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Stranger Things 4 part 2 ending explained

Boy, did the finale deliver. **WARNING: Contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4 part 2**

Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in Stranger Things
Netflix
Published: Tuesday, 16th August 2022 at 4:30 pm
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Stranger Things season 4 part 2 has come to a dramatic end, providing fans with some massive mythology reveals.

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However, while the latest instalment – which saw our beloved heroes engage in one last battle against season 4’s resident villain, Vecna – gave fans some much-needed answers, after nine supersized episodes, a trek to Soviet Russia and the most evil parts of the Upside Down, and plenty of devastating losses, the show also left a trail of brand new questions in its wake.

So, what exactly happened in the final two episodes?

RadioTimes.com has provided a handy guide to the major plot points from season 4's ending below.

Look away now if you haven’t caught up with the finale, because we’re delving straight into Spoiler Things...

Stranger Things season 4 ending explained

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Matthew Modine as Dr Martin Brenner in Stranger Things
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven and Matthew Modine as Dr Martin Brenner in Stranger Things Netflix © 2022

First, the background. These two episodes largely concern with the prep for and attempt to kill Vecna/One (Jamie Campbell Bower), taking place on multiple fronts. Max (Sadie Sink) baits Vecna into trying to take her mind again, knowing that he needs a fourth death to open the world to the Upside Down, with Lucas by her side to pull her out.

While that’s happening, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Eddie (Joseph Quinn) distract the Demobats in the Upside Down protecting Vecna’s physical body, drawing them away so Steve (Joe Keery), Robin (Maya Hawke) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) can attack and kill Vecna in person.

In Russia, Hopper (David Harbour), Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) attempt to capture and kill a gang of escaped Upside Down monsters, who have absorbed particles from that dimension, and whose deaths will weaken Vecna’s strength drastically.

And perhaps most importantly of all, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) remotely piggybacks into Max’s vision of Vecna to face off with her old nemesis, engaging in psychic battle as he attempts to murder her friend.

It was a clash of the ages – and led to quite a complicated conclusion. The key thing to remember is, Vecna needed four kills to bring the Upside Down to our world. He had three already, and Max was his fourth target.

Vecna in Stranger Things 4
Vecna in Stranger Things 4 Courtesy of Netflix

Of course, things didn’t go exactly to plan. Vecna fought off Eleven, trapped Steve, Robin and Nancy in some creepy vines and started to work on popping Max’s head like his other victims. While running from the Demobats, Eddie had a change of heart and faced them instead, hoping to buy his friends more time but quickly getting overpowered.

However, with a little pep talk from Mike, Eleven was able to force her way out and stop Vecna shortly before he killed Max.

The Russian team’s efforts to kill the Demogorgons also paid off, weakening Vecna’s psychic hold so he dissolved from Max’s mind. The Demobats also dropped dead, though it was too late for poor Eddie, who’d already succumbed to his wounds.

In Vecna’s lair, Nancy, Steve and Robin were also set free from the vines, and used their Molotov cocktails and sawn-off shotgun to grievously wound Vecna, sending him flying out of the window.

However, it was all too late – Max succumbed to her injuries shortly after, and with Vecna’s curse still in motion her death was enough to open the gateway to the Upside Down, causing a massive natural disaster in Hawkins and claiming many lives.

How did Max survive in Stranger Things?

Stranger Things cast gather round Max (Sadie Sink) in hospital
Stranger Things characters gather round Max (Sadie Sink) in hospital Netflix

But Max didn’t stay dead for long. Despite the devastation outside, Eleven refused to accept her friend’s death, reaching into her with her mind and (it’s implied later) restarting her heart. Days later Max is in the hospital, having “died” with her heart stopped for over a minute.

Apparently the doctors aren’t sure if she’ll wake up at all, and when Eleven travels into the astral plane to look for Max she’s nowhere to be found…

Is Vecna really dead in Stranger Things?

Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) in Stranger Things
Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) in Stranger Things Netflix

Like Max, reports of Vecna’s death may also be greatly exaggerated. On his return to Hawkins, Will’s (Noah Schapp) Upside Down spidey-sense starts tingling, and he can feel the wounded Vecna is out there somewhere planning his next move.

Will picked up this trick after his experiences in season 1 and 2 of Stranger Things, where he was trapped in the Upside Down and possessed by the Mind Flayer respectively... though as it turns out, that was sort of Vecna all along too?

Was Vecna the villain of every Stranger Things?

Will confronts the Mind Flayer in Stranger Things 2 (Netflix, JG)

Confusingly, it’s suggested in the final Stranger Things 4 episode that Vecna has actually been behind all the Upside Down trouble the gang have faced over the years. He was what Dr Brenner (Matthew Modine) had Eleven looking for when she first brought the Demogorgon to Hawkins, and it seems that the Mind Flayer of seasons 2 and 3 was actually doing Vecna’s bidding as well.

It's a little tricky to follow – it seems that the Mind Flayer smoke-entity thing existed in the Upside Down, and Vecna/One used his psychic abilities to channel it in an attempt to reach Eleven in the real world – and was probably not the plan from Day One of Stranger Things. But we’ll allow it. Vecna was the Big Bad all along, sure, why not?

Will there be a Stranger Things 5?

Stranger Things cast
Stranger Things cast Netflix

The season ends with Hawkins recovering from the “earthquake” that claimed 22 lives at least (and probably many more). The town is reeling, still half-convinced that there’s a satanic cult that brought this down on them and that poor old Eddie (RIP) is to blame.

There are some points of light. At the end of the season, Hopper and Eleven are reunited at last, and more or less the whole gang come together at Hopper’s cabin to share in their experiences. But something goes wrong.

As ash falls from the sky, plants and flowers die and rot and red lightning crackles through the smoke coming from Hawkins, Eleven realises that Vecna’s plan worked after all. Max did die for long enough to open the gateway, and now the Upside Down – and all its monsters – is coming to the real world.

This sets the stage for a truly massive fifth and final season, which may not have the same time jump and reset we’ve grown used to from Stranger Things. Clearly there’s one final battle before Vecna and his legions of greasy creatures are done away with for good, and it’s coming soon.

And who knows? Hopefully Max will wake up in time to see or help them stop it. Though she might wish she’d stayed sleeping…

Stranger Things 4 part 2 is now streaming on Netflix. Check out our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.

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