PHOTO BY Teen Vogue

Everything You Need to Know About the First Volume of Stranger Things 4

Culture

Viewers waited three years for Stranger Things season 4 to arrive on Netflix. Now that the first volume has come, was it worth the long wait? Season 4 provided fans with a deeper dive into each character's life, as the group of friends lived in different states: Eleven and Will in California and Lucas, Dustin, and Mike in Hawkins, Indiana. The way in which viewers learned more about the characters, along with the compelling plot development, made Stranger Things season 4 the best season yet. Here is everything you need to know about the latest instillation of Stanger Things.

The Expanded Cast

Stranger Things season 4 included several new characters, all of which enriched the already-engaging storyline. Eddie Munson, the leader of Hawkins' Hellfire Club, is by far the most important new character that the plot focuses on. As Eddie is blamed for the mysterious murders around Hawkins, viewers begin to understand that anyone, regardless of their previous involvement in the Upside Down, can become swept up in the "curse" overtaking Hawkins.

Along with pushing the storyline further, he also plays a huge role in cultivating other characters' relationships, like when he encourages Steve and Nancy to get back together.

Beyond The Upside Down

In previous seasons, the characters' main obstacles were finding their way into the Upside Down, an alternate dimension present in reality. However, in season 4, the show's creators took it a step further by introducing a new villain, Vecna. The addition of Vecna proposes new obstacles for the characters, such as the mysterious deaths occurring throughout Hawkins.

Vecna, though a part of the Upside Down, is actually a monster that is human. It's much different from what the friend group is used to seeing.

Unlike the Mind Flayer and Demogorgon, Vecna makes his victims fall under his spell where they replay a traumatic experience in their minds. For instance, Max witnesses Billy's death and Nancy witnesses Barb's death, which leaves them subject to Vecna's curse. When Vecna's victims are consumed by fear, the villain lifts his victims into the air and snaps their bones, ultimately to their death.

In previous seasons, Eleven was able to stop the Upside Down from taking over Hawkins. But, in season 4, finding a solution to Vecna is not as easy.

Eleven is without her powers.

This change in the plot is by far the most intriguing aspect of season 4 -- characters need to find another way to stop Vecna from killing the innocent.

Can The Hawkins Crew Defeat Vecna?

At the end of season 4, volume 1, it remains unclear if the characters can put Vecna to rest. But, they have discovered ways to prevent others from being possessed. Since Max was able to escape Vecna through music, the characters learn that musical therapy is key to breaking free from Vecna. Even after escaping, Max continues to play her favorite song on her headphones, which thrusts her back into reality and away from Vecna.

Although there isn't closure with the problems Vecna creates, in the new episodes coming shortly, viewers hope to see Eleven back and ready to defeat Vecna.

What Does Vecna Want?

Towards the end of the series, Dustin begins to understand the motive behind Vecna's actions. Vecna is hoping to open more gates in Hawkins to the Upside Down. In other words, Vecna is attempting to help the Mind Flayer by providing easy ways for the Upside Down to intrude.

Whenever Vecna murders someone, the place of that individual's death becomes the site of a gate to the Upside Down. When Patrick, a basketball player at Hawkins High, is taken by Vecna, "Watergate" is created at the bottom of Lover's Lake. Similarly, there is a gate in the ceiling of Eddie's trailer where cheerleader Chrissy was murdered.

The Season's Ending

While characters in Hawkins try to defeat Vecna, Eleven goes back to training with Dr. Martin Brenner in an effort to get her powers back. When Eleven is playing in the "Rainbow Room," an assistant named Peter in the lab gives Eleven a piece of important information: some of the other children at the lab are planning to kill her soon. Peter also warns Eleven that Dr. Brenner will allow the other kids to kill her. To help her escape from the lab, Peter helps her create a plan to escape and even gives her his keycard.

But, Peter is not an ordinary worker at the lab. He, too, has powers. After Peter instructs Eleven to wait in a separate room, Eleven comes out to find that Peter has killed everyone else in the lab. But, that's not all. Peter also reveals that he is Henry Creel, Victor Creel's son. Victor Creel was blamed for killing his family even though he witnessed Vecna in action.

Peter is the one who killed his family and admits that his father was the one framed for the murders he committed. He was taken to Hawkins Lab to be studied. But, when Dr. Brenner understood that he was becoming too powerful, he placed an implant on Peter to take away his powers.

In Eleven's memories, she and Peter see that she has become more powerful and is able to stop him from continuing. Eleven is even able to open a portal to the Upside Down where Peter is sent.

Just as Peter turns into Vecna, the screen goes black.

The second volume of season 4 will return to Netflix on July 1. Until then, viewers will continue pondering everything that happened in the season finale.

Sophene Avedissian
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Sophene Avedissian is a sophomore at Westridge School for Girls. She writes for her school newspaper, Spyglass, and the Los Angeles Times High School Insider. During her free time, Sophene enjoys reading, playing soccer, and spending time with family and friends.