Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Biggest Unanswered Questions From Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2

At this stage in the game, it's fair to say "Stranger Things" Season 4 (or just "Stranger Things 4," if you're into the whole brevity thing) captivated global audiences and may very well go down in history as the can't-miss television event of the summer of 2022. Its second volume — released as two mega-sized episodes, "Chapter Eight: Papa" and Chapter Nine: The Piggyback" – delivers plenty of twists, turns, and revelations that left plenty of viewers feeling like their very own worlds had been turned upside down. The "Stranger Things 4" finale might be notable in the real world for literally crashing Netflix, but in the story world of "Stranger Things," it answered many lingering questions, such as the diabolical presence behind the Mind Flayer, and the role played by Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in the creation of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). Now, as we stand on the precipice of the final season of "Stranger Things," there are even more questions to be answered. If you've already finished the action-packed, metal-shredding season finale, run up that hill and read on to our most burning questions for Season 5.

What's next from the Shadow?

One of the most intriguing new revelations regarding the Upside Down appears early on in "Vol. 2" when Joyce (Winona Ryder), Hopper (David Harbour), and Murray (Brett Gelman) stumble upon a mysterious substance swirling around in the Russian prison. These particles look eerily reminiscent of the Shadow Monster, aka the Mind Flayer that possesses Will (Noah Schnapp) back in Season 2. Murray realizes the particles are "them," meaning the spore-like particles are inside the demogorgons and other frightening creatures from the hellish Upside Down.

Vecna, aka Henry, aka One, also gives us a bit of clarification about this when battling Eleven in the mind of Max (Sadie Sink). When recounting his sinister origins in the Upside Down, Vecna tells Eleven he "saw a means to realize my potential; to transcend my human form" while gazing up at a cloud of particles similar to the type seen in the Russian prison. In a flashback, Henry tames the shadow particles with his telekinetic powers to outline the Mind Flayer and evolves into the predatory nightmare we now know as Vecna. Eleven is horrified to realize that the Mind Flayer and Vecna are essentially one and the same. 

With the spores now infesting Hawkins, we shudder to think how Vecna's power of possession will grow in Season 5 and who his next infected victims will be. 

Did Dr. Brenner really love Eleven?

Eleven has a twisted past with the manipulative mad scientist Martin Brenner, aka "Papa" (Matthew Modine). Brenner first orders Eleven to make telekinetic contact with the entity he refers to as "the monster" way back in Season 1. This connection unleashes a demogorgon and cracks open The Mothergate — the first known passage between Hawkins and the Upside Down. With what we now know about Vecna, this places even more blame on Brenner for the otherworldly consequences that devastate Hawkins.

In "Stranger Things 4," Brenner plays a central role in reactivating Eleven's telekinetic abilities, but he also shackles her with a restrictive, power-inhibiting collar. Then, before he dies, he unlocks the imprisoning device. This final gesture probably isn't as redemptive as Brenner wishes it was – after he so recently and selfishly tried to contain Eleven, his motivations are mostly rooted in self-interest, as far as we know. 

Assumedly, he knows Eleven has to be the one to defeat Vecna and save the world, so he releases her. Did he truly love Eleven like a daughter, or is Vecna right about Brenner's primary goal of harnessing their greatness? Maybe Brenner does care for Eleven, but certainly not in the selfless way Hopper does. Though we may have seen the last of Brenner, his mysterious nature could still haunt the final season. 

Was Will's sexuality revealed?

Noah Schnapp did a tremendous job delicately portraying Will's navigation of his sexual identity in Season 4 and even appears to enjoy sharing his thoughts on "Stranger Things" ships with fans. Schnapp has openly discussed the beauty of portraying Will's experience, though he also says Will's actions leave room for audience interpretation. Then again, when Will has to pick a heroic figure from history for a school diorama project in Season 4, he picks Alan Turing

Turing was a brilliant man of math, science, and philosophy who was persecuted for being gay in 1952. Rather than face jail, he was chemically castrated and died from cyanide poisoning in 1954. While everyone can admire Turing's courage in the face of completely insane homophobia, Will's studies of the mathematician exist within the specific context of his seemingly unrequited feelings for Mike (Finn Wolfhard). At the end of Season 4, these feeling remain unexplored. We won't know if Will's sexuality ever gets openly addressed and fully celebrated until the final season. 

Will Eight return to help defeat Vecna?

One of the most polarizing episodes of Season 2 introduces viewers to Eleven's sister Kali Prasad, aka Eight (Linnea Berthelsen), and her psionic illusion abilities. We haven't seen her since Eleven's solo adventure and considering the massacre at Hawkins Lab, it's possible she's the only other gifted child still alive. There's even an extremely clever "Dungeons & Dragons"-based fan theory suggesting Eight is the key to defeating Vecna. 

Eight's introduction also has a creepy parallel with Vecna. When Eleven first sees her use her powers, Eight conjures imaginary spiders. Vecna has arachnids in his origin story, as he uses a black spider as the visual basis for the Mind Flayer. Series creators the Duffer Brothers even teased Eight's return at the end of Season 2, saying the chances of her coming back are "very high." Will Eight help Eleven master her powers and use her illusions to defeat Vecna once and for all? 

Who is Eleven's biological father?

The series consistently explores Eleven's mysterious origin story, though one crucial question remains unanswered as of the end of "Stranger Things 4": who is Eleven's biological father? Fan theories have gone wild since the series premiered with identities ranging from Brenner to Vecna himself. With the final season on the horizon, will we finally learn the truth?

There's a case to be made for both Brenner and Vecna. The recent season displayed "Empire Strikes Back"-like themes with our heroes suffering devastating losses on the cusp of an epic final showdown. With that in mind, could we get a similar "Empire"-style reveal in Season 5, with Vecna announcing that he's Eleven's father? The Duffers have made similar "Star Wars" comparisons and a hereditary telekinetic ability could explain the strength of her power as opposed to the other kids at the Hawkins Lab. 

It's also possible Brenner is her biological father, which makes his electroshock treatments on her mother even more damning and monstrous in hindsight. If he is her father, his paternalistic feelings might be what motivates him to remove her collar during "Papa." Then again, maybe what matters most is the father who was there for Eleven? Because that would be Hopper. 

Did Eleven create the Upside Down or just open the gate?

As we learn more and more about the mythology of "Stranger Things" and the Upside Down, viewers have remained dedicated to figuring out all the specific ins and outs. In a pivotal flashback, we learn that Eleven sent One to the Upside Down, which is how he became Vecna. One detail in particular is a little unclear at first — did Eleven create the entire Upside Down or just open the Mothergate?

Variety asked Brown herself, and the actor provided some much-needed clarity. "I think that the alternate universe was always there," she said. "That is always going to be under Hawkins. I just think she has access to it. I don't think that she created the Upside Down."

This spine-tingling detail puts Vecna in an even more advantageous point going into Season 5 with the Upside Down's groundbreaking invasion of Hawkins. 

Where is Vecna now?

Speaking of Vecna, where is he now? The last time we see him, in true horror movie fashion, the seemingly dead Big Bad has suspiciously vanished. We know for a fact that he's badly injured after sustaining a rain of Molotov cocktail fire via Robin (Maya Hawke) and several shotgun blasts from Nancy (Natalia Dyer) but where is he hiding? We also learn more about his ability to indirectly inhabit others through the spore-like smoke of the Mind Flayer, so it may be a while before we see the physical form of him again.

Vecna will surely take his time plotting his next move while he heals up now that Hawkins is smoldering and broken. Can Eleven use her powers to track his physical form, or will he keep the "Stranger Things" gang busy with his vicious underworld creatures while his spores spread?  We'll find out in "Stranger Things" Season 5, slated for release in 2024 because good things come to those who wait.  

What's at the center of Hawkins?

The fourth clock chimes and Hawkins falls. It's an unthinkable moment signaling Vecna's victory, but it may have also pointed out an important location for the final season. Four gates form paths to the Upside Down and shatter Hawkins until converging in a four-way center — but where's the building they meet at?

It could be insignificant, but the symbolism of this location would probably give Will goosebumps. The four paths meet at the Hawkins Public Library, which plays a major role in Season 1. It's the Upside Down nest where the Demogorgon drags Will and Barb (Shannon Purser) as well as numerous other unfortunate souls. The most notable and frightening detail of the library is the unscathed clock tower.

Vecna's icon quickly became the clock and its dreaded accompanying chimes that he forces his victims to see and hear before they die. Could this be signaling where the damaged Vecna is hiding and healing? The building is covered in black vines in the epilogue and Will did say he could feel Vecna in Hawkins, so it seems plausible.

How will Eleven's powers evolve next?

Mike's moving speech to Eleven may introduce a jaw-dropping concept for Season 5 — can Eleven fly? Plenty of notable telepaths in television and film history have mastered this ability, from Jean Grey and other mutants from "X-Men" stories — a favorite reference point for the Duffers, who loaded "Stranger Things" up with nods to early '80s Marvel milestone the "Dark Phoenix Saga" – to Andrew (Dane DeHaan) in "Chronicle" and the various incarnations of Wanda Maximoff. After seeing Eleven's powers continually grow from season to season, and considering she demonstrates some ability to literally raise the dead, is flight the next level for her?

The Duffer Brothers confirmed a time jump for the final season, so it's safe to assume after her deadly showdown with Vecna, Eleven will be training hard for their next battle. Will Eleven surprise us all and take flight in the final season?

Was Eleven able to reach Max in her coma?

When Max's limbs began grotesquely twisting in the manner of Vecna's previous victims, many viewers were stunned. "Stranger Things" has killed off fan-favorite characters in prior seasons, but subjecting spunky teenage Max — who the audience has been getting to know ever since she's first introduced in 2017's Season 2 — to a brutally violent demise would've felt like a grim, dark choice, even by the horror-adjacent standards of "Stranger Things." That's why it's scary when Eleven tries to reach Max in her coma and finds nothing but darkness. What does this mean for Max?

There are two possible options here, as far as we can see. In the first, Max never wakes from her coma; her brain died when her heart stopped. In the other scenario, Vecna still has a hold of Max's mind. The latter is more probable, and we can even infer that Vecna may use her as a hostage of some kind in the final season. Hopefully, with the recently announced time jump, Max will awake in Season 5 on her own. If not, there may be a time-travel twist awaiting us when "Stranger Things" returns that reverses the events of the Season 4 finale. Remember: Season 4 confirms the Upside Down is stuck in 1983

Will Steve and Nancy rekindle their romance?

Steve (Joe Keery) makes his lasting feelings for Nancy pretty clear throughout Season 4. Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Nancy are still dating, although he's keeping a secret about his future plans that seems to be pushing her away. The two planned to attend Emerson College together at one point, but Jonathan intends to save money by going to community college while also keeping an eye on his family and has yet to break the news.

Jonathan numbs his feelings with marijuana and pizza in California while Steve struggles with romance and rewound VHS tapes at Family Video in Hawkins. However, Steve and Nancy's recent harrowing adventures against Vecna may have reignited that spark between them. When Jonathan jokes about Steve's irresponsibility in the finale, Nancy defends him by saying he's actually matured a lot. Could this be foreshadowing a renewed relationship in Season 5?

Who lives to the very end?

As Hawkins prepares for the showdown of a lifetime, who will live to see the very end? The final season could quite possibly pack a punch if more than a few beloved characters lose their lives in the ultimate clash against Vecna. The most burning question of all is ... who will survive?

This season, we tearfully watched Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) sacrifice himself in the finale and die in the arms of Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). Will this inspire Dustin to do the same for his friends next season? Steve made it through Season 4 in one piece, but could he tragically fall victim to Vecna immediately after reuniting with Nancy? Could Hopper, who's evaded death countless times, finally run out of luck?

We've been following these characters since the premiere of "Stranger Things" in 2016, so we would definitely prefer a happy ending for everybody. But in Vecna's nightmare world, that doesn't seem too likely.

What do the spores mean for Hawkins?

In an unforeseen move, Vecna wins the battle and (partially) achieves his four deaths to forcibly unite the Upside Down with Hawkins. His menacing influence starts taking over the town and draining the life force out of everything it touches, with flowers reduced to ashy dust. Eleven looks over the decaying field with a determined look that indicates she's hellbent on killing Vecna for good. Can they stop his spores from spreading as they fall over Hawkins like snow?

To reference "Star Wars" again, our Hawkins heroes may need to retreat to their own version of Dagobah and find a master like Yoda to train with. Maybe they'll make their way to Pittsburgh to visit a certain telekinetic sibling, or even return to California for a much-needed doobie and a couple slices of Surfer Boy pizza. 

Then again, there's a chance they'll spend some time back in 1983 via the Upside Down, but we won't know for sure until "Stranger Things" returns for the fifth and final season.