Warning: The following contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 4: Volume 2.
Well, it’s finally here. Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 — all 4 hours of it — has arrived on Netflix. And boy, was it a lot. There were tentacles, there were guitar solos, and at the end of the day, there was a body count.
But were there answers? Earlier this week, we outlined 11 questions we absolutely needed Volume 2 to answer, ranging from which characters would die (gulp) to which fan theories were correct. Now, after finishing all of Stranger Things 4, it’s safe to say we got answers for most — but not all — our burning questions. Here’s what we learned.
1. Is Nancy OK?
Yes! Nancy (Natalia Dyer) is fine — at least, as fine as she can be after being traumatized by Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and almost strangled to death by his squelchy, squelchy tentacles. Instead of escaping Vecna’s Mind Lair by hearing her favorite song, Nancy is actually released by Vecna himself. Her freedom comes with a price: He gives her a vision of his plans for Hawkins and tells her to pass that message on to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown).
A more efficient villain may have just killed Nancy as the fourth sacrifice and ended the world right then and there, but Vecna knows we have a 4-hour runtime to kill. So he sends Nancy on her merry way. Honestly, the biggest tragedy of this storyline is not figuring out Nancy’s favorite song. Is it Madonna? Bowie? Blondie? The world needs to know!
2. Is Vecna Eleven’s father?
No! While Stranger Things 4 never directly denies that Vecna and Eleven are related, as posited by one fan theory, it also never really entertains the question. Plus, a reveal like that would be a perfect bombshell to drop in the finale. Since we don’t really hear anything about this theory in these last two episodes, it’s safe to say that Vecna is not Eleven’s dear old dad. And thank goodness for that. The last thing we need is the Rise of Skywalker-ification of Stranger Things. Sometimes powerful people just aren’t related, but their relationships can still be compelling. Case in point: Eleven and Vecna.
3. How will Stranger Things address Will’s queerness?
Very, very subtly. Will (Noah Schnapp) does not explicitly come out in Volume 2, but his romantic feelings for Mike (Finn Wolfhard) have never been clearer. Think about the painting he made for Mike (which he falsely claims Eleven commissioned for him). Think about his assertion that Mike is the “heart” of the party. If that wasn’t enough, Will also delivers some pretty heavy-handed lines about how people treat you when they know you’re different. At this point, the subtext is basically text.
Other characters seem to be catching on to what fans have been picking up on for a while now. The scene where Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) tells Will he’ll always support him because he’s his brother feels like an indirect acknowledgment of Will’s queerness, and an invitation for him to confide in him should he need to. Until further notice, this question remains on the table for Stranger Things 5.
4. Do Joyce, Hopper, and Murray escape Russia?
They do indeed, but it takes them a very, very long time. Their haphazard escape involves a prison break-out, a helicopter named Katinka, a prison break-in, and a call to the United States Government. After a while though, they’re able to make it home. Along the way, Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder) finally act on their feelings for each other, and Murray (Brett Gelman) gets to barbecue a whole bunch of Demogorgons.
5. Does Eleven officially have her powers back?
Seems like it. The Nina Project did its job, and now Eleven is able to lift heavy objects, blow up helicopters, and enter people’s minds. That last ability proves extremely useful in these final two episodes, as she’s able to confront Vecna as he hunts Max (Sadie Sink) through her memories. Her long-distance superpowers are a handy workaround to the fact that she and her friends are thousands of miles from Indiana. It’s a pretty efficient way to join the California crew and the Hawkins party, although it unfortunately gives characters like Mike, Will, and Jonathan very little to do other than provide support.
But all of that is just scratching the tip of the iceberg, because now Eleven seems to have the power to bring people back from the dead. Max fully dies for a minute after facing Vecna, allowing the fourth gate to open and destroy Hawkins. However, Eleven is having none of it. She brings Max to life, although not back to consciousness. She’s still in a coma, but given how Max was such a pivotal player this season, I’m sure we’ll see her again soon. Until then, bringing people back to life seems like a pretty neat skill for Eleven to have in her back pocket. Is there anything she can’t do?
6. Why do the Russians have a Demogorgon?
Honestly, it’s probably just so Hopper and Joyce’s storyline this season could connect in some way to the final act of the California and Hawkins plots. The Russians have a ton of Upside Down monsters, including several that they’ve experimented on, but we never really learn why beyond “they’re the baddies.” Having Demogorgons and Demodogs around does allow Hopper and Joyce to fight at least one part of the Upside Down hive mind, proving to be a much-needed help to everyone fighting Vecna head-on. Will we learn more about the Soviet Demorgon program next season? Or has that plot died along with all the Russian prison guards?
7. Why has Vecna returned now?
We still don’t know why Vecna waited seven years after being banished to the Upside Down before starting his murderous rampage. At this point, I’m not sure we ever will. However, it’s not like Vecna was twiddling his tentacle-y thumbs for seven years. We find out that he created the Mind Flayer and has been attacking Hawkins since the beginning. Perhaps he was just trying to conserve his energy in those early seasons, and it was only when he realized just how powerful Eleven was that he decided to bring out the big guns: teenage murder.
8. Is Ms. Kelly the guidance counselor working for Vecna?
Absolutely not. Ms. Kelly (Regina Ting Chen) is nowhere to be seen in these last episodes, shutting down the fan theory that she was an ally of Vecna’s. But what about her connection to the murder victims? What about her grandfather clock necklace? What about the ticking sounds when Max spoke to her?
The answer to the first question is pretty simple: She’s a school counselor, and it’s her job to listen to troubled teens. She probably didn’t draw a connection between all the victims because she has no way of knowing about Vecna’s curse. The clock references like her necklace or the ticking may not be plot-relevant, but they’re still tools that help build tension around Vecna. For example, the ticking clock when Max talks to Ms. Kelly after being cursed is a perfect reminder of her time running out — and of the fact that she could see the Creel clock at any moment.
9. Whatever happened to Vickie, Robin’s love interest?
Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 might as well be subtitled Vickie’s Return, because she’s back! Robin (Maya Hawke) spots her fellow band geek and crush Vickie (Amybeth McNulty) at the War Zone, an army surplus store, with her boyfriend. One Upside Down battle later, Robin and Vickie reunite while volunteering to help Hawkins citizens displaced by the earthquake. Vickie reveals she and her boyfriend have broken up, and she and Robin hit it off right away. Seems like McNulty will be sticking around in a bigger way in Stranger Things 5. Good, that’s the star of Anne with an E we’re talking about! She deserves this.
10. How is the basketball team’s Hellfire Club hunt going?
The basketball team’s Satanic Panic-inspired hunt of the Hellfire Club throws a major wrench into our heroes’ plan to defeat Vecna. Jason (Mason Dye) and his squad confront Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Erica (Priah Ferguson) at Creel House, resulting in a full-on fistfight. Jason breaks Max’s Walkman, and his interference directly leads to her (temporary) death. So thanks for that, boys.
Jason dies when the fourth gate to the Upside Down opens, but his Satanic Panic lives on. In the aftermath of the battle, Hawkins citizens believe that Eddie (Joseph Quinn) and the Hellfire Club caused both the murders and the earthquake. This will surely complicate our heroes’ lives moving forward, as Mike, Lucas, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) were all members of Hellfire.
11. Is Steve Harrington going to die?
Nope, King Steve (Joe Keery), mother of Hawkins, is still alive and kicking! Phew. There were a few moments when I thought he was for sure a goner, like that monologue about his dream family, but he makes it out of the Upside Down in one piece.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of several other characters this season. Jason gets disintegrated by the Upside Down portal. Sorry about your witch hunt, bro. Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) also dies after trying to escape the Nina Project with Eleven. He continues the proud Stranger Things tradition of characters whose names start with a ‘B’ dying every season: Barb, Bob, Billy, and now, Brenner. Good riddance to him.
But of course, the death that people will be saddest about (beyond Max’s, which only lasted a minute) is Eddie’s. The writing was on the wall for him as soon as he claimed he and Dustin weren’t heroes. You knew right then and there that’d he’d do something heroic — and pay the price for it. Eddie was clearly this season’s breakout character, with his love for Dungeons and Dragons and his sweet friendship with Dustin instantly endearing him to audiences. And who can forget about his rocking guitar solo in the Upside Down? Extremely metal. He’ll be missed in Stranger Things 5.
Where do we go from here?
Stranger Things 4 ends with a pretty big hint at where Stranger Things 5 will go. Vecna is still alive, and Hawkins is slowly transforming into the Upside Down. Now that the gang’s all back together, it’s likely that they’ll unite to finally take him down, once and for all. The Duffer Brothers have floated the idea of a time jump, so we could be jumping into a very different Hawkins than the one we left. The only thing we know for sure is that Stranger Things 5 will be the show’s final outing. So savor this last-ever hiatus between seasons, fans. See you on the other side.