Stranger Things 4: The biggest burning questions after Vol. 1

Seriously, what did Will paint?!

Stranger Things.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Netflix, iStock)

The first volume of Stranger Things season four is here, and the wait for Vol. 2 is on. Here are the biggest burning questions fans have after the first batch of episodes:

What's the relationship between Vecna and the Mind Flayer?

The Vol. 1 finale delivered a massive twist: Vecna is actually One, Dr. Brenner's first patient — and he's also Henry Creel, the son of Victor Creel, and the orderly at the lab who was seemingly helping Eleven.

But one detail not completely explained is the relationship between Vecna at the Mind Flayer, the Upside Down monster that was the villain in prior seasons. Dustin's theory is that Vecna is working for the Mind Flayer, sort of like the creature's "five-star general." Is that accurate, though?

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If so, after Eleven sent Vecna into the Upside Down, how did he come to do the Mind Flayer's bidding? Alternatively, could Vecna and the Mind Flayer be one and the same, or could the Mind Flayer be the one doing Vecna's bidding? Is it just a coincidence that the Mind Flayer resembles a spider and it was established that Vecna has an interest in spiders — or could that suggest Vecna made the monster?

What's Vecna's endgame?

On a similar note, what, exactly, is Vecna plotting?

Vol. 1 revealed his plan involves killing teenagers to open up gates from the Upside Down. From there, though, does Vecna intend to kill the "weak" to bring "balance and order" to the world (as he suggests while talking about spiders), wipe out all of humanity, or something else? One theory suggests Vecna's plan is to merge the Upside Down with the real world. But what exactly prompted Vecna to set the plan into motion now, as opposed to in season one?

Did Eleven create the Upside Down?

At the end of Vol. 1, we learn Eleven sent One into the Upside Down, turning him into Vecna. Does that mean Eleven actually created this alternate dimension in the process of battling Henry?

For now, the show seems to be suggesting the Upside Down was a pre-existing place that Eleven sent him to, and Dustin theorizes it could have been around for millions of years. Some fans have also suggested Eleven may be responsible not for creating the Upside Down but just for turning it into a dark version of Hawkins, which could be tied to the fact that it's 1983 in there, the year Eleven opened a gate in the first season.

How does Kali factor into all this?

In the season two episode "The Lost Sister," Eleven met a girl named Kali, who was patient Eight at the Hawkins lab. But when the lab massacre occurs in season four, Kali isn't there. So did One help her escape? Despite "The Lost Sister" being a somewhat controversial episode, will Kali come back before the series finale — and will we learn why she seemingly has completely different powers than everyone else at the lab?

Is Will gay? And what's the deal with his painting?

One somewhat subtle set-up that's sure to be paid off is the painting Will has been working on. It's referenced several times, and when Mike asks about it, Will becomes noticeably awkward, though it's never revealed what he painted.

Some think this will connect to another popular fan theory: that Will is gay. Mike saying in season three that Will doesn't "like girls" fueled this theory, which was strengthened in season four when Will discussed fears of opening up to people in case they "don't like the truth." Plus, Will was seen carrying around a school project about Alan Turing, who was gay. For that reason, one theory suggests the painting reveal will confirm Will's sexuality — perhaps, for instance, by indicating he has a crush on Mike.

In fact, in a Netflix promo, David Harbour teased that Will is "interested in someone else in the group," to which Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike, said, "Yeah, you'll see soon."

Will Nancy and Steve get back together?

Vol. 1 strongly hints Nancy will get back together with Steve, whom she was dating when the show started. Nancy is now with Jonathan, but that relationship looks to be in trouble, and in the mid-season finale, Eddie urges Steve to try to get her back. So will Steve and Nancy end the show in the same relationship they started it in, assuming they both live that long? Some fans have already pushed back against the idea, though, with Collider's Therese Lacson arguing it would "regress her growth" and that Nancy should stay single instead.

Will Joyce and Hopper officially get together?

The mid-season finale also brought a long-awaited reunion of Joyce and Hopper, who must now find a way back to Hawkins from the Russian prison. Their relationship has been a major will-they-won't-they for several seasons now — so is the end of Vol. 2 finally when they will, perhaps by going on that date they planned at the end of season three? Or will that have to wait for season five?

Is Nancy a goner?

Vol. 1 ends with Nancy in a precarious position, having fallen under Vecna's curse before making it through the Upside Down gateway. Will the gang save her the way they did Max, or could she be the big death of the season?

In the episode "Dear Billy," Max was saved from Vecna by listening to her favorite music, and there may have already been a setup for a similar resolution with Nancy. Fans noticed a seemingly throwaway moment when Robin comes across Nancy's cassette tapes, meaning she now knows what kind of music Nancy likes. There was also a scene from the trailers that wasn't in Vol. 1 showing Eddie rocking out with a guitar in the Upside Down. Could he play Nancy's favorite music, which ends up being what saves her?

We don't have to wait long until we find out, as Vol. 2 hits Netflix on July 1.

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