or Murray, will sacrifice themselves in order to allow Joyce and Hopper to successfully escape back to America. Enzo’s character has grown on me, but I have been a Murray fan since he was first introduced to us, so I hope that if one of them volunteers themselves, it will be Enzo. I feel this has a strong likelihood of happening as everyone escaping seems too easy for our characters in Russia.

Header Image Credit: Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

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