[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Stranger Things Season 4 Episodes 8 “Papa” and 9 “The Piggyback.”]
Heading into the final two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4, we knew that not everyone would make it out alive. And with the threat of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), demogorgons, and whatever else the Upside Down could cook up, it seemed like anyone could be on the chopping block. So, after a couple twists, who didn’t survive?
Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) took a few bullets — including to the chest — as he tried to get Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) away from the military. Last he was seen, Eleven had left him, bleeding to death, with a “goodbye, papa,” and drove off with Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will (Noah Schnapp), Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Argyle (Eduardo Franco). It certainly seemed like he was, if not dead, going to be very soon, especially given there wasn’t exactly any help nearby. For now, we think it’s safe to assume he didn’t make it (and we’re not too torn up about his death).
Then the group in Hawkins took the fight to Vecna in the Upside Down. Max (Sadie Sink), with Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Erica (Priah Ferguson), tried to distract Vecna by being bait, while Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Robin (Maya Hawke), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Eddie (Joseph Quinn) ventured into the Upside Down to kill him. Dustin and Eddie were the distraction there, with the latter on his guitar on top of his trailer to lure in the demobats. When they swarmed the trailer, Dustin pulled himself through back to their world, but Eddie instead did what he thought he wouldn’t and was the hero, buying more time and drawing them away. It cost him his life. But given how heavy the foreshadowing was — especially his insistence that he would never be a hero — it wasn’t too surprising. Still, Stranger Things did make us care about him, especially from Episode 6 on in Season 4, so this one was heartbreaking.
That wasn’t the only loss the Hawkins group suffered. Max as bait worked… a little too well. Despite Eleven piggybacking (hence the episode title) and entering her mind as well alongside Vecna, she at first lost the fight against him. And Lucas, after dealing with Jason (Mason Dye), who still thought they were part of a cult and broke Max’s walkman during the basketball players’ fight, could only watch as Max began suffering the same fate as Vecna’s other victims. Her limbs broke, and her eyes started bleeding, and while Eleven did fight back and get the upper hand, it seemed to be too late for Max. Before dying in Lucas’ arms, as he yelled for Erica to call an ambulance, Max told him she couldn’t feel or see anything. But then Eleven refused to lose her, and Max was in the hospital, albeit in a coma and the doctors were unsure if she’d recover, at the end of the season.
As for Vecna, Nancy, Steve, and Robin’s combined efforts and weapons (Molotov cocktails and a shotgun) sent him flying out the attic window, but his body was nowhere to be found when they stepped outside the Creel house. But Vecna had warned Eleven that while she and her friends thought they’d won, “this is only the beginning.” Furthermore, Will told Mike at the end of the season that he could “feel” Vecna, “and he’s hurt, he’s hurting, but he’s still alive.”
And so, again, heading into this, we knew that some characters wouldn’t be making it out and with the series heading into its final season, it is the perfect time to take a risk with at least one major death. But did losing Dr. Brenner (assuming he’s truly dead) and Eddie live up to your expectations? Or did they seem more like the easy ways to go, with the former someone whose demise we won’t cry over and the latter just coming in this season? Let us know in the poll and comments below.
Stranger Things, Seasons 1-4, Streaming now, Netflix