The fourth Strange things the season is over. Has Max shaken off the curse? Did Hopper make it back from the USSR? Can Eddie rock the Upside Down with the most metal performance ever? Will Eleven defeat the monstrous Vecna?

Two extra-long finale episodes hit Netflix on July 1 (although Netflix crashed for some early viewers). We already rerun of episode 8 titled Papa. So let’s dive into the two-hour Episode 9, The Piggyback, and recap the plot climaxes, easter eggs, and character arcs. (Plus lots of spoilers!)

Stranger Things is set in 1980s Indiana, where a teenager with powerful psychic abilities escapes from a sinister government installation. Eleven joins forces with local geeks Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will to battle demogorgons, the Mind Conqueror, and other monsters, including the chillingly calculating Dr. Brenner.

Episode 8 ends with Brenner dying in the dust of the desert, but he’s left a whole bunch of trouble behind: His experiments on psychic children led to Eleven transporting troubled youth Henry Creel to the Upside Down’s parallel dimension years ago, where he became the demonic villain Eternal from Season 4.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Jim Hopper, Joyce and Murray try to escape from a brutal Russian gulag with the help of duplicitous ex-guard Antonov (aka Enzo) and mad smuggler Yuri. Episode 9 opens with Jim and Joyce facing the same problem as Eleven, Will, Mike, Jonathan and Surfer Boy brochacho Argyle: They must get back to Hawkins before Vecna ​​kills again and opens a fourth gate to the dark dimension. Steve, Nancy, Robin, Dustin and Eddie Munson attempt to infiltrate the Upside Down and trap Vecna ​​in his coffin, while Lucas and Erica enter Creel’s terrifying mansion to offer Max as bait. In the series finale, only the Hawkins children (and Kate Bush) can save the world.

First phase

In Russia, Yuri continues (literally) as he pretends to work on his Katinka helicopter. Nearby, Joyce and Hopper undress in tandem, revealing the toll taken on Hopper’s body by his time in the brutal gulag. Yet despite being beaten, bloodied, exhausted and shaved head, David Harbor has probably never been hotter? After deciding he’s a curse to everyone he cares about, Hopper still finds hope in dreams of breadsticks and Enzo’s lasagna, not to mention fondling Joyce (wearing a Hulk Hogan t-shirt).

At Hawkins, Nancy and the crew prepare their head-down assault on the commandos. Sounds so simple, right? Dustin and Eddie know they’re decoys, but as soon as someone says “We’re not heroes,” you just know they’re going to do some pretty heroic shit before the credits roll.

As Erica, Lucas and Max investigate Creel’s creepy house, phase one begins… except a bystander spots Erica leading Jason and his newly acquired gun to Morehead’s murder house.

The Surfer Boy Pizza team


Along the way, Eleven notices a billboard depicting a happy family and has flashbacks of her mother, Terri. If she is able to enter her mother’s mind or Billy’s in previous seasons, she realizes that she can follow Max’s mind and confront Vecna. It just means raiding Surfer Boy Pizza. Luckily they have Purple Palm Tree Delight.

The battle of the mind is on

Hopper contacts Owens’ assistant, who introduces them to the danger in Hawkins. In their matching parks, Hopper and Joyce realize they can join the fight from where they are, too. It just means going back to the Soviet prison. Luckily they have a flamethrower.

Are you ready for the most metal concert in the history of the world? In the Upside Down, Eddie discovers a demonic copy of his ax and interferes with Metallica’s Master of Puppets to lure a horde of demonic bats into a hellish dark dimension. I like how it’s not just Eleven bringing her superpowers to the fight. The unique personalities of ordinary people play a crucial role as Argyle’s pizza making and Eddie’s shredding also help save the world.

You could be forgiven for forgetting that Jonathan was there this season, as he was mostly in the background on a show with so many characters. But in one of the most intimate moments of the season, he reconnects with Will. In another touching moment, after Steve’s speech about the kids in episode 8, he shares another vulnerable heart-to-heart with Nancy in this episode. Oh, he’s really going to die, isn’t he?

Running up another hill

As Max listens to her secret weapon, Kate Bush, she and Lucas exchange sweet notes. She then turns off her Walkman.

Phase two begins.

But it doesn’t work. Eleven can see Max, but the guest of honor does not appear. Max digs deeper into the taunts Vecna ​​has directed at her and confronts her own emotional demons by confessing her darkest thoughts about her late brother Billy. And she admits that her courage and possible self-sacrifice are rooted in self-loathing rather than nobility. Finally, Vecna ​​makes her presence felt by cruelly impersonating Lucas and then Billy. Meanwhile, Eleven is already projected to Creel’s house and then takes another step into Max’s mind as she finds herself in a flashback of Max riding a skateboard.

It’s time for phase three.

Max finds himself in the snowball of 1984 Hawkins High School when he plays the 1983 cop megahit Every Breath You Take — just like the moment Lucas and Max kissed at the end of Season 2. Then there’s a haunting image of balloons bursting into a shower of blood as the school dance turns into something darker to the strains of Ella Fitzgerald’s Dream a Little Dream of Me — the song that was playing on the radio when Henry Creel killed his family.

In the Upside Down, Robin, Steve and Nancy are grabbed by suffocating tentacles while Eddie and Dustin engage in battle. (Battle, geddit?) To help Dustin escape, Eddie heads back to the Upside Down for a sword fight with a swarm of demonic bats. do you see Hero nonsense. Name it!

Eleven turns on

Lucas realizes that he never wanted to be popular and normal, but his fight with Jason breaks Max’s musical lifeline. Luckily, Eleven hits the dance floor just in time to confront the demon she’s inadvertently created.

The creature formerly known as Henry Creel regains the upper hand, crucifying Eleven against the now-familiar door of the murder house, while Max is elevated to become the final victim. Eleven uses not her telekinetic powers, but her empathy for Henry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t land, as Henry doesn’t blame ordinary, mediocre man Brenner for turning him into an Eternal. He blames Eleven.

Three battered men and Winona Ryder line up to fight in a dark and cold Soviet prison.

From Russia with Love in Stranger Things Season 4.


In a flashback, we see Vecna/Henry/One exploring the Upside Down, a realm he sees as unspoiled by humans. He becomes “the predator he was always meant to be” with the help of the hideous Mind Flayer. “It’s always been you,” Eleven wails as she flashes back to the Mind Flayer’s possession of Billy’s form in earlier seasons, realizing that it was actually Eternal who wanted to open the gates from the Upside Down.

While ’80s pop music helped Max escape Vecna, now Mike’s words are music to Eleven’s ears when she finally says “I love you.” With or without powers, she’s his superhero. Remarkably, this season is built around families and friends who stay connected no matter how far apart they are. Things get messy when characters stop talking, like Jonathan and Nancy, or Lucas ignoring the Hellfire Club, or even Henry Creel turning on his family. But Mike and Elle’s love letters, Hopper’s dream about a date night, Max’s notes, Mike calling Eleven as she in turn reaches out to Max – these are all people screaming their love for each other, refusing to let their relationship fade.

In an epic climax sure to get everyone cheering, Running Up That Hill swells as Eleven blasts Vekna with her signature move. Joyce and Jim punch the last Demogorgons while Steve and Robin throw Molotov cocktails. And Nancy? She doesn’t miss.

But the victory is bittersweet as Eddie dies in Dustin’s arms. The moment is cut a bit as non-metal Eddie moves away from Moby’s strains, but it’s still sad.

And Max, broken and blinded, dies in Lucas’ arms—completing Eternal’s quartet of murders. The words of the apparently defeated villain ring in our ears ahead of the fifth and final season.

“This is just the beginning,” warns Henry/Eternal Eleven. “The beginning of the end. You’ve already lost.” As the clock ticks, a terrifying huge gate tears through the town of Hawkins. What an ending! The villain defeated, but an even greater threat looms! What an abyss!

Uh, yeah, except there’s still 30 minutes left.

He won’t stop

The last half hour is full of emotional payoffs with the gang coming together emotionally in the aftermath. Two days later, a “magnitude 7.4 earthquake” shook the city, killing and injuring dozens of people. To add insult to injury, the heroic Eddie Munson and the innocent Hellfire Club are accused of satanic activities. Still, at least Dustin is able to tell Eddie’s uncle the truth (mostly).

Having already saved the world, the gang volunteer to help the rescue effort. Robin’s crush, Vicki, joins her on PB&J duty, and it looks like romance might be on the cards after all. Hopper and Joyce have a tearful meeting with Eleven, who searches a dark and empty mindscape for Max – who turns out to be alive, but in a coma.

It’s chilling that Will still has a relationship with Vecna/Henry/Edno after his obsession in season 2. And he knows the terrifying demon is hurt, but still there. The hairs on the back of his neck stand on end as the clouds gather and the strange particles rain down on Hawkins’ men, poisoning the plants and opening a terrifying portal. It’s a repeat of the moment from Season 2, Episode 1 where Will saw a vision of the Mind Tamer before he possessed him – except this time everyone can see it, because it’s really happening…

And so the stage is set for Stranger Things Season 5!

Strangest things

  • Steve survives!
  • Surfer Boy Pizza’s brochachos give us an epic A-Team-style tool scene, with a pizza pie thrown in.
  • It seems ridiculous that in the midst of demons and government conspiracies, the fate of the world is almost derailed by a dude in a varsity jacket. But the handsome, popular villain is one of the biggest movie tropes of the 80s, so it’s only fitting that he plays a key role in this 80s-obsessed show.
  • Technically, Max and Vecna ​​are fighting in a mental realm, so why are their powers limited to being the same as in the real world?
  • Murray quotes Star Wars (“I’ve got a bad feeling about this”) as the adults sneak back to the prison, while Robin’s quip after the tentacles (“I don’t believe in a higher power or divine intervention, but it was a miracle”) echoes this a famous scene with Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
  • Antonov (aka Enzo) appeals to Yuri’s better nature by referring to his experience in Damansky during 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict.
  • Eleven likes pineapple pizza. Try before you deny.
  • Joyce has a flashback to the death of Bob Newby, her boyfriend in season 2, played by Sean Astin.
  • At Max Lucas’ bedside, he is reading The Talisman, a 1984 fantasy novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub. Intriguingly, this is also a parallel dimension story that ends with an earthquake – and then the novel reveals multiple parallel realms.
  • The closing song is Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Why doesn’t anyone think to stick a Walkman on Coma Max?

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