Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 1 Ending Explained

Stranger Things fans have known since earlier this year that Season 4 of the series would be broken up into two debuts, though it wasn't until more recently that it was confirmed that Volume 1 would consist of seven episodes and Volume 2 would feature the final two installments. Rather than the season being split down the middle, the events of Episode 7 come with some major reveals and ramifications, feeling more like a midseason finale than an episode that would be unveiled this close to the season finale. With these first seven episodes now streaming on Netflix, we're here to break down some of the biggest narrative reveals that come later in this volume.

WARNING: Spoilers below for Stranger Things Season 4 – Volume 1

One plot point that has concerned audiences for nearly three years is what happened to Hopper (David Harbour) following his seemingly fatal sacrifice in Season 3. As teased by a post-credits scene and confirmed in trailers, Hopper was transported to Russia and taken as a prisoner. Additionally, that post-credits scene revealed that Russia also had a captive demogorgon.

Over the course of the season, Hopper hatches a plan to escape, and while he briefly finds freedom, is ultimately captured and brought back to prison to battle with the demogorgon, which is being kept alive by eating prisoners. Hopper's showdown with the beast coincides with Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gellman) arriving to help rescue Hopper, as he manages to critically injure the creature and reunite with the pair.

The other two major threads of this season focus on Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) trying to channel her seemingly disappeared powers and the rest of the Hawkins gang trying to learn the identity of the monstrous Vecna, who has been killing off teens. 

Eleven ends up collaborating with Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) and Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) to use isolation equipment to try to uncover forgotten elements of her past. It's during this process that she's able to once again tap into her telekinetic powers, which also results in the discovery of Vecna's origins.

Vecna had powers similar to Eleven's, though also had disdain for humanity at a young age. He used these powers to kill his mother and sister, resulting in his father taking the blame. Vecna, born Henry Creel, was hospitalized following his crimes and became Dr. Brenner's first patient, earning the new moniker of "One." This included Henry earning a 001 tattoo, similar to the one sported by Eleven.

As the young Eleven came to realize his treacherous motivations, the pair engaged in a powerful showdown, which resulted in One seemingly being killed, though he was actually banished to the Upside Down. This caused the first portal to the Upside Down to open, through which a demogorgon escaped in the first season. After his years in the Upside Down, One mentally and physically transformed into the horrifying figure called Vecna, who clearly still holds disdain for humanity.

While there are still a number of mysteries left to be answered, the Season 4 – Volume 1 finale brought with it some fulfilling revelations.

Stranger Things Season 4 – Volume 1 is now streaming on Netflix.

What did you think of the episodes? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!