Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 summary and ending explained

The 4th season of Stranger Things gives the people of Hawkins a new terror to face and also answers a few key questions about everyone’s favourite ‘Eggo’ fan, Eleven. The season is split into 2 volumes with the first now available on Netflix.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

Years ago in Hawkins lab, Dr Brenner raised a group of super-powered children and carried out experiments on them to teach them how to use these powers. Then one day, something went wrong and a young Eleven was at the centre of it all.

In the present, Eleven is narrating her experiences in California to Mike as spring break approaches. She gives him updates on the Byers family as well as her life at school, which is good according to her.

In Hawkins, everyone at school and indeed the town is still recovering from the events that have gone by. The students gather at the gym where the basketball team has a pep rally before they play in the championship game.

The captain of the team, Jason (Mason Dye) gives a rousing speech and hypes up the crowd in support. Lucas is part of this team and now has to decide between the game or an important session of D&D along with Dustin, Mike and their club called ‘The Hellfire club’.

He tells his friends that he can’t make it, so Mike and Dustin go to the leader of the group, Eddie (Joseph Quinn) to ask him to postpone since they’re a man down. He tells them that all they need to do is find a substitute and it’ll be fine.

Max is still going through the trauma of Billy’s death and has meetings with the school counsellor but given the nature of his death, she has a hard time opening up. She notices that another girl, Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) is also going through a tough time but doesn’t pry.

Chrissy feels sick and begins having visions of a terrifying creature that gives her waking nightmares. Lucas and Max are not together anymore because Max has shut herself off but Lucas believes she’s going through something and wants to help.

The truth about Eleven’s life in California is revealed. In reality, she’s constantly being bullied at school and has been miserable over there and yet she’s been lying to Mike about being happy.

Joyce receives a package from Russia and calls Murray for advice on what to do with it. He tells her that there might be something inside so she needs to break it open. After doing that, she finds a note claiming that Hopper is alive and well.

Things are a little shaky between Nancy and Jonathan. Nancy is staying in Hawkins for spring break to work on the school paper while Jonathan wants her to come to California along with Mike as they had initially planned.

Chrissy meets with Eddie to buy some drugs and take the edge off her nightmares. The two of them bond for a moment and then Chrissy asks him if there is something stronger than marijuana that she can try.

Steve and Robin have their troubles in life as Steve is dating a lot but can’t seem to find the right girl while Robin has a crush on a girl but does not dare to let her feelings be known.

It’s time for the championship game, where the entire crowd gathers except for the members of the Hellfire club. Mike and Dustin brought in Erica as Lucas’s replacement and they get their session underway.

After many ups and downs, both events come to a dramatic climax as Lucas comes on after warming the bench the entire season while on the other side, the gang is down to just two members in their fight against the big bad.

Lucas hits the winning basket and Erica rolls a critical 20 on the dice and ends both the teams’ night on a high.

Chrissy and Eddie go back to his place to get high but while Eddie is searching for the drugs, Chrissy goes into a trance and is visited by the terrifying creature who kills her right in front of Eddie’s eyes.

A flashback into the past shows us that Hopper survived the blast in the facility.

The police arrive at Eddie’s trailer to find Chrissy’s mangled body and Eddie is nowhere to be found. Mike arrives in California where Eleven and Will pick him up from the airport along with Jonathan and his friend Argyle (Eduardo Franco).

The news of a body being found is broadcast across town with Robin and Steve learning about it at the video store and the basketball team finding out at an abandoned hangout spot they were using. Nancy and her editorial team find out at school and decide to dig in further.

The police questioned Jason since he was Chrissy’s boyfriend. Meanwhile, Max heads over to Dustin’s place because she saw some things that lead her to believe that this is somehow related to the upside-down.

Hopper was captured by the Russians after the explosion in Hawkins and taken to a prison where he was tortured and questioned about who he works for. Murray also arrives in California so that he and Joyce can figure out who sent her that message in the doll.

Mike, Eleven and Will go to the roller rink where Eleven says she spends all her time with her friends. But when some of the other girls show up and start bullying her, Will tells Mike the truth about how miserable she is. Eleven is so incensed by the behaviour of her bullies that she hurts one of them with a roller skate.

Jonathan talks to Argyle about why things are not the best between him and Nancy. He also admits that he won’t be going to the same college as her because he doesn’t want to move away from his mother and brother and that he hasn’t told Nancy yet.

Dustin and Max head to the video store where along with Robin and Steve, they call around trying to locate Eddie because he’s the prime suspect and they want to find him first and get his story.

Nancy and Fred Benson (Logan Riley Brunner) head to the trailer park when Fred starts to get visions himself. Nancy talks to Eddie’s uncle who tells her about the story of Victor Creel and how his family died the same way that Chrissy did.

Fred is led away by the visions and goes into the forest after which Nancy frantically searches for him.

Joyce and Murray call the number on the note and a man calling himself Enzo answers on the other end. He tells her to bring a ransom to Alaska within two days and then she will get to see Hopper again. They record the conversation and on listening back to it, ascertain that Hopper is probably in a prison and bribed a security guard there.

Jason convinces the rest of his teammates that Eddie is responsible for Chrissy’s murder and they set out to find and hurt him.

Dustin and the others get a lead on Eddie’s location and go out there to find him. When they eventually find him, they listen to his story and assure him that what happened was real. They christen the new threat ‘Vecna’ after a dark wizard from D&D.

At the same time, Vecna gets a hold of his next victim, Fred, and kills him the same way he killed Chrissy.

Colonel Sullivan pays a visit to Dr Owens and shows him pictures of Chrissy’s mangled body. Sullivan believes that this is the work of Eleven and asks Owens for her location, but Owens says that he doesn’t know where she is.

Eleven and the others return from the roller rink to find Murray cooking dinner for them. Joyce tells them that she’ll be going out of town for a few days and leaves Jonathan in charge. Eleven is still quite disappointed with what happened in the rink.

Jason and his team set out to find Eddie and convince Lucas to come along with them. Dustin, Max, Robin and Steve met with Eddie and tell him that their working on clearing his name but don’t have much to go on just yet.

They hear the sounds of sirens and follow them to find police at the location where Fred’s body was found. Nancy is there, quite distraught.

Mike and Eleven have a conversation about why she lied to him all these months which devolves into an argument about how their relationship isn’t as strong as they thought.

The police show up right then and arrest Eleven for assault as the girl she hurt pressed charges against her. She is taken away by the police as the others continue pleading with her innocence.

Hopper and Enzo discuss how he’s going to escape once Joyce hands over the money. Enzo says that his chances of escape are slim, but he’s content as long as he gets his money. Hopper is doubtful that the middleman, Yuri, can be trusted.

Nancy meets up with the others at the trailer park and they all discuss what they know so far about Vecna. Max observes that Chrissy had met with the school counsellor so that could be a lead to follow. Nancy wants to check out Victor Creel as well, so Robin accompanies her.

Vecna appears to have picked his next target, Patrick, one of the players on the basketball team. He is along with Jason and the others as they stop by the house of one of the members of the Hellfire club. They forcefully question them about Eddie’s location and they get Dustin’s name as their next lead.

Hopper convinces one of the other prisoners to break his anklet, breaking his ankle in the process. Hopper does this in preparation for his escape.

Nancy and Robin go to the local library to check the archives about Victor Creel. Max visits the counsellor to find out more about Chrissy, but when she’s not able to find out much, she steals the keys to her office at school.

Jason and his team reach Dustin’s house but find it empty. Lucas sneaks into Dustin’s room and tries to warn them but is interrupted when the others find him. He tells them that he knows where Eddie might be and shares the location Dustin told him about.

Max, Steve and Dustin go to the counsellor’s office at school and make the connection between Fred and Chrissy as both of them had files there. That’s when Max gets her first vision, signifying that she is Vecna’s next victim.

Eleven is being transported to a juvenile holding facility when the van is stopped and some government officials state that they’ll be taking her. It turns out to be Dr Owens who has a chat with her about the oncoming war.

He tells her that there is a very real threat endangering her friends in Hawkins and the only way to combat that is if she gets her powers back. Dr Owens says that there is a way to do that and asks Eleven if she’s ready to be a superhero again.

Some of Dr Owens’s colleagues head to the Byers’ house to inform them that Eleven will be going away for some time to get her powers back and that they will be under house arrest. They protest but have no real say in the matter.

Max tells the others about her symptoms and confirms that she’s probably the next victim. They hear some noises outside and when they follow it, it turns out to be Lucas who has shown up to warn them about Jason being on the warpath.

Joyce and Murray arrive in Alaska and get ready to go out for the exchange with Yuri. Jason begins to doubt Lucas’s allegiances and heads over to his house looking for him but his sister answers the door and tells him that Lucas is probably with Dustin.

Robin and Nancy have set up a meeting with the director of the psychiatric facility where Victor Creel is housed so that they can meet him and get some insight into the evil they’re facing.

Mike, Will and Jonathan are feeling helpless at home so they look for a way to evade the agents in their house and get out, so they order a pizza to get Argyle to pick them up.

Max is preparing for her demise and writes a couple of letters with parting words to each of her friends. Then she tells Steve that she wants to go visit her mom and makes them drive out to the trailer park.

Hopper manages to escape his captivity successfully and makes it to Yuri’s warehouse in the nearby town. Meanwhile, Joyce and Murray arrive at Yuri’s hangar for the exchange. Yuri ends up drugging their coffee and betraying them.

He calls up Enzo and tells him that he has sold him out to his warden, with the guards shortly arriving and arresting him as well as finding Hopper in his hiding spot.

Robin and Nancy successfully convince the director to some time with Victor and he escorts them to the man’s cell. Once they’re alone, they tell Victor that Vecna is back and ask him for any information that might help them fight him.

Max’s visions start to get more frequent and she makes one last visit to Billy’s grave so that she can say a few words to him. Lucas tries to say a few comforting words to her, insisting that he’s always there to help.

Mike and the others are waiting for Argyle to arrive when the house is attacked by armed soldiers. They manage to get away with one of the agents who is shot as Argyle arrives just in time to pick them up.

Victor recollects the story of how he and his family moved into a new house soon after he came back from the war. Things were fine for a week before strange occurrences began to take place. One by one they were all driven crazy by terrifying visions until one day when things finally snapped.

His wife was first to go, lifted in the air and snapped like a twig with her eyes gouged out. Victor was supposed to be the next one to go but during his vision, he heard the voice of an angel that brought him back. He begins humming a random tune.

When he came to, he found both his children lying on the floor. His daughter was dead and his son had gone into a coma and died soon after while he was arrested and charged with their murder. Ever since then he’s been suffering in the facility, waiting for the sweet release of death.

The director shows up right then and admits that he knows they have lied their way in and will turn them over to the police. While they’re being escorted they realize that Victor was talking about a song when he spoke about the angel’s voice, and conclude that maybe music is what helps people escape Vecna’s curse.

Max begins to have her final vision where Vecna kills her and the others frantically try to get her out of the trance but to no avail. Nancy and Robin make a break for the car and as soon as they get in, they radio Dustin with the information about the music.

Dustin rushes to Max with her walkman and manages to play her favourite song just in time for her to escape from Vecna’s clutches.

Argyle keeps on driving as the others try to put pressure on the agent’s bullet wound. He tells them to warn Dr Owens and hands them a pen before mentioning that there’s a number to call. He dies before he can tell them the number, however.

Sullivan and his soldiers search the Byers’ house for any trace of Eleven and when he finds a note from her, he takes it to the serving agent and asks him for her location.

Owens and Eleven reach their destination, an abandoned missile silo that they have repurposed for their needs. Owens takes her to the main room where Eleven gets the shock of her life as she sees Dr Brenner once again.

She tries to make a run for it but is stopped by the guards before being subdued.

Hopper finds himself at a different facility and this time he’s in there with Enzon, the guard that got him into this mess. Yuri plans to take Joyce and Murray to the same prison and ransom them for more money.

The gang is staying at the Wheeler house when Nancy notices that Max is not around. They find her at the breakfast table making drawings of the place she saw Vecna in. Nancy looks at all the images and makes an important discovery. Vecna is located at Victor Creel’s house in the upside-down.

Eleven wakes up and notices that she’s back in the Hawkins Laboratory. She roams the halls and walks into the rainbow room where one of the aides converses with her. She tries to run but finds herself in a loop of sorts.

The truth is that she’s undergoing the procedure to get her powers back with Owens and Brenner observing from the outside. She seems to be rejecting the process initially.

Jonathan, Mike and Will bury the agent’s body and then try to figure out the next part of the plan. Argyle tries to make a headstone for the agent but the pen they were given doesn’t seem to work. Mike wonders why that would be and then realizes that there must be something inside.

They open the pen and find the number inside. They find the nearest phone booth and call the number but only get a dial-up tone which means they were calling a computer. Their next goal is to find a hacker who can help out and they know one who lives nearby, Susie.

At Chrissy’s funeral, Jason gathers the basketball team and shows pictures of Lucas when he was also a part of the Hellfire club. They make a list of all the places where members of the club have been spotted recently and plan to hurt them once they find them.

Murray and Joyce try to figure out a way to overpower Yuri who is flying the plane. When they realize that he cannot hear them, they know a box of jars down and free themselves with the broken glass.

Yuri notices a jar and when he turns, sees them trying to cut their binds so he takes out his gun and threatens them but Murray can overpower him with his karate and some help from Joyce, but the plan ends up crashing down with them surviving.

Nancy, Robin, Dustin, Steve, Lucas and Max all arrive at Victor Creel’s house. They break in and take a look around and find tons of creepy things. They notice a few lights working and remember that it was a way to communicate with the upside-down.

They follow the lights and learn the location of Vecna in the upside-down.

Eleven is still stuck in the loop when she realizes something different. Her reflections show her as her younger self. That’s when Dr Brenner talks to her, telling her why he named this particular experiment the ‘Nina Project’.

This process is supposed to help Eleven explore the older memories that she has buried and find the one that will elicit an emotional response and activate her powers.

She ultimately follows along with the memory that shows her interacting with the aide who supports her unlike anyone else. However, her memory suddenly morphs into a different one, and she has to be taken out of the scenario.

Jason and the others reach the place where Eddie but before they can find him, Eddie gets into a boat and pushes out into the lake. Jason and Patrick swim in after him but just as they’re reaching close, Patrick is attacked by Vecna and Jason watches it happen right before his eyes.

The police arrive at the lake and when they question Jason, he tells them that Eddie has made a deal with the devil and got his powers and that’s how he killed Patrick. Sheriff Powell and his deputy have a hard time believing him.

Sullivan is still trying to get the information out of the agent but reaches nowhere despite the amount of torture he goes through. Dr Brenner discusses how going through her memories will help Eleven bring her powers back and she agrees to go back in.

Nancy and the others reach the lake where the police have revealed Eddie’s name as a suspect to the media, causing a furore. Eddie gets in touch with them and tells them that he’s near a place called Skull rock.

Murray and Joyce convince Yuri to show them where the prison is, but he insists they visit his warehouse first to stock up on weapons. The plan is to show up there as Yuri had promised, but Murray will be swapping places with him.

Hopper and the other prisoners are taken to a room filled with food. One of them states that it is to give them the energy to face some kind of monster that has been let out every night. Hopper knows what the creature is. He tells the others that they have no chance and are only being fed for the monster’s sake.

Eleven is back in her memories. She grows closer to the aide who tells her that she minds him as ‘one’, even though she believes he doesn’t exist. The aide tells her that Dr Brenner keeps secrets from the children and that the lab is not a safe place for her.

Dustin and Steve lead the way to Skull rock but Dustin has trouble reading his compass so Steve takes charge and gets them there because he knows the place. They find Eddie patiently waiting for them.

The police hold a town hall meeting where the residents question why the authorities haven’t been able to capture Eddie yet. Jason shows up and turns the entire town against him and the whole of the Hellfire club. Mike, Dustin and Lucas’s parents all appear worried for their children.

Just as Hopper and the other prisoners are set to face the monster, Hopper gets into a fight with Enzo and the guards have to separate them and put them back in their cells. That’s when Hopper reveals that to fight the monster, they need fire and he’s managed to steal some alcohol and a guards lighter during the scuffle.

Mike and the others reach Susie’s house and she agrees to help them but for that to happen, they have to distract her father. After some elaborate diversions, they get out of there with a location for the Nina project.

Eleven is in a memory where Dr Brenner held a competition between all the children. He also notices the growing bond between the Eleven and the aide. Two manages to beat the others in the competition but Eleven beats him, showing that she is stronger.

Later on, she notices the aide that helped her being taken away and is shocked for some reason. When she goes back to the rainbow room, she finds Two and a few others waiting for her. They’re mad at her and start hurling her around with their powers and hurting her.

Dustin finally realizes why his compass wasn’t working, it’s because there is an opening to the upside-down nearby. They decide to follow the compass and find the opening, eventually reaching the lake. Nancy, Robin, Steve and Eddie head out on a boat while the younger ones keep watching.

Steve swims down and finds the opening, but when he tries to get back onto the boat, he’s pulled back in by a vine leading Nancy, Robin and Eddie to follow him there to the Upside Down.

Max, Lucas and Dustin grab the attention of the police who are there searching for them. They capture them and take them back home for questioning.

If you have any doubts about the ending, here is a complete breakdown.

Stranger Things season 4 vol 1 ending explained in detail (Episode 7: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab):

Back to the upside-down and the prison visit

Steve is being attacked by creatures from the upside-down but Nancy, Robin and Eddie fight them off. They see an entire horde approaching so they run off into the forest. The others explain to Eddie that the upside-down is the same as their world, just a little more creepy.

Dustin, Max and Lucas are being questioned by the police but they do not give up much. The sheriff decides to talk to them individually and brings Max in first. Erica wants to be kept in the loop so she insists that Dustin and Lucas tell her everything that is going on right now.

Dr Brenner and Dr Owens disagree about the effectiveness of the treatment on Eleven, so Dr Brenner decides to have one last conversation with her before sending her into a key memory. In the memory, he is seen asking her who hurt her but she does not reveal the culprits.

Dr Brenner then lines up everyone else and realizes that Two was involved so he punishes him with a shock collar.

Nancy tells the others that she has a gun in her house so they can get that from the same place in the upside-down. Once they reach there, the gun doesn’t seem to be in the place she said, and Nancy realizes that the upside-down exists 3 years in the past.

Murray is successful in convincing the guards that he’s Yuri and gets safe passage into the prison.

Reunited with a loved one and an old beast

Thanks to a particular question posed by Erica, Dustin figures out that every time Vecna kills someone, he opens up a gate at that point. At that very moment, Nancy and the group contact them with the help of the lights from the other side.

They tell them of their predicament and Dustin tells them of their discovery. They take their bikes and head to Eddie’s trailer while the kids also grab Max and make their way to the same spot.

Murray meets with the Warden and fools him into thinking he’s Yuri as well. They take him and the prisoners out to the yard to watch the festivities. Hopper and the others are being prepped for the monster.

As soon as the gates open, the Demogorgon pops out and massacres a few of the men. Only Enzo and Hopper remain thanks to his flame tipped spear. That’s when Murray takes out his gun and leads them to the control room where they open the door for Hopper to escape.

Hopper makes it out and is finally reunited with Joyce as the two of them share a warm embrace.

Eleven and the aide have yet another conversation, as the aide tells her that her attack was orchestrated by Dr Brenner itself and he has secret plans. The aide wants to help her escape and hands her a key card. Eleven sneaks away and goes down to a boiler room where the aide meets up with her and shows her how to get out.

Supervillain origin story

As both sets arrive at the trailer, they open up the gate and throw a rope across so that they can get through. Eddie and Robin get through but just as Nancy is about to get through, she finds herself in one of Vecna’s mind attacks.

In Eleven’s memory, she wants the aide to come with her, but he says that he has a tracker in his neck so he cannot leave. Eleven says that she can help take it out and he agrees. Just as she removes the device, they are forced back into the halls by the guards.

The aide suddenly reveals his powers and takes care of the guards. He asks Eleven to wait in a room until the coast is clear and also shows her his marking, confirming that he is ‘One’. Nancy finds herself in Creel’s house in the upside-down with Vecna sharing his story.

He was the son of Victor Creel and it was his fault that all those strange occurrences took place in that house, His mother had realised what kind of boy he was and feared him, so he finally decided to take her out of the picture.

Since it was still early days, the use of his power sent him into a coma, and when he awoke he found himself as part of Dr Brenner’s experiments.

Back in the memory, Eleven steps out of the room and finds everyone else hurt or killed. She sees One killing the others and tells him to stop. She feels tricked by him and does not agree with his actions.

Since she’s now a threat, One decides to kill her too, but Eleven fights back and in the process, opens the original gate to the upside-down, flinging him there and transforming him into his current guise as Vecna.

Also Read: Stranger Things season 4 volume 1 review: An epic saga that transcends previous seasons