[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the final episodes of Stranger Things Season 4. Read at your own risk!]
The battle for Hawkins — and the rest of the world — has entered its final stage. The jumbo-sized final episodes of Stranger Things Season 4 saw the core group reunite and temporarily stun Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), but not without great cost. The final two episodes followed a simple enough plan: Max (Sadie Sink) would bait Vecna in the real world to take over her mind and open his fourth and final gate, while Robin (Maya Hawke), Steve (Joe Keery), and Nancy (Natalie Dyer) would kill the monster in his trance state in the Upside Down. In the meantime, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Eddie (Joseph Quinn) would distract the demobats to give the trio enough time to use every ounce of ammo they had on Vecna.
What could go wrong, right? Ha, well. Even though Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) found a way to piggyback into Max's thoughts from a pizza dough oven in Nevada to take on Vecna herself, she wasn't able to stave off the monster in time. He took enough of Max to open the fourth gate and bring the Upside Down to Hawkins, even if he was severely injured in the process. Max's heart stopped in the process, and Eleven found a way to revive her, but the Kate Bush enthusiast remains in a coma with her mind empty — or at least her consciousness buried somewhere Eleven cant find it.
Vecna definitely has the upper hand going into Season 5, but the crew wouldn't have made it out as unscathed as they did if it wasn't for Eddie, who sacrificed himself to the Upside Down demobats in order to give Robin, Steve, and Nancy the time they needed to take down Vecna in his vine cocoon. The Hellfire Club dungeon master became a hero in the end, and Stranger Things' latest sacrificial lamb.
Have we seen the last of Eddie, though? TV Guide doesn't think so. We break down why, and we detail a few other fan theories about the upcoming fifth and final season of Stranger Things below.
Being dead on Stranger Things doesn't mean you're gone forever. Just ask Billy (Dacre Montgomery), who also had a hero's death in Season 3 only to come back to haunt Max in Season 4. Considering that Dustin was with Eddie when he died and wasn't able to save him, and Eddie's body was never returned to the Right-Side-Up, it seems totally within reason that Eddie, or a Vecna-reanimation of Eddie, could be used to torment Dustin and other members of the Hellfire Club because they weren't able to save their Dungeon Master. Which brings us to...
Vecna went after teens with shame issues in Season 4, multiple of whom felt responsible for the deaths of people dear to them. Dustin wasn't able to get to Eddie in time to save him from the bats... does he feel guilty about that? The group also wasn't able to clear Eddie's name when it came to the gruesome teen murders around town. If Vecna is looking for someone who feels inadequate, Dustin is currently an easy and heartbreaking target for him to tap into, especially if he wants to get back at Eleven for delaying his world domination.
The other person with close proximity to Eleven (and Vecna) is Will (Noah Schnapp). After returning to Hawkins with Eleven and Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will confirmed that his connection to the Upside Down/the Mind Flayer/Vecna still hadn't been completely severed. He could feel the Upside Down overlord's thoughts and confirmed Nancy's shotgun blasts hadn't officially killed the monster. More importantly, Will sensed that the Upside Down was officially growing into the center of Hawkins even before Eleven did. If that psychic connection between him and Vecna remains, he would make an easy vessel for Vecna to use to get around Hawkins and to torment Eleven while Vecna heals from his finale attack.
While Eddie's death was heartbreaking, we have yet to see someone from the original core group perish at the hands of Vecna or the Upside Down. It seems unlikely we will end this adventure without someone in the original D&D club dying for the cause.
Max is currently in a coma with two broken legs and two broken arms. Though Eleven was able to revive her after her heart stopped, Max's mind was unnervingly blank when Eleven tried to wake her up in the hospital. This could mean a few things, including Max being buried deep in one of her subconscious memories or Vecna still having control of her.
The fact that Max's mind was inhabited by two incredibly strong psychics before she went under means that if and when she wakes up from the coma, she will not be the same Max she was before. It remains to be seen whether the spark Eleven gave her to revive her heart will also give Max the power to break out of whatever mind prison she's in, or whether Vecna still controls her. Max is just as close to Eleven as Will is, and if Vecna has her under his control, it'll be easy to rip the group apart. We're rooting for Eleven-like powers because Max has been through enough, but we will be shocked if Season 5 doesn't see Max making some people levitate on her own, for better or worse.
The Season 4 finale confirmed that the swirling particles that Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) found in the Russian prison were essentially Mindflayer particles/guts. The Russians were keeping it hostage and likely performing experiments with it and their demogorgons, but when Joyce, Hopper, and crew returned to the prison at the tail end of the finale to destroy the particles and the demogorgons in order to give the kids a leg up in the Upside Down, everything had escaped. We saw Murray (Brett Gelman) fillet the demogorgons, but the Mindflayer particles are still missing in action.
Since Eleven closed the gate between Hawkins and Russia at the end of Season 3, it would be a long journey back to the states for the swirling particles to rejoin Vecna and the rest of their brood. We also didn't see Murray return to the States. It is possible that Murray was just dropped off at his bunker as the first stop in the secret government agency carpool before Joyce and Hopper were taken to reunite with the kids. However, he also could have stayed behind with Yuri (Nikola Đuričko) and Enzo (Tom Wlaschiha) to track down and destroy the particles. If they are able to do that, it could give the Hawkins crew the advantage they need to take down Vecna once and for all.
This is less of a theory and more of a very obvious observation. The signs that Will has more-than-platonic feelings for Mike have been brewing since late Season 2, but came extremely close to exploding in the final episodes of Season 4. It started with Will being borderline repulsed by attention from girls at his school and escalated to Will giving Mike a barely veiled speech about how Mike makes Eleven feel like she's not an outsider and Eleven will always need Mike. Will's silent tears after the soliloquy and his heart-to-heart with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) later all but confirmed that Will has been coming to terms with his sexuality. As a teenager in the '80s, Will doesn't need to have it all figured out, but we'd hate to see Vecna exploit Will's vulnerability to torture him. The kid has been through enough.
And there are several more burning questions that need to be answered, like what happened to Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) after Eleven left Project Nina? Will Vecna return in a new form after being lit on fire and shot multiple times at close range? Will any of the parents besides Joyce and Hopper realize what is actually going on in this town? And most importantly, will Steve ever find long-lasting happiness?
Those questions will have to be answered when Stranger Things returns for Season 5. Seasons 1-4 are now streaming on Netflix.