Warning: Only a real mouth breather would keep reading, knowing as one must that the following is going to be wall-to-wall spoilers for Episodes 8-9 of Stranger Things Season 4, Part 2.
The goosebumps have only started to die down after our binge of the jaw-dropping final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4. But we have a lot — like, a lot a lot — to unpack.
Over the course of the nearly four action-packed hours, the Duffer Brothers dish out not only heart-tugging reunions and game-changing plot twists but epic battles and, yes, some major deaths, too. Somehow they even manage to pause just long enough to make a case for pineapple on pizza. (“Try it before you deny!”)
Ready to review? Throw on a sweater — even merely recalling the penultimate season’s climax is likely to give you chills all over again — and keep reading. Below, we’ll go over each episode’s key developments as well as their biggest moments. Then you can hit the comments with your reactions, questions, quibbles — the works.
Episode 8: ‘Papa’
WHAT HAPPENED: Picking up where “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” left off, Vecna showed Nancy a horrific vision of Hawkins’ future, then released her. Once he’d made his fourth kill, the final gate would be opened, and it would be, in essence, game over. So the Hawkins gang hatched a four-phase plan that they hoped would make killing One as easy as “slaying sleeping Dracula in his coffin.” In the desert, before Owens could grant Eleven’s request to return to Hawkins to protect her friends, Brenner intervened… just as Sullivan and his troops, as well as Mike & Co., arrived at the compound. By the time the smoke had cleared, Papa had been fatally shot. (Though you can never be sure with him!) Finally, Team Hopper escaped from the Russian prison with high hopes that they’d be able to fly across the Iron Curtain in Yuri’s chopper, Katinka.
Episode 8 Highlights
BIGGEST ACT OF HEROISM: Still “cursed” by Vecna, Max bravely volunteered to act as a decoy.
BIGGEST LAUGH: When Joyce told Hopper that he’d had a funeral, the hero of Hawkins couldn’t resist asking, “Anybody come?”
BIGGEST THROWBACK: To keep Eddie from being spotted, Max gave him the Michael Myers mask she’d worn in Season 2.
BIGGEST SHOW OF BROMANCE: We didn’t think any tag team would ever compete with Steve and Dustin for our hearts. But then along came the sweet scene in which Eddie implored the youngster never to change.
BIGGEST REACTION: See above — it was Hopper’s, when Yuri said that Katinka was a virgin for him.
BIGGEST REVEAL: Yeah, yeah, we finally got to see Will’s artwork, a painting of the gang fighting a three-headed dragon. But the bigger reveal was his speech about being different, which played like a muted coming out (at least to an eavesdropping Jonathan).
Episode 9: ‘The Piggyback’
WHAT HAPPENED: To offer long-distance aid to their loved ones in Hawkins, Team Hopper returned to the Russian prison and dispatched the Demogorgons that had escaped from the lab. Hoping to also lend a hand, Eleven mind-traveled into Max’s head but was unable to keep Vecna from killing her friend. Thankfully, she did manage to resurrect Max. As the battle raged on, Lucas fought Jason, and Eddie died a hero’s death. Steve, Robin and Nancy seemed to have rendered One, ahem, done. But with Max’s “passing,” Vecna’s final gate opened, ripping Hawkins to shreds (and Jason with it). In the aftermath, Hopper was reunited with El, Joyce with her family and Jonathan with Nancy. (They were fine, she assured him. But were they?) As Will sensed Vecna’s presence — he was down but not out — otherworldly particles began to turn Hawkins into the Upside Down version of itself.
Episode 9 Highlights
BIGGEST FIRST: At last, Hopper and Joyce kissed… and would’ve done more, too, had they not been interrupted!
BIGGEST ‘AWW’: Max not only admitted that the happy memory in which she planned to hide from Vecna included Lucas, but she agreed to go on a date with him.
BIGGEST FORESHADOWING: Vickie’s observation that her mouth worked faster than her brain made it adorably obvious that she and Robin were made for one another.
BIGGEST CONFESSION: Steve shared with Nancy that in his dream of a Winnebago full of kids, she was there. “You’ve always been there.”
BIGGEST THRILL: Our hearts nearly burst when Eleven manifested in the Upside Down just as Vecna made his move on Max.
BIGGEST BLOW: Since Max came back from the dead — at least partway — we’ve gotta give this one to Eddie, who made Dustin promise to look after “those little sheep” after he was gone.