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We’ve reached the end of Stranger Things 4 Volume 1 with episode 7, “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab,” and the longest episode in the series so far. Because of how much happens in this episode, as usual, we’re only hitting the big plot points. Let’s get to it.

[WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 4 Episode 7 “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab.”]

Priah Ferguson, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb Mclaughlin in front of a Lite Brite in a production still from "The Massacre at Hawkins Lab"
Priah Ferguson as Erica Sinclair, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair in ‘The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’ | Cr. Courtesy of Netflix

The kids in Hawkins spend most of ‘The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’ in the Upside Down

Showrunners Ross and Matt Duffer promised that the characters spend more time in the Upside Down than ever before in the series. They’ve realized another threat from the alternate dimension threatens to take more lives and destroy the entire world if they don’t take care of the situation. Dustin, who suspiciously points out he’s always right, figured out that another gate opens every time Vecna murders someone. When Steve got sucked through the gate, the older group followed him to save him while Dustin, Lucas, and Max got left on the shore to deal with the police. 

Back at the Wheelers, the kids can’t keep their stories straight, putting them under the microscope. However, after fighting off a swarm of Demobats, Steve and the gang make it to the Upside Down version of the Wheelers. With Dustin and crew’s help, they communicate using a Lite Brite and tell them to meet them at Eddie’s house. Chrissy died there, so they surmise that another gate opened there.

They safely rescue Eddie and Robin, but as Nancy goes through she doesn’t end up in the real world. She lands in Vecna’s clutches. Vecna shows her how Barb died, but then he gives her his villain origin story, and boy, it is a doozy. But, more on that in a bit.

Eleven confronts the memories from her past

Dr. Brenner promises Eleven she’ll regain her powers as soon as she retrains her brain, which somehow equals facing the night of the massacre at Hawkins Lab. She believes she’s responsible for the death of all the kids, but her memories reveal a different story.

In her memories, Peter tells her that Brenner wants her dead because he knows she’s too powerful. (Peter doesn’t seem like the most reliable narrator, so keep that in mind.) He convinces her to run away with him, which is odd because he’s an adult, and she’s a child, but she agrees. Eleven removes something in his neck that he calls a tracker. However, it looks like it was a device to keep his powers in check. While Eleven hides in a closet, she hears the screams of the children in the lab. She ventures out to see all the kids murdered by Peter. He tells her the story of 001, which is Peter. This is where her plot and Nancy’s plot combine as they both hear and see the same story.

Jopper reunite in ‘The Massacre at Hawkins Lab’

As Joyce and Murray successfully scam their way into the Russian prison, they realize the Russians are about to feed Hopper and a few other prisoners to the Demogorgon. Thanks to Hopper’s quick thinking in the previous episode, he’s prepared. He uses the alcohol he swiped to light up a torch while the Demogorgon makes an easy meal out of the others aside from Dmitri. Joyce and Murray manage to open the doors to save Hopper and Dmitri, and when they see each other, audiences watch the sweetest reunion between Joyce and Hopper.


‘Stranger Things 4’: Vecna’s Identity Is More Complicated Than You Think

Peter is 001… and Henry Creel… and Vecna

“The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” finally reveals the identity of 001 and Vecna. Vecna shows Nancy his life as Henry Creel as he opines about always being the different kid. He found a nest of Black Widows and somehow befriended him, deciding that life treated the creatures unfairly. We’re sure the Duffers give us more on that in Stranger Things 4 Volume II, but as of now, this seems like a pretty lame reason to go on a murderous rampage. 

As Vecna tells Nancy about his past, Peter does the same with Eleven. (Imagine giving a thesis on Black Widows and how they’re the reason you killed a bunch of kids to an eight-year-old.) After Henry/Peter killed his mom and sister and got his dad carted off to jail, Brenner took him under his wing. He experimented on him, creating 001. He essentially wants Eleven to join him as he rights the world’s wrongs and kills those who get in their way. (Daenerys Targaryen, anyone?)

However, Eleven tells him no before using her powers to kill him. Although, instead of killing him, she banishes him to the Upside Down. The Upside Down works its magic, and “The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” ends with Peter/Henry/001 transforming into Vecna.

Stranger Things 4 Volume II premieres on July 1, 2022. Check back with Showbiz Cheat Sheet for all your Stranger Things updates!