Season 4 of Stranger Things is the show’s most ambitious season yet. Not only are the episodes longer, but all the supernatural goings on have gone cross-country now that Eleven has moved to California, tagging along with the Byers family. And we have a whole new villain named Vecna, who will no doubt be even more terrifying and powerful than the Mind Flayer or that little Demogorgon from Season 1. Already we have a decent idea of what he’s capable of, since Dungeons & Dragons lore usually gives us an early peek into the show’s monsters’ origins and powers.
Before you hit play on the first episode of Stranger Things 4 though, you may want to get a quick recap on Season 3. After all, it’s been three years since the last season’s premiere and a lot has happened to the characters. There was new romance, new friends, plus the revelation that Hopper is alive and trapped in a Russian prison somewhere.
So in case you need a refresher, we’ve got everything you need to know before Stranger Things Season 4 Part 1. We gloss over a few of the plot points, and divide the show’s plot by some of the notable character groupings for clarity’s sake. We can’t get into everything that went on in 8 hours of the show, but you’ll get the gist. We’ll skip the major romances–long story short, Nancy and Jonathan, Mike and El, and Max and Lucas are essentially couples. Naturally, there’s a whole season of spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen the third season yet, be warned.
Stranger Things Season 3 Recap
Billy terrorizes Max, but also has a way with the women in Hawkins. When he tries to meet up with Mrs. Wheeler (that’s Mike and Nancy’s mother), he’s run off the road and is kidnapped by the Mind Flayer. After Billy escapes the creature, he sees strange visions and hears voices, which guide him to kidnap a fellow lifeguard for the Mind Flayer.
Season 2 continues the ongoing battle against the Mind Flayer, who first tried to possess Will but was stopped when Eleven closed a portal it used to reach our world. Despite thinking the Mind Flayer was gone, Will senses the monster’s return in the Season 3 premiere. He later meets up with Max, El, Mike, Lucas, and reveals he believes Billy is possessed by the Mind Flayer.
Jonathan and Nancy
Jonathan and Nancy both work at the local paper together, investigating the strange behavior of the rats around town. They visit a woman named Mrs. Driscoll, who complains about rats eating her fertilizer. Later, they find her eating fertilizer. When she’s sent to the hospital, Nancy visits her and sees Mrs. Driscoll is possessed by the Mind Flayer.
They later regroup with Will, Mike, Lucas, Eleven and Max and get caught up to speed on Billy and the Mind Flayer, and suspect Mrs. Driscoll is also possessed.
Max and Eleven
Max and Eleven hang out together at the mall after Mike and El have a fight. El later uses her powers to spy on Mike and Billy, and realizes Billy is missing. When Max and Eleven track down Billy and Heather, the other lifeguard, they see them at Heather’s parents’ house.
When Max and Eleven leave, Heather’s parents also become possessed by the Mind Flayer. Will senses this, and realizes he still has a connection with the Mind Flayer, even with the portal to the Upside Down closed. He tells his friends, who work to trap Billy after they find out he is possessed. They’re unable to capture him though, and we discover multiple people in the town are now possessed.
Dustin, Steve, Robin (aka Dustin’s group)
Dustin has a girlfriend, Susie, he connects to through walkie-talkies and a radio tower. Dustin’s attempt to connect to Susie though actually taps into a Russian radio message, which he takes to Steve and Robin in the Starcourt Mall.
They decode it, and discover it’s a shipment coming to the mall. Along with Lucas’s younger sister Erica, the group finds the loading bay to the mall is actually an elevator, and all become stuck underneath Starcourt. They watch Russians attempt to open a portal to the Upside Down, but then Steve and Robin are captured and drugged. Dustin and Erica help them escape
Nancy, Jonathan, and the rest of the gang (aka Eleven’s group)
The group heads to the hospital to Mrs. Driscoll, but is instead attacked by two people now possessed by the Mind Flayer. Nancy and Jonathan kill them, but they dissolve into a Mind Flayer-looking creature. El attacks the Mind Flayer, which runs off to the mill, where it’s been dragging people to be possessed.
El works to find the Mind Flayer through Billy’s mind, but inadvertently reveals her own location to the monster. The Mind Flayer wants to get revenge on her for closing the gate to the Upside Down. All the separate entities of the Mind Flayer merge with it in the mill, making it stronger.
Joyce and Hopper
Joyce and Hopper are also growing close, but struggle to find time for their budding romance when Joyce realizes the electromagnetic field in her home is affected by the abandoned Hawkins lab. When they investigate, they’re attacked by Grigori, a Russian soldier.
Joyce and Hopper learn through Grigori and the town’s mayor that the mall is actually a front for Russians to buy abandoned property in Hawkins. The pair then search one of the abandoned properties, and once again face off against Grigori. They get away, and manage to take a hostage with them, Alexei, a Russian scientist. Because he doesn’t speak English, they take him to Murray to translate. Grigori tries to track them, but loses the trio.
Alexei confirms to Joyce and Hopper the Russians are trying to reopen the Upside Down. Meanwhile, Grigori pushes the town’s mayor to find Hopper before he exposes the town’s Russian connections.
Will senses the Mind Flayer is coming to attack them, and El holds it off, but is wounded. She then goes to a supermarket to heal, while Dustin contacts them with his dying Walkie-Talkie. El finds Dustin via her powers and the group takes off for the mall.
All the Kids
After Robin and Steve are saved from interrogation, Steve admits his feelings for Robin, but she reveals she’s gay. El’s group then finds Dustin’s group, and El stops the Russians from shooting at them. She then collapses from her wound.
Joyce and Hopper
Along with Murray and Alexei, they head to the Independence Day Fair to try and find the kids, but are spotted by the town’s mayor, who alerts the Russians. Grigori fatally shoots Alexei, and Murray, Joyce, and Hopper evade the Russians and head to the mall to find the kids.
El takes a piece of the Mind Flayer out of her wound, which renders her powerless. Joyce, Murray, and Hopper take over, attempting to destroy the Russian’s machine which opens up an Upside Down portal. Erica and Dustin give them directions via Walkie-Talkie.
The Mind Flayer and Billy trap the kids at the mall, but El frees Billy from the monster’s control. He then sacrifices himself to save the kids. Meanwhile, Hopper kills Grigori, but becomes trapped with the machine. Joyce makes the difficult decision to destroy the machine with Hopper still trapped, and he’s presumed dead after a large explosion.
But finally, the Mind Flayer is defeated. The mayor is arrested, the U.S government comes to cover everything up, and we see Hopper isn’t dead, but captured by the KGB. And once all is said and done, the Byers family and Eleven decide to move out of Hawkins.
Got all that? You’re officially caught up and ready to watch Season 4 of Stranger Things. If all that didn’t make your head hurt and nose start bleed, of course.
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