Briefing

Stranger Things season 4: The biggest burning questions after Vol. 2

'When will Joyce and Hopper go on their date?' is so last season

After a stunning — and stunningly long — finale, Stranger Thingsfourth season is over, and there's a lot to chew on ahead of season five. Here are the biggest lingering questions after Vol. 2: 

When — and how — will Vecna return?  

Vol. 2 makes clear Vecna is indeed the series' big bad, and we end with him defeated … but only temporarily. Will senses Vecna is still alive and just "hurting" after the final battle, presumably in the Upside Down — though it's somewhat unclear whether anything specific needs to happen for Vecna to be rejuvenated or if he just needs time to heal before executing the next phase of his plan. Either way, when Vecna told Eleven she's already lost, it seems that wasn't far off, as we see the Upside Down has begun leaking into Hawkins in the closing scene. Not great, Bob! 

So did Vecna create the Mind Flayer? 

One of the biggest questions after Vol. 1 pertained to the relationship between Vecna and the Mind Flayer, and Vol. 2 appears to reveal that Dustin was actually wrong when he speculated the former is the latter's five-star general. Instead, Vecna arrives in the Upside Down and seems to create the Mind Flayer, with the show implying all of the creature's actions have been Vecna's doing. 

But Vecna does form the Mind Flayer out of dark clouds that were already there when he arrived in the Upside Down. So does that mean the Mind Flayer did previously exist in some form, the same way the Demogorgons did, and Vecna just gave it the shape of a spider and made it do his bidding? If that's the case, does the Mind Flayer have any sort of mind of its own, or is it really all Vecna? 

Will there be bigger deaths next season? 

Steve lives! Fans were bracing for some major deaths in the finale, partially because of numerous ominous comments from the cast and crew. Ultimately, the only major one was Eddie (R.I.P), a new character introduced this season, and it was a bit surprising that all of the main leads made it to the end. 

So are any major characters on the chopping block next season? Steve Harrington, the Han Solo of the group, still feels like the most likely to get a big hero's death, especially after his whole I'm-just-a-few-days-away-from retirement style speech about wanting a big family. But perhaps the Duffer Brothers just aren't that interested in killing any of the show's leads after all, and fans should stop anticipating a Game of Thrones-level bloodbath. 

Will Max wake up from her coma? 

Well, one series lead technically did die: Max ... only to be revived by Eleven, ending the season in a coma. But when Eleven attempts to locate her in the void, she's nowhere to be found. So is Max going to wake up? Is she brain dead? The final scene showing the Upside Down leaking into Hawkins could be interpreted as a result of Max dying in the hospital, as Vecna needed four deaths to open the gate. But it seems more like Max temporarily dying earlier on is what led the gate to open — and besides, why would the show revive her just to have her die soon after?

In that case, perhaps Max's soul has been taken by Vecna — as set up when Dr. Brenner says Vecna takes "everything from his victims" — or maybe Vecna is inside her mind, and that's how he comes back in season five. Considering the damage Vecna did before Eleven revived her, though, will Max be permanently blind and/or paralyzed when she comes out of the coma? Either way, "when will Joyce and Hopper go on their date" was so last season. Now, it's "when will Max and Lucas go to their movie?"

How big of a time jump will there be? 

The Duffer Brothers have said there will likely be a time jump before season five. So how long are we talking here? Could Max end up in that coma for months or even years, and her waking up is the inciting incident for next season? If so, what is Hawkins even going to look like when the next season begins, given the Upside Down has started to leak? (On the plus side, maybe the time jump will be long enough for the kids to actually look their proper ages again).

Is Dr. Brenner dead — for real this time? 

One other notable death was Dr. Brenner, who appears to have finally been offed after getting shot. It seems pretty absurd to think he'd survive — but then again, Brenner already inexplicably survived a Demogorgon attack and returned with little explanation. So don't put it past the show to revive him again, giving Matthew Modine the rare opportunity to die on the same show three times. 

What were the Russians up to? 

Amid all the busyness in the finale, it isn't made totally clear how or why the Russian prison appeared to have a part of the Mind Flayer, or at least a bunch of particles from the Upside Down, captured. What were they doing with that, exactly? 

When is Will going to officially come out? 

These final episodes didn't explicitly confirm that Will is gay, but they sure came darn close. How else are we to read that scene where Will breaks down in tears talking about being different, which Jonathan seems to understand the meaning of, leading him to tell Will he'll always love him no matter what? How long, though, can the show keep dropping these vague references to Will's sexuality without actually confirming it? Will he finally come out to Mike in a more direct way in season five — and hopefully get a boyfriend? 

Will Robin get with Vickie? 

On a related note, Vol. 2 didn't wait long to shatter our hearts with a beat in "Chapter Eight" where Robin discovers her crush, Vickie, has a boyfriend — but then there's a nice moment in the finale where they bond and Vickie complains about him running off. So you're telling us there's a chance!

When's season five coming out? 

Season five has been confirmed as the show's last, but no release date has been set. We had a massive wait of nearly three years for season four, but thankfully, the Duffers told Variety the "gap should be quite a bit shorter this time." So a 2024-ish release for season five seems reasonable … assuming a whole new global pandemic doesn't break out and/or Duffers don't get carried away with 10-hour episodes.  

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